top of page

"Way of the Deep" by Alyssa Jordan



The creature visited her every September.

One year, Sarah had stopped traffic, drawn to the ocean with dread in her heart. Another year, she had left a doctor’s appointment in nothing but a paper gown. It had flapped open when salty gusts of air greeted her by the water.

Now, Sarah knew better.

Her hands shook as she lit a cigarette. Outside, the wind battered her seaside cottage. It stood alone for miles, this sunken-roofed thing, yearning for a new frame and fresh coat of paint.

Sarah smoked till she burned her fingers.

When the sun capped the sky, she left her cottage and followed the terrible, familiar pull.

A shape emerged from the foam of the surf. For one moment, Sarah saw brown curls, a gap-toothed smile. She shut her eyes and clutched her stomach.

By the time she opened her eyes, it was already upon her.

The creature had the face and body of a man. Its skin was so pale that Sarah could count blue veins. Seawater slicked its hair and suffused it with brine. Below, glass-green eyes returned her stare.

The creature glanced at Sarah’s swollen fingers.

“Still careless, I see.”

She stumbled as they climbed a sandy dune. In the corner of her eye, the creature smiled.

#

It might have been bearable if the creature only haunted her once a year.

But Sarah felt the creature when she added cream to her coffee or filled her basket at the market. It stood next to her in the garden and hovered by her shoulder at night. Even when Sarah visited their old orange grove, she knew the creature was by her side.

It was everywhere and it was nowhere. A part of her DNA she couldn’t unravel.

Still, no time was worse than September. Something surged inside Sarah throughout the year. It built until the weather began to cool and autumn took root—until most families spent one more day at the beach.

#

Sarah locked herself in the bathroom whenever it became too much.

This time, the creature enveloped her from behind. Cold lips trailed her ear.

“It was your fault,” the creature said as it lowered them down.

#

On some nights, Sarah tried to drown the creature. It would thrash in lukewarm bathwater. A minute later she would release it. Then, down they went. Sarah did this again and again. Each time, she spat out seawater along with the creature.

It came back the next year. And the next.

#

Before, Sarah had loved the routine of daily life.

Before, he had stood on a stool so they could wash the dishes. Before, they had harvested oranges in summertime, hands slick with juice, mouths stretched into sticky smiles. Before, they had slept under a blanket stitched from grandma’s going-gone hands.

Before, Sarah thought she had known pain.

#

“What do you want?” She asked the creature one day.

“You know.”

Sarah bent her body low, forehead to table. She thought of brown curls and a gap-toothed smile. Sometimes, he felt so near that she wanted to scream.

As if in a dream, Sarah exited the cottage, sleepwalking over sand and mossy grass. She stopped by cliffs cut sharp with rock. The wind whipped her hair and cracked her skin.

Sarah crept forward. One more step was all it would take.

Behind her, the creature pressed close, whispering in her ear. Waves churned beyond the ledge. Unbidden, Sarah thought of small hands slipping through the dark.

She collapsed to the ground.

“I can’t. Not yet.”

The creature knelt behind Sarah, cradling her head with wet fingers.

“I know.”



Alyssa Jordan is a writer living in the United States. She likes to make surprise balls, eat donuts, and drink coffee. In 2020, she won The Molotov Cocktail's Flash Monster contest. You can find her on Twitter @ajordan901.


Comentarios


bottom of page