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by Nuala O’Connor

After a night drinking Electric Diablos, I piss a jet of blue. I like the look of it in the toilet bowl, its marine freshness. I leave the pee there and pop in and out from the bedroom to study it. 

‘I wonder if it’s still alcoholic,’ I say, lying down again beside Dylan. ‘Drinkable.’

‘Gross,’ he says, and I snort; he can be so narrow, when all’s said.

Once Dylan’s asleep, I take the soup ladle into the bathroom. I bend low to scoop up the blue, but the quiver of a silver tail in the toilet bowl stops me. I drop the ladle and lean in. My ears wash with liquid silence, my eyes are drenched and calm. I dip lower, until my body slides and down I go and down, feet after heart.

I follow tail and fin, the wrack of kelpy hair that flows before me. Faster through the blue I travel, tasting citrus and salt, wild in pursuit. The tail disappears into glassy depths but, up ahead, a line dangles and I swim frantically, sure it will lead me to where I need to be. A voice booms, no words clear, and I press on, wanting to be nowhere other than somewhere other than elsewhere. My mind flattens and all is still; I’m alone and hollowed out. My blues waver before me: sky, sea, the aqua of beloved eyes.

A throb, then a jolt, and I’m hauled hand over hand. Up I go and up. When I break the surface, I heave a lung-full, the gulp of the almost-drowned.

‘I have you,’ a voice calls, ‘I have you. You’re here.’

But all I feel is the hook in my cheek, its backward pull.

Nuala O’Connor lives in Co. Galway, Ireland. In 2019 she won the James Joyce Quarterly competition to write the missing story from Dubliners, ‘Ulysses’. Her fourth novel, Becoming Belle, was recently published to critical acclaim in in the US, Ireland, and the UK. Her forthcoming novel is about Nora Barnacle, wife and muse to James Joyce. Nuala is editor at flash e-zine Splonk. For more info visit:

Lead image: “ladle” (via Flickr user waferboard)