This flash fiction piece broke too many rules and crossed too many boundaries; I couldn’t find a venue that would buy it. It’s literary fiction but with two layers of metaphor: one drawing tropes from fantasy and one from science fiction. The format is alternating second person narrative with reggae lyrics I wrote. The layout on the page matters a lot. And all of this is crammed into 376 words.
But I like Sammy too much to see him imprisoned on digital storage media forever. So here he is, for your enjoyment:
Quantum Entanglement in the Bahamas
Out on the island,
Out on the island,
Far, far away.
Sammy drinks rum,
His guitar, he strum—
Sammy’s here to stay.
Once, you glided in on a wave, but today a ferry stands at the dock. Shuttled, you were. Sunscreen and camera, swimwear and cover-up. Having lost your mermaid tail long ago, your shapely legs fail to shock; your bikini body no longer attracts any gaze, save mine. Your golden locks, though streaked with silver, hang loose, inviting as always.
Big boat, big boat, still against the sky.
Little boat, little boat, bring you near to I.
Island, island, in and out waves roll,
But Sammy stay and play all day—
Music for your soul.
Why away from your castle? Did your prince—you’d said he completed you, fulfilled you, satisfied you, and the guitar man could not—desert you there? Did the fortress walls crumble into sand? Or was it the sea witch’s spooky action that drew you back to me from such a distance? Could she act despite Einstein’s disbelief?
Daiquiri, daiquiri, sugar sweet and pink.
Sip-by-sip, through plastic straw, my lady sit and drink.
All alone, far from home, my lady close her eyes.
She hear me play, but I am gray—
How could she recognize?
You approach: your hips, scarred as if scaled, as in your mermaid days, sway to the song. You smile and stuff crumbled bills into the rusted metal can labeled “tips,” without even an I’m-sorry-Sammy.
Far, far, far
Away my princess run.
Back, back, back
To me my princess come.
Though, though, though
The lady mesmerize,
Sad, sad, sad
She won’t stay with guitar guys.
Still I strum, still you shuffle—the applause is yours, not mine. You don your wrap and stroll away. Once, only once, you look back, and Sammy thinks he sees a tear. Do you see mine? Does it matter to you? The waveforms collapse and crash against the beach. Possibilities snuffed: you are gone.
The sea roll in; the sea roll out.
Sun swallow your tender, then the big ship.
No worries, no worries, my life’s ladylove.
No worries, no worries, for the one you’ve grown out of,
Guitar man will see mermaid again,
Once enough sweet rum pass across his lip.