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Silverweed by Dorlana Vann

Silverweed: a supernatural fairy tale by Dorlana Vann

 

Werewolf,  Young Adult, Dark Fantasy inspired by Little Red Riding Hood

Silverweed: A supernatural fairy tale will be free July 29, 2016 – August 2, 2016.

Once upon a time Granny was attacked by a werewolf. Eighteen years later her grandson, Aiden Young, arrives in Indiana for his aunt’s funeral, and his unfortunate discovery of the family secret leads to a fatal mistake. Before the weekend is over, he’s trapped by a blizzard along with his superstitious cousin, Diesel, and Scarlet, Diesel’s manipulative girlfriend. In his grandmother’s spooky, old house in the middle of the woods, the teen faces life and death decisions: who can be trusted, and who needs to be saved? However, he must first figure out what the true monster is… werewolf or fear. Because in this Little Red Riding Hood-inspired supernatural fairy tale, the roles of prey and predator become interchangeable.

Paperback and Ebook available

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GoodReads Reviews 

 Chapter 1 – Once Upon a Time

Aiden Young stared out the window of the rental car. His mom, Lucy, had described early fall in Indiana as spectacular, but they’d missed autumn altogether, and she’d failed to mention that the heart of winter was so freaking bleak and bitter. He pulled a pen out of the spirals of his notebook and forced himself to ignore the poem he had written about Summer, his newly ex-girlfriend, on the previous page. On the next blank page, he wrote:

Sunlight…
shivers through the claws
of dense skeleton branches

“What are you writing?” his mom asked from behind the wheel, rescuing him from comparing the cold poem to the way he felt. “I would love to hear something. You haven’t shared your poetry with me in a long time. You know, I still have the very first one you wrote to me. Let’s see, it went… ‘Mommy, mommy—’”

“Hey!” He cleared his throat. “Umm… are you sure you turned down the right road?” He couldn’t stomach his mom’s “when you were a little boy” stories, even if guilt did nudge at him. He knew in her mind the reason he had tagged along was so that they could spend time together. In real life, her trip on the same weekend Summer had planned to come over had been perfect timing, and that’s all. Summer wanted serious answers, and he didn’t even want to talk about it, didn’t want to think about it. “It’s been forever since I’ve seen a house. Only trees and more trees and dead trees…”

“Nervous?” She smiled as she glanced back and forth from him to the road, her new, short hairstyle bouncing to the movement.

“You not watching the road is making me a little jumpy.”

“No, I think city boy is scared of the woods.” She gave a quick laugh before saying, “Granny once told me she saw the devil out there. Pitchfork and all.”

“Well, if I was scared, that wouldn’t help.”

His mom watched the road in silence for a moment. “How much do you remember about my family?”

He shrugged. “I remember Augustus was a jerk.”

“I’m sure he’s changed by now.”

“Right.”

“I hope some other stuff has changed, too,” she mumbled. “There are a couple of things about them you probably don’t remember.”

“Wait!” Aiden pointed. “There’s a house down that hill. Is that it?”

“That’s it.” She made a sharp left.

As they drove down the driveway, Aiden frowned. The house was old and worn, the paint peeling like someone had raked the white two-story from the top of the black trim down to the dead bushes. The windows, with a brownish build-up on the glass, didn’t catch a single reflection. But the porch actually triggered a memory. He knew it wrapped the entire house because he remembered running around and around it when he was a little boy.

Lucy parked beside a red BMW. “I don’t remember it being so—”

“Spooky?”

“I was going to say old. Anyway, how do I look?” She sat up straight and examined herself in the rearview mirror.

Aiden didn’t say anything because after the first fifty times he had told her she looked fine, he’d realized she wasn’t listening for an answer. She was just nervous. They had almost missed their plane because she had changed her outfit a few hundred times. She had finally settled on black slacks, black leather jacket, pastel shirt, and low heels.

Aiden opened the car door. His Texas winter coat, actually a thin jacket, was no match for the icy wind. Since it had been shorts weather back home, he was thankful that at least he had worn long pants. As he walked toward the house, he tucked his hands inside his pockets and tried to look down at much as possible to keep the miserable cold from hitting his face.

Lucy knocked on the front door and looked around at the containers of flowers, plants, and condolence wreaths on the front porch. “I don’t see the one I sent.”

