by Megan E. O’Keefe
read by Jacquie Duckworth
First published in Shimmer magazine in Jan 2015.
Child walked the edge of the cold shore, bare feet sinking in rough sand. The red glare of the sun cast the pale beige granules in eerie, pink light, as if blood had been spilled across them and then diluted by the waves. Beak-pecked carcasses of sea creatures lay along her path, their poisonous flesh bulbous with tumors even after those few birds who could stomach them had picked them over. Why anyone would desire to smell like those wretched waters, Child could not guess.
The beach was empty, as it always was, save for a small group of mourning. They bundled their dead—two or three, she could not tell—onto a floating bier, set light the wooden slats, and shoved it out to sea. Child caught her breath, anger tightening her fists as flames licked up around the bier, revealing the wraps the dead had been sent to their rest within. Such a waste. But then, they had earned them. It was their right.
Megan E. O’Keefe writes speculative fiction and makes soap for a living — it’s only a little like Fight Club. Her debut novel, STEAL THE SKY, which centers around an airship heist, is due out from Angry Robot Books in Jan. 2016. Visit her website at meganokeefe.com or communicate with her via cat pictures on twitter @MeganofBlushie.
Jacquie Duckworth is a Bay Area actress, Teaching Artist, and Director of just about anything from Shakespeare to sketch comedy. She has one child in college and another starting next year and looks forward to embracing poverty with a plucky resourcefulness.