Tides of Reflection – Mark Rookyard

Metaphorosis_2016-05The winds whispered promises of winter as they plucked with cold fingers at Silven’s shawl. She held it tighter around her shoulders and tucked her hair behind her ear. It was quiet on the cliff tops, the world seemingly shocked into appalled silence after the violence of the storm the night before. The sky was a parched blue, and diamonds of light danced on the sea under hazy pink clouds.

The path along the clifftop was overgrown, the grass thick and yellow. Once, the sea had been crowded with laughter and play, Silven watching from these very cliffs, afraid of the depths, unable to swim. Now the sea was quiet and undisturbed, the laughter long forgotten.

Below her, the waves were secretive and quiet, red near the pebbled beach, but growing darker out past the island with its alien walkways of impossibly ancient orange stone. Far overhead, plumes of white smoke trailing behind it, a scutter flew. More colonists free to flee now the storm was over. The raging winds could only keep them here for so long.

A small figure worked on a beach scoured clean by the winds and the rains. It could only be Jerek. It seemed to be a matter of honour to him not to be beaten into hiding by the presence of the sea.

Fear and frustration made Silven bold. She pulled a stalk of grass and twined it around her fingers as she strolled down to the beach. Jerek didn’t look up from his work. Curls of wood littered the pebbles around his feet as he ran a plane over the bottom of an upturned boat. His boots were thick and worn.

After a long pause, as the plane scraped and the sea murmured, Silven finally said, “You’re making another boat?”

Aye,” Jerek said. The hair on his chin was coarse and dark. He shook splinters of wood from his plane.

Silven watched him until the sun was low in the sky and the sea was hunched and whispering and dark, retreating from the beach. Taking its secrets with it. Taking Kal with it. She held her shawl tighter. Jerek was wiping the bottom of the boat with a rag soaked in something thick and oily.

We have something in common, you and I,” she said finally.

The rag stopped its circular motions a moment, only a moment, before it continued. “Aye,” Jerek said. “You, me, and a score of other people in this forsaken place.”

The wind whispered and the clouds drifted and the sun sank in the sky.

Silven turned to watch the sea skulk away like some furtive, sated predator. Kal was there, in its depths. It took her breath away to think of it. To think how cold it must be. How dark.

She left Jerek to his boat, alone and defiant under the cold stare of the sea. She could hear his hammer all the way as she walked back up the cliffs.

#

Marus was home when Silven returned. He sat at the kitchen table turning a small plaque around and around in his hand.

Silven switched on a light and opened the fridge.

Where have you been?”

Even though she was looking in the fridge, Silven knew Marus hadn’t turned to ask his question.

The beach.” She took a bottle and sat at the table, not looking at Marus.

The beach.” Marus smiled, looking at the plaque in his hand. “We couldn’t drag you there before and now you can’t keep away.”

Jerek was there, making another boat.”

Marus nodded, turning the plaque around in his hands. “He’s always been one for the sea. Even now, he can’t change what he is.”

Silven thought she knew what that plaque was, and it made her heart ache and her throat tighten at the sight of it. “What’s that you have there?” She had to fight to keep the anger from her voice.

Marus put the plaque on the table. ‘Kal’s Room’ it said on it. There was a picture of a dog, black and white. “We have to see to his room,” Marus said.

Silven felt her face flush. “Can’t you wait? Are you so ready to be rid of him? You won’t even go to the beach now! Why are you so keen to forget your son?” Her voice was shrill and she had to fight to catch her breath.

Marus was calm, sitting there, his fingers never leaving that plaque, and Silven hated him all the more for it.

I was the one who took him there, Silven. I taught him to swim in those waters. Don’t you think I hate myself for it? I feel it too, you know. I can feel what lured him out there. Oh, you’re safe from it. Using your fear as an excuse, surrendering to it. Now you’re free to judge me, condemn me.” His fist was white around the plaque.

Yes, you were the one to take him out there, weren’t you?” Silven’s anger was cold, her breath even, though she knew her hands were shaking as she slammed the door of the habitat behind her.

The cliffs were dark out towards the coast, the alien towers quiet as they watched the silent sea beyond.

She wondered if Jerek would be out there, facing the grim sea alone.

#

Silven had been watching Jerek work on the boat for most of the morning. She sat on a large rock and the wind blew in her hair. Jerek hadn’t said a word to her.

You’re not afraid,” Silven said, relenting. “Most are afraid of the sea, yet you still go out there.” The sea was gentle before them, pale red as it lapped against the pebbled beach and the forgotten jetty.

