58 comments

Feb 27, 2021

Drama American Contemporary

Seems like drowning oneself is harder than it looks. 

Embarrassing, really, as worried Bahamians attempt to haul me out of the Caribbean Sea into their rusty tugboat in response to the cruise ship’s clarion call.

I feel my earlobes and note one of my diamond earrings is missing, lost to the depths. A treasure for a lucky scuba diver to find one day. 

The earrings had been an anniversary gift. And not worth much now, I mutter out loud. 

My rescuers look at me, but we cannot understand each other very well. Their Creole dialect is thick. One of them, whom I call Poseidon, throws me a flotation device, as I unhappily bob in the warm water. 

Rude of him to interrupt. I just kick the ring buoy away. I sing, while water fills my mouth. Ring. Boy. Ring. Boy. Ring. Boy. Ring. Boy. 

The Bahamians jump in and attempt to roll me into a life sling, causing me to curse their mothers. Angrily, they just grab me underneath my armpits, and I am glad I shaved them before the party. But this isn’t their concern. I am just fine. 

I can hear our cruise ship from not too far away continuing to call a Code Oscar, lights sweeping the dark waters where I decided to go in. 

Man overboard, I call back to the ship. I am not a man. My husband was a man. 

The Bahamians unceremoniously hoist me up in a basket. Poseidon holds one of my wrists in case I try to go anywhere. It is hard to lug 120 pounds of anything, let alone an angry woman.

“What is your name?” Poseidon asks. 

I am Aphrodite, I say triumphantly. Daughter of Uranus, the primordial god of the sky. Born when Cronus threw his castrated genitals into the sea. Here I am, Aphrodite! The Goddess of Love!

I can hear the Bahamians whisper that I am drunk. They are right. 

No, seriously, guys. I’m descended from Uranus, right up there . . . I pointed at the night sky. Patronizingly, the Bahamian rescue crew looks up to where I’m pointing, if only to keep the crazy lady quiet. 

Uranus is the green dot to the left of Mars. I’m not talking about your anus, gentlemen. I laugh again, self-indulgently. That would be unseemly. I’m talking about Uranus the god. The stars are full of gods! 

Almost on cue, the shoulder strap on my elegant dress falls down, exposing more of myself than I want. I hoist the mainsail as we are ready to weigh anchor. I feel for the earlobe with the missing earring. It’s still missing. 

The Bahamians secretively talk amongst themselves and decide to wrap a mylar thermal blanket around me. I am so shiny and pretty. 

One talks on a two-way radio. I don’t understand his patois, but everyone seems relieved. I nod with them in the general spirit of bonhomie. 

The boat ride back to the dock will not take long. Getting back on the ship and explaining what happened to me may take longer. Explaining myself to my soon-to-be-ex-husband will be the longest. 

I do not want to talk to him. Him.

Just the thought of doing so makes me want to jump back into the warm waters. So peaceful down there. I was actually quite happy down in the drink. God knows I’d downed many drinks to summon the nerve to go down in the drink. But my being buried for a bit in the silvery sea brought me a soupçon of happiness. 

How long has that been, my authentically feeling happy? Maybe my husband is right after all. We all have to do what we have to do to be happy, right? No matter what that changes. Who that changes. 

Galateia must live here, I say to the Bahamians, who try not to look in my direction. But I’m lonely all of a sudden and want them to talk to me. Galateia is the goddess of calm seas. If you come to New York City, I’ll take you to the Met—it’s a really big art museum. Galateia is painted riding side-saddle on the back of a sea monster. Very ladylike. Not like a man. Men ride astride things. It’s just what men do . . . or used to do. 

They finally look at me with their unblinking eyes, night shrouding any expression I could read. We sit in companionable silence. 

“You safe, now,” Poseidon says. 

I was pretty safe in the water, I correct him. Like Odysseus fighting off the Scylla and Charybdis. That was me! Literally between a rock and a hard place, assuming the rock is a monster with six heads and the hard place is a man-eating whirlpool. I didn’t have wax to block my ears. The sea called to me, to join the sirens. 

“You could have tied yourself to the mast,” Poseidon replies, smiling. 

You’ve read the Odyssey?

“I’ve also been to the Met,” he adds, smiling a bit to take the sting out of his words. 

