She is licking a lobster shell when the paper-mâché crab opens its mouth and smiles
‘Do crabs have teeth?’ she says, suddenly aware of her own, which are peppered with
bits of creature. Her boyfriend says yes, but his are bigger. (The crab is at least the size of their table.) She thinks about their whiteness, ripping into something that is her, always her.
How did we make it out of the sea?
She is scared the crab might mean more to her than other people, scared that she built it herself and forgot. She has vague memories of creation, red paint and PVA glue, so mild that she could probably eat it and be okay, so weak that she wouldn’t try. She knows they are growing like that somewhere, feels it in her fish-thin bones.
But when her boyfriend says, ‘I would have preferred a crab,’ she has heard the saddest thing in the world. She can see them in the glass tank, still swimming. Lobsters are dying to keep him alive, and all he can seek is alternatives.
The ocean in her ears is talking too much. ‘No more,’ she says, the freshness of seawater still on her tongue, her whole mouth coated with salt, and for a moment it seems like the crab is an angel, travelled all this way to redeem her.
Wow, she thinks, I have not only painted a real angel but all the rainbows, all the stars—despite how much it rains and how few she sees. Now, she is smiling, too.
That night, when he cradles her in pincers, she thinks of crustrations and constellations, still shining down on that magical place, and decides it is blissful
to be very far away.
Leonie Rowland lives in Manchester and has an MA in Gothic literature. Her debut chapbook, In Bed with Melon Bread, is available from Dreich, and she is Editor-in-Chief of The Hungry Ghost Project. She has recent work in Wrongdoing Magazine, Pareidolia Literaryand The Walled City Journal, among others. You can visit her website at http://leonierowland.com or find her on Twitter @leonie_rowland