slipstream by Amanda C. Davis
We are all in the lifeboat and our noses are full of the salt sea and I am hugging my dolly, like always, when her head wobbles once and falls off. The stringy hair slides through my fingers and right over the side. It rolls away with her curls all waving around in the water and her glass eye winks at me to say ha ha, she is leaving. She is leaving and I am not.
So I scream. I am not as good at screaming as I used to be so sometimes I do it for practice, for When We Are Rescued. I scream for a long time.
Mr Bauman says Will Someone Shut That Child Up.
Mrs Adde says Let Her Scream Perhaps Someone Will Hear.
Be A Brave Girl says Miss Mary who I think has forgotten how to say anything else.
I Do Hope My Husband Found A Lifeboat says Mrs Baron because she says it all the time, just like Miss Mary says Be A Brave Girl until I want to hide my face in her skirt and cry, to be cowardly just for spite.
But I don’t. I keep screaming. For practice.
Chins Up Girls says Mr Jenson. He is my favorite because he can still say new things like I can and also he is the only man in the boat except for Mr Bauman. Mr Jenson is also very handsome. And Mr Bauman does not like me.
I do not like Mr Bauman either.
I stop screaming. It only fills my mouth with salt anyway. I smile at Mr. Jensen and hug my dolly even though her head might be all the way across the ocean by now.
Unsinkable! says Mrs Goldstein. It is the only word she says and she says it as if she is saying the name of someone she hates. She says it like it is a swear. Unsinkable!
Be A Brave Girl says Miss Mary.
Mr Jensen says Think Of All The Dolls Polly because that is my name Think Of All The Dolls You Will Have When We Are Rescued.
We all used to say When We Are Rescued but then everyone forgot how to speak and now it is a special private game for me and Mr Jensen.
I say You Can See Your Best Girl When We Are Rescued.
Mr Jensen says I Bet Your Mama And Papa Are Waiting For You At The Dock.
I saw Mama in the water and Papa on the broken ship and that is why I stayed in this lifeboat for so long. They told me to stay here Until We Are Rescued. And we have not been rescued yet.
I say Sing A Song Please.
Mr Jensen has a handsome voice. He is not so good at singing like I am not so good at screaming but I still like to hear him so I still ask. He sings Nearer My God To Thee Nearer To Thee and then stops and says We Can Sing When We Are Rescued Now I Should Row.
The oars do not work anymore just like our voices do not work but Mr Jensen likes to row so that is what he does. We all do what we like to do now. Even if that is to say Unsinkable! a lot of times as if we hate someone.
Mr Jensen rows. I hug my dolly with no head. A fish swims up to Mr Bauman and then through the hole in his head where there was an eye. It swims around and comes out his teeth.
I Do Wish Someone Would Rescue Us says Mrs Adde.
Be A Brave Girl says Miss Mary.
We have said I Wish We Were Rescued and Be A Brave Girl so many times that I can’t help it, I open my jaw to scream salt-water words even though I stopped screaming ten fifty a hundred years ago I think, when we stopped rowing and started sinking and the sun never rose and we stopped saying Oh God Help and started saying When We Are Rescued.
We do what we like to do, saying Unsinkable! and rowing and screaming, and we do it all day long.
And I think we will do the same thing tomorrow.
Copyright July 2010 by Amanda C. Davis
Amanda C. Davis lives in Pennsylvania. Her fiction has appeared in The Town Drunk and Dog Oil Press and is set to appear in Shock Totem and Retro Spec: Tales of Fantasy and Nostalgia. Visit her at Amanda C. Davis.