“There is something you should know,” Estdre says. We have crossed a million dunes, wandering for days.
Estdre’s side feels more like home than any place I’ve known. Nothing has changed. Whenever I want something, Estdre’s winds blow and it comes to me—a large pizza with extra hot peppers, a new pair of shoes.
It is slow going because of my mortal needs—this I know. Estdre does not need sleep or water. She carries me when I grow too weak.
“We are close. Today is the day you will meet your father.”
“He’s alive?” I ask.
“He lives always. In time, you will be immortal too. But there is a price. You must give up your human form to become my familiar. The men in your family are coyotes.”
Coyotes. Creatures of the desert. Their voices always made feel lonely.
“Perhaps you can choose another shape.”
The boy trembles against me. It is not with lust, though my body captivates him still. He is sad. The others were not sorry.
is the most peculiar by far. Logan
“The night you met me, you said I am not the desert. What did you called me?”
“The ocean.” He puts his hand on my heart, plays with my bare skin.
“I do not know what you speak of.”
“I’ve never seen it. The amusement park woman carries a picture of it on her phone. She showed it to me once, years ago. Water as far as the eye can see and salty.”
“Like tears?” I ask, fingering one of his and putting it in my mouth. I will miss this peculiar one most when he is no longer human.
The words are sweet. Goodbye Renaissance. You’ll never steal another child.
I lie back, imagining smoke against desert sky.
It starts as a tingle. When it reaches the bone, pain rips through my chest. I am hacking, choking.
Estdre’s coughing wakes me.
It isn’t dark anymore. The sky is a sickly shade of green. Estdre glows against it like a live coal.
“Renaissance is burning.” She chokes.
Around us, coyotes—my ancestors—raise their lonely howl to the sky. It makes me think her pain hurts them too.
I look in the direction of my old home—a glow on the horizon, a column of smoke. Suddenly, I realize I am the last of Estdre’s familiars, her last human. Her ties to Renaissance run deeper than mine. She has cared for it for so long. The coyotes push their noses into my skin, willing me to fix everything.
I stroke Estdre’s face, almost too hot to touch. “You’re the ocean.”
It is the only thing I can say. I whisper things that make me sure. But she is turning to ash between my fingers.
My father leans into my ear. In a voice like a bark he says “Bite her, son.”
I close my teeth over her blistered neck. My flesh stretches and tears, bones cracking. Through blurry eyes, I can see the red coyotes calling me on one side and darkness on the other. Their howling beckons. But it’s the darkness I reach for. Darkness will save us both.
My flesh becomes slick and scaly—legs elongating to fins. The blowhole grows like a new nose from the back of my neck.
But the air is too dry for a whale to breathe. The last of my human voice wheezes:
“Estdre, be my ocean.”
I let the winds blow.
It’s funny. I heard coyotes in my dream.
The Sand Witch is a four-part story I'm writing for The Rule of Three Blogfest. You can find the first part in this series here, the second part is here, and the third part in the series is here.
The prompt I chose this week was "The misfortune is resolved/accepted." This entry is 599 words.