The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
I have a last name. I know what it is, I’m confident, but my brain won’t let me access it. The waves seem peaceful from the porch, but when they start crashing, I’m compelled to begin my walk. Across the time-worn red carpet, through the screen door, down the old, worn wooden steps, and into the sand. From there I look back and see my cat—her name is Vera—gazing at me from the window. Her eyes have seemed full of shadows lately, and I know identity is something I can no longer trust, so I look away. I check under the porch for the little dog from up the beach who likes to come play with the sand crabs, but there’s nothing there. They know. The sand turns from gritty, tough crystals to shifting silk beneath my bare feet. My journey ends abruptly, at the edge of the water. The sand is wet here, sucking my feet down with each pull of the tide, like a satiny, enveloping sheet against my skin. The waves barely touch my toes at first, but when the sky begins to swirl, charcoal and purple with a hint of dark moss, the waves are lapping at my ankles, and then the wind kicks up. I take down my braids, let my golden hair fly free and close my eyes. When I open them the water is up to my shins and the day is growing dark, the salty scent of seaborne night incoming. That’s when he comes. The boy in white. I don’t remember his name. Joseph? Jacob? Jonathan? Something like that. Even with the water halfway up to my knees, his pants are never wet, never dirty. Sometimes I have trouble seeing his eyes, and I can’t tell if it’s his russet-brown hair and thick lashes or if there are shadows lurking there. My other self gets in the way. She tells me he’s a bad green underneath, and to stay away. He frightens her. Occasionally he holds my hand while we both watch the tide coming in with storm clouds on the horizon. When the water reaches my knees he disappears, and I know I’ve gone too deep. I’m too close to IT. It waits to the west, just southeast of the pier. No one fishes there anymore, because there is no longer any sea life to be caught. Did they disappear, run away, or was it just feeding? I don’t think it eats food like us. It feeds on something else. But then where are all the fish? Why don’t the dolphins jump there anymore? Why have all the fishermen abandoned it, speaking only of the place in whispers and keeping quiet whenever I’m around? Why don’t the gulls perch there anymore? It’s him. He’s doing it. I don’t know how. I wonder, if the sea was calm enough on a new moon, could I see the golden shine of his monstrous eyes glinting beneath the water’s surface? I don’t fear his crimson scales. I don’t fear his sharp, jagged bone-white teeth. Nor his onyx claws. Nor his jade fins that slice like razor blades. He is fire beneath the water, but the north wind follows me, protects me. I am a force of nature, like him. They say that animals lack self-awareness, but this is no animal. He’s more self-aware than we are. I don’t even know why I call him “he”, as his kind has no gender. And he doesn’t have a name—not a made-up one or a scientific term. But wasn’t I told once before…? The more I see the boy, the more I feel the jade dragon’s presence. I’m curious, intrigued, but more sea stars wash up dead on the beach every day, and no flower I plant in the front garden bed will bloom, not even my morning glories and periwinkles. Wisteria still hangs from the eaves, but how long until he takes that life too? I know our final meeting place will be at the place where the waves and the pines meet, but there’s nowhere like that on this island. A gentle rain starts to fall, and I put my rusty blue bike in the old shed, shutting the heavy wooden door. I enter through the front door, not sure how I got here, but Grandfather is here and dinner is ready and we’re watching an old game show and laughing. Once I have my bath and go to bed, for once closing the window instead of leaving it open wide, I hear my grandfather’s footsteps as he walks out to the porch and blows out the old glass lamp. He tightens the shutters and locks the doors, his silhouette standing there longer than usual. He sighs deeply, and I know that he can sense the impending changes as well as I. Our family—we can feel it in the wind. We’re not entirely human, after all.
Fiction © Copyright Ashley Davis
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
Poetry by Ashley Davis can be found featured in the fall 2017 issue of
The Horror Zine