Fiction by Alika Yarnell
I heard it calling and my eyes followed its bob. I crouched on one of the smooth, flat boulders warmed by the sun and stuck my hand in. It was hard at first. I eased over and then snatch! I turned it over in my hands and looked around. No one. The sun spread its gold all over, starting to dip. I stuck the message and bottle in my pack and hopped on Whiz to go home. My first clue.
I first snuck into Skot’s house on a Tuesday after school. I thought I would be the only one there. I opened his drawers, searched his closet. I found his tapes and records and studied them. Next time I would come back with a camera.
‘Give me some of that paint,’ I said and dipped my whole hand in and brought it out like a white glove. It was so smooth and milky and dripping like a thick pure white blood. I imagined that was what witch blood would look like. I wanted to catch a witch so I could kill her.
“I want to show you,” she says and I shake my head. After all these years, what does it matter. But a fire burns in her charcoal eyes and before I can stop her, she pricks her finger with a pointed seashell. I close my eyes, not wanting to see, not wanting to know the truth about her blood.
The burning in my ears becomes unbearable. I get two ice packs and sandwich them in between the muffs of my headphones and strap them on. But my ears hurt too much to listen so I sit with the ice water melting down my neck. Water running down a neck is a very unsatisfactory feeling. There aren’t many times the neck is wet when the rest of the body is dry. I can only think of sweat and tears.
I looked up at the sign above me and wondered if my eyes were playing tricks. You could tell the sign was old because it was faded to the color of raw meat. I think it was supposed to say Sunny Motel, but the way the cursive “U” almost formed a circle and the “N”s were tilted and angular, it looked more like Sorry Motel. That isn’t the kind of thing you want to see after being dumped on a curb in the Tenderloin by your boyfriend.
The rock which looks like a mountain forms up from the ground, red and shimmering, and if he were a giant as tall as a god he could take the rock and crumble it in his fist like a clump of dirt and it would disintegrate like coffee grounds. He’d blow it into the wind and it would scatter over the land in a million pieces of rock-mountain. It would end up on a woman’s front lawn and she’d never know the dust was a part of this once magnificent rock.
I can’t tell you how hard this is. That’s what Jack said when I crawled into bed with him the first time. And I knew he meant it both ways. Because that’s how he was. Full of double meaning.
He screamed and dunked his head into the salt water and the seagulls cried above him. Flies buzzed and hovered over the gray sand. He saw their faces in the bird’s dead eyes.
It didn’t matter how long, I would see one. Cars against cars, cars against people, motorcycles, scooters, something. Sometimes it was just a dent, a fender bender, a broken taillight. Sometimes there were bits of glass, steaming engines, blood. I got to dread it. And again I had to tell them my story. I had a feeling if I didn’t, there would be trouble to pay.
Babies die all the time of natural causes—why can’t hers? Sudden Infant Death Syndrome: SIDS. She calls the baby Sid in hope that this will inspire his death. You are a mistake.