Rebecca King loves rivers. Originally from St. Louis, along the mighty Mississippi, she now resides in Pittsburgh, surrounded by water on all sides. She recenlty graduated with her MFA in Creative Writing from Chatham University in Pittsburgh, and now works for Autumn House Press as a designer. Her stories have appeared
in > kill author, DOGZPLOT, and Shady Side Review.
Thanks, I said. That makes it so much easier to eat. I smiled, but you were distracted, watching the waitress deliver our bottle of rice wine. The small porcelain cups scraped against each other as you separated them. One for each of us.
No, really. Look. You held your finger just over the squid’s gummy, translucent skin, tracing the pink and blue veins though the bulb of its head.
I prodded the squid in the bowl, watched it bob in its own broth. Its tentacles hung over the porcelain lip like vines covered in white round suckers. On top, its arms faded purple like bruises.
You poured the wine, and somewhere in the restaurant, a man laughed at something his companion said in Korean. I slid a chopstick under one of the tentacles, and it moved, wrapped itself around the wood. I gasped and looked to you, watched the smile lines emerge at the corners of your eyes.
When I’d asked you to dinner, you’d said you weren’t sure it was such a good idea to do this. Not again, you said. But now, as our bodies bent toward each other over the table, both of us on our elbows and grinning, it was like nothing had ever changed.
How can we eat it? I asked. It’s still alive.
Don’t worry, you said. It’s just a reflex. It’s dead. See? You eased the chopsticks from my hand, the tentacle still clinging, and slurped the whole thing into your mouth. You laughed as you chewed, grinding the rubbery suckers between your teeth.
You said, It’s still trying to cling to my tongue.