flash fictionIssue 7

Osmosis

Shannon Frost Greenstein

It doesn’t taste as bad as you would expect. I thought it would be like swallowing a mouthful of salt, but eventually, it goes down like regular water.

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Did you know, if you’re ever lost at sea, you can buy your life back from Poseidon with a black pearl?

There was this old sailor on the subway who told me that once, apropos of nothing. He was lugging a tiny whelp in a duffel bag and reeked of booze, but I’ve had far stranger characters sit next to me on the subway, so I didn’t bat an eyelash.

“A black pearl will save you, boy,” he proclaimed at one point in our brief conversation, admonishing me with an index finger as his eyes stared a thousand yards into the distance. “That’s what got me off the Indianapolis.”

It’s funny what goes through your head when your brain cells are withering and your kidneys have died.

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If I squint very hard, I can see ships on the horizon. If I squint harder, I can even see their inhabitants, men and women, employees and passengers, all sitting together to eat or staring at the ocean view or tying knots in rigging or lying down to sleep. I see each and every individual, the color of their eyes, the contents of their pockets, all going about their lives as time passes and the world turns and Poseidon waits for his pearl.

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The sun continues to blister, and I think of my children.

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When it finally comes, the psychosis is a relief.


Shannon Frost Greenstein (she/her) is the author of “These Are a Few of My Least Favorite Things” (Poetry, Really Serious Literature, 2022), “Correspondence to Nowhere” (Nonfiction, Bone & Ink Press, 2022), and “An Oral History of One Day in Guyana” (Fiction, Sledgehammer Lit, 2022). Shannon is a former Ph.D. candidate in Continental Philosophy and a multi-time Pushcart Prize and BOTN nominee. Follow her on Twitter: @ShannonFrostGre, or shannonfrostgreenstein.com.