Image © Jane Flett 2016
|by Jane Flett||December 24, 2016|
When we last left our dear friend Cindy the manatee, she was having every one of her Christmas dreams come true in the deepest and bubbliest part of the ocean—in the corpse-addled wreck of a crashed cruise liner, where she’d finally found some peace and quiet to have a wank.
Now, it must be said that this wank was a miracle wank, a wank amongst wanks, the kind of wank that’s written down in the history books and whispered to children as a mystical promise of what they might get if they eat all their vegetables and go to bed early and clean out the grock from the shadows behind their ears. If this wank was a dive, it would be a triple pike with a half twist. If it was a cake, it would be cheesecake (for, as we may have mentioned before, Cindy really, really liked cheese).
The wank was almost good enough to put her into a state of pure bliss for the months to come. In some ways, the wank crafted a giant bubble around her—the kind you can roll down hills in at adventure parks in New Zealand—and she bounced through the beginning of the year quite happily, singing sailor songs and baking fondues and getting all hot and bothered by gifs of Freddie Mercury where Freddie’s leather trousers had just the right amount of wipe-clean leather tightness around the majesty of his butt.
Almost good enough. But not quite. Because Cindy had noticed: there was something kind of wrong about this year. Something…off. It was as if the Great Octopus in the Sky—the one who makes up Time and makes sure it’s correctly distributed with just the right amount of sugar and spice and chemical X-ness—it was as if he’d been having a bit of a bad day. The usual balance of the year, the crinkles of pirates and the kabooms of glitter seahorse babies, had gone what is sometimes known in the business as “a little skeewiff”.
Now, it’s possible that The Great Octopus got distracted halfway through what he was doing by a particularly scintillating episode of America’s Next Top Model. Perhaps he opened the oven door too many times, and a draft got in and the year sank in the middle. Maybe he meant to add baking powder but instead reached for the glass jar of ground-up cockroach legs, the one that’s kept on the counter to sprinkle amongst the tea leaves of people who are mean to baristas.
And Cindy didn’t like to judge. Cindy had had off days herself, where she meant to disinfect the bathroom but instead ended up in the midst of a naked karaoke party wearing only a hula skirt as some sort of strange crown. Cindy understood.
But whatever the reason, whoever was at fault, the fact was: somebody somewhere had fucked it up.
At first, it had just been little things. Not enough to ruin a day, but a distraction all the same, like those little floaty bits that live inside your eyeballs and make you start to question if there are sub-atomic bugs set loose inside your brain. She took notice of them, and tried not to worry, and went back to her important work of pilfering sailors and teaching tapdance to incandescent lobsters.
But then, soon enough, things got worse. The manatees from the land Cindy came from, where she lived before she relocated to the deepest and bubbliest part of the ocean, had gotten a bit bored of being able to swim all around the lands beneath the sea. “Wouldn’t it be great,” said one, “if we could just stay in this very place instead?” And they put it to a vote and they raised their manatee fins, and they all agreed: it would.
So they built a giant dome over their section of the ocean floor, and decided to kick out all the wayward subaquatic llamas and neon sea leopards, goodbye! Now, the dome made that bit of the ocean floor very dark and kind of stinky, so that nothing could grow there any more (and that’s when the manatees all burbled that they’d never have asked for this if they knew they were actually going to get it!) but by that time, it was too late, it had already happened, and Cindy knew that she could never ever go home again.
Oh well. That might have been bad enough, but when Cindy went to try and cheer herself up in her favourite sea-trench (the place of the all night cherry pie diner and the jukebox that plays only Earth Kitt records on repeat) she was distracted in her dance routine by a sharp pinch impaling into her butt. Something had bitten her! One of those goobilty gobbily angler fish, the kind that have sex by fusing their tiny boy faces to the skin of the giant lady buttocks and slowly disintegrating until all they are is a pair of testicles, being dragged around beneath the sea forever more.
Well, Cindy didn’t get pregnant, but the angler fish did drain out all of the rainbows and kittens and Freddie Mercury gifs from her body, and replaced them with a thick yellow sea-sludge.
So, while her magical land beneath the sea edged towards a place that was distinctively darker, she lay helplessly twitching, confined to her sea hammock. It is hard to exist in the world when all of your body has been filled with yellow sea sludge, and it got to the stage that all poor Cindy could do was refresh the same page of the internet endlessly in an attempt to cause a rupture in the logic of space-time.
It didn’t work. It never works! And Cindy started to feel like her fins weren’t strong enough to hold together the shorn edges of the ocean reality. She couldn’t help noticing: there seemed to be a lot of creatures down here lately who were kind of, sort of, totally assholes. The kind who were terrified of a world filled with wayward aquatic llamas and neon sea leopards, and who would do just about anything to prevent them from existing. Even if that meant cutting off their own gills in spite.
