Farewell to Sweet Pea

By | 16 August 2019
Then there were two of us. Shoving, spitting, yelling on that boat. We could no longer see the shore. I thought about my father, who taught me to hold a fish by the mouth with its belly facing outwards so that its guts hang low in its body and make it appear bigger than it actually is. Hold the fish as far away as possible, he taught me, at arm’s length with your body facing the spikes on its back, so it will look as big as possible to the other person watching.

I had never taken his advice, which seemed counterintuitive and grotesque, like eating meat from a can. I had spent most of my life trying to lower any expectation that had attached itself to me, as if to increase the likelihood that I might one day inadvertently exceed it. My greatest temptation had always been to act in order to recount the action in words at a later date.

And so there I was, in a headlock onboard the Sweet Pea, supposedly writing it all down.

I’ll tip it! I’ll tip it! My brother yelled as he shifted his grip on my neck. Trying to have a conversation with him had become like trying to sit comfortably on a couch covered in aluminium foil.

What, I said. What. What do you want?

There was a curl of waxed rope at my feet, and I was trying to get enough leverage so that I could heft one of its extremities into his face.

You’re not even listening, he said.

If he had one wish, it would be for everything to remain the same, always.

I am, I said.

You’re –

Yeah, no, I am. What do you think I’m doing? I’m listening, okay? I’m listening.

Okay, he said, and relaxed insofar as we could both bend our knees. Then what are you writing.


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