Jerek looked up at her. He’d cut his hand, the wound raw and untreated. “Out there?” he said.

Yes,” Silven said. “Isn’t that why you build the boat? To take it out to sea?”

Aye,” Jerek had to allow. “That is what boats are for.” He sighed and ran his hand along the side of the boat. Its bow was smooth and angular, almost looking as though it had been shaped from a single piece of wood. It was big enough for two people, Silven noticed, and couldn’t help wondering who Jerek would ever take with him now his wife was gone.

Don’t you hate it?” she said, her voice unnaturally loud over the eternal wind.

Jerek looked up from his work, an eyebrow raised. “Hate it?”

The sea. It took your wife,” Silven said. She wanted to hurt him, to see pain in his impassive face, though she couldn’t have said why. Only two years before, he and his wife had been guests at Silven’s habitat. He’d looked younger, then. Happier.

Aye, that it did.” Jerek picked up a dirty rag to wipe his hands. Blood smeared on the stained cloth. “My Lisen, your Kal, and a score of others, it took.”

Silven felt tears sting her eyes. “I used to hate her. Your wife.” She remembered Lisen at her habitat, pretty and full of smiles.

Jerek grunted and looked at his boat with a practiced eye.

She was with Kal when he should have had his mother with him. She was where I should have been,” Silven persisted.

There’s more out there than my wife and your son.”

The wind was stronger now. Thin clouds wisped high in the sky, and the red sea rippled against the jetty legs, warped and bent and skeletal. In the distance, bowed trees leaned sorrowfully, thin leaves brushing the roofs of long-abandoned cabins, doors askew and windows empty.

There had been a time when the beach here was always crowded, full of laughter and hope. Boats had been plentiful in the sea, and in the distance, the island and its ancient walkways had been busy with play. The colonists had loved playing on that alien stone, orange under the red sun. They had run along its walkways, criss-crossing above the water, sometimes ten hands high and sometimes barely breaking the surface of the sea. The walkways were narrow, and the children had turned it into a balancing game, trying to stay on the stone without tumbling into the water.

Silven had always stayed away. The sea had filled her with fear even before it had taken her son. It spread to the horizon like some ancient secretive god. How could anything be so giant, so powerful? Entire worlds could fit into its depths and still not come close to its surface.

She told me she wanted a son, once. At my habitat, when you and Marus had gone out for a smoke. She was so excited, thinking of all the generations to follow her here on this new world.”

Did she?” Jerek looked at Silven, his face tanned beneath the thick hair lining his chin. She hadn’t noticed the creases around his eyes before. “She never told me that.” He looked back at his boat, though not with the same intensity as before.

I suppose we all had our dreams, coming here.” Silven fell silent and listened to the sea breeze. She imagined Kal whispering in that wind, whispering that he loved her, that he forgave her.

Why do you come here?”

Silven opened her eyes. She hadn’t realized she’d closed them. Something dark flashed in Jerek’s eye as he looked at her. Until he asked her, she hadn’t known the answer. Now she did. “I come here because you don’t hide. You don’t try and forget.”

Jerek smiled and there was only bitterness in it. “I don’t believe you,” he said. “You want your son. You want to join him.” The wind rippled in his thick dark hair.

It doesn’t call to me.” Silven blinked away angry tears. “It doesn’t sing to me. Why Kal and Lisen? Even Marus. Is there something wrong with me?”

There was no answer from Jerek. He was already back to working on his boat.

#

Silven remembered her first Rirshon. There had been music then, and laughter and banners. There must have been a thousand people there to celebrate the alien tower casting its brilliant white light over the sea. Now there were perhaps a hundred, huddled into their coats, around the base of the great tower.

You didn’t have to come, Marus,” she said, looking at the tower. Once a year the sun would shine just so, to catch the great jewel in the top of the alien tower. Its light would be refracted out over the sea, a great searchlight starting in the west and slowly moving east until it cast its piercing glow over the island and its alien walkways, turning the orange stone a blazing red.

Marus’ face was pale from the cold, his nose red. “No, no, I wanted to come. I know you think this is important.” His hands were stuffed in his pockets. Years ago, he would have held her against the cold.

All around them, other colonists gathered, some sitting on the steps of the tower, others leaning against the wall of white stone, barely any of them showing interest in the light of the tower cast out to the distant sea.

