A little something to pour some water onto my poor, withered blog. A Lovecraftian piece of flash fiction: 'Throw Down Your Hair.'
Throw Down Your Hair.
"Be gone, oh trespassing fiend!" I shout down the kitchen roll tube, from my room at the top of the lighthouse. The girl looks up, shielding her eyes from the sun. I wait for her to run, to go slipping and sliding and screaming away, but her battered black boots press down hard on the jagged, black rocks. She waves. I stop gurning and waggling my tongue, and while I should be warning her, I wave back.
"Keep away from the window," my dad says, later. He plucks a fish-bone from his tongue, and gives me that look. "I've told you. It isn't safe." He's got bats in the belfry, my dad, if you believe what all the gossipy old codgers from the town have to say. He does look the part: heavy eyebrows (black and bushy), dark eyes (overcast, with the threat of thunder), and the outfit (long, swishing mackintosh and tall, black wellies). They say that he killed my mom, but that's because only me and him know that she was eaten by the Terror from the Deep.
"You know what a secret is, Chloe?" he'd asked me, after we'd thrown what was left of mom into the settling sea. I'd tried to nod, but he was holding me still, the electric razor buzzing across my skull and not-too carefully around my ears.
"Y-yes?" I said, sucking on the sore tips of my fingers from where he'd clipped my nails into nothing. He didn't reply, just dusted down my shoulders with the whip of a damp towel, like he didn't want to touch me.
"Yo! Lighthouse girl!"
I fumble up, and grab my torch from under the bed. She's back, but nearer this time. "Come out!" She takes a swig from a bottle and grimaces, and wipes her lips on the shoulder of her coat.
"I'm locked in," I say.
"Like Rapunzel?" I shine the light onto my shiny bald head, and wait. She shrugs. "Don't you have keys?"
"It's for my own protection, it's The Terror…" I begin, my heart thumping as I feel the secret trying to slither past my teeth. This is why I can't have friends. I can't be trusted.
"Suit yourself," she says. She turns away and jabs small, white headphones into her ears, as the roaring of the sea fills mine.
In the morning the kitchen is flooded. Tiny, silver fish gasp and flop on the salt-crusted kitchen table, kelp dangles from the light-shades.
"I can do it," my dad mutters as I reach for the mop, so I empty the red, plastic bucket that's full of dirty water and start drying a framed photograph of my mom that's been propped up on the draining board. It was taken when her and dad first moved here. Before The Terror fixed its eyes on her. Before I was born.
"Put that down!" Dad snaps. He looks set to charge over and snatch it from me, but he forces a smile, instead. "Please. You'll ruin it," he says, quietly, "and Chloe, please don't see that girl again."
But I do.
The next time she calls up, I shout, "I can speak downstairs!" and I'm charging down the slippery steps to meet her. "Are you alone?" I ask, my ear to the thick, iron door as she scuffles and thuds down onto the doorstep.
"We're all alone, aren't we?" she sighs, all poetic, and I know why she's here. The cliffs are dangerous. The water is dangerous. This entire place is dangerous. And we only got one type of visitor. Perhaps The Terror called to them, like some old volcano god, saying "Diiiive iiiiin" in a gurgly, barnacled voice that smacked against their sense like waves against the sand.
"Are you going to stop me? Talk me out of it?"
Do you want me to? I try to ask, but my mouth feels full of water, full of weeds and wrecks and dead things. Then she laughs, and I laugh. Somewhere above us a lost gull screams. Somewhere below us, something stirs.
"I think we could be friends, me and you," she says, and I'm nodding, even though my hands are twisting and my cold skin is stretching and the top of my head is itching and my fingers are scratching at the soldered letterbox; at the flimsy barrier between us.
The day after.
My dad's talking to two policemen, who are flanking a woman who's hunched over and wiping her eyes on the sleeve of her cardigan. The girl must have done it. I get a flash -me and her, sitting in my room, painting our nails signal red and bruised plum and talking about boys as punk rock blares, both of us giddy on warm wine and hoarse from stolen cigarettes-but then the waves crash, and it's gone.
"This place," the woman shouts, suddenly. "People going missing, people turning into…things. Babies even, born wrong. Born bad. My mother told me to move away," she says, but then she's crying too hard to carry on. The policemen's eyes meet over her crumpled head.
There's a tickle behind my ear, a trickle. I dab at it, and my bandaged hand comes back blurred with black blood. My head's nicked with plastic razor cuts. The electric one broke years ago, and my dad doesn't care about being gentle anymore. Down on the rocks the policeman is scribbling something in his book, and I know that my dad's telling that he doesn't know anything, and that they're wasting their time, and I think that they believe him. Just tell them, I think, about The Terror. Maybe you can help others? But he'll take it to his grave. This big, dumb secret. The biggest bat in his belfry. His eyes skim across the water, and then they flicker to the window, and to me. I wave at him. He doesn't wave back.
picture: Stürmische See mit Leuchtturm/ Stormy sea with Lighthouse- Carl Blechen.