(Content Warning: Sexual Assault)
The vampire squid was the scariest thing we’d ever seen. It glided along nonchalantly, and then once threatened, it flipped inside out to expose chains of teeth. When the image flashed on the screen, your hand found mine. I gave it a little squeeze to say I know.
After that, we had to learn more. We decided the library would be the best place because the vampire squid deserved real research, not two seconds on a keyboard. The one on 67th Street has those circular gothic windows that look like something out of a Jules Verne story. Everything fit.
We found out that, even though it’s called a “squid”, it’s really an octopus. I found out that your lips are softer than they look, and that—even though you ran to meet me—you still smelled like a forest after the rain. Musky, clean, and fresh.
School started up again and you forgot all about the octopus with the big blue eyes jutting out from a red body. You never brought it up again. Not when we went for ice-cream. Not when you came over to my house for dinner. Not when we kissed, against a tree, amber leaves crunching under our feet.
But I didn’t forget. I thought about the two toothy beaks it hides under its webbing. How what looked like strands of teeth was really spongy, not sharp. Protection by deception. I thought it was so clever, animals not as they appear.
Then you came over one night, my parents were out. The heaviness of your body on mine left no air in my lungs.
I said I wasn’t ready.
But you didn’t stop. You pretended not to see my tears. Vampyroteuthis infernalis. That’s the squid’s real name. Why can’t things be as they appear?
Veronica Klash loves living in Las Vegas and writing in her living room. She writes flash fiction, short stories, articles, and essays. When she’s not writing, Veronica indulges in her other obsessions: food, martinis, Japan, and goofy socks. Find her at veronicaklash.com.