Laissez Faire

Letting Life Lead

Yeah Write #26: The Return (#flashfiction)

pearldiverRain — invisible against the pewter and lavender sky — disappeared into the open ocean’s hungry ripples. Araia surfaced slowly and whistled out a slow, steady breath and let the frigid waves cradle her body like sea kelp while she recovered from her dive. She admired her prizes: a green sea urchin and two large oysters. When the sea pushed her towards the backside of a rough, protruding rock, she tucked her body into a crevice — using her feet to prop herself up as if on an invisible chair. The urchin, rare now in this part of the coast, she let go. The oysters she shucked with the knife she kept in her braided loincloth belt — she wore nothing else — and ate raw. They tasted of salt and seaweed. She drank collected rainwater from the shells of other shellfish she’d set upon the rocks earlier. A gull alighted. A meal she could make if she hit it with the small bola also on her belt, but she let it peck the empty oysters.

They’re here. I can feel it.

The sky answered with a deluge. Araia removed the numerous braids from her black hair and let the sky wash the salt from it. The gusty winds whipped the strands on her face, and her third lid slipped over her eyes to protect them — which made the shore vanish from her vision but sharp-focused the water. The coast was not a long swim for her. The setting sun lit the deserted rocky, shoreline; the lights from the few houses twinkled. The days were short and there would be little activity. Still, she decided to wait until the waters turned black before she slipped back into the sea and swam with her head above water.

Once ashore, Araia picked her way over the barnacled, jagged rocks. Though her flat feet were tough, she didn’t want to risk an injury. At first, she felt heavy and sluggish. Her well-knuckled, webbed toes gripped strong to slippery stone. Sensitive fingertips allowed her to assess the jags and crevices as she climbed and ambled.

I knew you’d have to return to face your cruelty.

She followed the instinctive pull. With knife in hand, she made her way up through the sleeping grasses and trees. Raindrops beaded on the waxy oil protecting her skin. She crossed a deserted road and took cover in the foliage beside a path that led to a weathered gray and white beach house. A man sat on the last step leading to the porch.

The rain stopped.

“I’ve been waiting for weeks,” he said.

She stepped into the porch light’s glow and pointed her knife at him. “Where. Is. She.”

“I have clothes for you,” he said. When she lowered her head and bared the subtle points of her teeth, he looked away. “She’s inside.”

Araia hissed fishy breath into his face. He wilted, hung his head, and strained to appear smaller.

Complete submission.

Her blade point tapped the place where his beard met the hollow under his ear. Though her heart pounded and she long dreamed of separating head from neck, his posture stayed her hand.

“I cannot decide if you are stupid or too smart for your own good.” She breathed into his ear.

He followed her inside. There she found their fifteen-year-old daughter: underweight, hair thinning, ashen skin, and sitting almost lifeless in a cushioned chair. She looked like Araia — as pale as her mother was dark — though the brown hair was her father’s gift.

“Can you help her? Her name is Amy — ” His voice cracked.

“Bad enough to steal her from her mother and keep her from the sea, but you took her name too?” She spat her contempt, remembering the deserted house when she’d come back. Araia lifted the catatonic girl and wept fearing she was too late. “She is Naima.”

“I tried to save her.”

“Liar.  You didn’t trust me when I needed to return to the water. You couldn’t control me, so you stole her.” Araia spat at his feet. “ You’ve kept her from the water too long! I cannot bear to think how you did it.”

He did not bar her from the door, but pleaded. “Please, will you let her come back?”

“I do not own her. If she recovers to wish it, you’ll be long dead. I do not grant long life to liars and thieves. I shall dream of your begging.” Araia walked away then said, ”Die slowly.”




10 comments on “Yeah Write #26: The Return (#flashfiction)

  1. d3athlily
    February 16, 2016

    Such a sad tale. I do hope Naima makes it alright, but I feel equally sorry for the father. It would be horrible to be parted with a child no matter how much having her there endangered her. 😢

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 16, 2016

      He was a bit more unsympathetic in the original version in my head. But I didn’t have enough word count to give him a well-deserved wretched death of vengeance (say that with an appropriate reverb echo). So I left him unnamed and almost insignificant. I’m glad it translated the way I wanted.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Cyn K
    February 16, 2016

    I admire the fierceness and strength of Araia. I’m not sure exactly what she is (that’s on me, not you), but your description lets me know she is a force of nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 16, 2016

      Thanks! 750 words is a tight word count to fully explain such a creature 🙂 I am glad it came across that she was not to be trifled with.

      Liked by 1 person

      • Cyn K
        February 16, 2016

        I think you give enough details that the reader can begin to imagine her physical appearance. Good idea to prioritize her demeanor within the word count.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Jennifer G. Knoblock
    February 18, 2016

    You’ve created a wonderfully moody atmosphere with the opening descriptions, and a deft characterization of an inhuman creature. So interesting how the rain seems to respond to her–like Cyn said, a force of nature.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Laissez Faire
      February 18, 2016

      Thank you for taking a moment to comment. I know I can be description heavy so I am glad that you thought that it worked with the character and not against her. 🙂 She’s actually based off a character I wrote for an unfinished story 20 years ago. This incarnation is much more formidable though!


  4. innatejames
    February 18, 2016

    You are so strong at character. Araia is someone I want to spend more time with. My only comment would be that it took a while to get to the action of the story.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Laissez Faire
      February 18, 2016

      Thanks, nice to hear that my characters come across. And, yes, I am guilty as charged. I rarely open with action and I do desc prattle. 😊


  5. c2avilez
    February 18, 2016

    Your descriptions paint such a vivid picture in my mind, and your characterization of Araia is compelling. I want to read more.


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