A Pledge of Devotion
By Regan Summers
(The only one of us who actually abided by the “flash fiction” word count!)
“That better not be a ring,” John says, feet shuffling as he stares down at the box. He pauses, then says in his instructive voice, “That’s a human custom. Of courtship.”
I know the custom, have read the stories and viewed the scenes of one lover on his—usually his—knee, offering love. Pledging devotion.
“It’s not a ring,” I say, insides fluttering. He takes up the box, recovered from the bottom of the sea, and dull bits of barnacle shell fall to the floor as he removes the top with his pale, thick hands.
“I’m not good with your art,” John says, squinting at the note.
I look down at the crisp white paper, the even black script. I worked so hard, so hard on forcing my bones to bend so that I could grip the pen. So hard on keeping the paper dry as I etched out the symbols.
“It’s not art.” I gesture toward the three distinct words. How can he not see? “It says…”
He makes an impatient sound, a sound of finality. The world is suddenly blurry and a noise escapes me, a low whistle that makes him wince.
“Sorry.” He shoves the box onto the table. “I’ll have one of the techs document it. To…to chart your progress.” He marches out of the room, not as fast as his two legs can carry him but fast enough.
The page curls in the humidity of the room. The words droop, the ink bleeding away. I sink back into my tank.
“It says ‘I love you’.”