18 November 202221 November 2022 Friday Fiction Fiction | Sea-Monkeys don’t die Helena Pantsis It’s me. I know it’s been a while…It’s about those things you gave me—the sea-monkeys. Yeah…They’re still alive. I’ve been keeping them in a jar of saltwater on the top shelf of the bathroom. No, no one can hear me. I’m calling because something about them has changed. The jar fizzed since the last time we talked, expanded and distorted so the glass became round and bulbous—calm down…No, the seam dissolved some time ago…I hadn’t noticed, I have a life, you know. But the lid popped, so the air escaped…I don’t know when. Does it matter? …The thing is, the shrimp don’t look like shrimp anymore…More like, I know this sounds stupid, but like intestines or— No, I’m serious, they’re huge, soft and fluid, pink and transparent but wriggling like eels. Disgusting. Well, I moved them into the pool in the backyard—there’s a tarp over the top of it and the kids don’t like to swim in the winter anyway… I’ve never seen sea-monkeys like these. I had some when I was a kid; the biggest they got was the size of goldfish. We kept them in an aquarium and they lived for more years than we’d planned. But these are something else…My husband’s at work… You don’t think they’re dangerous? Right, I won’t go near them in the meantime… Of course not, I owe you, besides he can’t know about— Right. You have to come and get them…What? Who is that? …I don’t want some strange man coming to my house…When? My children live here. And what if Jon’s home? No, I suppose he could come on a weekday. What’s his name? …Okay and he’ll come and get them? What are they? …I’ve never seen sea-monkeys that big. There’s no way— What? Well, like thirteen years, that’s when we flushed them down the toilet…I guess tortoises live a long time. I heard something about lobsters being biologically immortal, whatever that means—brine shrimp… Shut up, they do not. Are you high? …No, I know that. Of course. I’d do anything for you, after what you did for our baby—my baby… What? I thought things were going well, that you were healthy…You’ve had tests? Jesus, so it’s serious…Oh no, Stephen. I hadn’t realised…I should call more often. (Mum?) It’s just hard, you know, with the kids and all…Yeah, I get it… So, what are you going to do? You’re not asking for it back, are you, I mean, I don’t think that’s how transplants work…Right, I’m being stupid. The shrimp? How would they help? …What? (Muuum) Wait. Are you saying I’m harvesting organs in my fucking backyard? Okay, not harvesting, growing then, farming, nurturing, whatever. And when all’s said and done you’re going to slice these things up and sell their organs to the highest bidder? One for you, and then—Jesus, Stephen. If I’d known I never would’ve taken them… (Muuum) I’m not having some guy from the black market come and collect—This isn’t a favour, it’s insane! This is insanely illegal and if anything happens—I’m a mother! . . . She’s your daughter too! (Muuuuuum!) Daisy, I’ll be there in a minute! Tell Jon? You wouldn’t…Fuck, Stephen, I can’t believe it’s come to this. You used to be decent. Life over my— (MUM, JAMIE FELL INTO THE POOL AND WE CAN’T SEE HIM ANYMORE!) Fuck. (beep…beep…beep) Photo credit: Photo by Huy Phan on Unsplash Helena Pantsis Helena Pantsis (she/they) is a poet and writer from Naarm, Australia, and a full-time student of psychology and creative writing with a fond appreciation for the gritty, the dark, and the experimental. She has had works published in Voiceworks, Going Down Swinging, and Meanjin. More of her work can be found at hlnpnts.com. More by Helena Pantsis Overland is a not-for-profit magazine with a proud history of supporting writers, and publishing ideas and voices often excluded from other places. If you like this piece, or support Overland’s work in general, please subscribe or donate. Related articles & Essays First published in Overland Issue 228 2 November 20224 November 2022 Friday Fiction Fiction | Knitting Colin Varney Memory’s a trickster, just not a very good one. It meddles with the mise-en-scéne of the music awards, faithfully recreating the tables and stage but inserting a children’s swing and climbing frame. It cut-and-pastes a sunbather plattered on a towel. A couple picnic on a rug. 9 First published in Overland Issue 228 2 September 20228 September 2022 Fiction Fiction | Focus Rose Allan A woman is lying on her back, disappearing into the sand. Bit by bit. First her belly, then her legs and lastly her feet. Her eyes are closed. She could be dreaming. She could be dead. From above on the boardwalk, Madeleine has an excellent view. A boy and a girl gleefully scoop and dump sand over the woman’s body. The mother must trust them not to get carried away and dump sand on her head.