Wet Curls

By Elizabeth Robyn Stanton

Dazzling shadows rumba in the breeze, catching autumn amber, green and brown. Mother and daughter stand listening; birds call, water trickles. The mother sings, stroking baby’s soft blonde curls. The child looks up, tipping her socked toe in the current.

A thunderous, almighty roar.

Solid, unyielding water, gushes over the rocks and catches her small, red sandal, whisking the tiny body from its bearings. Swept along, bobbing under, a leg up; her paisley dress, gone.

The mother’s thighs fuse in the cementing mud, one red sandal in her hand.

Born into the world in a tranquil, water pool with soft music and taken out by a freak tide at a peculiar hour.

It was years since she stood by that river, helpless. Again tonight she screamed.

Had she peed? No, just sweat.

“Nanna. NANNA!” her granddaughter is awake. She rocks the child against her body, kissing her flame-red hair where it tangles in a wet mess above her ear. Small fingers grip the grubby blanky. From the crack in the curtain, morning light illuminates the fenced-off creek accessible through child-proof locks.

With the child in her arms she hurries down the path, unlocks the gate and stands by the river. She slides the baby to the ground, clasping her small hand.

The child frees her hand and bends forward, catching the end of her blanky in the water.

Nanna looks upstream, searching.

In a breath, abracadabra and she is gone.  Tap, tap and she’s back; or not.

She regards the child with her glare.

 “Take her.”

“GO ON! TAKE HER.”

The small child looks up at her grandmother, wisps of red hair in her eyes and smiles. Releasing the blankly, they watch it float away.

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Elizabeth Robyn Stanton aka Robyn Singer Rose is an writer and Australian psychologist. She has published short stories internationally and won and placed in competitions. The most notable of her wins is The Hal Porter short story prize where her win and bio were featured in the local newspaper. She has completed a manuscript, a psychological thriller, titled, Salted Pineapple, favourably appraised by Australian novelist, Venero Armano. She lives in Houston Texas but makes frequent trips back to Australia. Visit her website at www.elizabethrobynstanton.com.

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