by Emily Deibert and inkshark

Sarah knew something was wrong when the seagull took Amanda’s vegan pizza. The slice had been sitting out all afternoon, the not-cheese congealing in the summer sun, and none of the other birds had so much as glanced their way. 

But then again, it had been so long since Sarah had come to the ocean. Maybe she’d forgotten how desperate the seagulls were.

She rolled onto her stomach and watched the bird skitter to a stop. It dropped the slice into the frothy water below. I don’t blame you, Sara thought, and then the bird turned towards her.

Sarah sat up.

“Amanda.” Her friend looked over, blinking sunlight from her eyes. “That seagull. It… it said something.”

Amanda laughed. “The sun’s getting to you, babe. You should drink some water.”

“I’m serious, Amanda. It spoke.”

Amanda sat up, too, concern wrinkling her forehead. “You’re not having, like, an episode, are you? Because of” —she leaned in close— “y’know. Your accident?”

Sarah’s accident. The day her catamaran had capsized, and she’d disappeared for a week before washing up on shore. No injuries. No memories. Nothing to mark the time she’d lost. Just pale skin, puckered fingertips, and lips chapped rough with salt.

“Sarah, is this your first time back? To the ocean?”

“No.” Yes. But that wasn’t relevant, Sarah told herself. The seagull spoke to her. She knew it. She just didn’t know what it was trying to say. 

Neither girl pressed it, but the words echoed through Sarah’s mind all afternoon. They gnawed at her as she trudged back to her apartment, and as she ran the water for a bath. 

She stared at her reflection, garbled in the foggy bathroom mirror.

She wasn’t sure if it came out right. But she said it again as she peeled off her swimsuit, and again as she submerged her body in the tub.

When she said it under the water, she heard it. A message from the ocean.

Come back to us, Sarah. Come home.”

© Copyright Emily Deibert and inkshark

Emily Deibert is a writer and astronomer from Toronto, Canada. When she isn’t busy studying other worlds in our galaxy for her thesis, she spends her time dreaming up new worlds for her short stories. You can find her on Twitter @emilydeibert.

inkshark is a scandalously queer illustrator, author, and editor who lives in the rainy wilds of the Pacific Northwest. He enjoys exploring with his dogs, writing impossible things, and painting what he shouldn’t. When his current meatshell begins to decay, he’d like science to put his brain into a giant killer octopus body with which he promises to be very responsible and not even slightly shipwrecky. Pinky swear.

Read the Rest of the June Issue

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