The door opened abruptly. Aiden had been seven the last time he saw his cousin, but he recognized the guy with dark, slicked-back hair and swollen eyes, one green and one blue, as Augustus. He wore jeans and an unbuttoned black shirt, which revealed a chain that dangled down a muscular chest.

“What?” His cousin’s voice sounded groggy, like he had been woken from a nap.

“Augustus? Hi. Remember us? Aunt Lucy. And this is Aiden.”

Augustus remained unenthused. “Oh,” he said, walking away. He left the door wide open, presumably for them to follow.

Aiden had half expected the inside of the house to look as unkempt as the outside. Other than the sheet-covered frame that hung on the wall with only a tarnished corner peeking out, there was nothing wrong or special about the spacious foyer. He glanced at the formal dining room, which was to the right, and at the hallway, stairs, and ramp on the left.

As they followed his cousin into a warm living room, Aiden noticed Augustus’ hair wasn’t short like it had first appeared but hung down in a pony-tail.

“Whoop,” Aiden said as he tripped on the corner of the rug.

Augustus turned and glared at Aiden. “Watch your step.”

Aiden smoothed the rug with his foot in case it was expensive or something. “Sorry, man.”

“The last thing we need around here is more bad luck,” Augustus said.

“Oh, everything is fine,” Lucy offered. “Aiden’s just real clumsy.”

“Mom!”

She looked at Aiden sternly, as if to say, “Please, play along.”

“Right…” Aiden said with full sarcasm. “I’m a klutz. I fall down all the time.”

Augustus shook his head and walked to a chair that faced a blazing fireplace. A dozen or so pillar candles, at all stages of being burned, lined the mantle. A sofa, a wooden console television that looked so ancient Aiden doubted it received cable, and a small end table furnished the rest of the room.

They stood behind the sectional like two dummies. Slowly, Augustus swiveled around. “Sit down,” he said.

After they made it to the front of the couch, Lucy only sat on the edge, clearly uncomfortable. “Augustus,” she said. “I don’t know how to express how sorry we are.”

“Diesel,” Augustus said.

“I’m sorry?” Lucy replied.

“My name is Diesel.”

“Oh! Your middle name. When did you start going by your middle name?”

“Five years ago.”

“Oh,” she nodded. “How… are you?” She smoothed her hair. “Are you doing all right?”

“The funeral was yesterday,” he said.

“Yeah. I know, and I’m so sorry. I hoped we could drive out to the gravesite.”

“You missed your own sister’s funeral.”

“I know. I know. We really tried to get here on time but the airport, you know, and Christmas. It’s insane. Trying to rent a car was…”

Diesel shifted in his seat.

Lucy cleared her throat. “How’s Granny?”

“She’s sleeping. Do you want to see her?”

“Nooo, not if she’s resting.”

“I’ll be right back.”

When Diesel jumped up and walked out of the room, Aiden tried to exhale the tension with a silent whistle. The fire crackled as they sat waiting.

They both turned when they heard a loud knock coming from above. A railing supported by carved wooden balusters edged the open landing. “Gran,” Diesel said loudly. “Aunt Lucy and Aiden are here. Finally.” The bedroom door creaked open.

After he heard the door shut, Aiden leaned over to his mom and whispered, “Man, he sure did get weird.”

“Well, he’s been through a lot. He just lost his mom.”

“Sorry.” Aiden felt bad for a second. But still… “What was with the rug and bad luck stuff, and you making me look like such a dweeb?”

“I didn’t mean to. I was trying to make him feel better. It’s so strange. I had no idea Augustus believed in all that stuff, too.”

“Diesel,” Aiden corrected with a smirk.

She nodded. “I mean Diesel. They’re all a little different… a little superstitious, old-fashioned.”

“How do you mean, superstitious? Black cats and stuff?”

She nodded. “It seems like every little thing. You see, the reason Diesel got upset earlier is because stumbling is suppose to be bad luck in general.”

“How do you know that?”

“I grew up with all of it.”

“But you’re not superstitious.”

She leaned in closer to Aiden and whispered, “Because I knew all the old wives’ tales, omens, and folklore Mom told me and Rose were only make-believe, like fairy tales. Now Rose, she soaked it all in and actually believed. But she didn’t go all,” she waved her hands, “you know until…”

Aiden shook his head because he didn’t know. His mom rarely brought up her sister in conversation.

