The Midnight Fish
Not long after they'd moved in, there had been an earthquake. It split the home belonging to Monsieur and Madame dePapillon in half, like a banana. Now, it opened to the sky. The wind whispered in the corners. Rainwater collected in their pots and their pans. Pelicans lived in the attic, puffins in the cupboards, and an old and wizened albatross set up residence in the middle of their kitchen table.
Every night, long after Monsieur and Madame dePapillon had gone to bed, the ocean would swell. It would creep up the white sands of the beach, up into the cobblestone streets of the town. It would reach up to the house split in two, up the steps of the front porch, under the front door, through the kitchen and the living room and into the bedroom. The clear water would rise up to the very edge of their bed—all the way up until waves were tugging gently at their sheets—and then it would stop. As dark gray fins patrolled the streets outside, and fish flashed silver like stars around their room, Monsieur dePapillon would lie beside his sleeping wife, staring at the sky, waiting.
Every night, it was the same. The great blue and violet fish would make its way into their room; would lift its great head onto Monsieur dePapillon's pillow; would whisper these words into his ear: "Come away with me, Pierre," it would say. "Come away with me to the depths where we will be happy and free. I am more beautiful than her. I love you more than she. It is me you truly love, Pierre. It is me you love and are meant to love."
When sunrise came, warm and soft and orange, the fish would be gone and the waters would recede. Madame dePapillon would wake, groggy, and nuzzle into her husband's arms. And he would hold her, and kiss her, and run his hands through her ginger hair.
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