The One That Got Away

She was as beautiful as the glistening ocean, and he was sure because it was right there for comparison. The restaurant was quaint. The food was divine.

She looked at him with perfect eyes, smiled with perfect lips. ‘I’ve never felt this way before.’

‘But in a good way, right?’

‘I think I’m falling in love with you.’

His heart swelled, he had already fallen in love with her. He took another bite. Delicious, but there was something… metallic? The hook went through his cheek with a tug that pulled him halfway through the open window.

She screamed. No, wait, that was him.

The hook was attached to some sort of line leading into the water. He gave it an experimental tug. The line tugged back, doubling the pain in his cheek and pulling him right through the window. With all the strength and agility of the professional wrestler that she was, she caught his ankles before he hit the water.

‘What’s happening?’

The hook was a searing pain in his mouth, tugging at his cheek and contorting his words. ‘I don’t know!’

The pressure was gentle but constant now. His shoes and socks were slipping off in her grip. Finally, like the cork from a bottle of champaign (or a bottle of sparkling wine that wasn’t made in Champaign), he shot out of her grasp and into the water.

Bubbles and pain and whooshing. Suddenly there were fish everywhere, and cameras, and one of the fish was talking into one of the cameras.

‘Now this is a brown haired insurance manager. I’d say he’s about thirty four, comfortable, but beginning to wonder if he chose the right career.’

‘What’s happening?’ His words came out as nothing yawns underwater.

‘See the clean tie and fresh haircut? You can tell he hasn’t had any kids yet because he still cares about his appearance. ‘

The fish ripped the hook from his mouth, tearing his cheek open in the process.

‘If you look at his phone and the cut of his shirt, you’ll notice he’s still clinging desperately to the remainder of his evaporating youth. Reckon he’s about two years away from buying a sports car.’

The fish held him up to the camera.

‘He’ll never be quite as strong as he used to be, or as healthy, or as attractive, or as happy. It’s too late to live up to his potential. But I’m going to let him go. It’s just like I always say: If you love something, set it free.’

And then he burst back into the open air. There was the sky. There was the restaurant. There was her, in the window. Good god his cheek hurt.


The bandages came off with trepidation rather than enthusiasm. The doctor had done the best she could. The best she could was a jagged scar in his cheek and mild brain damage from being underwater so long.

‘How does it look?’

His true love looked at his face. Her eyes and lips weren’t quite as perfect when they were making that expression. ‘I think we should see other people.’

‘You’re breaking up with me?’

‘I just meant that it would be a lot easier to interact with the world if we could look at other people. It’s starting to hurt my wrestling career.’

‘Oh, well, fine then. That makes sense, actually.’

‘Also I’m breaking up with you.’

His heart broke up with itself. ‘Because of my hideous scar?’

‘Of course not. We just don’t have that much in common.’

‘For instance, you don’t have a hideous scar on your face, but I do.’

‘It’s not you, it’s me.’

‘It’s you who has to look at my hideous scar.’

‘I need to focus on my stock options.’

‘I don’t know how to make that about my scar, but I still think this is about my scar.’

‘If you love something, set it free.’

‘That’s what the fish said!’

‘About that.’

There was a knock at the door.

‘Who’s that?’

‘My new boyfriend.’

It was the fish.


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