Even in my drunken and half-drowned state, I feel ashamed. He can read it on my face.

“Been a tough day for all of us,” Poseidon says. 

You got that right, I mutter.

“Why did you fall off the boat,” Poseidon carefully asks.

No one falls off cruise ships. 

“I know that,” he replies. 

We both look at the tugboat’s wake as it steadily makes its way to the dock.

Are there sea creatures out there? Maybe way out in the deep?

“I don’t know that,” he replies.

I think there are. Strange creatures who are not as they appear. Like ichthyocentaurs. 

“I don’t know what that is,” he says, shaking his head.

They’re fish centaurs. Upper body of a man. Tail of a fish. Two creatures all combined together . . . 

“None of that lives around here,” he states firmly. 

There’s at least one on that boat, I say, pointing to the cruise ship. 

Poseidon quit speaking for a moment, gazing up at the black night, dotted with stars. 

My husband is a mythological creature. He wants to stay married to me, but he doesn't want to be a man anymore. I always wondered why my high heels were so stretched out. I laugh. 

It’s almost too bitter to be considered a laugh. 

“Crab says he does not trust any shadow after dark,” Poseidon remarks. His crew murmurs their approval. 

I don’t know what that means, I reply. Tears begin to stream down my face.

“Trust the gods in the stars,” Poseidon explains, pointing at the dazzling night sky, constellations arrayed in reassuring patterns. 


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58 comments

Zilla Babbitt
00:12 Feb 28, 2021

Wow, what a unique way to spin the prompt as well as the classic myth. I think... she is actually Aphrodite in the modern age, even though I'm guessing that's probably not quite what you intended. Why are her words in italics? I thought at first it was a way to show how she thinks she's talking but isn't really, but "Poseidon" responds to her questions. So I don't know. Anyway, this was funny and sweet and unique. Keep it up!

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Deidra Lovegren
00:19 Feb 28, 2021

What I was going for was a stereotypical Karen having a meltdown due to her husband’s gender identity revelation. She’s drunk and half speaking to herself and to the poor Bahamian who is trying to get her back on board. Hence, the quasi-delirium of her dialogue.

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Thom Brodkin
02:59 Feb 28, 2021

There was a time when this story would have been shocking for the very hint that a married man would want to become a woman. Ironically it’s shocking now because the woman doesn’t immediately accept her husband as her wife and offer to get matching pedicures. My dad used to say progress is always progress. I’ll leave it at that other than to say I love the way you tell a story. I’m not an avid reader but I’d read you anytime.

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Scout Tahoe
04:23 Mar 02, 2021

I read this when you posted and was amazed. At first, I thought it was a woman depressed over her divorce, perhaps because her husband did something wrong. But after reading your comment to Zilla, I actually see what you were trying to say. However, I think you should make it clearer. This has a lot of potential so perhaps you could add more hints... maybe about dresses or how she won't have a husband anymore (she'll have a wife) or how he's gone from a centaur to a mermaid (?). I'm sorry those are terrible ideas. But I loved this a lot, ...

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Deidra Lovegren
12:07 Mar 02, 2021

Great feedback, Scout. Maybe the foreshadowing was too subtle. I'll circle back around and see what I can tweak.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:42 Mar 02, 2021

I tightened it up a bit. Hopefully the ending reads as it should, being both "surprising and inevitable" as all proper endings should be :) Thanks for the heads up!

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Shayan Ayaz
00:51 Mar 07, 2021

Someone’s read Percy Jackson...

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Deidra Lovegren
00:51 Mar 07, 2021

And taught 9th grade mythology :)

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Fawn Marshall
18:26 Mar 05, 2021

I love her melodrama - throwing oneself off a ship into the ocean is not the ideal way to handle a problem, but I love that she's drunkenly slurring about the gods to her rescuers. I also like how Poseidon humors her. I'm curious where her husband is for all this. The line about the stretched out heels made me laugh because I seem to only date men whose feet are smaller than mine (but to be fair, mine are practically snow shoes), and I'd never have noticed if they were trying the shoes on.

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Deidra Lovegren
18:38 Mar 05, 2021

The MC reminds me of Shelley Winters in The Poseidon Adventure (1972 in all its glory, of course.) I just need the visual of Ernest Borgnine in a dress.

