Short sample

Ok – this is my first short story (I prefer writing novels, but have recently been convinced of the virtues of short story writing.) Hope you like it.

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PAY DIRT

Two days ago I had thought him the most beautiful creature that had ever lived. His shining green skin had been luminescent, his hair as full and dark as the seaweed he had hidden in.

But now he rested, languishing in the only water I could supply.

What was that old adage? Curiosity killed the cat. I wondered if they had sayings like that where he had come from. And if they had, would I have ever seen him. Would he have lingered, thinking he was hidden, to spy on the pale skinned creature that swam in his territory. Or would he have vanished, as the rest had done, becoming only a glint of silvery green in my peripheral vision.

Granted, if his assembly had not acted upon their initial instinct to flee, perhaps I would not have noticed him. Perhaps the cover of the thick brown seaweed would have been enough to conceal him. It made no difference now.

He was mine.

The water of the bathtub was icy cold, perfect for him, yet not in any way nourishing. He needed the salt water. He needed the sea. It was hard to believe his strength had deteriorated so much in just forty-eight hours.

I run my hand tenderly over the fingernail-sized scales that protected the lower half of his body – shiny deep green scales, turning white around the edges from the lack of salt water. They could easily withstand a sharks tooth, easily, but not a harpoon.

I had removed the harpoon barb, slicing the tender skin under the scale that it had impaled. I had packed it with salt, as he had instructed. Sea salt, not the standard variety of table salt, he deserved only the best.

I could only look on, in pity, as I watched his face, already twisted in pain, spasm in agony my fingers grazed the wound. It wasn’t healing. He needed the sea.

He had talked to me, on the first day, when he still had the strength. Not the pleading speech you would expect to hear from a prisoner, he had told me enchanting stories of his world, in a voice so melodic and bewitching that his stories felt like a gift. I could almost believe myself forgiven for what I had done.

He had family, a partner who was expecting young, a mother, a father and many, many siblings. His life, as he explained it, could have been mistaken for a fairytale. He travelled with his family, physicians of sea folk, repairing the damage that humans inflicted due to their incessant thirst for knowledge. His father preached of the horrors of the human world, the greed and destructive nature of the human race.

In that regard, at least, I had not disappointed him.

Waves broke on the shore less than a hundred metres away; the crashing of the surf could be heard through the open window. His ethereal face – how beautiful he had been when I first saw him – turned weakly toward the sound of the beach. His shallow breathing deepened for one painful gasp as a breeze of salt air blew through the room.

The window slammed easily as I leant forward to close it, to seal out the sea air and the sound of the waves. He need not suffer anymore than was necessary.

I took his hand, hoping to impart some comfort through the gesture. It truly was a pity that he had been caught. Had he only fled with his family, he would be safe now.

I stroked his forehead, brushing the greying seaweed like hair out of his face. His skin was drying out, becoming thicker, and losing the iridescence that had caught my eye in the first instance. The silver shine that had once cast its undertones through his translucent skin, and sent tiny rainbows scattering in the sunlight under the water, had faded. There were no more rainbows.

He needed the sea.

The doorbell rang once and his eyes snapped open. He looked directly at me, his eyes questioning, yet unfocused. I knew he couldn’t see me. He was blind. Without the soothing salt water of the sea, he was blind.

He needed the sea.

I left him, unwillingly, to answer the door. I didn’t want him to be alone. I didn’t want him to die alone. If he died I wanted to be there for him, to hold his hand and reassure him it would be ok. Although I knew it wouldn’t be. It didn’t matter to them if he was dead or alive. He was worth the same, regardless.

I could only hope the delivery I had organised would be enough to keep him alive, at least until they took him.

He needed the sea, and it broke my heart that he wasn’t going to get it. I couldn’t give him what he needed. He was my ticket to freedom, my chance of a lifetime. He was pay dirt.

I opened the foor to greet my sister, who stood struggling under the weight of two giant water bladders. Of course she wanted to know why I needed it, why I couldn’t have just stepped out my door to collect it myself. Of course I would never tell her. It was part of my contract. No one knew, except for them.

She knew better than to question. I was eccentric to her, to anyone for that matter. I had never made sense to them. They let me trudge along in my whimsical version of life, humouring me where necessary, helping me when I needed it. But they pretty much left me alone, as did most people.

