The two met at Pendour every night. Matthew disclosed his plans. Ever his proponent, her excitement for him wasn’t faked. She confided her own schemes, to which Matthew supported and helped develop. He showed her a map of England and they devised a plot of their own. With her ability to memorize, it’d be simple. She would follow him and arrive there before he did. Before she dove back in, he clutched her hand, asking for another kiss in his diffident way. Nervously this time, she held his face. Electricity like that of an eel sizzled down his spine; the voltage singed the tips of her fingers.
She hit the waves with a splash. Her head popped up and she waved.
“Bye! Love you. Stay safe.”
Eli clicked away on the drive. By then, Ford developed the Model T, and someone from the clergy managed to snag one. They marvelled at the automobile’s bells and whistles. Then, as it came to them they’d be stuck with each other for over five hours, their chatter died down for a while. Charlie couldn’t help but ask about Morveren. Matthew replied that she wasn’t out of the picture. In fact, he stowed away her few items and clothing.
“Don’t tell him. He’s still mad,” he whispered. “I know I left everyone gutted that day.”
“I would’ve done the same,” Charlie patted his knee. “I mean, it’s incredible. Do you reckon other creatures from fairytales exist?”
“I try not to think about it too much.”
“I’m happy she’s coming. She was a good friend to us. Got you giddy and everything.”
Hove, the temperate sibling of Brighton, better suited the mild mannered boys. After four or five tours, they finally found a winner. A narrow, off-white building held three bedrooms and a stunning view for a fair price. Delighted by the slanting ceilings, cleanliness and luminous atmosphere, they grinned to themselves. Matthew imagined them rehearsing for a concert, guzzling booze in the kitchen and walking Jaimie around. They consulted one another, all assenting. Nonchalantly, they told the agent yes, they’d take it off his hands. Gearing up for the long journey, they devoured fish at a chippy and refilled their thermoses with tea. Jaimie inhaled hushpuppies.
A few days later, their families squeezed them and bid tearful adieus. Somehow, they managed to fit their belongings into three consecutive vehicles. Charlie drove the one containing the three of them, with his dad and Matthew’s mom not far behind. In the back, Jaimie squished Eli, settling on his lap.
Morveren did the same. Clodagh, a plucky merrow who she met while in the waters of Scilly, would accompany her. Saying goodbye to Llyr proved more difficult than she imagined. She promised to visit when possible. Even so, his heart shattered as she cleaved through currents, passing turtles and sharks. Morveren raced through the English Channel while Clodagh drifted at her leisure.
Naturally, Morveren tumbled onto shore first. She tore the hat from Clodagh and fled, cutting her feet on the coarse shore. The merrow’s emerald tail split in two. She screeched at the sudden iciness of the Atlantic. Before she could streak, Morveren pushed her down, back into the water. As Clodagh doused and cursed at her, she stripped down. “I think you got the better end of the deal,” Clodagh mused.
Morveren handed her the aqua gown as another adhered to her.
“I’m fretting,” Clodagh chuckled as she latched on to her new friend. She held her hand until she got her land legs.
They beamed on the sand, admiring the sea’s deep hues. It inhaled and exhaled at a steady tempo. “I never realized just how beautiful it is,” Clodagh murmured. “Even at the Isles. It looks different at every shore.”
Exploring the Lanes, the girls turned the local’s heads. Suddenly, they were children again, although they were in search of grown up needs. Clodagh used the shop windows for a mirror, examining her legs and dried curls. She was quite tall, with immaculate posture and verve hidden in the corners of her mouth.
The girls went on a scavenger hunt, purchasing the first place available. Initially, Clodagh charmed her way into a sweet shop gig, bringing home humbugs. Morveren had a harder time in her job search until a woman in a department store found her so stylish, she hired her in a heartbeat. At first, all they had were a mattress and snacks. Over time, they ornamented and furbished the flat into a lavish space.
Clodagh sold her experly made shell and sharktooth baubles after losing hours at the candy store. She shed not only her cap, but also her nautical ways. In a week, Clodagh clipped her hair to her shoulders, experimented with makeup, and bought jewelry of massive size. Morveren couldn’t shake her roots, though, and stored bottled shells and sea water around the house. Moonbeams cooled the peacock blue sheets by night, when her home roared in her ears the loudest.
When Clodagh needed rent and Morveren was at sea, they met at the pier, where she supplied the means. Matthew teamed with Charlie to play at the beach late at night. His soaring voice never failed to choke her up. Clodagh sold the crystalline sadness when she didn’t craft it into adornments.
Both harmonized so delectably, cafes all over begged for their singing, which they only found satisfying for a moment. Fortunately, Matthew’s trio played restaurants, cafes and clubs. Yet again, he felt immobile and stuck in the city.
Day in and day out, everyone enjoyed life in the city, with its fits of occasional fun, but no one found fulfilment. Independence, as appealing and liberating as it may seem, isn’t always what it’s cracked up to be. Plenty of troubles lay themselves down at one’s feet.
They had train tickets to London for a meeting with an instructor at a university. Matthew tittuped to her at the station where instantaneous, lyrical conversation followed. When it arrived, she covered her ears at the sonorous horn. As the pair boarded and were seated, she began,
“Clodagh would say this is real cracker. You should meet her. She’d love you.”
“It hasn’t even started,” he laughed. “Can I show you some lyrics?”
He slid them towards her, all inspired by a trilogy he read. As she reviewed them, he asked,
“How are you going to do all this? If they expect you there everyday for months on end, how can you possibly get your work done?”
“I’ve understood how to enchant myself. I spend a lot of time in the tub when I’m not working. Matthew, this is brilliant. Astounding work as always.”
Gaping, she stood in the library of University College London. They met an advisor to enroll her the following semester. He raised his eyebrows when she clearly stated her field of study. When asked for transcripts, she lied and said she homeschooled her whole life. Extraterrestrial beauty and intellect were in her favor. Clodagh bounced on her bed, nearly scaring Morveren to death, hollering about a wee letter. She’d been accepted. Her boss looked incredulous when she said she was attending university, and even more so when she disclosed her major.
“Astronomy! You must be stark raving mad.”
Morveren ended up as the top of the class. Her peers, who she didn’t care for, cheated on exams, stealing tiny glances at her work.
Years passed, like a voracious reader eating up a novel, flipping through the pages madly. Charlie went one way, Eli another. Matthew was the last in the apartment, for Jaimie had passed painlessly. The trio feasted on breakfast foods, stuffing themselves with sticky pecan waffles, bangers and toothsome egg sandwiches. Everything was paired together, undoubtedly, with Irish coffee. Ginormous flakes, the final snow of the year, dotted his coat on his walk home. Brighton was swathed in lemony lights. He remembered Morveren, her ambrosial shouts at her first snowfall, how she demanded they paint it, and how it stirred up hazy childhood nostalgia. Addie recited her experience at the theatre after she went on holiday to see The Nutcracker.
The moon peered out of fluttering clouds, its reflection waltzing on the ocean’s exterior. Perhaps with the aid of spiked coffee, he threw himself beneath the waves and breathed in the chill of the sea. Morveren threw her arms around him, enveloping him in her magic touch.
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