Mimic octopuses can pass as sea snakes, frogs, goats, grizzly bears, pandas, tree stumps, newspaper articles, butterflies, physical laws, mathematical equations, the lunar surface, coconut halves and the outpourings of a hormone from a human thyroid gland in a time of crisis.
The operation was a success in one sense of the word – the tumour was gone – but so too was her thyroid. She wished she was the mimic octopus but feared that it was her missing gland, whose absence in her would bug her by its imagined presence in the rest of the world and her life. She imagined it under the sea, hiding in a coconut half and pouring its hormones uselessly into the oestrogen-drenched ocean.
Every atom of her being grieved for the lost gland, the octopus she had so wanted to see gone just four weeks before. But what connection truly existed between them?
The window broke. It crashed, throwing glass everywhere, all over her bed, on the floor so she feared to get out of the covers to call for help. There was no explanation, no child’s ball, no octopus grinning as its tentacles, carrying some kind of mutation, pushed the remnants of glass out of the window frame in the way people do when they are trying to make it safe for you.
She saw the window – or its absence – and really looked at what wasn’t there anymore. A circuit closed in her head and she found hope that this absence would save her.
The hope would not last – it was a pale, striped imitation of a feeling. In truth, the hallucination was ongoing and she almost knew it. Some protein imbalance in her bloodstream was causing her to see the mutated tentacle circling her neck and tightening.
My response to a writing exercise called Word Cricket, in which someone says a word every minute or so and you, while writing continuously, have to incorporate each word into your story as soon as possible.