“Well, when she was pregnant, her boyfriend, Harley, ran off and left her. I think something completely snapped. Even though I had already moved out by then, I heard she took it hard. At least that S.O.B. left money for Diesel when he died.”

“She’s not feeling very well,” Diesel said from directly behind them. They both jumped. “She wants to know if you guys can go up there.”

“Sure, sure,” Lucy said, her face bright red.

They followed Diesel into the foyer and up the stairs. After a few steps up, the stairs turned to the right. Aiden could see over the banister, down into the living room.

When they arrived at Granny’s door, Aiden’s heart thumped in his chest. He hadn’t seen her in ten years. His own grandma, a stranger. He could also sense his mom’s anxiety; she took her time walking inside the room.

Granny sat in a recliner covered by a worn quilt. Her grey, bushy eyebrows went all the way across and met in the middle of her brow. Her cheekbones sank in, and her long, silver hair draped over both of her shoulders.

“Lucille, you came,” Granny said, her voice ungrateful.

“Mom,” Lucy said. “How are you?”

“I’m hanging in there.”

“I’m so sorry about Rose.” Lucy leaned over and gave her mom a distant hug. “I can’t believe she had a heart attack.”

“I don’t believe it, either. Doctors. All of them, money hungry. Hmph, it doesn’t matter, anymore. She’s gone. Rose is gone.”

Aiden heard the door close behind him. Diesel had left the room.

“She was a good daughter,” Granny said. “I could count on her. Always here for me.” She looked at Aiden. “My, my look at you. Come give Granny a hug.”

Aiden walked over to Granny’s stretched out arms and hugged her, smelling the scent of grassy earth. He pulled away, and she smiled warmly.

“It’s so good to see you in person,” she said. “I’ve been sent pictures, but it’s not the same. Look at you. You remind me of your grandpa; he was tall and thin.” She looked around Aiden. “Where’s my new grandson? How old is he now, two? Seems a shame, a grandmother never even getting to meet her own grandson.”

“He’s three and… he has a cough, and I thought it would be easier.” Lucy cleared her throat. “Mike stayed home with him.”

Granny eased her attention over to Lucy. “I see. So when are you running off? I guess it’s just as well, anyway.”

Lucy straightened and smiled curtly. “There’s something I need to talk—”

“You can stay in your old room if you want,” Granny interrupted. “It’s the same. We haven’t changed a thing in case you ever decided to come home. Aiden, honey, you can take the guestroom downstairs. I’m feeling quite weak. Please ask Diesel if there’s some leftovers from Rose’s friends that I can have for my supper tonight. Rose always made supper…”

“I’d be happy to cook,” Lucy said.

“I suppose that will do. Turn the light out when you leave.”

Lucy stood for a second, wringing her hands, and then took a couple of steps to the bedside table and snapped off the lamp. The room went dim but not dark because of the daylight sneaking in from the window. Lucy turned abruptly and left the room. Aiden smiled at Granny, feeling awkward. “See ya,” he said before following his mom’s exit and shutting the door behind him.

Aiden caught up with Lucy on the stairs, mid-ramble. “She chose to live with Rose, and now she’s acting like I abandoned her or something. She wouldn’t even give me a chance to ask her. What makes me even think she would want to move in with me?”

“It was a little soon to ask, don’t you think? Hi. Condolences. Want to pack up and move across the country?”

“Shhh. Why don’t we go to the car,” she said as they reached the foyer, “and we can talk.”

Once in the car, Lucy placed her hand on her cheek as she stared out the front windshield. “I hope you can understand why I need to do this.”

“I know, you and Dad explained it all at home. I mean, she’s old, and you don’t think a college kid like Diesel can take care of her.” Ever since his mom had brought up her plan, he had been apprehensive, especially since his mom suggested she extend the invitation to Diesel, too, at least until after the holidays. However, after seeing Diesel, he didn’t think he had to worry about him wanting to bunk together. He didn’t seem the type. And, since Diesel was legally an adult, he could have the entire house to himself. Aiden knew what he would pick if he was given the choice.

