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Tales From The Oddside(6)

By:Al Bruno III


Leon rolled his eyesand Dad looked ready to turn purple. Mom tried to get in the middle,"What Rachel meant was that we didn't come all this way just-""Oh, I know whatshe meant all right." Dad looked right over Mom and glared atme. I could feel the I work all day. speech coming on line, "Iwork all day so you and your Goddamn mother can have nice things andall you give me is grief.""But Dad-""Honey, itwouldn't be so bad if we worked together..." Good old Mom andher spine of jelly.With that Leon and Dadturned to go, if we were lucky they wouldn't be back until afterdinner but of course, Dad being Dad he couldn't leave without alittle stinger."Besides Rachel, alittle work might help you slim down a little."I don't even rememberstorming out of that rat hole cabin or if anyone called out after me.All I know is that I ran until I found myself at the beach.</ol>


I'd never seen theocean before, except in movies, TV and books.
*It's just so... so hugein real life. You look at it and you realize that you're only seeingone tiny part of it. There were birds everywhere, big ugly seagullsand tiny little nervous-looking birds that divided most of their timebetween sifting in the mud and running in terror at the slightestmotion. Tiny shells cracked underfoot. Slipping off my shoes I wadedinto the surf. This was the closest I ever got to swimming. To swimyou have to own a swimsuit and swimsuits and me don't exactly getalong.My weight has alwaysbeen a problem for me. I've been dieting since I was eight, welltrying to diet anyway. I was heavy for a girl my age, too heavy, andit made me look years older. Leon still cackled over the time thatI'd been mistaken for his mother. The water here was calm like aswimming pool. I could see my reflection in the water, for as long asI can remember I've hated my reflection but as I waded I watched it,the way the ripples pulled me apart and put me back together again.It was like I washypnotized or something. I didn't even look up once until a splashingsound distracted me. That's when I realized it was twilight, that myreflection was gone and the ocean was a bruised purple color. Thecolor of a grape popsicle. I heard a woman laughing somewhere nearby,probably getting a real laugh at the fat girl on the beach.</ol>


I didn't have a key, sowhen I got back to cabin I had to knock on the door. It flew open andmy Mother was screaming in my face, "Where were you? We wereworried sick?""I was justlooking around." I answered with a shrug.Leon and Dad weresitting at the rickety table, a plate of bones in front of each ofthem, an empty bucket of chicken lying in the trash near them, "Wellyou missed dinner.""Yeah Sis."Leon said, "That's not like you.""Up yours!"was all I could think to say.With that Dad was upand on his feet, his breath was sour and there were shreds of chickenin his teeth, "I didn't bring you up here so you could screwaround and do whatever you want to do! We are here to vacation as afamily!""Look I just-"</ol>


He poked me in thechest, just hard enough to hurt but not hard enough to leave a mark,"Do you understand me?"I gritted my teeth andsaid, "Yes."It turned out that Dadhad bought an entire extra bucket of chicken just for me. I told himI wasn't hungry but after everyone had gone to bed; I ate the entirething, hating myself with every bite.
*The next day we went toan amusement park, as a family. Of course I'm too big to fit onto alot of the rides so I spent most of the time on the sidelines beingmiserable. I looked at them and though about what a perfect littlefamily they made, or they would make if I wasn't around.We got back to thecabin late into the afternoon. Leon asked if he could have the car togo and meet some kids he'd met at the amusement park. Dad threw himthe keys. I started to say something about Leon's suspended licensebut then thought better of it.Instead, after theGolden Boy had taken off I asked if I could go back to the beach. Dadmade me sweat it out for a few minutes but then he let me go. Momslipped me a few bucks in case I wanted some ice cream. Then Dad saidI didn't need any ice cream and the old fight between them started tohead into high gear.</ol>


I high-tailed it out ofthere and found my way back to the beach. I walked along the shore,skimming stones and pocketing interesting seashells. I found my wayto place where an outcropping of rocks jutted out and up. It made anatural pier. After a few minutes climbing I made my way up and ontoit and I sat on the edge and dangled my feet off. The waterline wasabout five feet below me. For a crazy moment I wondered how deep itwas. If I jumped would there be enough to break my fall? If I diedhere, would my family even care? Or would they be relived?Would they make jokesas they searched for a Plus-Size coffin?Her body broke thesurface of the water below me, I hadn't seen anyone swimming downthere. Her hair was dark, her face belonged on the cover of a beautymagazine. She was wearing nothing but a white blouse that was twosizes too large for her. The wet fabric revealed a body that was likesomething out of Leon's wet dreams. I wanted to drop a rock on her.She noticed me, hereyes were blue like the ocean. "I didn't see you up there."She smiled up at me, "I hope I'm not bothering you."I shrugged, "It'sa free country."</ol>


