Fiction | Sea-Monkeys don’t die

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.


 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?


 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…


 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!


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—



Fuck. (beepbeepbeep)

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

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