All Stories, General Fiction

The Atlantic by Ambika Thompson


On our first date we went to a gallery of photos of sultry women from the 1960’s. You were hungover and thought the walls would collapse in on you. Afterwards we took a bus to my house where we kissed and seas of fish swam between our mouths.

On our second date we went and watched dancers dance in spinning technicolour. After you tried to go up the escalator the wrong way and I laughed at you, so we went to my house and kissed again, and a coral reef grew between our mouths. Then you ran your hand over my thigh and asked why I had gills. I told you that I didn’t quite know but I was born near the ocean, and one day it flipped up on me. After sailing adrift for a million days I was rescued by the Canadian Coastguard, and they discovered that I had grown gills.

You were born on the Atlantic as well, but the other side. You told me that you got my message in a bottle when you were six. The one that said I liked lollipops and icebergs. I told you how I sailed on icebergs in the St. John’s harbour when I was little with a teddy bear named Susan who could speak Pig Latin. You said that made you happy, but also sad because you’d never seen an iceberg, nor had you ever had a teddy bear, nor could you speak Pig Latin.

On our next date, after we saw an art film done in a billion shades of shadows, I gave you a teddy bear that spoke Esperanto. Then I ran my hand down your spine. It was made of plastic bottle caps. You told me that the ocean had flipped up on you as well and stole your spine, and now a turtle uses it to hold up his sail on his pirate ship. I said that made me sad, and turned over and let you touch the part of my back where I should have had a spine. I told you that the Atlantic winds had stolen it to keep a lighthouse standing up so the whales wouldn’t hit the brightly coloured St. John’s houses, nor swallow the Saturday shoppers on Water Street. Then I rolled into a ball and hid in the bathtub because I missed my spine, the ocean, the wind, and the icebergs.

You couldn’t find me so you went home and fashioned me a spine of starfish so I wouldn’t be sad, and when you came back we went online and bought a condo on an iceberg in the Atlantic, where we moved and then promptly, and ever so romantically, froze to death.


Ambika Thompson


Banner photo: (Shoal of fish at Lorry Bay, south of Gordon’s Bay on the east side of False Bay) by Peter Southwood (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (, via Wikimedia Commons