Alice and the Moonby Mary B. Sellers
A week after her mother died, Alice bought a jellyfish.
The one she chose was called a Moon Jellyfish, an Aurelia aurita, or as the website called them “pet jellies”, and they came in small, medium, and large. This struck her as funny, as if she were buying a sweater, and not a see-through creature from under the sea. She picked medium, since that was her shirt size, and because it just seemed appropriate. Alice chose expedited shipping, and the confirmation email guaranteed her that the thing would be FedEx’ed overnight.
She liked the sound of its name, especially—something astrological, a little ancient. She browsed the slideshow of pictures, all showing dark water that looked like velvet, with the jellyfish suspended in this kind of internal illumination that reminded her of the Milky Way.
That night as she lay in bed, Alice thought about her lonely jellyfish, packaged away in some sort of box, placed in the back of a big, black truck and speeding towards her in the night. Her boyfriend, Max, had called her earlier to check in; he had worked the late shift at the restaurant where he waited. He’d asked her how she was, and she’d said fine, just tired, and she could hear laughter and drinks clinking on the other end of the phone, a human static that annoyed her. She hadn’t told him about the jellyfish because she wanted to see it first and have it all to herself for a few hours. This wasn’t his place.
She heard the FedEx truck outside of her apartment around 11 a.m. Fighting the urge to jump up and greet the delivery man at the door, she steadied herself and waited for the doorbell. She avoided meeting the man’s eyes as she took the package from him. It was in a larger box than she had expected, but she then remembered that a starter aquarium was included, along with a starter supply of food. Alice signed the receipt, and in one swift whoosh, closed the door and set the box down. She felt like it was Christmas.
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