On the Third Day pre-Christmas, this author said to me … (Erol Engin)

Here’s a reflection that you won’t find in page seventeen #10 – this is Erol Engin on ‘The Sea Monkeys’, the winner of our 2012 Short Story Competition.

Beau Hillier | Editor, pageseventeen


‘The Sea Monkeys’ story is nearly a true story. Like the character Osmond, I bought a Sea Monkeys kit for my young son, but really, it was for me – or rather, my childhood self. I’d never had one, never knew anyone who had one, and was never allowed to have one as a kid. So I used to gaze longingly at the enticing ads for Sea Monkeys that were always buried in the back pages of my favourite comic books, and would wonder what it would be like to have my very own kit. When I came across a pack in an Australian Geographic store last year, I just had to get it.

I’m embarrassed to tell you that, again like Osmond in the story, I was more excited – way more excited – than my son was to have a kit. And like Osmond, I was similarly disappointed, hurt even, when it became clear that no one in my family seemed to share my enthusiasm. In fact, I think my wife and son though that I’d gone a little batty (or is fishy more appropriate here?).

In the end, I decided that the whole Sea Monkeys fiasco might make a decent, funny story. I would use my own experiences to portray an aging character who badly wants to connect with his family, but fails. At the same time, there seemed to be room to work in other ideas about faith, atheism and technology.

There is one aspect of the story, however, that is not based on my personal experience. Unlike me, Osmond never quite gives up on the Sea Monkeys.

I hope that readers find something reassuring in that.


Erol Engin lives with his wife and son and writes in Newcastle, NSW.