He didn’t blame me. I could tell by looking in his blind silvery eyes that he didn’t blame me. As strong as his desire was to go home, he had resigned himself to whatever fate I would choose for him. He knew he would never see his loved ones again. He knew he would never know his children. And he didn’t hate me for it; I was, after all, only human. 

Heartbroken at the pain I felt for him, I allowed a stream of the seawater to trickle over his forehead. For a brief second his skin glowed, reenergized by the salty, bacteria ridden water, scattering fragments of coloured light over the white tiled room.

His eyes focused for a moment as the water cascaded over them. They focused on me, forgiving and sad, so unbearably sad. My heart broke a little more, for every second that he looked at me, until the water stopped coursing through his eyes and they faded again, to the dull silver of his blindness.

I had cried. Many times over the last two days I had cried. I wanted him to return to his family. I wanted his children to have a father. I wanted him to have his home, his life that he loved so much. But he never would. What could I do? There was no other choice for me; my own happiness depended on him.

More water trickled over his face. Still his eyes stared into me. The sparkling depths of the silvery green pools seeing me for the monster I was, without admonition for my barbarity.  His forgiveness made it that much harder. But my mind was made up. The deal had been drawn. There was nothing to do but wait for them to come, and he knew it.

He knew what I had planned for him. He knew without doubt what his existence would entail. He knew what they would do to him. Perhaps that was why he did not fight to live. Perhaps that was the reason he was allowing himself to become weaker. Perhaps that was why I was finding it so hard to keep him alive. He wanted to die, to avoid the pain his new life would bring about. But there was nothing I could do about that now.

I couldn’t think about where his path would take him. Instead, I thought of my own future. I would never worry over money again. My tiny, decrepit one bedroom shack would be knocked down to make room for the mansion I had planned. My evening meals of canned beans would be replaced with restaurant quality dinners. And I would have friends, so many friends. My lonely existence would be over, and his would only have begun.

His silver tongue darted out to lick the drops of seawater from his lips. His mouth gaped open, like a fish, hoping to catch mouthful. I trickled the water into this mouth, it was so unfair that he had to suffer. The water revived him for a second, the droplets that spilt on his shoulders making tiny pinpoints of metallic shine, and then drying off quickly, turning his delicate skin dark green once again.

Again, the doorbell rang. I was popular today, two visits in a row, a rare occurrence. But I knew who it was, they weren’t visiting, they were here for him.

I poured a stream of water directly into his eyes and watched the colourless silver turn deep green. I waited until I could tell his eyes were focused on me.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. It didn’t make me feel any better.

He needed the sea, and he wasn’t going to get it.

______________________________________________________________

This story was inspired by the world vision ads. You know that feeling you get, when you wish you could do something to help, but you believe there is nothing you can do that will make a difference. We justify not donating, because our own family needs the money. In the middle of an economic crisis how can we part with our money, and take food from our own child’s mouth?

I am not condemning anyone. I myself am guilty of not giving to those who need it more. This is simply a chance to express the feelings that those world vision ads instil, however blown out of proportion my story is.

 

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9 Responses to “Short sample”

  1. Wow! You put so much.. EMOTION into your writing, and I really feel it. Fantastic read. =)

  2. Fantastic Lis!! Kept me reading right till the last word 🙂

  3. You crazy…but i love you.

  4. WOW Bella, ur a Star!!!
    I cant wait 4 ur novels….
    all my smoochies xoxo

  5. I love it Lis, very emotive! Shows great visual language, can really imagine the sea right next door!

    • Thanks May – LOL – in reading this one might be under the impression that you are a teacher!.. Haha…

  6. Lis, this is great stuff, you’re a woman of many hidden talents, proud of you sharing this with us all. Bring on the full length novel!

    • Thanks Julie, there’s a couple in the editing process as we speak, another in the drafting process and many many more in the creative process… just need to find the minutes in the day to devote to them!!!

  7. One of my all time special quotes appears extremely fitting here “Success is nothing more than a few simple disciplines, practiced every day; while failure is simply a few errors in judgment, repeated every day. It is the accumulative weight of our disciplines and our judgments that leads us to either fortune or failure.”–Jim Rohn

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