Siren Song

Chloe stood on the store of a distant, unknown island, the waves lapping at the dark shore. High above her cliffs reached boldly towards the sky blocking the sun from view. She wore a ripped, green gown that hung precariously from her shoulders and pooled on the sand at her bare feet.

One the ground, at her feet was a damp, black bird. It looked like it had been washed ashore and was just coming to. It gave a weak squawk then flapped its wings spraying droplets of water as it hopped on its taloned feet.

Chloe reached down and picked up the damp bird. She smiled, “You have only yourself to blame for this.” She gently raised the bird to her shoulder and walked up the shore following a path towards a cave higher up in the cliffs, the train of her gown dragging sand along with it.

* * *

Earlier that day

Chloe sat in her parents’ kitchen running her finger along the shell in her hand.

“Are you sure you don’t need any help?” she asked Sandy, her mom, who was busy bustling about the kitchen preparing lunch.

“No offense dear, but if I need help in the kitchen I’ll ask your sister.” She paused. “Or your father.”

“I’m not that bad of cook,” Chloe muttered.

Sandy raised an eyebrow, but didn’t respond.

The shell in Chloe’s hand grew warm under her touch. Although the middle looked much like a normal clam shell, white with ridges running the length of it, the edges faded to what looked like green glass that was sharp and jagged. Since finding it earlier that morning on the beach, she had sliced her hand drawing blood twice.

“Look who I found in the driveway!” John, her father, said, beaming widely as he nearly dragged her sister Sara inside. She in turn had her arms wrapped around Clayton. Chloe stood when she saw him. Why did Sara have her arms around Clayton? Why was he here?

She instinctively stood, ready to bolt, but her feet stay rooted to floor, too confused to move.

“And she has big news!” John grinned at her Sandy.

Sandy set down the knife she was using to chop vegetables and wiped her hands on the towel hanging over her shoulder as she moved around the island to embrace her daughter.

“And you’re here too!” she said to Clayton, Chloe’s Clayton. Sandy grasped his forearms in her hands before going in for a hug. “We’ve missed you.”

Chloe’s mouth went dry. She hadn’t seen Clayton in two months, not since her high school sweetheart of five years had out of the blue told her he didn’t want to be with her anymore. She felt her brain going cloudy as he released her mom from a too-long hug, then pulled her sister back into his arms.

Sara shot her hand out in front of her, a giant ring and band on her finger. “We got married.”

A long piercing note rang through in Chloe’s brain and the air turned hot and humid, too thick to breathe. As her family celebrated, she stumbled out onto the patio for some fresh air, but once she was outside she realized the warmth had followed her. The shell still in her hand was red hot and seemed to be pulsing.

She stared it for a moment and cold clarity returned. Then she looked back at her family through the windows, unaware of her absence. She had the power to change this. The wind whipped her hair up and around her face, her long green sundress fluttering like a captive bird. Dark rain storm clouds crept in from the horizon as the ringing in her ears became a song that filled her chest and soon she was the one singing. Too late, her sister looked up and saw her. Too late she realized what Chloe was doing and dawning horror filled her eyes.

* * *

Earlier that morning

Legend has it that the Sirens lived on the islands of Sirenum scopuli where they lured sailors to their deaths. However, if they were able to bypass the Sirens without coming to harm, the Sirens would thrown themselves to their deaths. Their song however, lived on and would become locked in a shell until someone came along to release it.

One of these shells found their way to Chloe as she walked along the beach. After scrapping her foot on the top of the shell she stooped down and began to brush the sand away. As she held the shell up to the light, the sun flickered through the translucent green edges. Rather than looking like a shell, the edges looked more like the outline of an island on a map.

Her mom had told her about Siren Songs when her and Sara were kids. They used to spend hours scouring the beach looking for one. This was the first one she’d ever found one. The legend held that the holder could enact revenge against anyone they choose by locking them in a prison in the form of the body of a bird. But, it was not a free exchange. The one with the shell would be forced to release the Siren’s Song and would then become a Siren herself, condemned to the islands of Sirenum scopuli.