Jerek wasn’t here, Silven had noticed. She wondered if it meant anything that she had bothered to look for him. She wondered if it meant anything that he hadn’t bothered to come to the Rirshon.

Dena and Sten came to see me the other day.” Marus watched the blazing white light from above as he spoke. A cool wind blew in his fair hair. “They said they’re booked on a scutter next week and that there’s a place for us if we want it. To Litoka.” Still he didn’t dare look at her. The light from the tower turned the red waves a pale dusky pink.

Oh?” Silven kept her voice deliberately monotone. She watched the light. Watched the sea. The waves were quiet, the sea thoughtful in a gentle breeze. “And what did you say to that?”

Now Marus did look at her. His blue eyes were rimmed with dark circles. “I said I’d speak to you, obviously.”

What’s so obvious about it?” Silven struggled to keep her voice down. “You’d leave this place? Leave Kal?” She took a breath. Dione and Sal had walked to the edge of the cliff, talking quietly together as the light of the tower played on the waves in the distance. “You go if you want. Leave me here with our son.”

Marus turned to face her, and for a moment Silven thought he might touch her, hold her, even. She wondered what she’d do if he did. The possibility seemed as incomprehensible as the alien tower with its fantastic light behind them.

That’s what worries me, Silven,” Marus said, his hands remaining firmly in his pockets. “You don’t feel the lure of the sea, I know. Otherwise you wouldn’t go down to the beach like you do. You wouldn’t want it, Silven. It’s like an ache in my heart. It pulls at my very soul.”

But why do you feel it and not me?” Silven said, wondering if the bitter jealousy showed in her face.

I think a lot of us feel it,” Marus said, his lips white, his eyes tired. “There’s something cursed here, Silven. We should leave while we can.” He looked up at the great tower above them, its brilliant white light searching the waves below. “Did you ever think of the ancients? What happened to them? Why are they no longer here? Did the sea take them too?”

But if you feel it, why are you still here?” It was only as the words were out of Silven’s mouth and hanging on the cold sea breeze, that she realized the cruelty of the question.

Marus only smiled, his eyes faded and blue. “For you, Silven. For any love you still might have for me. Because I hate to think of you alone. I can fight it for all those things, if I must.”

Silven watched the alien light probing the red depths of the great sea and wondered if Marus knew that he was no comfort to her at all. How could he be, when the very sight of him reminded her so painfully of Kal? The same blue eyes, the same nervous smile.

She knew she should say something, say how much she needed Marus, how lost she would be without him, but she couldn’t form the words. The love and the words were lost to her as though the sea had taken them and enfolded them in its cold dark depths.

Instead she said nothing and together they listened to the wind and the waves far below.

#

Don’t you ever feel it?” Silven wondered. She sat with her legs stretched before her on a warm stone before the sea. The wind whipped her hair and she tucked her skirts beneath her legs. She hated the question, hated the blandness of it, but still she wanted to know what Jerek thought.

Feel what?” Jerek had pushed the boat into the lapping red waves. He lashed the rope around the jetty. The boat bobbed and rocked. There was something fascinating in seeing Jerek stand in the dread sea, standing there proud and brave, the fearful water turning his trousers dark.

Silven pushed her hair away from her face. She knew what she must look like, sitting there with her legs before her, her hair blowing and the wind rippling in her clothes. She saw Jerek’s silences and indifference almost as a challenge to her womanhood, he seemed so unconcerned by her presence. It was liberating to think of herself as a woman, as anything other than a bereft mother. “The lure of the sea. Doesn’t it ever call to you?”

Jerek shrugged. “Would I still be here if it did?” He strode out of the water and sat next to her, the droplets of water bright in his dark hair. “Look, what do you want of me?” Jerek spread his large hands and the wind ruffled the collar of his shirt. “You can come with me if you like, in the boat. Come to the island. Though I can tell you there are no answers there to find.”

Silven felt a brief flush of hatred then. She hated his strength and his dry eyes. She hated how he could face his past and his loss and not hide from it. She hated him because she realized how afraid she was. She could quieten this fear, she now realized, clutch it to her breast and suffocate it. What was there to fear when she had already lost everything? She got to her feet.

Jerek hesitated only a moment before he followed her to the boat. He got in first, holding the boat steady with braced feet as he helped her in with a hand.

She could see the pebbles shimmering beneath the surface, some pale as eggs and others many-coloured. She trailed her fingers in the water and closed her eyes. Should she hate the sea? Or should she love it? This was Kal’s home now. Had these very waves kissed his skin, caressed him the way they caressed her own fingers at this very moment?

