I found an old photograph at this quaint little antique shop I often visit. Obviously, it inspired me something best served creepy…meet Kelly Green, my latest #fridayflash.
Foam bubbled through her red strands, hair tangled with seaweed and sand clusters. The shredded remains of her dress rolled with the crashing waves. Caught in a fishing net, she faced the abyss of the sea, flesh bloated and skin a pale shade of green.
‘‘She the girl?’’ asked the fisherman holding his net full of fish and a dead body. ‘‘She the one?’’
‘‘Who’d you want her to be? Sure it’s her.’’ Their voices lost in the seagulls above and the deadly waters below. Her corpse danced as the net neared the shore.
Another fisherman waited, boots deep in the tide. ‘‘Yep, it’s her all right. That’s our Kelly.’’ Guilt rose in the seamen’s chests, remembering her atop the white cliffs. Not the first or the last they hadn’t stopped from jumping.
‘‘Think it’s pretty, Mamma?’’ Kelly twirled in her dress made specially for the occasion. A sharp shade of green, her favorite. ‘‘Think I’ll be the prettiest?’’ She tilted her head at the mirror, scrutinizing the details by the hem: sparkling gems with embroidery. She recognized her mother’s craft, the only soul in the village with enough patience and skill.
‘‘Don’t you let it go to your head, girl. Don’t want town folks to think you’re vain.’’ Mamma straightened Kelly before kneeling to mend the bad pleat hidden by the sash.
The Fishwives sat by the fire, carefully watching Kelly’s every move, listening to every word. ‘‘I wonder, Mamma…’’ Barely fourteen and dreaming of Jacob on his boat, sweat mixed with seawater. ‘‘I wonder if anyone will want to dance with me but miss their chance. Too shy or afraid to ask me or something.’’ Jacob’s smile at last year’s harvest ball brought hers back. Strong, he’d make a fine husband.
‘‘You can’t go on living with ifs and maybes, Kelly.’’ Mamma’s head bowed to the needle and thread jabbing the fabric, and Kelly noticed the gray mixed with red. Her mother’s hair used to be like hers, before Kelly got picked.
The ballots rustled in the wind, the Masson jar half-filled with names. The First Fishwife cleared her throat and read the chosen piece of paper.
‘‘Kelly,’’ she read as the village of four hundred gasped. ‘‘Kelly Green.’’
Kelly approached the altar with her head held high, knowing once She chose you, you obeyed. Mamma cried a little, probably because her days would be lonesome with Dad and Timmy out fishing.
‘‘A proud, proud day to secure the fate of so many,’’ the First Fishwife proclaimed as she regained control of the small crowd. ‘‘God will be happy for such a gift and will give us plenty for the year to come.’’
Kelly’s future lay with the sea, her soul to melt with the waves and her voice to crash on the shore, shouting her name so no one would forget her sacrifice.