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Marianne Villanueva


“We’re going down. We’re going under.”

“When?” I ask.


“We don’t have maps.”

“We don’t need maps. There’s only one way to go, and that’s down.”

My right eye starts twitching. I can’t control it: it moves up, down, to the side, as if driven by an invisible engine. Synaptic misfire! Oh, here comes the other one!

Of course he has to say, “Look at your funny little eyes.”

Things the way they are today. I ask and ask and ask. They might not be here tomorrow. No, they’ll definitely be gone tomorrow. Or we’ll be.

Last night I had that dream again. Spiders and snakes. All around, spiders and snakes. There was a snake twice my height. I caught a hold of it by the snout, stretched its mouth wide wide. A very long, red tongue poked out. Then I woke up.

Yesterday we found one of those strange flopping things on the beach. It is always a bad day when we come across one of those.

I don’t look too close. They’re not fish. If we stay surface, comes a day we see something we recognize. The eyes of Weary Edward. Or Anxious Alice.

We’re all mostly water. If we relax, we’ll float. We can’t drown. A baby, you know, floats! I know!

“What’s down there,” he says, are people. The ones who’ve gone before.”


What if we do get into Pinki Pi, and do manage to reach the bottom, but when we look around, there’s only nothing. Darkness.

He keeps telling me that if we stay here, we’ll die. Or turn into one of those spider things. Like Becky. I don’t like to think of her that way, but then why was the spider wearing her sweater?

She loved to run by the beach. She wasn’t afraid of the waves. And then she disappeared.

I look at the sea. Pinki Pi bobs reassuringly by the marker buoy. I stare at it, swallow hard, and look away. I remember others like her. What happened to them? It’s hard to get a fix on time when there’s no one else following after you.

I tick off the distances: 60 meters? 150 meters? 200? Could even be 500.

Pinkie Pi can’t handle 500 meters. That’s the mesophotic zone. No one’s ever been to the mesophotic zone. Or, more accurately, no one’s returned.

“She will,” he says, angry-like.

He is stubborn. Stubborn and determined. We are refugees on the surface of the planet, now. But I’d rather stay surface, if you don’t mind. This little spot of beach is home now. Home, home, home.

I ask him, “Why’d you call it Pinkie Pi?”


“Pinkie Pi. Who was she?”

“No one.”

I look up at the strange-colored sky. The air scorches.

He’s still angry about the last one. Something wrong with his parts, or with mine. Now, all we can hope for is to become fish ourselves.

I remember Eduardo Griffiths. Where is he now . . . ?

“There are cities in the bottom of the ocean,” Eduardo told us. “With people who look just like us.”

He says, “Eduardo Griffiths is down. He went down with the 22nd wave.” He’s a mind reader.

“That’s right. He also said we came from the Ocean.”

“We did.”

“And now we’re going back.”

“That’s right. We’re going back.”

I remember how happy Eduardo Griffiths looked, just before he went down.

I don’t need science. I just need someone to tell me that everything will be okay. I want to hear him say: everything will be okay.

I imagine spiders swarming over the hills. But, if I became one of them? Ours is the kingdom and the power. What good, in this world? When you are the last?

I watch him go shuffling off towards Pinkie Pi. I imagined this moment as being portentously silent, to give space to my sadness. But this new world, the world that began with everything dying, has never been silent. There are echoes of voices – other people’s voices. I even imagine I hear children calling, “Mommy! Mommy!”

I want to answer.

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