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The Wild Child

Summary:
“Momma. Momma, hold me,” I whimpered and forced my fingers to wrap around the front of her dress. I didn’t want to be alone. “Don’t go away,” Mary is differnt. She sees things no body should see. It's scary to hold that power and to be so young, but she knows how to keep a secret. Everything is fine until a week before her fifteenth birthday when a girl, who bares a striking resemblance to Mary, shows up. The strange, dirty girl tells her things, things that couldn't possably be true. Unexplainable events start after the girl shows up though. Mary sees things. Dangerous things. Things that could get her killed.


Notes:


1. Chapter 1

Rating 5/5   Word Count 1687   Review this Chapter

I was eight years old when I first saw what was to come. I was young and didn’t quite understand everything but I knew just enough to know that it was not normal.

I was out on the docks, near Mr. Vern’s drug store. The gulls were flapping and snapping above, white-gray splotches against the thunder clouds. The beach was empty—it was usually full of splashing, violet children in their swimming trunks.

I liked the beach, though, and snuck out of the house as soon as Momma’s back was turned. I ran down the long boardwalk barefooted. Halfway down my ponytail came tangled and knotted. I paused to quickly rip out the band and continued down the walk. I imagine I looked wild, my feet bare and my hair flailing in the soon to be storm’s wind. Momma liked to call me her wild child.

Mr. Bridges was just untying his boat when I reached the end. His thinning white hair was hidden under his blue cap. He was thin and fragile looking but was plenty able to row him boat with him spindly arms.

“You still going out, Mr. Bridges?” I panted, watching him below in his boat, “Even with the storm comin’ in?”

Mr. Bridges threw down his coil of rope and squinted up at me. “Sure am, Ms. Brandon. You weren’t thinking about bailing out on me, where you?”

I leapt from the dock and into his small hand boat, “Not a chance, sir,”

“That’s my girl!” Old Mr. Bridges laughed. “Your ma’ know you’re out here, Mary?”

I was shocked, “Are you crazy? If my momma knew I was out here she’d skin me alive! I learned a long time ago to keep my mouth shut,” I sat on the edge of the boat and looked down at the gray water below the boat.

“Little Cynthia is nothin’ like you. Yesterday I saw her in Mr. Thomas’s store with her dad of hers. When I offered her a mint bit she told me no. Do you know what she said to me, Mary?”

I rolled my eyes, dipping my feet into the cool water, “I can’t have candy, Mr. Bridges. It’ll make my teeth go yellow as the stars, Mr. Bridges, sir. Momma said so,” I mimicked Cynthia.

Mr. Bridges wheezed a laugh. He picked up the oars and started paddling out into the open sea. “Almost just as bad. No, Mary, she said the candy would ruin her apatite. You see, little Cynthia ain’t had her dinner yet,”

I groaned in disappointment. Sometimes I wondered if Cynthia and I were really related. She was so dainty!

I turned back to Mr. Bridges weathered face. His bright blue eyes watched me in amusement.

“You still got that mint, Sir?”

He laughed, paused in his rowing, and fetched the candy out of his pocket. I snatched it out of his hand with a muffled thank you. Mr. Bridges continued his rowing and the city grew smaller and smaller behind us.

“Do you love it out here, Mr. Bridges?” I asked several minutes after I had finished the tasty treat. I slouched on the tip of the little boat, my hand trailing in the water.

It took several second before Mr. Bridges answered. I waited patiently. Even though I wasn’t quite nine yet, Mr. Bridges and I had been friends for two years. Six years old and I could know a good friend when I saw one. There might’ve been a good sixty year difference but that never stopped nobody. Especially me. Mr. Bridges and I, we went together. I imagined him as my grandfather, not just that man I went boating with.

“I met my wife on a dock just like that one, Mary. She was so young and beautiful. Her laughter was like the angles themselves singing. Her eyes had the same green-blue wildness that the ocean has. She died before I met you, sweet pea, but she lived and breathed the ocean. If I ever loved anything as much as my Sharon it would be the ocean. And you,” Mr. Bridges reached over and ruffled my already tangled black hair with a rueful smile, “You have the dandiest eyes. Just like her eyes. Always full and bright. I’d say you’d be just what our child would look like—and act like— if we ever managed to have a baby.”

