From the Depths
by Elizabeth Morton
If I told you I was a seamonster, you would send me packing. So I say I’m an accountant. I smell of photocopiers and manila folders. You won’t notice the bladderwrack in my socks, the barnacles on the noses of my chuck-taylors. I have sand-rash on my thighs. My legs are chalked with salt. But I have an Armani suit with pinstripes. I have a Crane Brothers shirt.
If I told you I was a seamonster, you would have taken the dog. Even when my tentacles are aching and my gills are brittling, I take the dog on some great trudges. We lope past the corner dairy and down to the seawall. Some days we sit and chew the fat for hours. Dog, I say, I’ve got this secret, and the dog just nods and listens. He shits on the beach and I scuff it out to the tide, or bury it with my flippers. The dog does dog things. But he never spills the beans.
If I said hey wifey, I’m a seamonster you would turn down Emmerdale and stare. Then you might undo my Crane Brothers shirt, my Armani pants. You might push me onto the couch and do whatever wives do. The dog might look on, embarrassed.
You fuck like an accountant, you’d say, afterwards. And switch up the telly again.
So I don’t say that.
Some nights I go down to the seawall, not with the dog; just me. I watch the fishermen’s squid-floats bumping into stars with each ripple. I roll up my Armani trouserlegs, and step out onto the basalt. The waves clap the seawall and I play conductor, waving my tentacles with each contact. Whoop goes the wave, and I summon it to the wall, push it away again, into the black.
The waves do what waves do. And I do what I do. And it is the only thing I can control.
Even then I don’t believe.
About Elizabeth Morton
Elizabeth Morton is a New Zealand writer. She has been published in Poetry NZ, PRISM international, Cordite, JAAM, Shot Glass Journal, Takahe Magazine, Landfall, Flash Frontier, Gravel, SmokeLong Quarterly, the Sunday Star Times, Literary Orphans, and in Island Magazine among others. Her prose is in The Best Small Fictions 2016. Her debut poetry collection is to be published with Mākaro Press this year. In her free time she pens bad rap songs, and collects obscure words in supermarket bags.