And now it was Christmas eve again, the very last day before the holiday, and Cindy’s very last chance to put things right. But what was she going to do?
Now, last year—when Cindy wanted nothing more than a bit of peace and quiet to have her favourite wank—she had prayed to the Magical Christmas Santa Genie to make her dreams come true. And it worked! But her ask this year was a little bigger, a little more important.
This year, asking the big man in the sky was just not going to cut it. No. Not any more. This time, if she wanted the world to become a better place, she was going to have to dig deep into her big throbbing girl heart and make it happen herself.
You see, Cindy had had a lot of time to think about things while she was lying in her sea hammock, and she had come to one very important realisation: Cindy was not just a manatee, not even just a riot-manatee with a penchant for sailors and a quantifiable obsession with cheese.
Cindy was also a witch.
The way that all of us—especially those of us who were once teenage girls with plastic tattoo chokers around our necks and too much sage on our hands—are witches. Cindy was a sea witch, as sure as birds are dinosaurs, and it was time for her to gather up all that latent power and use it for the forces of good.
So Cindy cast a spell. She gathered together the big things and the small things—the toenail clippings of a blue whale and the eyelashes of a seahorse. She placed them in her big electric cauldron, along with three plastic takeaway forks and a big lump of blu-tack, to help the spell stick. She lit a small candle (which was a no small feat, this far underwater) and she drew a circle around herself with the discarded blood of her very favourite sailor stump.
Then Cindy concentrated as hard as a manatee can concentrate, and her intentions went crackling out into the ocean, and the water began to swirl. Round and round and round, like it does down plugholes, with a delicious gurgling noise that made her think of her very favourite sailors and their loving last words. As Cindy cast her spell, the water gathered up in one gigantic funnel, like a cartoon of a tornado, and it lifted her right up and out and into space itself: the universe. She floated there for a minute, smiling at the tickle of spacedust, and then in the corner of her eye she saw it. The loose thread, the untucked stitch—the bit of 2016 that somebody somewhere had forgotten to tuck inside.
So Cindy took a hold of it between her fins. She tugged, and she tugged, and: Zzzziipppppppppp!! The thread of space & time began to unravel. Slowly at first, but then, as those little hooks of interplanetary wool came loose in their sockets, faster and faster and faster. And Cindy was swooshing alongside it, rolling the entirety of days and weeks and months into the kind of ball that could be played with by a truly gigantical kitten.
Then, once she had it all rolled up, Cindy placed the ball rather precisely on a cosmic white line, took a step back, checked her angles, and kicked it as hard as she possibly could.
KABOOM! went the ball, and it scittered off into the distance. And then everything went black.
A moment later, she opened her eyes. Then she blinked them, and opened them again very wide. Who would have thought it?! Cindy was back in the corpse-addled wreck of last Christmas’s cruise ship, all alone. Poised with one fin, ready to reenact her very favourite Christmas miracle. No Magical Christmas Santa Genies required!
She was about to do it. She really was. But then Cindy wondered: perhaps this year, of all years, she had spent enough time without her friends. Perhaps it was time to open her manatee arms wide. So she let out a very special bellow—a call that reverberated at the exact same frequency as a cello’s G string—and it echoed across the ocean floor, bouncing off reefs and past anchors and straight into the ears of those who needed to hear it.
That call was an invitation to all the wayward subaquatic llamas and the neon sea leopards and the queers and the misfits, a magical call that could only be heard by those whose hearts were true and who liked nice things.
And so they all flocked to Cindy’s underwater carnage cruise ship. They came with birch rods and fluffy gloves and violet wands that crackled with undersea electricity. They came with soft caresses and sharp teeth and enough hemp rope to restrain four thrashing pirates, three drunk squids, two tipsy turtles, and one over-excitable manatee.
They came, and Cindy came too. Eighteen times in a row this year, and then she made a cheese board big enough for everyone to tuck into, and they all rumpled up in the squidgy duvets and played until morning came and went, and Christmas did too, and suddenly it was next year and 2017 was the best thing that had ever ever happened, THE END.
Read The True Meaning of Christmas, Part I here.
Jane is an over-excitable pervert with a penchant for ridiculous metaphors and glitter. She’s won various awards, including Salt’s Best British Poetry (2012) and Wigleaf’s Top 50 (Very) Short Fictions (2014), but she’s still waiting to be presented with her honorary tiara and tankard of gin. When Jane’s not writing, she likes to play cello with Ambika in the riot grrl band Razor Cunts, teach creative writing courses through The Reader Berlin, run festivals, host queer events, and rollerskate down Tempelhof runways in hotpants.