Hungry and Greedy Too by Andrea Abbot

It started one insomnia-filled night in the summer after the boat incident. I don’t know what possessed me to hop on my bike and pedal aimlessly, going nowhere and finding nothing because everything I was searching for seemed lost to me. I hadn’t meant to end up at the ocean, but when I got there I realized that some part of me had wanted this, although I had not realised it.

I don’t know if you’ve ever seen the beach at night. By yourself, I mean, just you and those vicious waves beating at the sand. That night it was like I saw the ocean for the first time. Like my eyes had suddenly dropped off scales I’d never known were there.

During the daytime the beach is filled with children building sandcastles, people tanning on brightly striped towels, the shouts and hollers of summer fun. But all that disappears once the sun sets, and the ocean takes on a whole different appearance. It’s true face that it doesn’t show anybody, because like some sad, enchanted creature it morphs from a stunning, emerald beauty to a vicious, black monster that roars at the moon.

I sat down just far enough away that the waves couldn’t grab my ankle, tickle my feet, lure me in and pull me under. Swallowed. That’s what monsters do – they sing sweet, airy songs to their victims before gobbling them up.

Mine! The waves shrieked, trying to reach me with their slippery fingers. Mine!

“You already took something from me,” I whispered, but no less angrily. “You can’t have anything else.”

Mine!

I visited every night after that, because sleep rarely visited me anymore, and watching the ceiling had become tedious and dull. At the water’s edge, my senses were alive, my heart beating in terror as each wave tried so desperately to grab at me.

Most nights I pretended that my mother had turned into a mermaid, and that the day when the boat incident happened, she had grown a shimmering tail and gills, and the glossy water imprisoned her beneath it. That each time I visited she tried to escape, even though she knew resistance was futile, and when it didn’t work she would stay near the surface so that she could feel my presence.

But we all have to grow up eventually and put away our fairy tales. Gradually I could once again be lured into sleep, tugged by the whispers of dreams, but still, in my nightmares, I’d hear the roar of a wave, and feel the cold wet dragging me to the beneath.

Sometimes our dragons come to us in forms we never expected. People we trusted, memories that haunt us. Mine came in the form of a wet, shimmering, two faced creature that could not be vanquished with a sword from children’s books. But I had to face it all the same, because it haunted only me, and no one else could face my dragon.

And I could never again visit the beach during day time, with all those clueless people who hadn’t lost the scales over their eyes yet, scampering about it’s ever waiting mouth. But at night, when the moon peeks fearfully out from behind the clouds, you might find me standing at the edge.

“I’m not afraid of you anymore. What did you do with my mother?”

Mine, mine, mine!