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Créature De l'Eau
by
Sally Domingue


He sits with his knees curled up to his chest, heavy lashes down, mouth slightly parted to release shallow breaths. Suspended in a twilight of sleep and meditation. Beneath the veined eyelids he sees splintered green-silver brilliance. Too cold to be flora. The acute silver fades into a dull foam murmur. Another one! A girl. She's curled on her side holding her blue-tinged feet. She might see him since he can see her with his eyes closed. The blinding greenness stops fracturing the light, waiting. Neither move. He slides deeper into unconsciousness, stirring her. The girl is enveloped in the greenness - she is the splintering light - and he rocks sadly against the foam. It seeps into his ears and ajar mouth. Her eyes are open, if they can be called eyes. She watches, head cocked, staring at him with her hollow abysses. He lets out a strangled gasp. This was not the beautiful embryo of perfection that had been sleeping. The abysses are crushing his skull as she approaches. One long, porcelain arm grips his chest. She lowers her eyes, but there is no relief. Had he been breathing at all before? The foam held no oxygen and was heavier, thicker. His mouth snaps up in a terrible silent plead. Her cold hand clamps firmly over the gaping hole in his purpling face. She was pressed against him, fighting against the weight that held them both in the foam. She was completely icy and pale. Her legs were rough against his, unlike smooth human skin. The foam swirled darker under his open lids as he felt himself slipping into a warmer, darker reality. Above, thin gold slivers penetrated the heaviness. His chest had lightened considerably, but her skeletal hand refrained him from inhaling.

He woke aware of sounds and a cold pain in his lungs. His lips were dry, cracked and one side bled when he licked it. His face, stiff and scorched from the white-hot star above, contorted grotesquely in agony. How he wished to feel that cold hand now. A small wave brushed his feet mercifully. Water! Bringing himself up was a struggle for his weak limbs, so he settled to prop himself on elbows. The ocean rolled steadily, no longer a threat. Satisfied, he turned over on his stomach to stop the star's assault on his burned face. Beside him lay the cold girl, unmoving. Her skin was not white as he had observed in the foam, instead she was deathly blue like the lips of a corpse. Her hair was bleached white and resembled driftwood in its beaten texture. Her face was turned from him so he gave liberty to examine the creature. She did indeed have legs, but fish-like scales grew down them starting low on her waist. Her long feet were flanked with iridescent fins folded down. Was she breathing?

He pulled himself to his knees and crawled over her head. Her face was perfect, placid, but also that sickly shade of blue. Thick lashes shielded those hollow eyes that frightened him. Even with her girlish face, the creature appeared sexless, or she was a very young one of her species.

Her eyes flickered open. He stared, not daring to shudder, into the solid black shark pupils. Unwavering, she kept a stiff gaze, sat up, and backed into the water until only her head and long white mane were visible. Without attempting to communicate, she slipped into the water like a pin without ripples.

He crawled up the hot dune to a thin grove of low-spreading trees. Their fronds were wider than palms and webbed. He slumped against a trunk and fell into a dreamless sleep.

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