Jerek was quiet as he rowed and Silven closed her eyes against the sun. She listened to the wind and the water. What had Kal heard that lured him to the depths? What had Lisen and the others heard? Silven tried to turn the whispering of the sea into promises, words of love, but all she could hear was the sighing of the wind and the cry of the blue-winged birds above. ‘Flee!’ they almost seemed to cry. ‘Flee! Fly!’

Silven opened her eyes to watch them circle overhead, dive into the depths and then return to their nests in the green-fringed cliffs. Had they watched Kal slip into the sea? Had they told him to flee, to turn away? Silven watched the ganwings, white-bodied and blue-winged, circle and circle, and wondered what they had seen, whom they had watched walk into the waves, never to be seen again.

And whom would they tell? Whom could they tell? Would they even now watch Jerek row them far out from shore, row and row until the waves swallowed them? Whom would the birds tell their story to?

Silven looked from sky to sea, her fingers still trailing in the water. She saw fish no larger than her little finger, dark and large-eyed, darting this way and that, mouths opening and closing like silent sinners praying for divine intervention.

Jerek’s hut looked small and alone back on the shore. The cabins further along the beach broken and empty, doors askew and roofs already falling into ruin, paint blistered and peeling. Silven remembered Kal changing in those cabins, running out into the sea laughing, his body thin and pale under the red sun. Had it really been so long ago?

Out here the sea was deeper, a darker red. It sloshed against the bow of the boat, the waves thick and slow. Jerek rowed and rowed, with more effort now, his shoulders bunching.

How deep was the water now? Deep enough to have engulfed Kal? It was colder here. She imagined slipping from the boat, falling into the red depths, joining Kal and crying out into the silent darkness. “I’m here! I’m here for you, Kal!” She imagined reaching out, taking him in her arms, their hair flying about them like grass in the breeze.

Was the water talking to her? Putting these thoughts in her mind, seducing her like some persistent lover? She shook her head: it was only her idle dreams she saw.

You see anything?” Jerek asked, still rowing. “You see any answers down there?”

Silven didn’t answer. She watched the sun, low on the horizon, a burning ball of red. She watched the clouds, thin and fine as lace, trace across the sky. She watched the ganwings circling and circling, crying out, mournful and lost.

Who was to say the answer lay in the sea? Perhaps it was in the sky, in the air, something hovering there, calling out to the lost, telling them to give themselves to the waves?

No, Silven shook her head. Looking out at the vast expanse of red before her, quiet as glass towards the horizon, it spread for as far as the eye could see. The answer lay here. The ancients had known this, that’s why they’d built their walkways in the water, and had their lights casting about the red waves.

Jerek rowed with more purpose now. Leaning forward and then back. He looked like some great captain facing the dark. Not like Marus, hiding from the memory of his son, hiding from the lure of the sea.

You see it?” Jerek said, nodding with a jerk of his head.

The island was a green expanse of land lying on the flat redness of the sea. A cluster of trees grew there, flowering vines hanging from the crooked branches. And the vines grew from the island itself, trailing in the sea like quivering fingers. The island shifted with the tide, swaying this way and that, but seemed to be anchored by the walkways made of stone burnished orange in the dying sun. They spread for perhaps twenty lengths out into the sea, still bright even after all these years, even with the sea lapping and licking against them.

The vines trailing from the trees rippled in the wind and the grass shivered on the island as the birds overhead cried and cried.

The island, once Jerek had lashed the boat to the pier, shifted under their feet. It was soft like sponge and seemed to roll with the waves. The vines hanging from the trees smelled cool and bright and Silven wondered if Jerek had once brought Lisen here.

She touched the warm stone of the pier and wondered what ancients’ hands had made this place, or if they’d had hands at all. The stone seemed to glow with an inner light. Where the water touched the pier above the surface, it seemed to hurry away in drops and pools, as though eager to be back into the vast expanse of the sea.

The rails were low around the walkways, around the height of Silven’s knee and she imagined a childish master race, scuttling this way and that, short-legged and bright-eyed, playing in the waves. Playing as Kal had once done. Laughing.

All around the cool winds blew and the sea whispered and the stone thrummed with warmth. Had Kal sat on this alien platform and let his thin legs dangle in the water? If only she could have seen it! The need of it took her breath away.

