Friday, 26 May 2017

Driftwood

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 waves!” 

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 going away. 

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.

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