Sueanne Pacheco | Man or A Seahorse
Sueanne Pacheco is the author of Mrs. Langlois' House. She currently resides in Toronto, Ontario. She finds herself inspired by the time she spends with her family and friends, and by her observations of the experiences of women
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Man or A Seahorse

Man or A Seahorse


Shadow owns me. I open my eyes. Slivers of sunlight cast docile shadows on the popcorn ceiling that meets the white wall of my unpacked, messy bedroom. I breathe deep. I watch the puppet show. What twin shadow follows me? I’m both lured and irked by ripples of light and dark on my wall. I close my eyes in hopes sleep will call me back to the veil of dreams. Not so. My eyes peel open.

The vigilant shadow taunts me. “Is it a man or a seahorse?” I hear myself say. “Or is there something you need from me?” I stare fixated until the sun finally moves. I kick my green-blue blanket off. I jump from my tattered, double bed that’s travelled two hours with me to an eight hundred square foot apartment on the outskirts of Cabbage town. I dash to the bathroom. I hope my bare feet doesn’t encounter any squashed cockroach. Yuck. My bladder screams in pain for relief. Why do I wait so long knowing at any moment I will wet myself? I do a jig as I drop my undies to my ankles and drop onto the toilet. There I sit. Sit. Sit.

For months now, the shadow worms its way under every fibre of my skin. Bores. Lurks. I wish it were still winter. I go for daily walks, weather permitting in hopes the frigid winter mornings will freeze shadow and crack it into oblivion. While my teeth chatter, and I huddle into my shoulders to brace the tundra winds, my cheeks burn. Icicles dangle about the chambers of my heart. Go ahead stab me. I press an ungloved thumb to my exposed wrist. A faint pulse. Instead, I wish I can drink myself into numbness. I wish a lot of things to relieve hurt. What am I to become?

I simply function because that’s what others expect of me. Be there. You’re so good at what you do. Who else is going to do it? Did you get a chance to look over those videos I sent you? Can you get on it I need it yesterday? I grab the sides of my temples, squeeze, and groan. Why torture yourself, Saiya? Your feelings – what feelings? A vast cavern of nothing in the center of my chest. I’m unable to feel anything. I had a heart once. A beautiful heart.

I exit the bathroom. I scrounge through an open moving cardboard box marked ‘kitchen’ and find a frying pan. I find myself making quick work of scrambled eggs sizzles in the pan as toast pops up from the toaster in the dimly lit kitchen. I don’t remember brushing my teeth. Did I brush my teeth? I turn the eggs and I’m standing in the contemporary kitchen of my three thousand square feet, five-bedroom house. I sigh. The drop kick of being an unemployed, professional digital manager choke holds me. I press a hand to my chest. Breathe, Saiya.

“Hey,” he says.

I turn and face him with an expectant half-smile. “Good morning.”

“I guess we have to sell the house.”

I lose my stomach in free fall like a Drop Tower amusement ride waiting to hurl whatever angry bile resides within me. My eyes cloud over. Inside, I roar, “All you think about is money. I lost my job, asshole. For once, I want to hear you say – hang in there, Saiya. You’re talented. You’ll find another job in no time. Jackass!”

He sees he’s put his foot in his mouth and runs for the front door before I can unleash the kraken. I slam anything I can get my hands on. The beginning of the end. Burning eggs brings me back. I grab the pan and throw it into the sink.

I cry myself into exhaustion. I blubber and howl some more. I blow my nose into a tea towel so hard my ears pop. What is happening to me? Why is there no ground beneath me? I had a heart once. A beautiful heart.

I regain myself. I’m vex with myself as I throw away my burnt eggs. I hold the cold toast, crunch down and eat with displeasure. I return to my bedroom and stand at the window. I see my fragmented, restless, enraged reflection shimmer and I disappear.

The ring tones from my cell phone beckons me towards the bed. I search for it beneath the blanket. I find it, glance the caller I.D. I hesitate to answer.

I’m literally saved by the ping of the text message which reads: “Hi, Saiya. Hope you are doing well. Just thought of letting you know that your profile has not been shortlisted for IT Manager.”

Oh, no. Not again. I slump down onto my bed.

“Why is my existence a clothesline of jobs?” I ask myself.

I breathe. Shadow whispers to me. I cover my ears. I scream hoarse.

“I’ve given you everything! I give and give. Whatever I am, give me back.”

My cell phone rings. I check the screen I.D. and answer.

“Sis, I’m not a doormat. Right?” I continue. “I saw a shadow of a man or a seahorse on the wall this morning. A seahorse. Weird. I checked. Turns out a female seahorse gives her eggs to the male, who then fertilizes and carries the eggs two to four weeks in a pouch in his body. Then gives birth.”

“Saiya, you’re scaring me.”

“Not as scared as I am. Sis. I wore a mask. I lost myself. I am something. But what? Shadow keeps me locked inside.”

My heart thumps in my chest. I get up from the bed and walk to the window. I open it. I inhale.

I think to myself, maybe this is the way to get the shadow to let me go.

“Do you know what this means? Of course not. It means I will find balance and stability no matter how bad my life gets.”

I jump.


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