It was small and austere, but it was ours—we had a nice set-up,
didn’t we? You, always guarding with your large goby eyes.
And me, a blind shrimp, busily tending our home. I’d scoop
the endless ever-shifting sands away from the entrance,
in case a quick retreat was needed. Our burrow would be buried
in less than an hour if I didn’t continually excavate, but I never asked
for gratitude. I knew our relationship was one of mutual survival.
An odd couple for sure—but it worked. I kept the lair clean
while you kept watch by the salient rock. The strong and silent type.
Sequestered below, was it any wonder that I sometimes got lonely?
From time to time I’d come up for a chat, trusting that you’d alert
me to danger with your sudden agitation, the way your body quaked.
I needed to stay close to sense it, to keep my antennae on you.
But you were always annoyed, although it was our arrangement.
Get those long things off me! They tickle! you’d say.
And don’t stand so near. Your hard shell hurts. You’ll abrade my delicate skin.
Complain, complain, complain. You always were one
to harbour a grudge. I told you that was an accident,
but you never forgave me. Is that why
you called me garrulous? You wanted to hurt my feelings?
It’s true I’m a bit chatty, but what did you expect? I’m a blind shrimp
living near a desolate piece of rock, with no friends except you.
At least, I thought you were my friend… until…
until that fateful day when I left the safety of our burrow
in search of food. I wended through the sand, getting further away.
Nothing felt familiar. I tried going back, but the sand kept shifting from
under me. Why weren’t you by my side? Disoriented, I swept
my antennae all around, searching for you. Hoping that you’d come,
but you never did… I’m sorry that our relationship was such a strain,
my chatter so irritating, the sight of me revolting. You always hated
my hard-shelled, segmented body. My chelated legs.
I never told you, but your soft-bellied body sickened me.
The way your scales would coalesce into the thin skin
beneath it, merging into one squashy pulpy lump of flesh.
You told me I was keeping you down, keeping you from your high-flying
dolphin dreams. Never mind that I gave you a home, gave you shelter.
You weren’t the only one with dreams, you know! I had dreams too—
maybe settle down one day, lay a million eggs or so, watch them grow
into beautiful little larvae. But all that is gone now.
You abandoned me. And now the thought of a grouper gulping
your small soft body down its gullet delights me. Or you—unable
to fend off the tidal sands… slowly suffocating, buried alive.
We were both supposed to benefit from this partnership,
but instead I ended up here—swimming in this bucket, consumed
with revenge, left to dwell on my foreseeable demise. Slit open,
deveined, and sautéed with butter and garlic in a pan.