“I didn’t realize it would be so hard,” his mom said, speaking more to herself than to Aiden. “I can’t believe she’s saying I ran off. I didn’t run off. I got married… I couldn’t bring myself to come back very often because every time I did, Rose acted and looked so strange, like a witch or gypsy or something. I couldn’t stand to see her like that. She used to be so pretty. The last time we came here, I swear she was in the kitchen making some kind of potion.”

“Cool, magic potions.” Aiden imagined his aunt standing over a black cauldron, stirring it with a long wooden spoon.

“She wasn’t normal,” she whispered and wiped her eyes. “I tried to tell Mom that I wasn’t sure Rose should be taking care of anyone and to come live with us. Of course she wouldn’t hear anything bad about her Rose. She chose her over me… So it’s not my fault. But I really didn’t mean for ten years to pass. Now I feel like a terrible daughter and sister.” Lucy inhaled a long breath and let it out quickly. “I’ll never see Rose again, you know.”

“I’m sorry.” Aiden pulled a t-shirt out of his duffle bag from the backseat and handed it to his mom to wipe her tears.

“I know it’s too late to make it up to Rose, but maybe I can help Mom and be there for my nephew. He doesn’t have a mom or a dad now. We’ll sit down and have a nice dinner and discuss everything with them, as a family. I’m sure they’ll see that it’s the best solution. Right?”

“Right…”

“I’m sorry. I really didn’t mean to get all into that.” She nodded and patted him on the leg. “I’m so glad you decided to come with me. I can’t believe you chose to spend your holiday with me. It means a lot to me.”

“Sure, Mom.”

“Let’s just get the bags—”

“Wait a minute,” he said. “You’re not suggesting we sleep here, are you?”

“We don’t have a choice. After dinner it’ll be too late to drive very far. You saw downtown. Did you see a Holiday Inn?”

They had driven straight through Kingwood, Indiana. Surrounded by worn-down shops sat an old, two-story courthouse, complete with bell tower and soaring front steps that led to a columned porch. Unfortunately, he hadn’t seen anything that even resembled a modern hotel.

Lucy said, “Anyway, aren’t you the one who told me I should take my time?”

“Yeah, but I meant during the day and after we checked into a hotel that had room service.”

“It’s only for the one night.” Lucy sighed and stared at the house. “How bad could it be?”

He didn’t look forward to being in the house at night; it already had a creepy Poe atmosphere during the day. He imagined Diesel looming over his bed with a butcher knife chanting, “You’re bad luck. You’re bad luck…” Aiden shuddered. “Right,” he said.
“How bad?”

 

Writing Diary #7 & a Short Story

Now that the first book in my Trouble with Men series has launched I can focus more on my other projects. I’ve been working on the edits I received from my editor for book 2, The Trouble with Scarecrows, and I’m also working on the 2nd draft of my YA fairy tale inspired novel –  So I don’t  have word count updates. I was going to try to keep up with hours spent, but it doesn’t look like that’s going to happen. On the backburner for now is the rough draft of the 3rd book in the series. I want to get these edits back for book 2 first, and then I’ll work on book 3 while I wait on the next round of edits.

I’ve said it before, and just in case no one was listening, I’ll say it again: I would much rather work on edits/rewrites than a rough draft. (The rough draft is … hard lol.) I think the only bad part about rewriting is having to reread the story a thousand times. (You’d better like your story.) I was talking to my sister about this, and she asked me if I dreamed about my characters. I’d never thought about this before, but no, I don’t. Which is weird because I’m a big time dreamer.  Maybe I just use a different part of my brain. IDK

Now all this talk about dreams reminds me of one of my short stories in my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales. “If You Feed a Wolf” was inspired by Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland. What I used from Wonderland was the way it reminded me of how I feel in dreams. So what I did was use some of my dreams from my dream journal as inspiration. So this story is a little fun, a little sad, and little out there. And I’m adding it to the end of this post.

Love, Laughter, and Fairy Tales,

Dorlana

If You Feed a Wolf

by Dorlana Vann

“But I don’t want to go among the mad people,” Alice remarked.

“Oh, you can’t help that,” said the cat: “we’re all mad here. I’m mad. You’re mad.”

“How do you know I’m mad?” said Alice.

“You must be,” said the cat, “Or you wouldn’t have come here.”

