The Catch by Sharon Telfer

Her ribs stuck out like a shipwreck.

He tried tempting her with morsels – wafers of smoked salmon, delicate sushi rolls. Next thing, she was stumbling to the bathroom, bolting the door. He listened outside, dreading what that rush of running taps concealed.

“That background, darling,” said his mother. “She’ll never feel comfortable with people like us.”

“She’s a stunner, mate,” they chorused, down The Jolly Sailor. “Always going to be high-maintenance, though, girl like that.”

She was beautiful. She just couldn’t see it, staring into her mirror, legs curled tight, restless fingers combing her hair. She loved him, he was sure; she just wouldn’t talk to him.

One day, he burst the catch on the bathroom door. She lay, flopped in the tub, her tail in place of those unsteady legs, its lustre gone, scales flaking, limp as days-old bream on the fishmonger’s slab. Her salty eyes challenged him.

He knew he had to let her go.

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