This was (also) written for the Wattpad competition in collaboration with National Geographic – #planetorplastic which seeks to inform the world about the dangers of plastics polluting our waters.

They were getting odd looks again.

Patrons stared as they were shown to their private booth. Henry knew it was only a matter of time before the sniggers started. Already others were having the, “Swiftly glance over your shoulder. You’re not going to believe it!” conversations. He didn’t understand why they cared so much.

For the hundredth time, Henry reconsidered the decision to go out tonight. Why they continued to put themselves through these torturous ordeals he didn’t know. Well yes, he did. He looked at his beloved’s beautiful face. She smiled back at him, gallantly ignoring the blatant smirks, and rudely loud guffaws from some of the other diners. He squeezed her hand, and she responded in kind saying, Be strong love, they won’t come to accept us if we don’t accept us.

Henry gave her a small smile and lifted his chin, trying to project more confidence than he felt.

“You’re right love. You’re always right. I shouldn’t try and hide our love from the world. It’s not our problem if they don’t understand.”

That was a lie. It was their problem. Or at least, it had become their problem. This restaurant was the fifth they had come to tonight. Henry made reservations at five different ones in thirty-minute increments because he knew they would get turned away again and again. The host or manager took one look and turned them away.

Henry and Flotsy smoothly slid into the booth together. He kept a tight hold on her, fearing what would become of him if he let her go. Her smooth body was reassuring against his rough one.

“I’m right here love, I’m not going anywhere,” she said.

“I know, but you know how I get,” he replied.

Her hair swirled in the current, white and soft, he nuzzled it, breathing in the reassuringly clean smell.

“I know.”

“Ahem,” a waiter, his neighbor’s son, kept his eyes strictly on his notepad and addressed them awkwardly. “What can I bring you… ah… two?”

“We’re going to have the special tonight; we will share. Thank you, Efram,” Henry responded, trying to catch his eye. Some kind of acknowledgment would be nice.

His neighbors were all kindness and compassion upon the death of his wife, but now they avoided him. He knew they disapproved of his new relationship.

It’s weird! They whispered, It dishonors his wife’s memory. What do his children think? Disgraceful!

He pushed them and his disapproving children out of his mind as the boy scuttled away. What they thought was of no consequence. Only Flotsy mattered. She was his everything. She made him feel special again. Ever since the day she had floated into his life, he had felt the hole in his heart begin to fill.

It was the plastic, his children professed. It was leaching into him, making him feel full and screwing with his brain, but he knew better. Flotsy was all he needed, and tonight he was going to ask her to marry him and make him the happiest seahorse in the ocean.

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