The Lobster

30-Day Flash Challenge, Day 1

hoto by Mathilde Normandeau on UNSPLASH.

Once upon a time, it was Priscilla’s doll blanket. Then, looking for a way to help my diving prowess and get a bit more exercise, I took the navy blue cloth and created the lobster.

I squint into the water, see it undulating at the bottom of the pool. Under 8 feet of water, it does look like a lobster. I sewed a stack of silver dollars into each of the four corners. Priscilla wouldn’t care. It was something she left behind when she and her mother split three years ago. The idea was to fling it into the pool, dive in, and try to catch it before it reached the bottom. A feat I never managed to pull off. That was three years ago.

And that was when the partying had gotten out of hand.

Pete’s Pool Parties!

I remember printing the flyers with the alliterative phrase in size 48 Calibri font, hanging them everywhere at work.

Everyone from the firm would attend. It was fun at first, but even then, there was some voice telling me that a 44-year-old man shouldn’t be drinking so heavily, throwing so many lavish, expensive parties. As a lawyer, I made a pretty good income, but the problem was, I spent even more.

I’ve hired a couple of private investigators, but so far, neither have found a trace of Max and Pris. I guess I should be happy. We were a happy family. Once. But that time lays eclipsed behind too many infidelities, too many screaming matches, too much nagging. I figure one day I’ll get some paralegal serving me divorce papers from her. At this point, I’ll sign anything. Hell, she can even have the house for all I care, the house and the insanely expensive and over-the-top swimming pool.

I’m sitting on the edge of the pool, gently stirring the water with my legs. The ripples in the water make it seem like the lobster is scuttling across the pool floor.

But I don’t remember it being that big. I stop swinging my legs back and forth, then I remember again.

The sun is slowly baking my bare back and shoulders, and I lie back and shut my eyes for a few minutes.

Time does what time always does, and after a few minutes, I feel myself falling asleep.

Feeling emboldened by six rum rickeys, I catch Reynaldo’s eye. He is standing on the opposite side of the pool, holding the lobster, swinging it wildly.

I tilt my head to the pool’s surface.

Everyone else gathers around the barbecue grill and the long tables of catered food.

Reynaldo flings the weighted rag into the pool.

I take three quick steps and try some crazy dive.

But my foot slipped on the pavement. I hear the back of my head smash into the ledge of the pool on my way down.

Time does something funny. It feels like a week I’m underwater, but then my hands find the rope, and I pull myself out of the pool.

My friends, that’s a laugh — none of them even noticed their generous host had been underwater for minutes. There’s not as much blood as I thought there would be. Most of it seems contained in my thick black hair.

I’m angry that not even Reynaldo checked on me. Surely smacking my head on concrete wasn’t meant to be a part of my dive.

So I sit on the pool’s edge, sunning, stewing, and stirring my legs. The August sun feels heavy on my back.

Fuck em.

I’m good enough to host parties week after week, but not one of them can step over and see if I’m okay?

Fuck em.

I look around; they are dancing, eating my food, and drinking my alcohol.

Screw it. Today is my last pool party. That’ll show them.

I’ve threatened this before, and already I know it’s not one I will keep.

But then I look down at the lobster and wonder.

Something has shifted here, but I can’t say what.

I lie back, resting my sore head on a damp folded towel.

Eventually, the sun’s rays conspire with the alcohol, and I fall asleep even as some inner worrywart is rambling about the dangers of sleeping while concussed.

I raise my glass to my lips but then remember it’s empty; there are only a few melting shards of ice left. I can still taste the lime juice and rum; I set it down and stand. My legs feel massive.

That’s when I see Reynaldo standing on the opposite side. He’s swinging something in his hand, the lobster.

Suddenly I’m not feeling well. Probably too much alcohol. I sit back down on the patio and dangle my legs in the pool.

Did I shout for him to throw the toy in the pool, or had it been only a head gesture towards the water? I can’t remember now; too much time has passed.

And time is a funny thing here, wherever here is.

I feel the sun, hear the music and laughter of my friends as they continue eating, drinking, and ignoring me.

I think a nap will help.

The water is at the perfect temperature. The sun bounces daggers off the surface into my eyes. I kick at the water; the knives get smaller then disperse altogether.

Through the turbulent water, the lobster looks much bigger now, almost the size of a man.

I look around for my drink; I don’t see it.

I look over my shoulder, but my friends are gone now.

Now, there is only the pool, the sun, and the lobster.

Originally published on on August 1, 2021.

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