Dead Horse

by Sheree Shatsky

The past litters the beach. All vintage, my dad tells me, busted free from a long ago landfill. Take anything you want. I’m buying, he jokes.

Thick white cold cream jars. Leather shoes. Baby shoes. Plastic baby doll legs. A long silenced New Year’s Eve noisemaker, 1945. Half a soup bowl from a diner called Fran’s.

I pick up a clouded glass spice shaker embossed with a “P”. Salt, it smells of salt, of moist flour and yeast. I search the scatter for its top and find a tiny toy mouse, minus an ear. Seaweed plugs the other.

A guy fishes knee deep in the bay. My dad shouts, “What’s running?”

I think, maybe swordtail is not, like my dead tropical fish Henri my dad flushed down the toilet this morning. The half the cat didn’t eat.

The fisherman calls back, “Walleye!” Henri eyes nothing but cat guts now.

“I’d rather eat a dead hedgehog than anything out of that water,” my dad yells, pleased with his local banter.

We meander the exploded trash bag of a beach and stop at what remains of the old slaughterhouse. All those dead horses. I kick an ivory bone out of the sand.

The tideline is choked with horseshoe crabs, all tagged. With a number. Someone cares. Me and my dad, we pick our way past and don’t talk about Henri. Chunky bottles hang from a spiky tree. A couple catch the rain, others the sun.

Sheree Shatsky writes wild words. Her work has appeared in a variety of journals and her novella in flash “Summer 1969” is forthcoming at Ad Hoc Fiction. Sheree calls Florida home and is a Tom Petty fan. Read more of her writing at shereeshatsky.com and find her on Twitter @talktomememe.

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