Here,” Jerek said. He stood farther out into the water, the sea lapping against his feet and the ancient walkway he stood on. The railing was higher there, the stone twisted and shaped into something that reminded her of the vines hanging from the trees. “This is why I come here.” Jerek waited for her to come to him and then pulled a slice of bread from his pocket, tearing a crust off and then throwing it into the water. He leaned on the railing, smiling. “Look.”

Silven fell to her knees next to him. Colours coiled in the water, reds, and blues and greens, muted by the redness of the sea, until the iridescent scales broke the surface as a score of fish came to eat the bread. The fish were as large as Silven’s arm, sleek and fast, graceful in the water, their lips thick and their fins fine as lace. Their eyes were large and black, dark as the antennae on their backs were bright. Their fins rippled as they fought for the bread. “They’re changing colour,” she whispered as she watched them.

Aye,” Jerek said. He threw some more bread in the water, and glistening scales broke the surface as the fish turned and chased the food, barging into each other, scales now orange and red and purple, bright and lovely in the waning light of the day. “See how those colours change with their mood?”

Jerek threw more bread into the water, leaning on the railing, watching them turn from green to red to blue, flashing and darting in the water. “These are the young. The giants are out there,” he gestured to the horizon spread before them where the waves were quiet, the sea dark. “The giants live out there in the deep. I’ve heard they change more than their colour.” Jerek broke off some more bread and smiled at her, something broken and bitter in his smile.

The sea spread before them, infinite in its vastness, red and quiet and still under a blue sky. She imagined giant creatures out there in the silent depths, imbibing the memories of the sea. Perhaps the sea remembered monsters from the past, or children from the present…

Silven watched Jerek throw the bread. He smiled as the fish turned and turned around the pier, sometimes brushing against the alien stone, their black eyes searching, and their scales red and yellow and purple. Sometimes their antennae would glow white, sometimes gold.

These young are always here,” Jerek said. “Always waiting for me when I come to feed them. The giants only come to shelter under the roots of this island when the storms chase them from the deep.” Jerek looked younger, talking like this, more like the man she remembered from those long ago dinners at her habitat. He had talked about his work then, his eyes had been bright and he had held Lisen’s hand under the table.

She touched his cheek, and met his eyes when he looked at her. He smiled and took her hand, led her back to the island and they lay under a tree where the vines shook and rippled and the leaves were a parched yellow.

There was something hurt in Jerek’s dark eyes as he looked at her, and when he touched her face, her neck and breasts, there was a desperate anger there. He made love with the same desperation, angry and fast, Silven’s skirts pushed up around her waist, and when he came, he cried out his wife’s name with a desperate sob.

They lay next to each other, looking up into the vines and listening to the wind rippling the waves. Bitter tears stung Silven’s eyes as she watched the leaves in the darkness. She said nothing, Jerek’s breathing rapid next to her. She couldn’t bear to listen to it. She got to her feet, pulling her skirts down, and went to the pier. The clouds were white against a red-tinged night and the sea quiet as it rolled and rippled.

The fish were quieter now, with no food to fight for. They circled in the water, dark and silent, sleek as eels. And somewhere out there in the dark depths, the giants waited, remembering.

#

The Grayson boy’s getting better.” Marus chewed with effort, his chin working.

Silven watched him. She’d thought him so clever when they first met. “Is he?” She tried not to remember Jerek’s angry lovemaking, the way his beard had scratched her cheek. The desperate cry of his wife’s name.

Yes. It was touch and go for a while. The fever’s broken, though. Garen and Bel were relieved, obviously.”

Good for Garen and Bel. Happy parents. Relieved parents. Silven looked at her plate. Plena again, the vegetable thick and white.

So,” Marus dabbed at his lips with a napkin. “So, that was quite a storm last night. I was worried about you here alone through it.”

The habitat had rocked in the wind, the windows buckling under the violence of it. Silven had gone out to the cliffs in the darkness, the clouds thick and broiling, the trees bending, the waves far below frothing and furious, curling up and crashing down against the beach in great swathes. She had watched the sea, her hair whipping about her face, thinking of the dark giants of the depths stirring under the fury of the waves.

It’s kind of invigorating,” Silven said. “Being alone. What’s to fear when you’re alone?”

#

The beach was fresh, scoured clean by the violence of the waves. The air hummed with the memory of the storm. And Jerek wasn’t there.

Scutters skimmed overhead in the clear sky and there beneath the shelter of the cliffs, the cabins had been savaged by the storm. Roofs were ripped, doors destroyed. Once this colony was no more, what would there be to remind anybody that man had been here? That Kal had been here? She could see the twisted alien tower, bright and gleaming. The pier at the island, that would still be unmarked by the storm, she knew.

