Echolocation #flashfiction

“Does the back of my hair really look like that?”

Mandee looked on as Kye scrolled through the pictures on his phone. She joined him on his beach towel after an afternoon spent baking in the sun. He scrolled through images he had taken from the car of the dense tropical landscapes and green rolling hills. And pictures from their hotel room balcony of the curved cityscape along the coastline. There was the video of a ship moving slowly through the canal lock-system on an overcast day, but only one picture of the two of them, standing in front of the giant vibrant colored lettering that read, ‘Panamá.’ She stopped Kye at the picture with her facing the ocean.

Kye shrugged. “Yeah.” He resumed scrolling through his phone.

It was in seeing their whole trip, distilled on Kye’s phone, that gave her pause. Mandee saw very little of herself depicted in it.

“You didn’t want to go to the Darien Gap,” she said, “I wanted to see the end of the Pan-American highway.”

Kye set down his phone and turned to face her. “It was completely out of the way from everything else we wanted to see.”

“You want wanted to see,” she said. “It’s always all about you.”

Mandee returned to her beach towel and sulked for a while. The sun sank in the distance, an orange half dome emitting its rays against the clouds and the ocean, a beam of light along the water that led straight to her.

“I’m going,” she said. “I’m breaking up with you.”

Kye looked at her and sighed. He shook his head. But Mandee didn’t get up.

“Why?” Kye asked.

In the distance, dorsal fins broke the surface of the water. The pod of dolphins emerged, light reflected off their skin as they came up for air.

“Do you know,” Mandee said, “dolphins communicate by echolocation. They make these little pulsing sounds in the water that bounce off stuff, maybe food, maybe one another.”

“That’s cool,” Kye said.

“But you know, when I send signals, I never get much back from you.”

Mandee gathered her bag and her towel and started toward the cabana.