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Just Add Water


Sea Monkeys were like so many things I wanted desperately when I was a kid. They were perfect in every way. They were monkeys but they lived in goldfish bowls. They were pets but you could buy them through the mail. They came to life in water, like Lipton instant soup. They wore crowns. Some of them had long hair and long eyelashes. That was how you knew they were girls.

I didn’t have long hair. It was too hard to take care of, my mother said. Like dogs and cats and guinea pigs. I didn’t have long eyelashes, either. But for only two dollars (plus shipping and handling), I could have Sea Monkeys.

Beth’s brother was in sixth grade. Practically an adult. He had thick, wavy hair that hung in his eyes and a habit of jerking his head when he was reading, to clear his vision. He had long eyelashes. I believed him in all things. He said he had Sea Monkeys once. “They were wicked small. And then they died.”

Sea-Monkeys. Like so many things I wanted desperately when I was a kid. I never got that paper packet, never added water, never got to see them do amazing tricks in their little gold crowns.

I believed Beth’s brother in all things. His pale eyes. His dark eyelashes. I never sent in my order. I would wait to be disappointed in other ways.

Kathryn Kulpa is the author of Pleasant Drugs (Mid-List Press, 2005) and has published short fiction in Pif, Florida Review, Carve, The Pedestal, Flashquake, and Stone's Throw.