I write. That’s what I do. I write all the time, sometimes with no ending scene or destination at all for my characters in mind. Therefore, at any given time there are several just begun stories littering my OneDrive account. I wanted to share an example of one of those today…
Her battery was low. That was what she always said when the hunger started to gnaw at her. She had named it, in fact, this hunger. She called it “Helga”, her battery, that which powered her. Helga seemed a good name for a ripping, stabbing hunger that, left too long, began to dictate her every behavior. Helga was roaring now, threatening to take over if she didn’t feed her soon.
Sometimes Helga was a real pain in the ass.
Helga was the reason she was up at three in the morning, kicking off her blankets. Her apartment, this weird concoction of brick and metal that was deemed cool enough to criminally overcharge for, felt like a box. A cage. Despite her usual contentedness toward it, she suddenly wanted out.
In her mind she knew she shouldn’t, that normal people didn’t wander outside in the dark of night. However, there was no stopping her. Helga said go outside, hunt, feed, be satisfied. So that is what she did.
She needed saltwater, to swim in it, to let each of her pores open to the very rightness of it. She needed her hair to float freely out in the waves, pushed and pulled along by something as old and wondrous as time itself. She needed to feel the rhythms of the ocean, hear the call of the wild things beneath the surface.
She was herself a wild thing. Though she tried to deny herself, though she did her best to fit in with the people who shuffled at traffic lights and shopped for groceries beside her, she wasn’t really one of them. She tried. She yearned for it, the normalcy. But she’d never been normal. She’d always be Seaborn.
She made sure the shoes she yanked on her feet were quiet ones. She was going to hurry to the pier, and she didn’t need the telltale slap slap of a flip flop or click clack of high heels to call every criminal, vagabond, or bar patron to her side. She didn’t change out of her tee shirt, rumpled from the bed and still damp from her hair after her shower. She threw on jeans which chafed more than usual. Her instincts said Don’t be confined. Not in her apartment. Not in her jeans. Not by the man-made walls of a too crowded city. She and her instincts, her Helga, were constantly at war.
She was losing this battle. Again. She knew it.
She ran down the stairs as quietly as could be. She skipped over the second to last one, knowing that if the loud creak woke Mrs. Walzer’s dog, who howled like an approaching train when disturbed, the entire building would be up. Mrs. Walzer herself would come peeking out the door, faster than any eighty year old woman had the right to be, to see who was sneaking about. She had heard too many times from the old loose lips who had taken a midnight walk of shame. “Quite untoward,” she could hear the woman’s English accented rasp in her mind.
“Whatever are you up to?” she imagined Mrs. Walzer asking, putting in zero effort to keep her voice low.
“Just needing to feed Helga,” she would say as she sprinted on by.
She could imagine the scenarios Mrs. Walzer would dream up to explain who Helga was. None of them would come close to the ridiculousness of the truth.
Once on the street Helga began to scream even louder, pinch each nerve just a bit harder. Like a toddler, Helga gave her little warning before pitching the biggest of fits and demanding satisfaction now. She began to run, arms pumping, legs reaching a longer stride than when she trained for the city’s marathon. She couldn’t smell the sea over the petroleum smell of vehicles, the wafting scent of greasy food wrappers, or the very human smells of urine and garbage. It wasn’t until she’d run for nearly two miles that she began to smell the clean, stinging scent of the ocean. It smelled like home, felt like a mother’s calming hand on her child’s back while singing an every night kind of lullaby. It smelled like defeat.
There was a police cruiser parked on the last of the streets before the asphalt gave way to sand. The lights were off but upon closer inspection she could see the faint, blurry outline of a cop sitting at his watch. Her mind said to stick to only the thickest of shadows, to make sure not a soul saw her sneaking into the water like someone on a bent to end their own life. No, that was not her at all. In fact, more than anything she just wanted to live, to be like everyone else. Helga, in opposition, said to give zero shits about who was watching and plunge into the cold water like it was wine and she a drunkard.
Keeping Helga back as much as she was able, she compromised by slipping off her shoes and holding them in her hand while she ducked behind some tall grasses and crept, nearly crawled, to the water. She didn’t hear anyone approaching or a car door slamming shut, which she took as proof enough the officer hadn’t seen her odd behavior.
From here the water was too close, too close for her state of mind. It called to her and, she imagined, would wring out the last of her sanity if she didn’t or couldn’t answer that call. Her every inch felt the need to submerge, to feed Helga. She gave in.
She made it to the water’s edge, and her skin prickled for a moment…