The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Ten
They were a close-knit community who lived an existence based on the water which surrounded them. Every family in town had a fisherman, sailor or boat builder in their midst. The sea fed them, gave them employment and was their means of transportation. Everyone knew each other and lived in each other’s pockets. There weren’t many secrets in town. Strangers were rare and weren’t trusted. Everyone knew everybody else.
Frankie’s brain kept turning things over. She was alive, but where was she? She had seen a dead body and been thrown overboard in the middle of the sea. She felt bruised and battered and more than half drowned. Who were these people? The boy seemed ok – he was just like her little brother. The lady was nice enough and she had a feeling that there was a man downstairs too but hadn’t seen him.
There were terrible blanks in her mind – how had she got from being in the water to being in this strange house? Things had gone horribly wrong. Her plan to leave had worked but taken her in a very strange route. She thought fondly of Anthony and Lucas and how moody she had been with them on the quayside. She should have gone home with them and faced the music. She would rather face Cousin Sissy than what she had seen last night. It never would have happened if she had been wearing a dress. She felt very frightened and alone.
Joe was drawn to her like a magnet – it was like the tales that everyone told about mermaids, that they had a hypnotic allure which drew sailors to them. He had seen fear in her eyes when he was there before and he wanted to make sure she was alright. She was lying on her bed staring at the ceiling and silent tears were falling softly out of her eyes onto the pillow. Joe tried to sneak into the room the same way as before – just to make her laugh again. She had only laughed once, but it was better than tears. It didn’t work – she turned her back to the curtains. Joe emerged from the curtains and went over to the bed – he felt a bit useless now.
She peered over her shoulder with wet eyes to see if he was still there. “I just wanted to see if you were alright,” Joe said. “I’m Joe by the way. What’s your name?” She stared at him, but at least her tears had stopped.
“I found you on the beach this morning with the Captain. What happened? Why were you there? I thought you were a mermaid for a minute. But obviously you’re not…of course you’re not – look at you!” She just stared at him without saying a word. “You can’t have been swimming, not last night, in the storm. Were you on a boat?” The lack of response didn’t seem to bother Joe – he kept the one-sided conversation moving on, imagining what had happened to her. “You were on a boat in the middle of the storm. What on earth would you be doing that for? Do you know where you came from? I didn’t see a boat when we found you. What happened to the boat?”
Joe sighed – it didn’t seem to be working. Perhaps she didn’t speak. He went to leave the room and put a hand out to open the door. As he turned to say goodbye to her, she was sitting cross-legged on the bed with her head bent down. It looked like she was studying her feet. Her hair was still rumpled and tangled in a seaweed-like mess. She lifted her head and peered through her seaweed-like fronds. She bought her hands up to her chest and whispered, “I’m Frankie.” Her feet became interesting once more. He pulled the door closed behind him and sat for a moment at the top of the wooden stairs.
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