It was wet and cold and miserable, and his dog was fat. Fatter than yesterday. Nobody needed a telescope to see how the dog was overfed, his snout buried in his own neck.
The captain, biting on his pipe, asked her to take off her bonnet. She removed it, and he inspected her scalp for butterflies. “Clear,” he said.
Then, it was time, and she walked up the narrow stairs to the top deck as if to scout for land.
It was darker than before. The captain told her not to imagine escapes or roundtrip tickets.
“Never,” she repeated.
This had something to do with how she made the captain feel things he didn’t want to feel. He whispered this to her on his birthday, dancing on deck. She had known it already. She didn’t say the right words, should have said, “I am honored.” He had the complexion of a root vegetable, rutty and orange. She wished she too were plain. She did not want to make him feel uglier but had done so by being alive.
She explained it to herself as if she could talk it over. She said it to herself in bubbles of thought. This kind of existence never worked for long. He cradled a sword.
“It is time,” he said.
Shaking on the plank balanced her and she remembered her childhood like a dream she hadn’t had in years. She stepped off holding on to that dream. Her last thought was how when people die, they come back as money, something her mother used to say. If you happen to notice a penny on the ground, it may be someone who used to love you.
Meg Pokrass is the author of six flash fiction collections and a forthcoming collection of microfiction, “Spinning to Mars” which won the Blue Light Book Award. Her work has appeared in Electric Literature, Washington Square Review, Smokelong Quarterly, Split Lip and McSweeney’s as well as the Wigleaf Top 50 and The Best Small Fictions. She serves as Series Co-Editor of Best Microfiction.