From “Alice’s Adventure in Wonderland” by Lewis Carroll

 

Nora ran, dodging trees and paying no mind to the twigs that scraped her bare arms and legs from shoulder to thigh. Once in awhile, the high afternoon sun shone through the density of the woods, and she knew she had better hurry.

When she reached the beach, she admired all her sisters who had gathered for the festivities. The continuous breeze carried the ocean’s scent as it waved through her long, bright hair. She felt powerful and had no doubt that she would be the victor.

“Gather around,” said Mother Mabel. Even without her ceremonial robes she stood with confidence, stripped down to her breast and bottom coverings. She was the oldest and wisest in their community, beautiful and flawless. “It’s time for the first race.”

Considering her competition’s bronzed, muscular legs and stomach, Nora found her to be an equal opponent. She couldn’t recall her name, only that they had known each other for a very long time. Nora smiled, and the woman smiled back, but with more self-assuredness—like it was clear she’d leave Nora in the dust.

“Go!” shouted Mother Mabel.

Nora took off. Her legs were strong and her mind clear. She wanted to win, although she didn’t want the race to end. Her sisters raised their red-ribbon-tied spears and cheered. The further Nora ran, the thicker the sand gathered on her feet, but it didn’t stop her from crossing the finish line first. She took small, effortless breaths as she looked behind her, but her opponent wasn’t there.

Where did she go? What did she look like? She wondered this as her sisters picked her up on their shoulders and paraded her around.

The moon, blazing orange, seemed to take the sun’s place in an instant. Everyone had gathered for the feast, eager and hungry for it to begin. The fire felt hot against Nora’s face and hands. She wasn’t hungry, but she couldn’t wait for the food. A bird with antlers flew down beside her and pecked the ground and then flew away again.

She watched as a wolf walked out of the forest. He stopped and then began to spin, around and around in circles. No one else seemed to notice him until he sat down beside the fire. He was hungry. Mother Mabel threw him a crumb and told him to leave. He growled out of the side of his mouth but ran back into the woods.

“Nora,” Mother Mabel said, the fire’s light dancing on her face. “If you feed a wolf, it will leave.” She took a puff from her brass pipe and passed it to the sister sitting next to her.

A storm started brewing, and the wind blew sand over the fire. All was black, except for the light of the pipe, and it seemed to float to Nora. She took it in her hands but hesitated until she heard Mother Mabel say, “I will come with you on your journey. I will always be with you.”

Nora put her lips to the cold pipe and inhaled, feeling the sweet smoke invade her mouth and then her lungs, heavily gratifying…

When awoken by a sudden light and an uneasy rustling, she couldn’t recall ever going to sleep. She was afraid to look, but curiosity forced her eyes to fly open. Where am I? Like lyrics to a forgotten song, but without the sweet melody, she vaguely recognized the room. She couldn’t breathe; the four white walls were stifling. Other people were there, but she didn’t know them.

What did Mother Mabel say to me? “Something about a journey,” Nora whispered.

“Nora? Nora?” asked a lady with silver, stringy hair, wrinkles, and sunken cheeks. “Can you see me? Can you hear me?”

Nora nodded.

The old lady sucked in her breath and put her hand over her mouth. “It’s me … Mabel. Mabel.”

Nora shook her head because the woman didn’t look anything like Mother Mabel. But there was a resemblance. A similarity. The green eyes, the way she opened her mouth when she smiled. I will come with you on your journey. “But why do you look so old?”

The lady laughed. “Why indeed.”

“What kind of journey is this?” Nora whispered. She tried to stand, but her legs held no strength, and she fell to the hard, cold floor.

“Oh,” Mabel said. “Are you hurt?” Mabel tried to help her, but Nora refused, thinking she didn’t need help.

Nora sat on the floor, legs in front of her, staring at unkempt yellowing toenails that stuck out of dirty, pink slippers. She pulled up the gown she wore, revealing pale, thin legs. “What happened to me? Why am I here?”

“I’m so glad you can talk.” It took her a couple a seconds, but Mabel got down on the floor and sat cross-legged like a little girl. “You are talking, aren’t you?”

“Is there a reason? Is this a lesson? Does this have to do with the wolf?”

Mabel eyes widened and in a raspy whisper she said, “How’d you know about the wolf?”

“It was by the fire, and you told me to feed it.”

Mabel inhaled and her hands jittered about wildly. “Right. I told you about the wolf. You did hear me. You could hear me the whole time. Why didn’t you say anything?”

