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Origin Story

There was a man—there is always a man. There was the crush of gray wave. The cold bite of late fall. 

She’s been down here for so long, she can’t remember things she once would never have thought important enough to forget. What the ground feels like. What smoke smells like. What clocks sound like. She doesn’t know how many years have passed, how many times the sun has sunken to a rind on the horizon and then risen again. 

But she remembers everything else. The boats are different these days. Blocky cargo freighters. Small yachts that sit lightly on the water’s surface. Long white ships she’s learned are called cruises, their underbellies casting dark shadows on the seafloor. They jostle the water, fill the air above with noise: the whir of engines, shrieks of laughter, jazz music. 

She has been down here for so, so long. 

A little-known fact about Davy Jones: there is no locker, but there is a trench. No matter where you are at the bottom of the ocean, there is just about always a trench. The locker is a figure of speech, more of a concept than a place. This is how things are in general now, for Davy: intangible, just like herself, her skin. 

And she used to get lonely by herself in a vortex of ocean. She used to wonder, why her? Why had the universe one day decided that she would end up down here, like this? 

It wasn’t the universe that decided this, of course. It was, of course, a man.

She is close to the beach today, whatever day it is, in the shallower water that’s more of a brackish brown. There is a boat she has her eye on, a small white yacht. She has been watching. She is always watching.

Here is another little-known fact about Davy Jones: there are scarier things than Davy Jones across the miles of unexplored seafloor, sure. But there are definitely scarier things than Davy Jones on land. 

When she lived, she wore panniers and corsets that only slightly squeezed the air from her lungs. She worked as a seamstress. She learned to read, then to write, in looping script that looked like strands of curly hair. She did needlepoint. She created things. She didn’t always just destroy.

The men on the boat are young. Their shirts are button-up and short-sleeved and printed with bright tropical flowers. They are having trouble with their boat. The caterwaul of the engine echoes across the water. They are unconcerned. Beer cans fly like lures off the side of the yacht, which is emblazoned with the words The Casanova, and, next to that, Sigma Chi Seniors in a blocky, red paint. 

The man who pressed his cold hands into Davy’s collarbones was young, too. He flashed a silver knife as if to tell her: obey. His eyes, the color of storm clouds. She made sure to get a good look at his eyes; if you want to recognize someone later, always look at their eyes.  

Sometime before now, when Davy was up here at the surface, watching the Casanova, a young woman was brought aboard, slouched over the arm of one of the men. Her dress glittered like fish scales, slipped a little off a shoulder. The men on the deck hooted and cackled after she disappeared inside the boat’s cabin. 

Davy did a double take. 

It’s silly, but at first, looking at the woman, Davy thought that she was looking at herself. 

When she sank the ship of the man with the storm-cloud eyes and cold hands, she was messy, angry. It was her first time doing such a thing. She was adjusting to her own death and what came after. She enveloped the boat in walls of water until it split with a deafening crack. She watched the pieces float to the seafloor, slowly, like flakes of snow.

Now her form is measured, perfected. The Casanova’s engine starts and the men cheer. They putter forward into deeper waters, not knowing the ways in which they will sink.

Davy Jones watches, ready. She is always ready. She has this down to a science. She is not who you think she is. 

Kyra Kondis is a graduate of the George Mason MFA program in fiction. Her work can be found in or forthcoming in Wigleaf, The Pinch, The Northwest Review, and at her website

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