As kids, both Chloe and Sara had agreed you’d have to be crazy to do that. But kids rarely understand the depths adults will go to for revenge.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

­­­­­­­­This story was inspired by  a writing prompt I found in Complete the Story:

“It looked like a shell, half buried, but as she dug through the sand around its edges, she found it was something completely different, something she’d never seen before and thought only existed in stories. She had to be imagining—it simply couldn’t be a ____________.”

Imaginary Friends

Emma ran down the sidewalk towards her best friend Cora’s house. Her and Emma had been best friends for as long as she could remember, probably their entire lives. 12 years is a long time!

As Cora came around the corner she saw Emma standing at the end of her driveway with a couple of girls Cora didn’t recognize. The each had their bikes with them and they were huddled in a tight cluster. Cora stopped running when she saw the girls with Emma. She felt a pang of jealousy as she slowly walked towards them. Emma was her friend, but suddenly she felt like the outsider.

“Hi Emma,” she said, trying to grab her attention away from the girls.

“We should grab slushies,” one of the girls said. She had her long brown hair pulled back into a ponytail and she had both glasses and freckles. Instantly, Cora hated her. Both her and Emma had always wanted glasses and freckles. It was so unfair. “I got my allowance this morning,” she said, “And I’m dying to spend it.”

“Sure,” the other girl said. She was tall and towered above the other two.

Emma looked sad. “No thanks. You guys go ahead.” She start to pull away from the group. Finally, she would have Emma to herself.

“No way! What’s wrong?” the girl with freckles asked, pulling her back by the elbow.

Emma scuffed her toe against the pavement. “It’s just, I don’t have money.” She said.

The girls laughed. “That’s okay,” the girl freckles said. “I’ll pay for yours and you can pay me back when you get your allowance.”

Emma shrunk further away. “I don’t get an allowance,” she whispered.

Neither did Cora. They didn’t need an allowance. They had always had fun for free.

“That’s okay,” said the tall girl. “I’ll just pay for it. You have to come!”

Emma perked up. “Really?” she asked breaking into a huge grin.

“Wait,” Cora said, as the girls hopped on their bikes. “Can I come?”

They acted like they couldn’t hear her and hopped on their bikes and speed away.

Cora’s eyes welled up with tears. She let her bike drop to the pavement on the driveway and sank down into the grass. It wasn’t fair. She was so busy feeling sorry for herself that she didn’t notice old Mrs. Decker walking down the sidewalk towards her with another lady.

Cora quickly wiped her tears with the back of her hand so they wouldn’t know she’d been crying. She didn’t need to worry, however; they didn’t seem to know she was there.

“It is so nice to see Emma with some friends for a change,” Mrs. Decker said.

Cora glared at her. What was she talking about? Her and Emma had been inseparable for years.

“Oh, I know! When I think back on when her mother died. The poor dear didn’t talk to anyone for an entire year. I thought she was going to be a mute!”

“But even when she did start talking again, all she ever talked about was Cora, Cora, Cora.”

Well, of course she did. They were best friends after all.

“Who’s Cora?” the second lady asked.

“Her imaginary friend. I’d invite her over for dessert every now and then, and wouldn’t you know I always had to set out two pieces of cake. Of course, Emma would eat them both.”

Imaginary? What a load of crap! And Emma was doing her a favour! Cora didn’t like those nasty cakes so Emma would eat it for her so they wouldn’t her Mrs. Decker’s feelings. But, now Cora didn’t care a bit about her feelings. How dare she call her imaginary!

* * *

The above story I wrote from a prompt I found on the instagram page: _writing.prompts.re

“You’ve been with your best friend for as long as you can remember Earlier in her life, she used to be a very lonely kid, but recently she’s slowly begun to  become popular. Others would talk to her, but often ignore you. One day, to your shock, you finally realize that you’re actually just her imaginary friend”

I’ve always enjoyed stories where things aren’t what they seemed at first.