The waves whisper, wend her forwards. Somewhere behind her, the harbour wall holds her parents together before the disintegration can tide, crest as screams.
“It’s a mermaid, a humpback whale. No, it’s Neverland, under the
She says the words aloud to the slinkying gulls that try to tumble
through the strands of her hair, imagine her treasure.
In the estuary, ghosts of monks ankle about, ignore the girl and her
The sea tastes like memory on her tongue. In her lungs it lays itself
out, becomes a moat of Barbie dolls that swaddle a castle of Lego. The
drowning doesn’t disturb her, it welcomes her. Raises itself like a
grandmother, a rocking chair surety of water that nuzzles her closer.
On the horizon, silhouettes of oil rigs puncture black holes into
undeciding clouds. The seabirds wail, on and on.
Then hands nets her. Fingers of foam hook her limbs, hold her flesh
like a balloon string. Water succumbs to air, retreats, and she’s back
on the beach. Her chest heaves, her tummy loosens. She pants as her
mother dances over, all smiles as she swings the girl’s yellow bucket
higher than a Ferris wheel.
“Look, Melia, look what one of the gulls just dropped into your bucket!
It’s a starfish!”
“Second star to the right…” she whispers softly as she takes the handle
in her left hand, lets herself gaze in at the five fingered creature
immersed in its bucket overbrimming with water. Sighs.