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By the time I noticed the octopus, it was too late. Oblivious to danger, I entered Finn's tank head first, on a whim. Initially, we swam apart, gliding past one another, eventually blinking our eyes in recognition as we passed. Then soon, we swam together, side by side, and everything felt exciting and new.

"You can't catch me!" I squealed.

"I’ll never let go!" Finn laughed.

We raced around the tank for weeks, meeting for meals and conversation by the tall green plastic reef. And then, one night, as the light turned dark, Finn gripped me with his body, holding me still until I flexed, shaking my tail back and forth, ready for release.

"I love you," I whispered. And in that precise moment of intimacy, I spotted the tattoo hidden under Finn's gills.

"What is that?"

"Oh, it's nothing really."

"But who is it?"

"Someone I used to know," Finn said and swam off.

My love for Finn deepened as months passed, believing nothing could keep us apart. But, one day, I noticed Finn staring at an image hanging on the wall outside the tank. This picture captured Finn's full attention. Surrounded by a thick oak frame was a sizable bulbous creature with eight long legs gripped around an overturned ship. An octopus appeared to have capsized the vessel, and the ship's sailors flailed in the water below. Yet, even I felt drawn to the familiar creature, identical to Finn's tattoo, with its seemingly fluid arms and vibrant, breathtaking colors. I stretched my left fin out in search of Finn for reassurance, but his body curled back toward the glass, refusing my touch.

"Is something wrong?" I asked.

"No," Finn said.

"You seem different."

"It's your imagination."

"Is something distracting you?"

"Not since long ago."

And for the following several weeks, the octopus invaded my dreams.

One night after dinner, Finn and I took a few passes around the tank, making small talk and laughing at each other's jokes. But eventually, Finn grew quiet, and soon, only the saddening sound of my voice echoed off the tank's walls. And then, as we rounded the last corner for the night, a shadow loomed just ahead by the rock with the cave.

"What is it?" I asked (surprised).

"It's nothing," Finn said (not as surprised).

"But do you know?"

"It’s a memory from long ago."

We swam past the shadow in silence, neither of us speaking again before bed.

When I woke up that morning, I found Finn on the other side of the tank, staring at the rock.

"Whatcha' doing?"



"Something haunting me from long ago."

As each day passed, Finn loitered more frequently by the large grey rock and its cave. I swam alone most days, and Finn rarely met me for lunch or dinner by the reef. But then, one day, the octopus revealed pieces of herself. First, I saw four, then six, and soon eight brilliant, balletic arms, dancing and reaching out for Finn each time he had glided by her rock. And with each encounter, Finn's tattoo deepened in size and color.

"Who is she and why is she here?" I asked later that night.

"She is always here, but hidden away."

"Is she here for you?"

"That was a long time ago."

The following day, the octopus fully emerged from behind the rock, revealing her large green eyes surrounded by long, lush black lashes. Radiant and bold, she drew Finn closer, tantalizing him with her bright colors and supple tentacles. Finally, she sucked Finn back into her arms and pulled him into her cave, leaving me bewildered and alone in Finn’s tank.

A few weeks later, a sheepish Finn emerged from behind the rock with the octopus. But this time, the octopus’ lashes looked wilted and her eyes dull, and her once long and graceful arms now seemed skinny and limp. And Finn looked different too, his faded tattoo drained of its colorful ink. Tired and worn, Finn backed away from the rock and the octopus, and she finally retreated into her cave.


It had been several months since the octopus emerged from her cave, and Finn's interest in the rock waned long ago. And as his memories of the octopus failed him, Finn looked once more to make new memories with me.

"Can we try again?"

"I'm not sure."

"She’s left for good!"

"But it wasn’t so long ago," I said, my heart inked by an octopus tattoo.


Margo Griffin has worked in public education for over thirty years and is the mother of two daughters and the best rescue dog ever, Harley. Her most recent work has appeared in Maudlin House, Twin Pies Literary, HAD, Bear Creek Gazette, and Roi Fainéant Press. You can find her on Twitter: @67MGriffin.

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