Sunday, September 16, 2012

The Mermaid House: Part Five

    The black water rippled with foam that glowed beneath the moon. A blood-red starfish clung to a rock looming over the silhouette of a woman who stood, waist-deep, in the ocean. Reflections of moonlight glittered across skin like diamonds, illuminated one half of a face that was white, cold. Something predatory seemed to swim in the dark pool of one eye. The inky tattooo swirling across her forehead was a tentacled sea flower with thorns. She raised one hand and in it was--
    Leander woke, that image of a dripping human heart making him choke, as if he had taken a bite out of it.
    It was morning. It was blindingly sunny. But he shivered when he remembered the pale crab crawling in the woman's black hair.
    He bypassed breakfast in the cream-carpeted living room furnished with white wicker and hurried out. His mom was at the hostpital and she'd left a note. He didn't bother looking at it.
    He rushed through the day, thinking of Violet and the shipwreck of a house. He couldn't seem to get warm, even in the pool of sunlight that bathed his desk in the last class.
    He was weaving through the student crowds in the hall when he passed the glass cases that held trophies and photos of past school victories. And he remembered where he'd seen Owen Thyme.
    He stood, isolated, staring at the photo of the 1970s soccer team and the grinning boy with the longish brown hair and chipped tooth. He read the names in the caption beneath.
    He turned and walked away.
    It's his dad. That's all. That was fifteen years ago, so it's not him.
(Illustration: Warwick Goble)

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