The Girl from the Sea – Chapter Eight
The room upstairs was speckled with daylight and shadow and was as quiet as a church. Joe had crept upstairs to check on the girl. He’d waited as long as he could – Mrs Captain had made them all sit down and eat breakfast and drink warm, sweet tea. Then she had bustled around tidying the bits and bobs away, all the time waiting for her husband to come out of his reverie.
The Captain was distracted by his thoughts and his wife was so busy waiting for him to speak that they didn’t notice him creeping away. He really just wanted to check that the girl was still real and hadn’t grown fins while no one was looking. The door creaked open and he slid in. He wasn’t at all sure about what he was doing and figured that going in a covert style was probably best, so he slid behind the chair and huddled down onto all fours. He crept across the room towards the curtains from where he thought he would get the best view, and from where he could best hide. The only furniture in the room was the double bed where the mermaid-girl now lay; the rocking chair from where he started and a huge cupboard which was stuffed to the brim with clothes poking out of every angle. The curtains were full length and perfectly sized for hiding behind.
He crept as far as the curtains and slithered between them and pushed himself up into a standing position. He stood stock still behind the curtains and waited. To his amazement he heard a giggle coming from the direction of the bed. He had miscalculated one thing. The curtains were flat against the wall and Joe was now sticking out like a lump of flour. He peered his head out of his hiding place from between the curtains and found a dark pair of eyes watching him from the end of the bed.
The girl’s fin-less feet were resting on the pillow and she was laying on her front and had watched his progress across the floor with great interest and obviously great amusement too. Joe realised how silly he must have looked and giggled too – a body-less head between the curtains. The giggles became so uncontrollable that Joe fell out of the curtains onto the floor, which only made her laugh more. So much so that it started a fit of unstoppable coughing. Joe stopped, leapt up and rushed to the bedside in horror – she’d only just come back to life and here he was killing her!
“I say, are you alright? Shall I get you some water? Do you need hitting on the back? What do you need?”
Joe was really afraid now – something must be very wrong with her. And what’s more he could hear Mrs Captain rushing up the stairs.
“What on earth is going on in here?” she exclaimed. “Well look at you! You look much better love. Got some colour in you. What’s Joe done now?”
“I swear I didn’t do anything Mrs Captain. We were just laughing and then she started making that awful noise!”
“Laughing? Well that’s wonderful – she must be all better. Do you feel better love?”
The dark eyes blinked at the Captain’s wife, unsmiling and she fumbled for the covers to hide herself in. She didn’t need the warmth any longer. Joe understood the movement – it was one he did himself when he was afraid of the dark shadows in his bedroom.
“Don’t be afraid,” he whispered. “We won’t hurt you…” He was a little afraid himself, but of what he was not sure.
“She’s scared stiff the poor thing,” said Mrs Captain. “Don’t worry love, we won’t hurt you,” repeating Joe’s words. She grasped the girl’s hands and the bed sheets that were being grasped by the girl. “Don’t you worry.” She repeated, looking into her dark eyes and giving her hands a squeeze.
“Come, Joe. You come along with me and leave her in peace. Get some rest, love.”
She gestured Joe away from the bedside and hustled him out of the door. Joe backed out of the room, staring at this strange, scared girl with the dark eyes. “I don’t even want to think about what that poor girl’s been through,” murmured Mrs Captain. “We must give her time. She’ll tell us when she’s ready.”
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