I was on fire.
I rolled around wildly slapping my body as though I could put it out with my bare hands. But there were no flames. No burns. Only sand.
Coarse, infinite sand.
Smoke. Sulfur. Burning wood. It permeated the air around me.
Something was on fire. Something important.
I squinted. My eyes adjusted to see past the brightness of the merciless sun.
Wrong. All wrong. It was night.
The moon had been full and its light reflected on the water.
I blinked. The memories hurt. I tried to drag them from my consciousness but they fought to drift away. Like fog. Like… driftwood.
It wasn’t night. It was just dark.
Grey. So grey it blocked out the sun.
And there was rain. So much rain that we rocked from side to side as though we might tip over.
A boat. There had a been a boat.
MY boat. My crew.
And the reflection of the moon on the water wasn’t the moon at all. It was…
I gasped, crawling backwards in the sand, seeing the beach clearly for the first time. Pieces of my livelihood, crates of tea and melted chocolates, all aflame like bonfires lit in the night.
The fire wasn’t ON me. It was AROUND me. EVERYWHERE around me.
I heard her song before I saw her figure creeping out of the water.
She looked right at me, with eyes so light, so clear, they were like the surface of the water and I could see to their very bottom.
She was coming for me. To take me down beneath the ocean where she stole the others.
Her song ripped tears from my eyes. My fingers clutched the sand. But it would not save me. Even if the ground opened and swallowed me whole. Because I’d heard her song. And it was equally brilliant and shattering.
And even if she didn’t consume me, the memory of her song would.