The Ladies of Horror
Picture-Prompt Writing Challenge!
by Michelle Joy Gallagher
It had been 15 days since Macie drowned. She’d watched with calm indifference as her father’s boat grew smaller and smaller at the surface and the gentle way the light refracted in the water. Her hair came up around her face partially obstructing her view and it gave everything a kaleidoscopic effect. She’d held on as long as she could, but the water had been so cold, and her father, dead now for 2 days after being lost at sea, was no longer her father, but a wild and blooming thing becoming less human and more a part of the ocean. She’d kept the seagulls at bay in that time, as they circled them lit upon his lifeless body, but soon she was greatly outnumbered and exhausted by the storm, the sea, and her grief. They’d come through a storm whole and made it another day intact, until a 50 foot wave had capsized the small fishing boat, pinning her father half under the water, his legs lodged under one of the seats. She watched him struggle as she futilely pulled at his exposed leg and arm to free him, but it was no use. The weight of the boat and the waves took her father right in front of her, and she’d clung to the traitorous belly of the boat as long as she could before she lost all strength in her arms and slowly slipped down into the murky water. When she’d hit the bottom, silt rose up around her, soft as silk, and a warmth came over her, the first time she felt warm in days. She closed her eyes and took a deep breath in.
When she awoke, her first thought was to tell her father all about the curious dream she had of the two of them lost at sea. On her arm stood a precocious crab, gently pinching at her flesh, as if to say “what are you?” And “can you be eaten?” She shooed it away the way one would a mosquito and stared knowingly up at the surface. The passage of time became foggy and the sunlight and the moonlight could scarce be distinguished here in the deep, though at least the cold was no longer an issue. Nor fear. She watched tall ships pass back and forth, perhaps after finding their capsized boat, her father’s body still helplessly and lifelessly strung through it like a thread through a needle. She lay her head on the rocks and drew pictures in the silt. Happy pictures of trees and houses and sunshine and her dog Sport.
Two men approached her on the 7th day. They asked her quite menacingly what she’d done with their money and where their captain went. She stared at them curiously as they repeated their questions, stuck in an eternal loop, until they wandered away, muted words still audible in the distance. “The captain is gone and the money promised!” She felt what could have been sadness for them had she been alive to feel it. Instead she lay back down and watched the waves on the surface play and imagined what their ship and captain must have been like once upon a time.
Fiction © Copyright Michelle Joy Gallagher
Image courtesy of Pixabay.com
More about Michelle Joy Gallagher:
Michelle Joy Gallagher is a poet from Sacramento, CA. She enjoys mixing poetry with other artistic mediums, and pushing her own artistic comfort zones in the process. Using visceral imagery, and playing with the elasticity of language is where she finds herself happiest. She is the author of poetry chapbooks, A New Mourning and S=K log W, her poetry also makes appearances in The Rejected Volume 1 and The Rejected Volume 2 By Stan Konopka, and her story, The Red Woman, will appear in the soon to be released Café Macabre (Leah Lederman and Source Point Press).