You have to understand. My mother and I, we’re not close. It all started when she moved us away from the city, onto the edge of an island where the only other beings to play with were seals (and the occasional and rare selkie), birds, and sometimes a drifting fisherman might bring his children along with him on a trip. The kids at the traveller camp (mum said not to call them “gypsies”, even though everybody else at school did) didn’t want to have anything to do with me because I’d not got the right blood. School was a boat ride away, and I had to ride with the traveller kids on their boat, and if I missed it, Mum would have to swim over or take one of our little boats to pick me up, and it wasn’t like I had a mobile phone like all the other kids at school; I couldn’t be texted, What’sApped, Snapchatted, or whatever the devil else they were always talking about. They said I talked funny, I looked funny, and I dressed funny. And maybe I did.
And now I’m drifting, off topic and into the past, right off the line. Isn’t that just like you, she’d say. Has said. Did say. Would have said.
Moon Tide House. Coming back to this house carries with it all the bottled up angst of a lonely adolescence, all the resentment I had for her, for that life. And here I am letting the Author ramble through me: you don’t even know who I am, and maybe it doesn’t matter.
I am nervous. I smile falsely for the suit who insisted on accompanying me to the house. The boat house. The house boat. Moon Tide House. I don’t know why he wants a photograph. Maybe it’s to prove to his boss that he did escort me all the way out here, even though I said don’t bother; I have a key. Maybe it’s because I’m so forgettable he needs a reminder, since we’ll be working together to handle… yeah.
“You’re sure you’ll be all right, Miss Moontide?” he asks. Solicitors are so solicitous.
“Maha, please,” I reply, with all the control I can muster. “And I go by Tide, not Moontide.”
“Of course. Maha.” He straightens up the suit. Must be uncomfortable out here on the dripping hot coast. I feel no sympathy. “Well, if you’re sure you don’t need me to walk you into the house, there’s only this.” With a quick flip of his fingers, he extracts a large manila envelope from his briefcase. “This contains your mother’s estate details, last will and testament, the deed to this house — it’s yours, by the way — that kind of thing.” He shifts uncomfortably as I brush his fingers by accident when I take the envelope. “Your mobile getting a signal?”
“I nod. “Yeah; it’s not like it used to be out here.”
“You’ll really see that in the morning. Beach is growing up. Locals have been at your mother to sell this house for decades. You’ll get a nice price when you do.”
I arch a brow. “No decisions yet,” I say firmly. And then I walk away without making any traditional farewell noises. He makes several of them before uncertainly hopping back into the motorboat we hired on the town side.
The motorboat speeds away, leaving me on the porch of Moon Tide House. I remember being even a little excited when Mum got the moon tide lamps for the outside of the house. Maybe this will make people know we’re cool, I thought. But no; it just made them think we were weird.
So. This is where I spent my adolescence. Mum’s spartan décor, her need to have almost everything in the house moon themed, “So we are at one with the tide,” she’d say with a wink. I sit on the couch for a long time, just staring at that mirror. Mum said she used it to communicate with our family back in Faerie, but I never saw that happen. In fact, I never met any of our “family back in Faerie.” There were times when I thought they weren’t real, but I’ll meet them on Saturday. Or some of them anyway. The law firm has been taking care of RSVPs for Mum’s wake, and it looks like many of them will be coming to pay their respects. Relatives I’ve never even met: ha.
This house was Mum’s pride and joy. She loved it, loved that it was right on the water for obvious reasons, and all around the house there are little faerie doors, which she said brought good luck and would give us an escape route if we ever needed to flee back to Faerie. I never once opened one of those doors and found anything but a blank wall behind it. And believe me, I tried.
