Their meal of fried fish was simple but satisfying. Their guest ate like a starved woman, shoveling forkfulls of fish into her mouth faster than Charlie, who had the typical eating habits of an active, growing 17-year-old boy. After the day’s adventures Charlie had found his appetite, too, and the fish quickly disappeared between the hungry boy and the starving woman. Charlie’s grandpa ate sparingly, not saying much, staring at the pair through squinted eyes.
It was decided that Charlie would sleep on a makeshift pallet by the fireside, while Lorelei would take his bed for the night. In the morning, they would contact the police to see if anyone had filed a missing persons report matching the woman’s description. Lorelei listened politely to their planning, still not saying a word. When the dinner plates were moved to the sink, she merely uttered, “Thank you.” At the sound of her voice, Charlie’s grandpa nearly dropped the plates, but quickly recovered his composure.
Afterward, upstairs, Lorelei was carefully pulling back the coverlet on Charlie’s bed when she heard footsteps pause outside the doorway to the bedroom. She was not surprised. From his behavior at dinner, she knew the old man had something he wanted to say something to her, but that he was waiting until they could speak privately to say it. She turned and sat down on the edge of the bed. Lorelei looked into the man’s face and patted the space beside her, inviting him to sit down.
“No, thank you,” Charlie’s grandpa replied, quietly, lowering his voice so that there was no chance that the boy downstairs could hear. He kept his distance, remained in the doorway. He drew a deep breath and spoke his next words to Lorelei in even, carefully measured tones:
“I know what you are. I hope you have not come for my grandson, because you cannot have Charlie. I will throw you back into the sea.”
At that, he turned, and left Lorelei staring at the empty doorway.
The above post is a beta excerpt from an ongoing novel-in-progress tentatively titled “The Curious Tale of Lorelei Strange”. To read all related posts, click on the associated category. All post titles in this series contain numeric labels so that you may read the story in consecutive order (i.e., LS1 is the first installment, LS2 the second, etc.). ©Awen Blackbird/Jamie Waggoner, all rights reserved. Featured photo credit: Issara Willenskomer via Unsplash.