The Adventures of Octopus Girl

By Sasha Wolff
2nd Place Winner - 2023 Flash Fiction Contest

Venice Beach, 2 am. Octopus Girl waits for the 109-bus squatting on her haunches in her dirty brown khakis. Indiana Jones style runaway. Above, a corn dog of a moon. Craving a raw egg, nicotine. Moon pie slice. Yep, food thoughts and she’s barely out the door, go figure.

In her ratty old backpack: phone charger and toothbrush and a constellation journal and her best friend’s yellow-and-pink flamingo lighter and three black Uni-Ball pens, tried and true. All her stupid old life just crammed in there like a salad. Minus, you know, the healthy part.

A lone lit palm tree watches surreal and suggestive-like from the neon razzle dazzle strip mall across the street: You’ll be back, childThe sweat, the sea, your dad’s TV…Poor baby, no one to love you but the family-friendly sea…give us a hug, Snake Hair…you’ll be back

Octopus Girl straightens, leans, settles her ass on the curb. Ah. There we go. Much better. Ashes to ashes. Tush to dust. Oh, death. Boredom. The Great Monotony. Sidewalk, butt, palm tree. Heart hammering with ill planning, brain fast with interpersonal empties. Why so much, so this, to be in it all alone: better to let surfers coast the ride of her dumb nerves, high off her loser comedy of a life, water-junkies with pink eyes expertly at ease, hair greasy-oily. Cresting her fears, her failings.

Writer Falls. Lesbo Dungeon. The Monster’s Room. Kicked out of the house at 16 for loving the ladies. Same old story, same old hair.

Octopus Girl looks up. Boring you much? What a waste of page, she thinks, her thighs. Where’s the bus, Writer? Don’t you know how I’m waiting? Give me my treasure ship, guide me my wheel. Star quest, seatbelt. Box me in quick, take me to a new land! Messy tentacle hair, watery cunt lust. Dirty nose ring. Just another gross, middle-finger-fish-smelly, wish upon a star, desperate dyke. One day, no more shameful sad. One day, be like, a cute queer. When again?

Waiting like this, Octopus Girl longs for a place that doesn’t exist: a place beyond Fear, beyond Acceptance, even. She longs for a monsterly blue wave. A wave so impossible you couldn’t begin to comprehend it. For the Pacific, sparkling with LA dreams and used soda cans, to show off its translucent sea belly. To unroll in its foamy, white-capped scroll, an aquatic city of wild, unknowable things: the creatures of the deep, beyond love, beyond shame, that are free.

Two bus transfers and three fizzy, lukewarm Cherry Cokes later, and the 2:35 pm Greyhound bus to New York City is off, like a dream, like a spell, like a civilized, naughty-good American thought. Octopus Girl keeps her purple Lakers hoodie pulled down over her shameful Medusa locks—better to hide one’s dark sea tentacles than to reveal your confusing monsterly truth, is her way in this lame life-o. Rain spatters the windows as they weave their way through the wet afternoon, through the slick, brightening streets — to travel so quick and so vast! — like an intergalactic dream, like a worldly, strange, lit-up box, amid boring towns and beautiful desert and lonely cacti and neon-flashing strip malls, and all the In-N-Out Burgers, like, ever.

Somewhere in between Illinois and Indiana, boring corn fields and the golden arches of McDonald’s, a conversation slips in. Octopus Girl, munching on Skittles, knows not everyone likes rainbow. She knows it well. She remembers last night, all right.

Coming in from her bike ride on the Strand to sit down next to her lanky, leather-jacketed dad on the couch. Sitting further away than usual. On TV, a football flew back and forth as men, some rainbow-hearted (it’s possible) performed small miracles. Her dad muting the game. Quiet. A breath like an anchor.

Swallow. Eyes on the men. So... God doesn’t like lesbians?

Bulletfire. You are not a lesbian! OK, sweetie? You think God made you this way, to live under my roof, in my house, with my rules? Sorry, but no. That’s not how God works, I’m afraid.



No. So, then what, Dad? Shall I go find another roof?

She watched as her dad fumbled endearingly with the channel changer like some slender, buttoned sci-fi toy that might save him. Look, sweetie...I’m just your dad. I’m not made of shiny, perfect answers, I’m not the Committee of Truth here. I really am trying. It’s know, this is my beautiful little girl we’re talking about. Ask yourself: is this really how it’s got to be?

Silence. Together Octopus Girl and Beautiful Little Girl’s Father watched the ball game like an old film. Yeah, I don’t know, her dad said, unmuting the TV. Maybe find another roof.

Dusk falls, inky as poetry. Rain drums against the bus window, over the peaceful low chatter of the other passengers. Octopus Girl takes out her iPhone and looks at her home screen. On it there’s a cartoon octopus someone drew on the Internet. It is a deep royal purple with soft bubblegum pink on the undersides of its tentacles and bright green eyes. It is silly. It is nothing. It is everything. What Octopus Girl likes about octopuses: they may look slimy and gross, but they are not monsters. They are complex. They are ocean hunters, sure, but they’re also gentle. 

Some like to be pet on the “head” like a dog. Others like to play. They can be extremely affectionate. They can hide in teacups. They can shoot ink like a pen, and even change colors. They can shrink to the size of a grapefruit, and yet are tremendously strong. And perhaps, what she likes best of all: their body is not organized like ours. They have three hearts and nine brains. They have blue blood. They can taste with their entire bodies. They can breathe water like gods. They are suckers and a feeder and a watery, jeweled eye. They are the strange made beautiful. 

About the author

Sasha Wolff is a queer writer living in NYC. She received her MFA in Fiction from Columbia University. Since then, she has been a Popcorn Girl, Ticket Lady, Bar Runner, Study Guide Writer, Usher for Disney-on-Broadway, and (when she can locate her shoes) one of those Crazy Distance Runners. Her work can be found in Parhelion Literary, Flash Fiction Online, The Oxonian Review, and 365 Tomorrows, among others. She currently lives in Harlem with three men and a doggy.

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