by Lena Ng
“Let me refill your cup, dear,” said Meyxtle, as she poured from the refined bone china teapot. The smell of seaweed from the warm, salt tea wafted into the room. “Take a snack as well.” She moved the bucket closer to the edge of the table.
Crystix studied the pile of moving crabs as they clumsily climbed over each other. “Looks delicious.” She delicately wrapped a tentacle over the top crab—since manners dictated she didn’t dig into the middle of the pile and pick the fattest, reddest one hiding beneath its brothers—slipped it under her mantle, and into her beak. “Sorry about the mess,” she said as she crunched down, leaving bits of shell on the oyster couch.
“Never mind,” said Meyxtle, as she crunched on her own crabs.
The doorbell rang. Meyxtle slithered off the couch and slimed her way to the door. She signed the clipboard using a jet from her ink pouch and brought the package into the lovely sitting room. Her suckers gripped the box and she easily tore through the packaging. “Finally, it came.” She showed off her purchase.
“Nice,” exclaimed Crystix. Reverentially, she touched the handbag. “Baby soft skin.”
Meyxtle held up the handbag to one of her large eyes of her mantle. She examined the handbag from every angle. The skin was thin and a pale pinkish-white in colour. “I got a good one. No moles, no scars…wait…” She noticed a subtle discoloration. “Looks like a birthmark.” She opened the handbag and read the accompanying card. “Since each bag is made from a unique skin, individual variations in skin tone and texture may occur.”
“How did you ever afford it? Designer leather bags are expensive enough, let alone an exotic.” Crystix grabbed a crab that was scuttling on the seaweed-carpeted floor. “Aren’t they endangered?”
Meyxtle held the bag with three tentacles and closely studied it. The corners were crisp, no scuffing on the sides, no bite-marks or bruises. “Oh this one wasn’t wild. It was farmed.”
“They can farm humans now?”
With the tips of her tentacles, Meyxtle twisted the bag’s turn lock and looked inside. “Actually, I heard it’s pretty easy. You throw a bunch of them in an enclosure and nine months later, you have more of them. If you feed them, they continue to multiply. Whereas, in the wild, there’s more of a chance of damaging the skin at harvest time.”
Crystix’s eyes glowed with envy. “Their skins are so soft. Like a pig’s. But more delicate.”
Meyxtle rested the bag on the coral coffee table. She crunched on another crab. “I heard they taste pretty good, too, when they were abundant enough that we could eat them. I hope they don’t just take their skins. It would be waste of the meat to dispose of it.”
Crystix nodded with her bulbous mantle. “A big waste.”
The two females cooed as they sipped their tea and admired the human-skin handbag.
* * *
About the Author
Lena Ng is from Toronto, Ontario. Her 2018 publications include: Polar Borealis, Spectacle, Enchanted Conversation, ARTPOST, NonBinary Review, Amazing Stories, and the anthology We Shall Be Monsters. “Under an Autumn Moon” is her short story collection. She is currently seeking a publisher for her novel, Darkness Beckons, a Gothic romance.