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Deidra Lovegren
18:45 Mar 05, 2021

Gee, Fawn. I missed your SHORTLISTED story for the 4th week a row... :)

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Fawn Marshall
20:22 Mar 05, 2021

I'm sure you could commission such a portrait!

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Katina Foster
14:25 Mar 05, 2021

Despite the drama and lack of acceptance, there's something endearing about this post-rescue Karen. In real life, I doubt I would think so, but in your story, I feel it. Hopefully her little detour to the depths brought her some perspective.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:28 Mar 05, 2021

This Karen needs to learn that none of us are in control. Control of really of anything, as we float through space on this increasingly toxic planet. This fact is ameliorated by either religion, philosophy, or a drug-of-choice. For me? Craft Root Beer, an American excessively caloric bacon cheeseburger, and a bucket of fries. Maybe a brownie sundae for dessert...

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Deidra Lovegren
19:06 Mar 05, 2021

All right, Katina. How clever are you punning on "depths" at the end of your comment... Dammit. Missed it the first time. SHALLOW KAREN IN THE DEPTHS. You are a wonder! YAY

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Richard Hawkins
22:06 Mar 04, 2021

I like the escape into a world of Sea creatures use to rationalize a attempt to end her hopelessness,

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Deidra Lovegren
22:16 Mar 04, 2021

She just needs a reality check. We should embrace what we cannot control; otherwise, we'll just live in terror. (That sounds way more pedantic than I meant to...) I'm more of an absurdist. She should have hugged her husband/wife and gone out for matching pedicures.

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Richard Hawkins
22:36 Mar 04, 2021

I very old school in my thinking i have been married a very long time: this would be betrayal in a most damning way. intimacy is built on trust and her husband has abandon that for mire pleasure.

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Richard Hawkins
22:36 Mar 04, 2021

I very old school in my thinking i have been married a very long time: this would be betrayal in a most damning way. intimacy is built on trust and her husband has abandon that for mire pleasure.

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Richard Hawkins
22:38 Mar 04, 2021

I very old school in my thinking i have been married a very long time: this would be betrayal in a most damning way. intimacy is built on trust and her husband has abandon that for mire pleasure.

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02:17 Mar 12, 2021

'm really sorry, but I didn't understand the story well. It looks kind of mysterious.

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Paula Dennison
21:35 Mar 10, 2021

I like how your writing made me hear your characters with their accents and drunken slurring in my mind. It had the slightest tinge of the stereotypical but the flow and clever use of the Gods and Goddesses made up for that. That is where the difference shone. I loved the story and especially that it was not the typical cheating husband routine at the end. The humor was subtle but excellent. Great story!

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Deidra Lovegren
22:46 Mar 10, 2021

Thanks, Paula. I'm sure most Bahamians have had it with entitled cruisers in their ports... Haven taken a few cruises around the Caribbean myself, I can see this happening on the reg. Especially late in the night when 1st world problems come to the fore. :)

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Eddie Thawne
00:53 Mar 08, 2021

Beautifully written. I enjoyed reading this. Well done!

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Deidra Lovegren
02:03 Mar 08, 2021

Awesome 😎 Thanks for dropping by!

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Doubra Akika
11:03 Mar 06, 2021

Amazing work as always D&D. Funny and really endearing. The whole story felt so melodramatic but that was basically the best part. Hope you're staying safe.

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Deidra Lovegren
12:46 Mar 06, 2021

D&D forever! Glad to see you on the boards — best to you and your family ❤️

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Michael Hayes
14:52 Mar 03, 2021

Great and lively story. I like how you keep us all guessing 'Why' to the end.

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Deidra Lovegren
15:39 Mar 03, 2021

Thanks, Michael :) I appreciate the comment and I'm glad you care enough about my trainwreck of a character to see why she'd jump :)

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Michael Hayes
15:47 Mar 03, 2021

She was lively, and made me laugh.

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Holly Fister
17:04 Mar 06, 2021

I love your humor. Even little phrases like “It’s still missing.” Cracked me up! I’m curious because I’ve never tried it, did you put her words in italics with no quotations to let the reader wonder whether she was thinking or talking?

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Holly Fister
17:06 Mar 06, 2021

I saw your response to someone below so that answered my question! 😄

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