Salt on the skin

The waves slap against the rocks below her bare feet. A lobster boat passes by but the fog is so thick she only hears the voices competing with the low rumble of the engine and wind. Not even six o’clock, and Danielle clutches a mug of coffee as she huddles in sweatshirts and jeans, her cold feet tucked up underneath and buried in the thick grass below her butt. Monday. It’s only Monday. How many more days can she hide out in Maine before they come looking for her? Her brother and sister. They know where to find her, the little sister, the daddy’s girl. Millbridge, they’d always camped here, the family, each July, they’d pack up the car, various cars over the decades, and head out to McClellan. Mom had stories of coming here as a child herself in the fifties, when it was unfashionable for middle class professionals to sleep in tents in the woods of Maine. Mom didn’t care for that, this was her place, the go-to place to celebrate the pregancies, the babys’ first birthdays, that tenth birthdays of the twins, with Danielle a surprise child five years later. Her daddy’s girl, soft and silent, the twins didn’t like her, not really. Oh they took care of her, dragged her along the rocks, carried her shoes and teddy bear, wiped her tears when they ran ahead and forgot about her shadow self on the shoreline, head down staring at a crab’s leg in the sand. They forgot about her often, sometimes deliberately, other times not. Danielle didn’t know the difference. All she knew was that when she stood up, she was alone in the fog, on a grey and brown rock, surrounded by seaweed and little else. She’d sit down and stare out over the Atlantic for hours, happily listening to the trawlers, waves and seagulls. Seals played near by. Ravels crawed in the birch trees behind her. Danielle was pretty happy there to be honest. She liked hiding. But when they came back for her, the twins, never called by name, just ‘the twins’, suddenly she’d cry. Hidden was one thing but being seen was another. She’d cried then. Much to the twins relief – it helped them find her, the sound of her hiccups, and they’d grab her hands, swing her between them, and bring them back to Daddy. He’d take care of her.

But now. Daddy was dead. Danielle was alone on the rocks. And the twins wouldn’t come get her this time, would they? All she had left was this, the salty air on her skin, the breeze across the waves, and the sound of voices hidden in the fog. This.

 

by Sam Prosser

c.2017

 

 

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