“About what?” Nora asked.

“Right.” Mabel bit her nails.

“Oh, Miss Nora.” A man wearing white from head to toe stood over them. “Am I in trouble!” Without asking, he helped her up and back into her seat. “Here.” He handed her a small container. “I got distracted on my rounds and plum missed you. Woo wee, we wouldn’t want this to get out.”

“No,” Mabel said struggling to untangle her legs. “No, she can’t have those.”

“Miss Mabel, causing trouble again, I see. You know what happened last time Miss Nora was off her meds for too long. She bit you. Remember?”

“It’s fine.”

The man held his hand out, now helping Mabel stand up.

“See,” Mabel said as she stood. “I’m fine. Don’t you see? Nora told me about the stories. She heard my stories …”

He looked back at Nora and nodded. “Take them, Miss Nora, and you’ll feel a lot better. You’ll go right back to la la land.”

Mabel wiped her eyes. “But the fairy tales, she remembers. And I don’t have anyone to talk to.”

Nora looked at the two little pills in the bottom of the small clear cup.

“No, Nora,” Mabel pleaded. “Stay with me. Stay with me.”

Nora couldn’t see the value of her journey. She didn’t know why she had come to the colorless place where she had to be so weak and helpless and where her thoughts were foggy. “If you feed a wolf, it will leave.” As she looked down at the little white pills, the message the real Mother Mabel had given her became clear. In this strange place, she was the wolf. If she wanted to go back to be with her sisters and never leave the beach, she would have to feed the wolf the little white pills.

The End

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

Story From Dorlana’s Paranormal short story collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales eBook .99 cents Amazon

Supernatural Fairy Tale: Thumbelina + Mermaids = Forbidden Beach

Supernatural Fairy Tales

Supernatural Fairy Tales by Dorlana Vann

Here is one the paranormal short stories from my collection: Supernatural Fairy Tales. The eBook is available on Amazon for only .99 cents – These nine Supernatural Fairy Tales are not retellings of the original fairy tales but were inspired by them. They are paranormal themed stories about vampires, ghosts, mermaids, witches, and more, in genres ranging from romance to thriller. And fair warning: they don’t always have a happy ending.

Forbidden Beach was a lot of fun to write.

Forbidden Beach

by

Dorlana Vann

I knew what lurked beyond the trees even before I opened the car door: the forbidden, barricaded beach. Even though I lived only a few miles away, I had never stood so close. Leaning against the car, the wind ruffled my hair as nerves tangled my insides.

“Aren’t you coming, Junior?” Pearl, my date, stood in the moonlight, hands on her hips, legs apart, making a perfect triangle with her skirt.

I shrugged my shoulders. “We’re not supposed to be here.”

“There’s no law against it.”

“Let’s go, you two love birds,” Clay said, shining his flashlight on us for a second before moving on.

“Don’t be scared,” Pearl said. “Just don’t step in the water, and you’ll be fine.”

I put my already shaky hands into my pants pockets. “I’m not scared!” It wasn’t that I needed to impress Pearl. I had only agreed to go out with her because no one else had said yes, but I didn’t want a mammoth, cowardly act stamped on my already unimpressive rep. “I just don’t believe it, that’s all. Have you ever seen it happen?”

“No, but my cousin, Fern, said he did. After a dare, one of his friends ran into the water and changed right before Fern’s eyes, and then the sea took him. He never saw him again.”

This reminded me of all the times my mother had warned me to stay away from the beach, to stay away from the wild Merfolk. “They took your father. Shameful, cannibalistic creatures, behaving like animals in that dirty ocean. Immoral and naked. Catching fish with their mouths. It’s shameful. It’s shameful. They took your father you know…”

“So, let’s go.” Pearl grabbed my hand, and I allowed her to lead me through the trees. The same salty air I had breathed my entire life now burst with intensity.

After we had caught up with Clay and Iona, we helped each other over the concrete barrier and down into the sand. I heard the soft roar of the dark waves, its movement the only factor separating it from the sky.

I vaguely heard the others talking behind me before Clay shouted, “No hard feelings, Junior. We just want to see if it’s true.” They laughed and pushed me until my feet sank into the wet, gushy sand.

