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Three days ago I might’ve been alive and believed everything you told me. But there is not enough water in the world to keep us all alive, and when you speak, all I hear is bubbles and sea foam. Three days ago I might’ve been able to understand this Neptunian language of yours, but I am now a fish out of water, and I cannot hear you over the noise of chapped lips and empty lungs and my own desperate pleas.
Won’t anybody let me in?
You asked me what happened, and I told you everything you wanted to hear, but none of it was true: “I was greedy, and I couldn’t get enough, and I took you for granted, and I don’t know what to do anymore. I’m so lost, and I’m so sorry.”
What I really meant: “I’m still greedy and still can’t get enough, and I want you, need you, love you, hate you, and I’m just so damned thirsty these days, all right? Please.”
But we don’t understand each other anymore, and we are never on the same page because paper and books and ink and pen and water do not mix. My words turn soggy and unintelligible, and you don’t know how to read anyway.
The sun is always shining and exposing everything I never wanted to know, reminding me that diving into the deep end only means that I’ll be hung out to dry when I resurface, that I am only dirty laundry to be aired, that I never belonged in water in the first place.
You were the first to tell me about evolution. “Fish are meant to grow legs, you know? Then they strut around like they own the world and write about the Meaning of Life, about Existentialism and Nihilism, theology and metaphysics, and all that. Like they’ve got it all figured out. Rather silly for a bunch of fish, don’t you think?” you used to say with a sarcastic laugh as you waved cascades through my hair. “And then they get so caught up with themselves they forget that they’re really all the same, that they all came from the same place. They forget where they even came from.”
I didn’t realize you were referring to me.
Day four and I somehow find myself waist-deep in your waters, starfish tracing lazy circles under my feet and jellyfish pulsating lethargically around my knees. Your water is dirty and brackish, always making me crave more. I try to resist the pull of the tide and the fact that I have not had water for days, so I do the only thing I know: I scream and cry and yell and pretend the world is paying attention, but my voice is loud and hoarse and crass, and you’ve had enough.
You pull me ten feet underwater and scream, “Who can hear you now?” And for the first time in three days, I do not hear bubbles and sea foam but words, explicit and raw. I am pulled in deeper, and you remind me that there is more to water than a pretty blue surface. But it’s too late for that, and the last thing I see before I’m swept away is the pale glow of a light that could’ve been the sun.
But I have not yet learned the anatomy of an anglerfish.
They say you only survive three days without water. It’s been four days, and I’ve had too much.