Annihilation by Jason Schembri
We met on the beach in the middle of summer.
His hair was swept into cool blond waves, a Hollywood
prelude to his pearl-white grin. I smiled at him and he
looked right past me to my sister. She giggled as I lay back
and closed my eyes, begging the sun to torch away my
disappointment and leave nothing behind but a pile of salt-
white bones stretched out on the sand.
The warmth disappeared a moment later when he
crouched over me, blotting out my only chance at sun-
drenched oblivion. Instead, he offered me that damned grin,
and I decided to put off my death a little longer.
His name was Gabe. He joined us for Pictionary that
night, and every night for the rest of the summer. My sister
didn’t mind being the third-wheel. She was a glutton for
punishment — a family trait. She followed him around just
as he followed me, and when it came to sitting down to play
together we were delighted that Gabe looked good from any
angle. But hours later, when we were heavy with drink and
ready for bed, it was just the two of us, our nervous hands
and desperate mouths pushing into new territory. I
whispered his name, Gabe, as if it were something of a
prayer, or a secret just between us.
On the last day of summer—it was a Saturday, if I recall
correctly— Gabe didn’t turn up. My sister and I feigned
nonchalance, going about our day as any other.
“Maybe he’s busy today,” she said, squinting out at the
flat expanse of the sea.
“Yeah, probably.” I’d already convinced myself that he
had abandoned me; found a boy with nicer hair living on a
cleaner beach, or otherwise met his untimely death walking
along the cliffside. I wasn’t sure which I’d have preferred.
“Should we wait for him?”
I shrugged. “He knows where we live.”
But still, we waited.
When the day finally surrendered to the night and the sea
met the sky in a haze of purple and blue we trudged back up
to the house, the air between us thick with the stink of
“Actually, I might just go for one last swim,” I said,
turning back to the ambling waves, “I’ll be in soon.”
It was colder than I expected, and I shivered as the water
lapped at my waist. My skin puckered with goosebumps and
I ran my fingers over my arm, remembering our last night
You’ve got the jimjams. He had been kissing my neck when
he stopped and looked at my arm.
He had run his knuckles back and forth over the bumps on
my arm. You’ve got the jimjams.
You mean goosebumps?
I lay in the shallow water. My body floated like debris, and I
wondered if the tide was strong enough to throw me against
the rocks until I became fragments and dust, or if it would
simply drag me out to sea.
Either way, I think I’d let it, if it tried.
Jason Schembri (he/him) is a Melbourne-based writer fixated with exploring mythology and the queer experience in an attempt to lay bare the primal nature that binds us all.
When Jason’s not writing, he can be found attempting to balance his needy chihuahuas on his lap while trying desperately to get through his ever-growing stack of new books. You can find Jason on Twitter and Instagram @jasonschembri and at www.jasonschembri.com.