“Don’t! Don’t!” I pleaded, already feeling the droplets of ocean spraying my face, before they gave one hard, final shove.

A wave pulled me with it, soaking my pants up to my waist. Fear pushed my voice to a scream. I screamed for help, screamed for the ocean to let go! Just as the water retreated, I lost my balance and landed on my knees. Sunken sand tracks, where the kids had run away, came into focus.

I scrambled to dry land before the next wave, trying to catch my senses. Tears filled my eyes as I remembered the pictures of the hideous beasts that I had been shown since grade school.

Standing up, I examined my legs and put my hands out in front of me, waiting for it to happen. The change. When I touched my mouth, my teeth felt normal, not long and pointed like a beast’s.

Relieved and unchanged, except for my belief that I would never be accepted by kids my age, I started to walk toward the road. A new sound in the darkness stopped me. I thought maybe they didn’t leave me but were hiding, waiting to watch me turn into a creature.

“I know you guys are there,” I said meekly, becoming increasingly concerned with the alien surroundings. I fought the urge to run. I would not let them win. And then a different, even stronger thought intruded; since I proved the myth untrue, I’ll be like a hero. No one would have to be afraid of the beach again.

“Nnnn…”

I followed the sound to a pile of drifted sand and tangled weeds. The closer I stepped, the more it sounded like a whimper instead of a snicker. My mouth fell open as my breathing picked up pace. I questioned what I perceived camouflaged in the debris. A woman?

Her long hair, wildly strewn out behind her, was mixed with the sand and seaweed. “Hey, are you all right?” When I noticed her bare arms and her bare chest, I turned away. “Immoral and naked.” My heart quickened because it knew I had to look again. I stared at her face, down to her neck, to her chest, and past her stomach.

No legs! A fishtail! A real fishtail!

Stumbling back to standing, I turned towards the sea. “Oh! Ohhhh…” I put my hands up to my head. What do I do? She was a Merfolk, but something was wrong with her. I couldn’t just leave.

I loosened my tie and started unbuttoning my shirt as I thought about how Mother would kill me if she knew. It might not have been against man’s laws to walk the beach, but it sure the hell was against her’s. I turned back around and gently placed my shirt over the mermaid’s shoulders, covering most of her exposed upper body that didn’t look monstrous at all.

She didn’t move, except for her labored breathing. As I stood, wondering what to do next, I noticed a two inch gash in-between her two bottom fins that seemed clogged with sand.

I ran to the water, cupped it in my hands, and ran back. I did this several times, cleaning the wound as much as possible. I pulled my tie over my head and then wrapped it around her fins, bringing the edges of the cut as close together as possible.

When I put a handful of water up to her lips, she gave a quick inhalation, sucking up some of the water. I staggered backwards and then shot to my feet. Running to the water, I shouted, “Hello? She’s alive, and she needs help!” But only the spirited, nocturnal seagulls soared overhead, their replies loud but unclear.

After walking back and forth a couple of times, I dipped into the water once again and took it to her. The mermaid’s eyes shot open, but I didn’t flinch. I let her drink.

“Thank you,” she whispered.

I nodded, a little surprised to hear her speak.  “Are you all right?”

“I think I just need something to eat.”

“Well, I can run home and make or… bring…”

“If you could just help me to the water, I can take care of that myself.”

“Oh,” I said, recalling what Mother had said about them catching live fish in their mouths.

“Please come be my guest so I can thank you for your kindness.”

I looked behind me at the ocean, allowing myself to realize how much I admired it. “I can’t, my mother… besides, I’m not like you. It wasn’t true, after all. I was in the water, and I didn’t change.”

“The sea takes no one who doesn’t wish to be there. You must desire the change. See?” She waved her hand over her tail. “I didn’t change into Landfolk just because I sit on dry land. I love the sea, and I want to return.” She held my stare as she said, “You must love the land.”

Or am I just scared? A soft breeze lifted me out of my thoughts, as she lifted her arms to me. I struggled, but managed to carry her until the waves splashed up to my shoulders. She sank and without a word disappeared into the darkness.

***

“Did you have a good time?” Mother stood in the foyer like she had been waiting there since I left. “I’m glad you finally got out of your—” Her smile distorted into a wide-mouth scream. When she pointed at my feet, my face grew hot. I didn’t have to look down to imagine all of the golden sand that probably clung to my pant legs and shoes.

