This is Story Twelve in my 38 Stories Project
Submitted By: Cody Mason
Word Count: 555
After burying Kyle, Corina became obsessed with going on holiday.
“A second honeymoon. We deserve it.” I didn’t argue, assuming she was canvassing balmy islands with cocktails and stripey towels stacked in fluffy pyramids.
“Iceland?” Corina nodded, frantic. She thumbed through the brochure, pointing out the sights.
“Don’t you want to see the northern lights?”
I did, and it would be a chance to exercise the expensive camera collecting dust and guilt in the spare room. It just wasn’t the kind of trip I felt could soothe the pain of a dead baby. Corina seemed giddy, almost irrational. She hadn’t cried yet. The more time expired, the more her fake happiness grew. I knew a crash was coming, and in my cowardice, agreeing to Iceland was a way of postponing it.
“Sounds beautiful,” I said.
I used the next month to research shutter speeds, weather and flights. Corina focused on elves, revenants and ancient shipwrecks. She discovered the existence of a beach rumoured haunted by drowned Vikings and it was decided, in my silent assent, we would begin the journey there. Dozing on the flight, she reached for my hand, murmuring.
“They’re stillborn souls.”
We spent the first day exploring a rotting Viking village. We goofed around in doorways, posing for photos, high on jetlag and hip flask vodka. We played hide and seek. I jumped from behind a crumbling wall and Corina screamed, intoxicated with delight.
We reached our campsite and set an alarm for the lights. I fell asleep within moments of lying down. I dreamt of the ocean, grown suddenly calm, tiny bodies rising with gentle buoyance to its surface. I jolted awake a few hours later and picked up my phone. It was completely dead. I tapped the battery pack and rummaged to find Corina’s phone. Also lifeless.
I was still a little drunk and shook my head as I wiggled the cables, wondering if I’d imagined the process of ensuring everything was charged. With no reception, phones only served as torches and alarms, but those were useful things on the edge of the Earth.
Outside, the lights were blooming. I snatched up my gear, calling for Corina to wake up. Her sleepy face transformed into elation. She stumbled past me, crying out.
“Come on, Neil. Let’s go whistle at it. You’re not meant to whistle at it…” She disappeared into the dark. The ocean roared. A faint, high pitched whistle dissolved in the night. I twisted my torch, but it didn’t come on. Frustrated, I threw it aside and followed the sound of the waves.
I stopped on a grassy dune to set up the tripod. Corina had vanished. There were wet footprints, too big to be hers. Distracted, I crouched into the camera, struggling to see its settings. I was concentrating so hard that I hardly noticed the waves cease. Everything became still, suspended. I looked up.
Her clothes were dry, but her skin and hair dripped with water. Tiny capillaries crawled over her neck. Her eyes lay open, vacant and strange. She was miniscule in his arms, limp as a fish caught by a giant, resigned to her fate. The Viking offered my wife to me, a grisly challenge. The lights danced.
In the morning, at the police station, I began the story with Kyle.
Thanks for reading.
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