But where was Jerek? His boat was there, overturned in the middle of the beach, its side scratched and scraped. She remembered the pain in his cry: ‘Lisen!’ and she felt shamed at the memory. She had thought him strong and brave, but he was no braver than Marus, no stronger than Marus. And she had been no stronger than either of them, giving herself to him. She remembered the look of regret in his eyes as he rolled away from her, the look of loss. Had he given himself to the sea? His hut was empty, the oars leaning against the wall, bundled together with frayed rope.

The boat scraped and bounced along the pebbles as she pushed it into the water, gasping with the effort. She soaked her skirts climbing into it, through waves lazy after their efforts of the night before. Would the giants already have returned to the deep? She rowed, biting her lip in determination. The waves felt thick and slow in resistance, but still she rowed.

The sea was quiet at the island, almost as though it was shocked at its own fury. Silven walked around the matrix of the pier, her skirts trailing in the water all around her. She sat on the walkway, her arms on the railing, and let her legs dangle in the water warm on her skin.

They came, coiling and spiralling, flashing scales breaking the glass-like water, and then sinking again. They were blue, red, green and every colour in between. The fish nibbled on her legs with cold lips, their antennae flashing white and gold, spinning in the ripples.

She saw it then, a shadow, deep and rising through the flashing fish. It was large, perhaps as large as Silven herself. She leaned over her knees to look closer. It came through the smaller fish, this shadow, dark as the night. She blinked, and then blinked again. She recognized the sombre eyes first, and then the narrow nose. He looked peaceful, his dark hair flowing about him. Jerek smiled, not a bitter smile, but a smile of pure peace. It looked strange on that serious face.

No,” Silven whispered, almost moaned. “No.” She closed her eyes, her mouth dry and her stomach empty. When she opened her eyes, she was only in time to see the shadow flick a tail and flee back into the depths. “What?” Silven gasped. She wiped an eye with the back of her hand, jumped up, her legs out of the water as fast as she could, patting the drops from her legs as though they burned.

She ran all around the walkway, looking into the sea, only seeing flashing green and purple fish, only seeing her own hair flying in the wind, her own skirts wrapping about her legs. She fell to her knees, peering into the depths, “Jerek!” she shouted. “Jerek!” Had he surrendered to the sea? “Jerek!” she called again.

There. She saw another shadow rising to the surface through the ever-dancing fish. Silven waved the smaller fish away. The shadow rose. A woman took shape, her long blonde hair roiling about her slim face. Her skin looked almost blue. Her eyes opened and she smiled a sleepy smile, her cheeks dimpling as her hair danced in the redness of the water. She wore a dress of white, blue leaves patterned on it, and this too shivered in the deep. The woman reached out a hand, and Silven couldn’t do anything but reach out a hand to help her, but with a flick and a splash, the shadow was gone, back into the deep.

No! No!” Silven shouted. “Come back!” She fell to her knees, the stone scraping her skin, and she scrabbled along the pier, looking both sides into the water. There, another shadow. Silven gasped. This was a man. He smiled at her, his thin hair rippling, his serious eyes bright and alive. And then he too was gone.

She was crying now. Sobbing. She couldn’t seem to breathe enough air. “Kal!” she cried. “Kal! Kal!” And she scrabbled and crawled on her hands and knees looking this way and that, her knees bloodied and her hands raw from the coldness of the sea.

The sun rose and fell in a red sky. How many times, Silven couldn’t have said. She saw faces, people she knew, people she didn’t know. She wept and she screamed and all the time she cried out the name of her son. Begging him to come. Begging the sea to show him to her. To remember him.

Sometimes she even saw the ancients coming to her from the depths. These made her smile, and forget her sorrows for a moment. Their eyes, their eyes…

When Marus came to her, she wept. He didn’t look so sad now, so afraid. “Be with Kal,” she whispered. “Look after him.” And she wept again. When had he given himself to the sea? How long had she been here?

Soon the shadows came no more. But they would return. The storms, she knew. She watched the young fish around her, changing colours, angry when they fought for food, happy when they were full, relaxed when she tickled them with her fingers.

The giants would return soon, to shelter from the storms. She could wait. Wait for Kal.

She lay on the stone pier, trailing her fingers in the water. The storms would come. The waves would be fierce, curling and crashing on the pier, eager and devastating enough to chase the giants from the depths.

And Kal would come with them.

###

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