Sunday Stories: “We Need To Accept That The Fluid Is Young”


We Need To Accept That The Fluid Is Young
by Rahawa Haile


Its vibrations, you’ll notice, still golden and pearled. It wakens in spurts, like a jeopardized engine, and all into vapors have our catalysts failed. Approach its enclosure with caution, hands clenched. Note the blood-tinged walls? The digits of my peers? I say to you again, sudden movements are discouraged, all coins forbidden beyond the red lines.

Its origins, in brief: We came upon the fluid as:

a meter-wide gurgle digesting the orphans of floor ten.

a stay-at-home divorcee with storm clouds for teeth.

two forgotten state capitals adjoined now in rebellion.

Its surface bore growths Alpacan in texture, malignant in pitch. What remains is timid but growing, a poor conductor of electricity that has mastered the cursive ‘z.’  What remains is learning street humor, but can so far only offer “Your titration is so pH–.”

What remains is still working on it.

Should it escape, run. Do not zig. Do not zag. You will not lose the fluid by sprinting like a fool. It will kill, and not know, and then know, and kill but a little less. Your apocalypse is a child. We have analyzed the data: It will flood the gilled with mercury and order crêpes for lunch. It has frothed the South Atlantic into an inedible tomb. I have seen it. It is true. We are blaming Argentina.

Nevertheless, the facility is pleased. Its donors are pleased. The fluid, its progress without compare. A world tour slated for the wet unknown.



In London, the fluid woos swans. Hiking near Barcelona, it simulates a Nalgene to get closer to a girl. It stars opposite Aamir Khan in a Bollywood remake of Deep Blue Sea. It discovers German beer, back acne, and perpetual motion. It gets chlamydia. It decides to teach English in Thailand while it figures things out. It thinks about visiting Africa but lacks fluency in Mandarin. It proposes to Iceland. It despairs. It lives in a pair of Jordans for sixteen days until the colors bleed noisily onto the pavement, until the residents of São Paulo see dead relatives and proclaim it an act of God.

The fluid gets bored. It broods. It discovers punk rock and elopes with the bassist of the Dylan Thomas Tramp Stamps. The fluid awakens with its container tied to the bathroom door. An empty room. Credit cards missing. An inverted suitcase with one folded sock. It bawls. It loses 12 pounds. The fluid asks to be alone. It pines for the cinema of unwashed men — its unwashed man — but is too grieved to come. It rings home. It watches “The Mary Tyler Moore Show” from a mason jar on a cruise ship; it sings off-key to no one until the night descends. As the scientist snores, the fluid contemplates a crossword, a place somewhere in the mountains, safe and alone.



Among the disasters to happen upon the scientist:

1) Jellyfish.

2) The loss of Australia.

3) Prostate cancer.

4) Times Square.

5) The moon is closer than it should be.

6) The periodic table has been halved.



In retrospect, he should have killed it. Imagine what could have been, he’d said to the fluid as the continents receded, lapped raw by the waves. The people doomed. The plants doomed. The ice patient. Imagine, he said again days later, his water gone, watching the birds, one by one, crash exhausted on the sea.

The fluid said nothing, had not, in fact, spoken in years. When the scientist died the fluid did not weep. It had long accepted that the planet was old. The people too many. The air foul. Its lands irradiated. Its aquifers dry. The true species of Earth extinct for decades. Its future colonizers gilled.

The fluid called the moon for comfort. So close now, it thought, it need only reach. Its fingers illuminated. The hug of the craters. Their wintry inversions. A vanishing! And then only impact, rippling through the planet like the calm strokes of its mother upon the once nightmare of youth.


Rahawa Haile is a Brooklyn-based writer. You can find her on Twitter.

Image source: Ruben Holthuijsen via Creative Commons

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