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the sea

For this week, I’ll be scarce on the blog–something’s gotta give when you’re finishing your novel on deadline. So I’ll simply share an excerpt from one of my published short stories, and end with a link to the story itself.

Afterwards, Only the Sea

She kicked at the soft blob washed up on the beach. A jellyfish? A crayfish squeezed out of its shell in a cold sticky mess? The stink of it. No. The body of a seal, a moaning baby lumbered off, lost to its mother, trying to escape snapping jaws, now prey to the largest jaws of them all. Its flipper under her feet now, squishy-wet, washed-up, lonely.

Why call the human body a “body” and all others, “carcasses”? If she washes up on these very shores, why not call her a carcass, too? A bloated, stinking weight, a lot of give, tiny crabs scurrying out of eye sockets, teeth set in a permanent grin. Now in the soaked, sandy grave of this beach, she’s a walker, kicking, softly, without paying heed.

Another kick, breathing through her mouth the minuscule, atomic bits of rotting flesh. Her long, once-beautiful body too will break down in these waters, the body her alcohol-doused brain had forgotten about on a sofa, the body he found, stripped, bit, scratched, parted, made ugly, dirty. She had thought him a friend, the brother of the groom, who took care of guests, plied them with drinks.

She stumbled in the dark, feet sinking, the prick of broken sea-shells, the swish of the surf, the relentless hungry ocean, forever approaching, forever in retreat, like the swell of blood to her heart, pumping unsteady beneath her palm, each beat a cycle.

The waves would keep watch over the rise and fall of days, the curves of her body, the thick hanks of her hair floating like seaweed, over her bones long after she left, long after the flesh, her flesh, this flesh, came apart and became dark sludge, fish-food, bones, stone, sand.


Find the rest of the story at the delightful MacQueen’s Quinterly.

Did you read the rest of the story? What did it remind you of? What fascinating stories have you read lately?

My lit crime novel, The Blue Bar will be out soon with Thomas & Mercer. It is already available for preorders. Add it to Goodreads or pre-order it to make my day.
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Damyanti Biswas

Damyanti Biswas is the author of You Beneath Your Skin and numerous short stories that have been published in magazines and anthologies in the US, the UK, and Asia. She has been shortlisted for Best Small Fictions and Bath Novel Awards and is co-editor of the Forge Literary Magazine. Her literary crime thriller series, the Blue Mumbai, is represented by Lucienne Diver from The Knight Agency. Both The Blue Bar and The Blue Monsoon were published in 2023.

I appreciate comments, and I always visit back. If you're having trouble commenting, let me know via the contact form, or tweet me up @damyantig !

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  • Wow! What an arresting beginning. Can’t wait to read the rest, Damyanti!

  • DutchIl says:

    Thank you for sharing!!.. sometimes one has to stop the world and get off for a time, perhaps you might even have time to heed the words of Rose Milligan… 🙂
    Dust if you must, but wouldn’t it be better
    to paint a picture, or write a letter,
    bake a cake, or plant a seed.
    Ponder the difference between want and need.

    Dust if you must, but there is not much time,
    with rivers to swim and mountains to climb!
    Music to hear, and books to read,
    friends to cherish and life to lead.

    Dust if you must, but the world’s out there
    with the sun in your eyes, the wind in your hair,
    a flutter of snow, a shower of rain,
    this day will not come round again.

    Dust if you must, but bear in mind,
    old age will come and it’s not kind.
    And when you go, and go you must,
    you, yourself, will make more dust!
    (Rose Milligan)

    Until we meet again..
    May the sun shine all day long
    Everything go right, nothing go wrong
    May those you love bring love back to you
    And may all the wishes you wish come true
    (Irish Saying)

  • Yes I read the rest though it took a while for me to realize what the link was. Must be getting old Damyanti. LOL. Looking forward to hearing of y our success with the new novel.

    • DamyantiB says:

      Oh! I can see why it was a bit challenging. Maybe I’ll highlight it with a different color next time, that way it will be easier 🙂 Thank You so much, Ian.

  • I really, really hope your last minute work goes well.
    And am not at the moment thanking your for this excerpt. I was considering breakfast…

  • hilarymb says:

    Oh dear Damyanti – now our English coastlines will remind me of your story … a very interesting article – lots to be taken from it … lots of murders and horrors … excellent descriptions of rotting death … and I don’t do NaNo! Cheers Hilary

  • Lovely excerpt, Damyanti. Best of luck with your editing!