"I'm Nannete."She said as she stepped out onto the beach and found her way up ontothe rocks."Did you lose yourswimsuit?""I always say,"Her smile was playful, "that life's too short to worry ifsomeone's going to see you naked.""That's easy foryou to say." I was surprised at how bitter I sounded.She knelt beside me,her face even with mine. She looked like one of those china dolls.Her lips parted, I thought she was going to say something but insteadshe kissed me. Electric shocks ran through me. I felt numb. I feltsick. I felt warm all over.When the kiss broke Itried to speak but I couldn't. She smiled and dove off the rock-pier.I tried to shout a warning but I was still kinda dazed. I didn't evenhear her hit the water.I got up fast as Icould and ran back to the cabin. Leon had a bunch of friends overthere with him, they looked at me funny as I ran up the walk. I ranmy hands over my lips, fearing that Nannete had left lipstick smearedthere. One of the girls, she looked drunk or stoned or both, shewaved and gave me a sarcastic, "Hi Rachel, I'm Delores. Yourbrother told us all about you."</ol>


"Really?" Isaid, "Did he tell you about the man he put in the hospital whenhe was driving around drunk?"With that I stormedinto the cabin and nothing my Mother or Father had to say to memattered much. Nannete was all I could think about.
*A sound just outsidethe cabin woke me up, I went to the cracked window and gazed out. Thesun wasn't even up yet. I wondered if Leon had some little bimbettein his room.The laughter filled theair, surrounding me. I recognized it now, I'd heard it my first nighthere.It was Nannete and shewas somewhere close.Was she looking for me?I threw on the clothes I had worn the day before and, aftercautiously slipping out of the cabin, I ran outside.</ol>


I couldn't see heranywhere, but I heard her voice. She was singing in some foreignlanguage, it sounded like something out of a NATIONAL GEOGRAPHICspecial. I followed the sound.Before long I was backat the beach, back at the rock outcropping. It was half-submergedunder the water, the tide had come in. Cold water washed over my feetas I walked along the pier. It was like her voice was coming out ofthe ocean.At the edge of theoutcropping I knelt where she had knelt. The sky was dark and cloudyand I could barely see my hand in front of my face.Somehow I lost mybalance. Before I fell in I heard my father's voice in my head-...stupid, clumsy, fat...I don't know if I hitmy head or something as I fell but right after I hit the watereverything went black.*A soft hand wasstroking my face when I woke up.</ol>


"Nannete." IsaidHer only reply was togive me water from a cup. We were in a cave. Candles ringed thewalls.There were all thesestrange symbols painted on the walls. My clothes were spread acrossthe floor, slowly drying. Humiliated I reached up, tried to covermyself. "You've nothing to hide." She slipped out of herwhite blouse, "Neither do I."My heart started racingagain. Any moment I was sure I was going to burst into tears, "Wheream I?""You're safe."She huddled close, her eyes were shining in the candlight."But where-"Nanette silenced mewith a kiss, her lips were cool. "Answers are no comfort."she breathed.Each of the kisses shespread out across my body felt like a raindrop. Dizziness washed overme, it was like I was on an elevator that wouldn't stop going up.</ol>


Then out of nowhere shestarted running her nails hard across my chest and belly. I wanted toescape. I never wanted to leave. It was like she was taking me,making me hers. Blood welled up from the cuts and scrapes. Shestarted kissing me again, her lips smearing the red. Her murmuringfilled the cavern but I couldn't understand what she was saying.Sobs shook me as shealternated between caressing and tearing at my skin. I don't now howlong it went on for but when it stopped I felt anguished. She raisedherself up over me, swallowing me with her shadow. "Everytransformation begins with one tiny change."Sitting up, I kissedher hard on the mouth, losing myself in her. I felt lightheaded, likeI was going to pass out.Maybe I did pass out,all I know is that when I came to my senses I was lying flat on myback on the rocky outcropping. It was raining hard and I was soakingwet. My brother was calling my name. Moaning, my skin still tingledwhere Nanette had touched me.Looking down over theedge of the rock I could see the tide had gone out. Leon was walkingalong the surf, looking wet and miserable and calling my name with apissed off expression. How long had I been gone for?</ol>