Excerpt from short story: Oceans of Magic
A harbor seal watched in the waves as Ferrell scoped sea foam into a jar. It went into a knapsack and stood next to a jar of seawater and a bag of grey and white pebbles from the shore. She pointed a branch of bleached driftwood at the harbor seal and then made symbols in the grey sand. It was a somber day, a stern day; a day for serious magic.
Ferrell added pebble like breadcrumbs to the new grey-white path. Bare, frigid, muddy feet took her past waist-high evergreen huckleberries and sword ferns. Something scurried. She knew it was the small brown ones, the artesians, who loved nothing more than pranks. Most of which were saved for those who had drank too much beer; some, found themselves down wells.
The house loomed ahead. Rough black shingles crested on the eaves that were too narrow, like witches’ hats. A façade of cool grey grinned at her.
As she placed a grubby hand on the rail of the porch, she heard, “Wash your feet.”
Her head went back so forbidden words would slide down her throat and not spill out, making a mess for her stepmother to fuss over as she tended to the dishes.
Ferrell turned, knowing her stepmother would see even if did not appear to be watching. Ferrell narrowed her dark eyes as she splashed them clean.
Bare feet slapped on the wooden steps. “You’a know elves don’t bring shoes. Do you still have yours?”
“Yes,” annoyance traveled on the edge of the word.
Ferrell’s black tennis shoes hung from a tree near the ferry. Without the ferry she was bound to Fox Island.
She cocked her head to one side and rolled her eyes and nodded. Shoes made her feet itch and bare feet grounded her.
Ferrell stroked one of the seagull feathers in her wild hair.
“There’s a slice of blackberry pie and cocoa.”
From under her breath, “She’s trying to fatten me up.”
Ferrell got another glass and poured half of the cocoa out and replaced it the forbidden bean- the magic bean of energy and imagination. She enjoyed the squish of warm berries; the way they hung off of fingers and plopped in her mouth.
Ferrell watched. Her mother stood in front of an opulent mirror, pinning blacker-than-black hair. Behind, a vast painting of the sea reflected a sunset of amethyst and deep pink. A group of black dots floated. Ferrell knew. They were seals.
“You’ve got homework to do. And I need you to round up laundry.”
As she drank her cocoa-coffee, Ferrell thought, ‘I will do a ritual and call homework gnomes and cowboys to round up laundry.’
Ferrell longed to speak her mind, to do as she wanted, to not eat fish three nights a week. She wanted meatloaf, hot dogs, pizza and to not live on the island. She wanted to live in yellow house with white trim and a real mother. Her real mother was imprisoned. Imprisoned in her stepmother’s shop, Ye Curiosity Shop. ===