A Buoy’s Life (Furious Fiction Short Story)

Should I have saved her?

I have gone around in circles (so to speak) trying to answer this question as I have lain here. But I have always come to the same conclusion: It was her own bloody fault, and not just for standing there on the stern’s balustrade on one leg, the other cast upwards, stiletto balancing precariously on the ball of her left foot.

‘Stepan,’ she half turned around to her much younger admirer. ‘Do I look like Rose in Titanic?’

Gawd! Of all the things I’ve heard couples say – their promises, their breakups, jealousies, affairs, or as for one poor fellow, his suicide speech – this one had been done to death. Or maybe that was the point.

‘Yes, you do,’ said Stepan, holding his phone up. ‘But turn back so I can capture your beautiful smile.’

She went to move but stopped. ‘But I’ll be facing the wrong way. Don’t you want me to switch aro – ’

And over she went. I can still remember the feeling of her sequinned blue dress skating briefly across me as she toppled forward, her elegant legs (even at her grand age) momentarily winking outthe golden light as she was inevitably consumed by the vast choppy froth from the propellor blades. She bobbed right back up, yelling and screaming, gasping for air, her grey hair a mop of angry seaweed.

‘Why, Stepan, why?!’

He pulled back the sleeve of his tuxedo and held it up. Under his wrist was some kind of tattoo, a  barcode stampof sorts.

‘To even the score!’ He screamed at her. ‘Don’t you remember me? In Belarus?’

She sunk for a moment as if a shark had taken a bite of her.

‘How many, Rotchfinger? How many in the orphanage did you let…?’ He broke down into the most wretched sobs I’d ever heard. But in the next moment, I felt his fingers on me, tight, hard and drumming in broken beats: will I or won’t I?

‘Stepan! Please!’

Pity, in the end, got the better of him, I think.

He flung me far and wide and I sliced through the air with a faint whistle and then landed with a hard splash. But I wasn’t close enough. And no matter how hard she swam after me, I made sure I never was.

How many, Rotchfinger, how many…

Perhaps I should’ve saved her for I have been here for far too long on this island. My skin, once gloriously bright orange and smooth, was now blistered and peeling, thanks to not only the baking sun but the coarse sprinkles of sand constantly whipping my soul. The waves never leave me alone either, bashing me nightly when the greedy tide comes in. As for the crabs…don’t get me started.

Oh, I wish someone would save me for a change. Put me back on my perch, away from all of this, high and dry and watching a sunset in perfect lonely peace.