i’m sitting at a rough table except it’s at the bottom of the sea. there’s a man or a woman, it’s hard to say, with claws for hands and a wooden peg leg, cooking up some soup on the stove. it smells delicious. i say “how can there be fire at the bottom of the ocean” they say “do you like crab bisque” i do. i do. they ladle me up a bowl and it is delicious. and warm. “you’re looking for your soul, are you” i am. i am. “how did you know?” they laugh but it sounds like a wet fart coming through their noise. “that’s the only time i ever get visitors. if they’ve lost something. it’s kind of sad, but i don’t let it get to me” i try to nod in a sympathetic way. i don’t know if i pull it off. they clank their way up from the table and suddenly there’s a magnificent collection of lobster pots hanging from hooks in the ceiling. i blink. they scuttle about looking in this one and that and muttering and then “ah. here. this is you?” it’s a small round pot. it doesn’t look like it could hold a lobster at all. “would a lobster fit in that” i ask. they squint at it suspiciously. “ah, no. it looks like a sugar bowl, doesn’t it?” it does, it does. i reach out to touch it, but they pull it away. “sorry i can’t just give it to you” i’m confused. “why not? then why am i here?” they look confused too. “i don’t know. you’re not drowned, are you? you’re not dead? how did you get all the way down here?” a current begins to build beneath me. i try to respond but the waves are rushing me back towards the surface and i’m spat out, into the warmth of my nighttime bed. dripping dripping dripping. my sheets are wet and there’s a puddle on the floor and my chest feels so so cold.
i open the sugar bowl. there’s one sugar cube inside. should it be salt? i wonder. that would make more sense. the bottom of the sea. and i don’t think that i am sweet. i don’t think my soul would take this shape. it does make sense that it’s food. i love food. and i’m so hungry. i take the sugar cube out and let it dissolve on my tongue before i’ve fully considered if that’s the right course of action. as it melts to nothing i wish that i could slow it down, make it stop. what if i’ve done the wrong thing? then i swallow and it’s gone and all that’s left is the sweet aftertaste coating my tongue. and i still feel cold. i look into the empty sugar bowl and touch the bottom. empty. a voice whispers into my ear, unasked, “well? did you find what you were looking for?”