“Jen Michalski’s second novel is an intense emotional commitment, but a worthwhile one.” – Ploughshares
“Jen is an astonishingly sensitive writer.” – HTML Giant
“Jen Michalski excels in subtlety that is made possible by her nuanced understanding of voice.” – The Rumpus
“Jen is a writerly heavyweight.” – Nate Brown, American Short Fiction
“We’re lucky to have Michalski before the rest of the world discovers her. But they will.” – Baltimore City Paper
My Old Man and the Sea
I dreamed about my father, about whom I never dream. I was hurting, so I dove into the sea and made my way down to the bottom, where I found him sitting on a rock. I asked him to help me find peace. He said to sit on the sand with him. We looked up at the surface of the water, and everything was drunk and blurry and soft, just like the sand and the currents around us. Seeing everything from this perspective felt gauzy and nice. We watched the life above us, and the fish around us, and I felt protected. I discovered I was growing gills and could breathe underwater. I asked my father whether I could stay there with him. He said yes and produced a shackle and ball, which he affixed to my ankle. I loved being there but wanted to rise to the surface to at least see, in the protective glaze of the ocean, those I had left behind. As I struggled to swim upward, I realized I had not grown gills at all but that my skin had begun to rot. Large holes exposed my ribs, my tibia, the bones of my hand. I was disintegrating/rotting in the ocean. Soon I would be nothing at all.
It's the hidden costs, he explained as I fumed at him. No one ever tells you about those.