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“I think I’m in lust,” the fisherman slurred as we played naked in his borrowed truck, now full of sand after our first date. I sucked his middle finger like a crawfish head. His hands did smell of fish and engine grease, black under the nails and roughed up with callouses. They rubbed like sandpaper when he jammed his hand down my Levi’s, but oh how I relished getting hooked by this lanky, long haired sailor.
He was still a stranger to me, but I bit the bait hard. I was charmed the moment he took my hand in the dark and rubbed the back of my thumb with his. A sucker for a thumb rub, I’ll pucker for a thumb rub: just intimate enough to remind me I’m a woman. A tight grip around that most useful finger says, “You belong to me now, but don’t worry…,” like how sometimes you gotta caress a kicking, spurred catfish’s head before it’ll let you pull the metal from its mouth. Then you toss it in the cooler with the rest. Later, you gobble it up whole with a dash of pepper and a squirt of lemon.
In return, I gave Sailor the best thumb rub of his short life. He told me so, right when he fell asleep on my breast as I scratched his coconut scented head. While he quietly dreamt, I braided our hair together—fishtail style—and I drove that truck straight into the Gulf.
About Sydney Smith
Sydney Smith is a writer and oceanographer from the southeastern U.S. She’s published poetry in Collage, the creative arts journal at her alma mater, where she studied physics and philosophy. She’s also published flash nonfiction in (and was named an Emerging Artist by) Cleaver Magazine and, oddly enough, a biophysics paper in the journal Cellulose. She took a roundabout path to writing—by sharing science through short stories. Growing up with the woods in her backyard, she developed a deep love for nature. The beauty in nature is what drew her to science and informs her creativity. She can be contacted at email@example.com, even when she is bobbing around in the ocean.