THE NEXT, BEST DISASTER by Janna Miller

Five days after the storm passed, we could sip tea without a tempest stirring up crested waves inside our chipped mugs. You check the upper deck for seal’s teeth marks and sucker stains from peckish sea monsters, but uncover just the regular damage. The rabid snails were completely gone. We would get our deposit back. Probably.

I catch you glancing at a messy scar along your shin and at reflecting wet planks before you traverse to the bow. Planning ahead for a potential slip down the wood, or a rain of frogs, or a psychic message from the nearest beluga whale colony. 

But the sea gently rolls under the ship, propelling us past teal waters and nothing else. I put my arm around your shoulders, radiating back the sun’s warmth.

There have been other times: you have run out of gas, left the money at home, forgotten to feed the fish, gotten off on the wrong stop, miscalculated the cab fare, and fallen into the soup. Thrown up on the Thanksgiving table in front of my grandmother, projecting undigested carrots into her lace-napkined lap. Accidentally took extra Xanax instead of migraine medicine, laid down on the couch for eight hours and called the doctor to laugh and laugh.

Within you, a grain of dark matter to my matter-of-fact. 

In the cabin beneath, I find an inexplicable bottle of accelerant next to a package of matches. A stained and gnawed box labeled Do Not Open. Your missing house keys in the mini-fridge, next to a greenish pulse of opaque gel. 

There is no risk without reward. 

On the slick ladder, my fingers rest on each possibility, each accident that tastes like you. From my right pocket, I palm an irradiated package of sea monkeys, throbbing under metallic foil.

And climb into your arms.


Librarian, mother, and minor trickster, Janna Miller has published works in places like SmokeLong Quarterly, Cheap Pop, and Atlas and Alice. Nominated for Best Small Fictions and Best Microfictions. Generally, if the toaster blows up, it is not her fault.

Art based on a design by Steve Anwyll.

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