The Sad Oyster

Ship Cabin

“I had a nightmare, trapped in a ship cabin on an ocean voyage. And I shared the most crowded and cheap bunk beds with strangers, at night, every breath filled with the snoring scent of people.”

One summer evening, I told my husband about my dream.

“But where am I?” He asked.

“You’re a sailor. You always brought food to me after work,” I replied.

“It was too detailed,” he retorted.

“After that, when I returned home, you still work on the ship. You were eating dried fish day and day, living on alcohol. Sometimes you could go out to sea with the fishing fleet, but most of the time you worked on transporting sand, spending days with the half-dry, half-wet sand, stranded in countless coastal towns like this. When you had time off, you could write to me.”

“What kind of alcohol do I drink? Beer? Whisky? I don’t like drinking.” He was obviously unhappy with this assumption.

“And what about you? Are you a farmer’s wife? Or a factory worker? Will you write to me?” he asked again.

“Of course, I will write lots of things, about the people I meet and the things that happen to them. Maybe I’ll tell you a thousand rumours of betrayal, how women kill their husbands, how men abandon their fathers. Firstly, I’ll also tell you a story about suicide,” I said, kissing his forehead.


A Romantic Suicide

The final afternoon in May, a woman from our village quietly jumped into the sea with her lover, intending to end their lives together.

“Why did they take their own lives?” I asked my grandmother, but didn’t get the answer.

Several hours later, that man was rescued, or rather, he swam back by himself.

The police asked him why they they tried to kill themselves. The man said they were both in their fifties, wanted to get married, but were afraid of their children’s opposition, so they decided to die together.

“Why didn’t you die?” the woman’s son asked him angrily.

“Just because I’m too good at swimming so I don’t know how to die,” the man had only one answer.

No one expected that in the middle of the night, the woman herself would swim back and appear at home.

“Why didn’t you die?” the woman’s son asked the same question.

“I’m too good at swimming,” the woman had the same answer.

They did not lie.

“By the way,” the woman suddenly thought of something important. “You haven’t had dinner yet, have you? When I came back from the sea, I saw some oysters.”

She took out a bag of oysters and smiled to her grown-up son, asking, “I will cook for you. Do you want fried oysters or soup?”

The Oyster

Long, long ago, I met an oyster.

I should eat it, but mom said this one was special, so we kept it.

I put it into the fish tank.

There used to be a goldfish living there, and later a turtle, and maybe it belongs to some mosquito larvae in the summer.

The oyster was excited when it moved in, often singing the countryside songs it learned from the sea at night.

Whenever it sang, I tapped its shell with chopsticks.

“I’m singing, please don’t disturb me,” the oyster made a muffled sound, it was annoyed.

“How can you sing?” I tapped again.

“These are oyster mating songs.” That was the oyster’s answer.

The oyster never gave up. Every time I tapped it, melodies flew out of its shell, like a broken accordion. After a few lines, it turned into an overworked kazoo, sometimes sounding like the hoarse horn of a ship returning to the dock.

I decided to enlighten it, just like the snake to Eve so I told the oyster:

“I see the universe in high-speed motion, in the endless passage of time. To us, ordinary creatures on Earth, it appears as the slow flow of the Milky Way, the stars bright or dim, and the cunning path of the moon. All of this tells us something, guess what?”

The oyster said: “I don’t understand, but it sounds like nonsense.”

“That’s because you’re too stupid,” I said.

Then the oyster caught my fingers in its shell, and I cried.

It asked me if it was raining.

I cried even harder.

“You haven’t told me yet, are you a scallop? Are you coral? Are you a shrimp, crab, or fish? What does it taste like when you are eaten?” The oyster felt sorry for me because I was still crying.

And with my eyes full of tears, I was so salty, like a chef knocking over a saltshaker. Oh, I was saltier than the seawater. So, I bid farewell to the oyster.

Before that woman wanted to die, I threw this oyster back to the shore.