Flash Fiction: Girls Are Good For Drowning


Ophelia swam to shore. It was a muddy bank with an occasional sharp stone embedded in it. Ophelia grabbed a branch and helped herself onto the dry ground. It was cold. Probably autumn. Ophelia wasn’t sure—she’d been swimming with her eyes closed ever since Shakespeare had shoved her into the river. But maybe it was time to get out.


She walked along a street, her long dress leaving a wet trail. A hot drink would be nice, she thought just as her eyes fell on a shop front with a picture of a steaming mug. She hurried in. Besides hot drinks, the place was selling books, and Ophelia, forgetting her cold, drifted over to the shelves. Books…bright-colored, shiny, glossy, gilded, perfect. Lovingly, Ophelia ran her pallid finger over the spines.


“Oof,” a tall girl in a leather coat said when Ophelia rammed into her. “Look where you’re going, ‘kay?”


“Sorry,” Ophelia said. “What are you doing?”


The girl was holding a book with a photo of a young drowning woman on its cover in one hand and a sticker of a wet kitten in another. “Watch,” she told Ophelia and put the kitten over the woman. “See, it’s not okay to drown kittens,” she said. “PETA will throw a fit when they find it. Then maybe they’ll have this book yanked off the shelves.”


Ophelia looked around. There were three more books with drowning girls on their covers, and then there was a book with a live girl on it and a title, “Drown Me.” Quietly, Ophelia turned and left the store and walked back to the river. She was a good swimmer. She had to be.