'Seventy percent Water' by Jeanette Sheppard

He’d told her at night in the sweep of a lighthouse beam, after Storm Angus. As they stood on the rocks looking down on a beach littered with dead starfish he’d told her he was leaving. Moments before he’d told her a fact he’d learnt at medical school: our bodies are seventy percent water. Always remember that, he’d said.

Months later she walked into the hospital where he worked. It was her plan to see him again. She didn’t need to speak. She saw him at the far end of the sea-green corridor walking towards her. The clank of trolleys, the squeak of wheelchairs and shoes on vinyl stopped as her head rattled with the clack of pebbles in the lap of the sea and the glitter of starfish. The lighthouse beam swooped across her face. Her lungs crashed against her chest.

Splits in her skin began at her feet. Pools of salted water seeped into the gaps; pushed through her veins to her calves, thighs, hip, waist. She began to swell. The lighthouse flashed again revealing her barnacle white knuckles either side of her rounded body. She had passed the seventy percent. She was now a hundred percent. Her swollen skin sprouted holes until finally she drained away and merged with the ocean.

In the sea she reformed and swam away from the storm.

Originally published in the Bath Flash Fiction Festival anthology.


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