emanuelsen

Logarithmic Spiral

Rebecca Emanuelsen

Above, light slants. Shadows slip skeleton fingers through water. Pinhole vision detects the moment light has fully faded. Ascend: let water seep through chambers, shell. Warmth increases upward.
            Wiggle your tentacles. Sense: dead matter to the east (good). Propel toward it, backward, buoyant, moving along until you reach sandy ground, blindly bumping into reef. Swivel to navigate reef structures, twisting to glimpse the landmarks ahead (behind). Down, under, up (bump—hollow, resonant—down, under, up again), over, down.
            When you sense the candy chemicals of decomposition just below, dig your tentacles into sand, forcing water through siphon to unbury the dead. Grab, bite with beak, tear through meat. Fish—red snapper, perhaps. Settle beneath coral to eat meal in peace.
            Nearly finished, you sense: living creature unlike yourself (bitter, bad). Back, up, over, away (far); thrust water through siphon to leave, last tidbits of meal still clutched against beak. When you have traveled some distance and the bitter tang of your enemy has dispersed, you find a new rush of chemicals.
            Sense: nautilus (neutral).
            Sense: female (piquant, good).
            Sense: that female (superb).
            The female you have been chasing for days now, her fragrant pheromones leaving labyrinth trails that grow strong and then disappear. You redirect yourself, jetting backward toward her. Perhaps this will be the day you find her, copulate, fertilize eggs.
            Stop nibbling carrion; save the morsel so that you might present it to her. Plan the buoyant dance you’ll do while she feasts, displaying your zebra stripes, flexing your whiskery tentacles.
            When pheromones overwhelm, break your linear path to pivot, feeling the water for her location, searching for her shape. Set yourself on a new, circular trajectory.
            A plume of her scent, and there—you spot her. The curvature of her whorled shell, painted in light stripes. Her tentacles waving in the current, salacious. Her eye—flat, round, a come-hither gaze.
            Propel, knock against her shell by mistake, drop the bit of red snapper clutched in beak. Circle, wait for her to take your offering.
            She nudges the fish, then propels away.
            Perhaps she didn’t see you.
            Pursue, wave tentacles, attempt to gain attention.
            She propels away.
            Follow.
            She propels away.
            Drift toward her, curling a limb, questioning.
            She propels away.
            Drift aimlessly. Wonder what went wrong. Assume she didn’t see you. Assume she did see you—ignored you, thwarted your attempt to transfer sperm. Blame her for your troubles.
            Sink as light begins to stream down. A school of silver-slick fish pass by, giving your shell a wide berth, mocking your solitude. Seek out cool, dark. Wallow. Blame her.
            Sense: living creature unlike yourself (acrid, bad). Retreat into shell, extend flap, close off. Blame her.
            Divert energy to the construction of a new wall in your logarithmic spiral, sectioning off a chamber, layering miniscule, iridescent, crystal-lattice hexagons. Blame yourself. Focus on personal growth.

Rebecca Emanuelsen lives in Michigan and is currently working on an urban fantasy novel. Sometimes she blogs at rebeccaemanuelsen.wordpress.com.

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