I smiled up at Mr. Bridges. “Thank you, sir,”

I turned away to stare down at the water while Mr. Bridges started whistling a bright tune. I was looking into the water, trying to see myself in the choppy water. I could only see a red-nosed, tangled haired, mossy eyed girl with an impish grin.

Did I really look like Mrs. Bridges? That would be neat if it was true. Maybe I could be Mr. Bridges little girl forever and move out of Momma and daddy’s house. They could keep snobby Cynthia and I could live on the ocean with Mr. Bridges forever.

My face changed in the water’s reflecting. It suddenly was smooth and it seemed as if Mr. Bridges had stopped rowing his boat. I leaned over the edge of the boat to see closer into the water. The water almost looking like a boat being broken and tossed in the winds…and two faces lurching from the water, both mouths gasping for air…and a thin had with a scar on the back slipping under the water and never came back up…

“Mary!” A hand grasped the back of my dress and yanked me back away from the edge of the boat. The picture was gone and I really was moving again. But my heart was pounding in my chest and tears were starting to swell up in my eyes. Mr. Bridges was shaking me. “What on earth were you thinking, Mary Brandon! You almost jumped into that water, all the while just staring down at that water as if your life depended on it.”

I wasn’t listening to Mr. Bridges angry rant, though. I was staring at the back of my hand where a thin scar broke the pale skin. “We have to go back, Mr. Bridges! We have to go home! A real bad storm’s comin’, Mr. Bridges. Honest! We could both drown.” I begged, pulling on his hand like it would somehow get us back to the boardwalk and to safety. “Please!”

Mr. Bridges sighed. He leaned back and looked up at the dark sky and then at me. “Well…I suppose it was sorta’ risky of me to bring you out here in this sort of weather.”

“Yes! Yes, it was Mr. Bridges! We need to get back now!”

“Okay, okay, Miss, just calm down. There’s no reason to be crying now,” He started the boat around and back towards the boardwalk.

I sat back, my heart still galloping. I grasped the side of the boat until my knuckles turned white.

Mr. Bridges picked his whistling tune back up.

Half way back the rain started. It came in a thick wall, roaring towards the boat. It didn’t come down gently or increase its tempo over time, but kicked over us with thunder and lightning. The waves got bigger and rougher with each stroke. Through all the rain I could see Mr. Bridges struggling with the oars.

We were being tossed and turned so violently I hardly believed it when we got back without drowning completely. Plenty of water had managed to get into the boat but we somehow scrambled onto the boardwalk without swallowing too much water.

Mr. Bridges rolled onto the wood, gasping and coughing, but I jumped up and grasped one of his limp arms. “We have to get indoors, Mr. Bridges. The storms still comin’! Come on! Up!” I yanked and pulled as hard as I could. “Hurry!” I could hardly hear myself over the roar of the ocean and the rain and the thunder. All the sounds pounded down on my ears.

But, by some sanction, Mr. Bridges stumbled to his hands and knees. We made our way half running and half crawling to the beach and up from there to the edge of Palm street where, at the end, was my house. The rain hid it, but living there my whole life embedded the location in my mind.

“Almost there!” I encouraged. The rain had chased everyone indoors; there was no one to help me drag Mr. Bridges.

Halfway down the street and two scraped knees later Mr. Bridges was finally able to work his feet again. Grasping my hand, we ran down the street, barely able to make out my house through the rain.

I barreled through the door first, coughing and gasping for air. Mr. Bridges was right behind me; we stumbled onto the floor. We both just laid there. I was hardly conscious of momma yelling my name or daddy sitting in the corner of the room, like he was bored with the whole situation.

My eyes wouldn’t focus. I forced them to stay on momma’s bleary face the best I could though. “Momma,” I rasped. My limbs and fingers were suddenly heavy and I felt like I couldn’t move. But I was scared. I wanted momma to hold me like she did with Cynthia. I felt tears continuing to poor down my face.

I wasn’t scared because I’d almost drowned. I wasn’t scared of the thunder or the intense rain. I was terrified by what I’d seen. I was horrified because I knew there was something terribly wrong with me. I wouldn’t be able to tell anyone. I was scared because I knew I would never fit in with my family. I was the freak.

“Momma. Momma, hold me,” I whimpered and forced my fingers to wrap around the front of her dress. I didn’t want to be alone. “Don’t go away,”