Like Sirens on Beaches

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Flane-Erenaeoth's avatar

Literature Text

It's the thrill of looking down. The way the depths call. Like Sirens on beaches. Such an unearthly voice that beckons one to that inevitable fatality. She liked to lie flat on her tummy and poke her nose over the edge and wiggle her toes. Sometimes she stretched her arms out and fluttered her fingertips and pretended she'd really done it- she'd really leapt through the air. The hot air whisped about her face and clipped stray strands of hair in its breeze. It was a foul eggy yellow. But she liked it- it tasted like lunch in sunny fields and at the same time like danger. She'd screw up one eye to alternate the perspective. She'd scrunch up her nose until it was like sucking in someone's breath, all hot and funny tasting. The curl of the fumes often make her eyes sting at the lids, but she never wanted to close them lest she miss that sight for one second. She liked the way it plunged away far beneath her. She liked the raggedy crags with their brown pinnacles exploding out of the bottomless chasm. She liked the way the light danced; its furled pale gold fingers stretched and clawed like a drowning man. She liked being just out of reach of his yearning fingertips and giggling as the burnished bronze plumes of smoke swallowed him up. Sometimes she was sure there was no cliff. It was just an illusion in her mind she'd created to stop herself from tumbling. Occasionally she saw the fires; they were molten orange pink like ripe petals screaming as they burned under the magnified gaze of a blood red sun. They spat tears of soft blobby gold that were thrown in a kind of confetti and shower of motion and beauty before tumbling back to the bubbling pit of broiling tumultuous hatred from which they had been cried. Sometimes she stared so long she could feel all its pain and its anger and its hate and its fear and its loss. It smelt like old things and tired washer-women's hands and the aching lines round a grandfather's eyes. When it funnelled spouting hot air really fast it even howled demoniacally up the chasm walls. It would howl like dark things and like bereft mothers and like children in the dark. She used to feel her own heart pounding through her chest and beating in time with the terracotta earth beneath her breast. She could see the shimmering red dust lift in time with the thumping. It pulsated and shook. She could taste its ache in her mouth. All dry, lost and confused. And alone. So alone. So alone. She could-

"Come Sele."

"Just a little longer... please."

"No. We've refuelled. We're going."

"But we only get to come once a year."

"That's once a year too many for my liking."

"But it's voice get's louder. I was so close to hearing what it said this time I-"

"Yes the rock has been talking to you for the last one-hundred-and-sixty-four years. I'm sure it can wait another year before it divulges all its secrets to you."

They got back in their spaceship and took off.

Sele watched the red planet sadly through the murky fibreglass panel, but she had to set the co-ordinates for the jump into deep space so missed its brief moment of internal combustion. She did get to see the new asteroid belt though, and that made her happy. She liked asteroids. They were a bit like little cities that turned with a slow majestic pace. All the cavities in their unique nooks would catch the luminescence of the flares on their spacecraft and glow lime green and marine blue and king's robe purple like little precious gems.
A little bit of Red and Sele fun :)

For freechiru and his inspiration!

Actually inspired by:…

A mini-comic version of this short story is available to read here
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freechiru's avatar
How did I inspire this? It's lovely! The description is so well done, and the feelings and sights and everything. And I like the format, too: that long first paragraph, the sudden cut, the conversation and the last bit which feels out of sync but fits perfectly. And it is more Red and Sele fun and this is a very good thing.