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September 04, 2019 - Image 11

Resource type:
The Michigan Daily

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Wednesday, September 4, 2019 // The Statement


majority of the evening.
Before that night, you’d never con-
sidered yourself anything other than
straight. Sure, you could recognize when
other guys were objectively attractive, but
your main preoccupation was girls. Spe-
cifically, you dwelled on your inability
to hook up with them, but the focus was
girls, nonetheless. As you got drunk that
night on cheap Scotch from a flask tucked
into your tuxedo, your eyes sought Fra-
ser more frequently than any other model
in the show. His gaze caught yours once
while he was doing the final walk with the
entire brigade of designers, models and
event coordinators. His dark red hair and
blue eyes were both dangerous and invit-
ing, a dare you weren’t sure you could fol-
low through on.
That night was the first and last time
you kissed him. It was half a joke, and half
serious, as his girlfriend Anna was egging
him on to lean in and do it after another
round of tequila shots at the Union bar’s
after-party. You’d managed to strike up
an alcohol-fueled conversation with him
after Callum decided he’d had enough of
the “posh bastards” and headed back to
his dorm.
Fraser, his eyes half-closed, and his
shirt half-unbuttoned and inexplica-
bly damp, slung his arm around you and
declared you his new best friend. He
grabbed your phone and put his number
in it.
The first time you called that number
was the day of his disappearance.

It’s five in the morning, and you’ve

woken up with a racing heart and a cold
sweat, concentrated around your knees
and torso. Euan’s hulking silhouette
shifts in the bed across from yours, his
breath even and mind apparently bliss-
fully unconscious. Your sweat clinging to
your skin in small beads, you sit up, wip-
ing the moisture from your body with a
dry section of your sheets.
You dreamed Fraser was back, only you
were the only one to know he’d returned.
He led you to the pier by the crumbling
cathedral and kissed you again, this
time slowly, not at all joking or making a
show of it. The reflection of the Northern
Lights played on the surface of the ocean,
calmer than you’d ever seen it before.
Only, when you drew back to look at Fra-
ser, he’d vanished, and you were alone
again in the dark.
Fighting the raging wind, you leave
the walled enclosure of St. Salvatore’s
and walk down The Scores, the narrow
lane separating the town’s cliffs from the
shores of the North Sea. The water’s so icy
there’s no classic ocean breeze, no salty
brine, only the scent of that damned wind,
roaring down on the exposed, chapped
skin of your face.
The sun won’t come up for another
couple hours, but the sky is clear, a half-
moon shedding light on the earth, turning
everything a barely-visible midnight blue.
You take the road as far as it will go, end-
ing at the Old Course on the outskirts of
You hoist your legs over the thick metal
fence that encloses the world’s first golf
course. Spongy and soft, the grass is
shorn down to millimeters here. Undu-

lating mounds and dips in the earth make
you believe, briefly, that you’re on the
surface of another planet. The wind picks
up here, uninterrupted by cliffs or by old
stone buildings.
When you reach West Sands, you gag
on the air. It smells like brackish water
and death. The beach stretches out for
hundreds of meters — your shoes scarcely
make an imprint in the flat, kelp-ridden,
dense sand. It still feels unearthly here,
and you begin to think this is what the
surface of the moon must be like.
The tide’s out, and, close to the retreat-
ing waves you spot a black, boundless
mound, backlit by the moonlight. You run
to it.
“Fraser!” you scream. “Fraser, is that
The closer you get, the larger the
mound looms. You stop short of the fig-
ure before you, still and silent on the
sand. Hands trembling, you pull out your
phone, switching on the flashlight. You
point it at the mystery heap. Your brain
doesn’t register what you’re seeing for
several seconds.
Horizontal whitish ridges elongate the
creature. You’re looking at a belly, bloated
and half your height. The skin turns dark
grey when you move the light up, scanning
the outline of whatever this is. When you
find the mouth, massive bristles line the
top jaw.
It’s a dead minke whale, and, from the
smell of it, it isn’t a fresh one. A tongue,
massive and pink, lies on the sand fall-
ing from the whale’s gaping mouth. The
tongue’s as large as your leg.
Horror floods your throat, and you

retch on the beach, steps from the corpse.

A local found Fraser this morning.
Parallel to the pier, the tide of East Sands
washed up his remains on the jagged
rocks, where they were sniffed out by a
curious dog. Preliminary reports are say-
ing it was an accidental drowning, ruling
out foul play and suicide.
You head to the pier, that formidable
jutting structure, stretching its arms to
greet the water, a sheer drop down to slick
rocks and hidden currents if the gusts
hurl you over. No one else is out here, cau-
tious against a festering spring storm and
discouraged by the police who’d already
transported the body elsewhere. At the
end of the pier, sky and sea merge into one
long grey haze, and each bellows out its
protests, beating its own chest.
You collapse at the pier’s edge, your
mind returning to your dream, when Fra-
ser held your face and kissed you in this
very location. You knew you’d loved him
then, and the loss claws at your chest.
A white wave, brimming with greyish-
brown foam, kisses your fingertips, still
clamped to the slick slabs of stone.
You look to the West Sands, the sprawl-
ing expanse of cold beach. You recall the
whale that washed up there, some weeks
ago, bloated and slick with decomposi-
tion. Students were warned not to go close
to the corpse; it was going to explode. Its
eyes had been pecked out by the gulls.
Hours ago, it was Fraser who was discov-
ered, pale and swollen, on the rocks. You
wonder whether his eyes were gone too.


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