Tortoises by Deirdre Danklin


Centuries ago, my love, you and I were a mated pair of giant Galapagos tortoises. We lived our lives shelled into slowness. I stretched my neck out towards a plant. You stretched your neck out towards a plant. The waves lapped. We had no natural predators. Far away from us, people got into boats and murdered each other and spread like lichen across rocks. You and I were nothing but slow love and warm sun for one hundred years.

Today, we’re going to Home Depot to buy a new toilet seat. The toilet seat our landlord installed in our apartment was too big for the toilet and cracked when we sat on it.

“What about the kind with a cushion?” you ask, holding a toilet seat up so that it makes an oval around your face like a frame.

“But how much is that one?”

That one is $25.99 and we feel like we shouldn’t pay that much money for a new toilet seat. When we complained to our landlord, he replaced the cracked toilet seat with an identical $7.99 toilet seat. It was also too big and also cracked because our toilet is too close to our tub to sit straight on. Our apartment is small. There were mice, but we got a cat. We are nothing more than married humans this time.

“What if we got the same one as last time?” I ask.

“But we’ll just crack it again,” you say. You’re frowning in earnest at a row of toilet seats and my heart fills up with love.

“But shouldn’t the landlord replace it again?” I ask. I am already thinking about the Asian supermarket we’re going to after this and the $1 Korean face masks I can buy for every woman in my life to hand out like little sheets of happiness in the weeks to come. I like to get cucumber for my mother, gold for my sister, peonies for my friends. Life is hard, sit still for a moment with a mask on your face. I remember the virtue of slowness from our past life.

“I just don’t want our lives to become a battle about a toilet seat,” you say. “Let’s get the nice one.”

“What are we millionaires?” I ask, but my eyes are already lit up at the thought of sitting on a comfortable toilet seat, the kind that fussy old ladies have. It seems like a silly thing to spend $26 on, but we never make silly purchases.

“We can always take it with us when we go,” you say. I like it when you say when we go, eyes to the future, like a sailor on the prow of a ship.

I clutch the toilet seat to my chest while we wait in line to pay. You pick the line that’s moving the fastest because spotting the fastest cashier is one of your talents.

“This is a nice one,” the cashier says, holding the toilet seat up to the overhead fluorescent lights.

“Thanks,” you say.

My eyes are dazzled by the light on the toilet seat cover, glinting like the tropical sun off of a hard brown shell.




Deirdre Danklin holds an MFA from Johns Hopkins University. Her work was a finalist in the Split Lip Magazine 2019 Flash Fiction Contest and has appeared or is forthcoming in numerous literary journals, including Hobart and The Nashville Review. She lives in Baltimore with her husband and orange tabby cat.


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