A short story before bed because I haven't put one out in a while.
|"Didn't know I needed a passport for this trip." He scoffed, putting the ID back in his pocket. Sliding out of the line, Marzen scratched his head gills as he watched the love-fish get onto the cruise ship. She didn't even stop to look back at him.
Marzen sighed and figured it wasn't meant to be. He wanted to fall in love, but it seemed so hard... Maybe run into her or ask for advice at the buffet table like the romances show on the coral screens.
He should have accounted for her not seeing that he existed at all.
"I guess this is it."
"Really, just once?" a voice sounded behind him. Marzen turned around to see Twila staring him in the face.
She was standard female starfish height-- 5 inches taller than the average male-- pink and purple swirled in hue, and her big black eyes glistened in the light of the seven suns. "That's it? You tried to chase her only once and you gave up?"
"Well... I mean--"
"I can't believe you're that much of a scaredy." Twila pointed at his chest. She smirked and tilted her head to the side- her tell- and swam away.
"W-wait, what? I'm not scared." Marzen swam after her.
"You've been sighing about her all day, and you finally get the chance to spend alone-time with her and you give up!"
"Well, I needed a passport. There's no way I could have gotten one in two minutes."
"You could have asked me yesterday ." Twila barrel-rolled to show her annoyance.
"...I didn't think about that."
"Yeah, I know. I had your passport ready for you and you didn't even ask."
Marzen was silent as they swam another click. They neared her favorite claim shop and he remembered," Oh, wait."
"Yeah?" Twila stopped for a second.
"I'm glad I didn't go. I forgot about this--" Marzen reached into his satchel and pulled out two pearls. "You said you lost one on the way home from eating a school. I figured you could make another pair."
Twila hesitated before taking the pearls from him, a valuable gift. Looking down, toward the darkness, she slid the pearls into her satchel and rubbed her head gills. She hadn't spoken in a minute and it looked as if she still wasn't going to.
"Are you mad or something--"
"Yes! You couldn't have left and lived the rest of your life with the dream in your ocean?"
"Wha--dream? She wasn't my dream. I mean... she was a love but..."
"Then why follow her? Why did you tell me you were going on a cruise?"
Marzen started to swim off a bit, slowly, making Twila have to follow. "Well now, why are you following me?"
"We're talking, don't make this weird."
"You're the one making it weird." Marzen scoffed. He barrel-rolled crossed his arms. "You follow me all the time. Everywhere I go, there you are, and then just when I get the courage to ask you out, you push me on some other girl."
Twila was silent.
Marzen stopped swimming and looked at her in the glow of ocean. She'd been his "friend" for most of their lives now. He tilted his head to the left and she mirrored with little hesitation, to the right and again she mirrored without much thought. He imagined being an old starfish, shriveled up and lying on a beach with Twila awaiting his crisp and burnt body to return to the sea. Then he thought about her losing her pearl earring, the awkward moment of Marzen sacrificing his time to help her look while he was building up the courage to ask if she'd go for a swim that day. If she'd be his date to prom. If she'd mind being the starfish on the beach beside him at the end of it all....
When she had looked back at him that day, not seeing her pearl, she panicked and turned away, so he blamed his staring on a random fish who happened to be resting nearby. The same love-fish he lied and said was getting on a cruise near her favorite clam shop today.
Now, Twila was watching the seahorses ride by, the mermaids play in the tiny groves of their skin, and the krill sparkle in the 7 sunlight off to their right instead of looking him straight in the face. She was finally caught.
Marzen closed the distance between them and touched her chin like a lover to his dream.
"Will you forever hide from me, my dream?"