She sat down on the stairs, blocking my escape to my room. In between gasps she said, “How many times have I told you never to go to that beach? It’s dangerous. Shameful, dirty beasts! Filthy-cannibalistic-naked-immoral-ugly creatures—”

“They’re not ugly,” I whispered.

Her face froze with a mix of horror and shock. “What did you say?”

I avoided her eyes. “I met one. I umm, I helped one. Her.”

“Swear to me right now,” she hissed, “you’ll never set foot on that wicked, wicked beach, again.”

At that moment, I realized how disgusted I was by her snobbish attitude. I also knew I would never be able to stay away from the ocean, away from the beauty of the Merfolk. “Why do you hate them? Because they’re different? You know, they’re not so unlike us. They can talk and are free to do…” At that moment, what really happened to my father became so obvious. “He chose the ocean, didn’t he? Father wasn’t taken!”

Tears of which I didn’t know Mother was capable began to seep from her eyes. “I should have moved us to the compound years ago just like the Worleys.” And then softly she sobbed. “But I had to wait.”

“Wait? For what? Father’s not coming back. Why would he? He’s free.”

“Don’t you dare disrespect me, Junior. You’re too young to understand the world. Merfolk are manipulative and horrific.” With wild eyes she looked around. “I have to protect you. Go pack! Now!” She stood up abruptly and pointed up the stairs. “Pack up your stuff. We’re moving in the morning and never coming back.” She screamed, “They can’t have you!”

I made my way up the stairs to pack for the compound. A compound so far inland I heard the air smelled of pine. A compound I could not leave until I was of age.

Early the next morning, I climbed out of my bedroom window and found my way back to the beach. It had lost all of its darkness and now glistened and pumped silver-blue waves as far as I could see.

“You came back.”

I almost missed the mermaid; her hair blended and moved with the water.

“I wanted to say goodbye. My mother is scared of what she doesn’t understand.”

“But you’re not,” her voice rose over the rumble. “I can see it on your face. You have fallen for the sea.”

“I don’t know.”

She held out her arms to me. “There is only one way to find out. Give yourself fully to the waves.”

I stepped into the water, thinking I would come back later and tell Mother goodbye, but the feeling of freedom already overwhelmed me. The further I swam the further away the mermaid seemed. I watched the tip of her tail go under and held my breath, plunging in after her. Immediately, I felt different. I was changing! My legs felt as one unified object. But when I gave in to the need to inhale, I choked violently. I coughed and gagged until finally I felt accepted.

My eyes had burned feverishly from the saltwater during the ocean’s initiation; now they could focus on the new surroundings. Brilliant and vivid fish that I had never imagined existed swam playfully around me as if they were celebrating my arrival.

To my surprise, a group of Mermen suddenly appeared. My heart thumped wildly. I started scanning their faces, searching for my father. I smiled, and they grinned. Then they opened their mouths, exposing daggered teeth. They came closer, surrounding me, licking me with their shameful, filthy, cannibalistic tongues.

The End

Rough Draft Diary Entry #3

June 15 – June 21

Not a lot of words written last week – but I feel I needed this time to get my thoughts together. So you can guess what my goal is for this week – type, type, type …

Trouble with Men Series book #3 – words written: 779

When I opened the file up on Tuesday I didn’t start writing, instead I went back to the very beginning and went over it – it helped to better describe my characters and to get in their heads from the very beginning again. So by the time I was finished for the day, I actually had three more scenes in my head. I also sent the first 2 chapter to my friend and critique partner (she’s read the first 2 books) – This was one of her comments: “There were several places that surprised a laugh out of me.” Which is awesome because I was worried about it being too heavy. Of course it wasn’t all sunshine, she also gave me some things to think about. So now I think I’m back on track (I really think taking a few days off of this book helped) – even though my word count is yuck.

YA Fairy Tale Inspired – words written: 1593

I finished the rough draft at 36713 words. It still has a long, long, long way to go  but it is plotted and down on paper after a very long journey of it being my backburner story. To me, the rough draft is the most difficult part of writing, so I’m actually looking forward to the second phase of the book. Since my word count isn’t going to be the most important aspect of the second draft, “words written” above will be changed to “time spent” on my next entry.

Love and Laughter,

Dorlana

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