SmokeLong Quarterly

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Story by Steven Douglas Gullion (Read author interview) August 15, 2004

My daughter and I walked on that stinking beach below the concrete wall, staring at the mud-colored sand, trying not to step on broken beer bottles, or splintered shells, or dead things.

Dozens of jellyfish lay collapsed in the sand, rubbery and thick. I thought they’d be like silk, like fog, like soap bubbles, but they lay on the beach like the sweaty Halloween masks of dead politicians, translucent, suffocating, and plump.

We saw half a fish washed up, its corpse as big as my eight-year-old daughter, its scales red and yellow, its fins rimmed in charcoal. Its head was gone, cut away in the V-shape of a shark’s bite.

I followed her out along a jetty of granite blocks, past the sign that said, “Proceed At Your Own Risk, Not Designed For Public Access.” Any slip could spill her into the green water, into the riptide. “Careful,” I yelled. She hopped from one stone to the other, too near the mossy edge.

We retraced our steps to the beach, and she ran through the surf in her yellow bathing suit with its red straps, the waves crashing around her knees. “Come here right now,” I yelled. “And watch out, there’s broken glass everywhere.”

She looked at me hard, her lip pulled back, her fingers knotted into tiny fists. “Jeez, you worry about everything.”

I looked out at the endless green gulf and back at the graffiti-covered seawall. Yes, I thought, I do.

About the Author

Steven Gullion’s other fiction has appeared in Night Train Magazine, The Barcelona Review, The Adirondack Review, and issues 5, 21 and 22 of SmokeLong Quarterly, among others. He is currently working on a novel about an armadillo.

About the Artist

A native of Ohio, Marty D. Ison lives with his wife transplanted in the sands of the Gulf of Mexico. He studied fine arts at Saint Petersburg College. In addition to the visual arts, he writes poetry, short stories, and novels. See more of Ison’s work here.

This story appeared in Issue Five of SmokeLong Quarterly.
SmokeLong Quarterly Issue Five

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