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Remora



There is a fish in the Mediterranean that attaches itself to sharks and ships and giant turtles with a special suction cup where its fin should be. The fish can swim on its own but prefers to stick to the sharks. The fish wants to go fast for the water to rush through its gills. The food is easy. People thought the fish subsisted on shreds of whatever the shark gnashed at. Then it was discovered it eats the host’s feces.

The fish is small and ugly and it is feared by everyone. It slows down boats and funerals and stops women from giving birth by sucking their cervix closed. It clogs irrigation channels and dries up fields. Orchards are barren.

A clipper stalls in the middle of a battle. The wind is hard over its stern and the enemy is fast approaching. The crew fling parbindles and casks of ale over the side, but they stay and stay. The attacker boards the ship and slays their enemies. They raze the ship and as its mast vanishes to ashes and the corpses fall asea, the fish come unstuck from the bottom of the boat. They spy a shark.

The people give it a name. Remora. It means back-delay. They apologize to each other– I am sorry your legal case has taken so long; you must have been sucked on by a remora. Your husband will someday return, he has been caught by the remora and is on his way. We are sorry to tell you, the train is delayed we are being held by a member of the Echeneidae family and will be moving shortly.

‘Winds blow and storms rage,’ writes Pliny the Elder, ‘but the Remora overmasters their fury and holds ships fast, achieving what the heaviest of anchors and the thickest of hawsers could never achieve.’

Where am I? Where am I? I am lying on the floor, facedown drooling into my carpet and breathing in dust nestled in the fibers. Why? I am coughing into the carpet so hard I am bashing my head on the floor. Ow. Ow. I am allergic to dust. Why is all this dust everywhere? Why is the room filled with dust? Why have all the flowers turned to dust? They used to be rhododendrons and where is my mother? There is a vase and it is full of garbage and the toilet runs full. It has overflowed and there is water in my mouth. The lights turn off and I am surrounded by snails. How come no one else is here and why am I still coughing? Why am I breathing in this water? What happened to all the dust? Yummy dust. What is this water and why is it full of snails? I am hungry. I shit all over the carpet and I jump out the window.



Zoe Dubno loves the oceans she's seen, but would like to see more.

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