“Jellyfish,” a digital collage by msjdew

Post collage creation, I learned there’s an immortal jellyfish called Turritopsis dohrnii which, along with the other species I’ve featured, helped me choose a title. But my inspiration for the collage mainly came from the last sentence of Mark Haddon’s short story, “The Island.”

After his main character slowly dies a wretched and hellish death, Haddon balances out the devastating and redeems the story by allowing her to live forever:

They are on top of her, the men and women, biting, tearing, ripping her skin, pulling out her hair, breaking her fingers, gouging her eyes, hacking out the fat and muscle, pulling free the greasy tubes and bags of her innards, till she is finally free of her body. Rising now, she looks down at the skeleton lying on the rocks, gulls picking at the remaining shreds of meat and gristle. She looks at the grass blowing in the wind, the fringe of restless surf, the island is shrinking till it is no more than a lump in the fastness of the sea, the sea an azure tear on the surfaces of the great globe itself that shrinks rapidly in the haze of the sun as she floats into the great black vault of space, a cracked bowl of seven star, Corona Borealis, the northern crown. She is immortal.

Ready for more of “The Island” and that haunting image of hands mangling flesh? Be sure to read “Fabulism or Realism? Putting Words to the Unspeakable,” where I talk about Haddon’s story in the context of the body as landscape in literature.

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