This dress is the last thing Mum gave to me before I left home and we… well, like I said, we are not exactly close. Were not exactly close. Behind me you can see one of the faerie doors: it’s in the tree stump. And the captured fairy lights were Mum’s idea of a joke: we got them at a solstice festival when I was about fifteen. The dress came from the same festival, only a few years later. It’s still the most beautiful dress I own, and it should be: the designer is well known for her innovative creations and fantastic colour schemes. If you haven’t heard of Senzafine, you should really check them out. Not that I should be rambling about dresses right now, but there’s a reason I wore this here tonight and a reason I will also wear it to Mum’s wake on Saturday. It represents most of the good memories I have of her.
Memories of my mother do not usually make me smile. She was — is — was — a difficult woman to live with. Regimented. Aloof. Manipulative. Underneath all that, I do believe she loved me: it was just hard to see from the distance I placed between us, the distance she did not resist. She couldn’t tell me she loved me when I decided to leave. So she bought me a beautiful dress.
And now, if you saw me through one of the tall windows, standing here in the almost-empty house with just a coolpak of Diet Coke and cheese to get me through the next twelve hours, you’d wonder, maybe, What is she looking at?
Everything. I’m looking at everything. How the ten years since I left home seem to encapsulate themselves and be nothing next to this house, a house that looks almost exactly as it did the day I left. This house. This sea. This lost woman, nearly middle-aged, still trying to find herself, still adrift, and remembering that you need sea legs in this house as the tide begins to come in, rocking the pontoons.
And then there is a crack of thunder, a light on the moon side, and I turn at the light, at the movement.
The vision of her is so real: I walk to the window (this one really is a door, “so we can hop in a boat and escape quickly if we ever need to,” she said.). And there she is, larger than light, her tail reflecting moonlight. But she’s not solid. She’s not there. Her eyes say that she regrets our strained relationship, our parting, the fact we’ve barely spoken in ten years. Sadness for the fact that we can never speak again, now.
And then it comes to me: I am alone in the world now. I am her only child, this disappointment of a daughter who didn’t develop gills at adolescence and would never swim the ocean and comb her hair on rocks, or whatever it is mermaids get up to when they’re not swindling poor sailors out of their hard earned gods know what.
And suddenly, I’m just weary. I finish the rest of the nearly-empty Diet Coke and bin the bottle, and then I climb the ladder up to the loft. My room. Mum said there was only a bedroom in the house because of me. When she slept inside, she was happy to be on the couch, she said.
My room. The bedsheets clean and different from what I remember, but everything else is the same. The writing desk. The ridiculous plush unicorn I didn’t even want. Three faerie doors, one in the shape of a mushroom. I should tack those lights back up. I should — no, I will never repaint the ceiling, the moon mural she created for me when I was thirteen and hated her and wanted to move back to Nu Jyorck and be with all my friends. Friends whom I couldn’t even email because there was no Internet, no mobile service, no telephone. I’d stare up at that ceiling and wish I could fly. Wish I could swim as fast as my mother. Know in my heart that whoever my father was, he was no merman and I had only a small chance of inheriting the sea.
It cannot be too much for one person to bear. Because I am one person, me alone, and I will bear it. I must bear it.
I did not like my mother. But now, lying in this bed I cried in for seven years, I understand that I did love her. No more now: tears are coming.
Many thanks to LRRiven of Rivendale and Synjari of Senzafine, whose gorgeous designs for the Midsummer Enchantment event sparked this story and gave me some of the tools with which to write it. I am always, always indebted to the stunning minds behind the creators who make all these toys I love to play with!
Head: Genus Project Bento Mesh Head (beta) V1
Skin: Lumae, Juniper Genus Project Applier (Available NOW at the Lumae Main Store!) This applier is 50% off until June 25!
Ears: Lumae, Leevi Long Ears
Dress: Senzafine, Jaelle (Available NOW at Midsummer Enchantment!)
Hair: Sn@tch, Luna (Available NOW at Midsummer Enchantment!)
Nails: Dark Passions, Koffin Nails, Evening Enchantress (Available NOW at Midsummer Enchantment!)
Necklace: RealEvil Industries, Passion Collar
Necklace: The Plastik, Hallows Choker
House: Rivendale, Weathered Houseboat (Available NOW at Midsummer Enchantment!)