Here’s an excerpt from the story “Whale Fall” in the new short story collection, Dead Mediums, from Dan Leach (Fiction ’20)

Whale Fall

If I could have climbed out of bed, I might have gone into work, but some days even the smallest movements are violence. So I called in, and I stayed in bed, and I stared at my phone for hours, clicking link after recommended link until an algorithm I will never understand led me to an article titled, “Humpback Whale Found Dead on Calvert Island.” I read it. Grief can form such strange connections.

I could not stop looking at the photograph of your body on the beach. Saddest was what the scavengers had done. The wolves who came out of the woods at night and ripped esh from your sides. The eagles who bit chunks out of your back. It made me sick to see you like that, but I continued looking anyway. You crossed an ocean to get torn apart by strangers. The least I could do, alone in that apartment, missing all my recent dead, was to bear witness to your wounds.

Even amidst the brutalities, there was a magic in the plain facts of your anatomy: your weight (sixty-thousand pounds), your color (grey as pavement after the rain), and your heart (which was the size of a bumper car).