The Women Who Love Him Go to the Aquarium Every Day
The women who love him go to the aquarium every day, patiently wait their turn so they can catch a glimpse of him through the glass. When he finally appears from behind a patch of seaweed, they press their hands against their pregnant bellies and swoon. He is their favorite exhibit, the seahorse with his pouched belly and trumpet-like snout, patiently carrying his offspring without complaint. The women think about how relaxing it would be to silently bob in the water. They wonder what it would be like to float on their backs, to be weightless. At home, they shift from foot to foot, try to ignore their swollen ankles, their tender, swelling breasts. All they can think about is all the dark gifts they didn’t ask for but have been bestowed with: the sleepless nights and heat flashes, the strands of hair they find tangled in the drain. The women think about their useless husbands, who hand them lukewarm hot packs and chocolate truffles but never the brand they like. The women wish they could shrink their bodies to miniature, twirl and twist with their seahorse lover. At home, their husbands never stop talking. They talk about what tools they’ll need to buy so they can build a crib, the pastel colors they’ll paint the walls. The women admire the seahorse’s capacity for silence: how he can move quietly through the water, forward and backwards, up and down. Mostly, the women admire the seahorse’s capacity to love. The women wish their husbands would woo them the same way the seahorse woos his mate: by wrapping their tails together, changing color and engaging in a courtship dance. At home, their husbands do not rub their aching feet slowly, sensually, but quickly, like it is a chore. The women are in awe of the seahorse’s uniqueness and sacrificial nature, how he is the only male species on Earth that can give birth. The women think about what it would be like to drift underwater, to live with a lover who could fit in their pocket, a lover small enough to hold in the palm of their hands.
Candace Hartsuyker has an M.F.A in Creative Writing from McNeese State University and reads for PANK. Her work has been published in Fiction Southeast, Fractured Literary, Cheap Pop and elsewhere.