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Ocean boy (short story) by Otatade Okojie

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He blamed her for the murder. The death of his innocence, a childhood plagued with organised tales of Santa, and Elven people. Despite the chaos of the shelter. Everything was broken here, his world was too small sometimes Alexander Wiley would sneak out of ‘mothers mayhem’ he called it, being summoned by the paradise of the sea. The whales sang deep melancholy tunes, the green and white of the ocean, polished his bare feet, the seashells biting into his crusted feet, did nothing to fade him from the golden sand. That was where he met it, the truth. It comes to you like a surfer, stranded making laps, touches you on the shoulder, then glares at your eyes. It was crazy, she was falling apart.

” My mum’s dying as well,” Lizzy Cano whispered across from him. ” It’s scary, it hasn’t hit me yet,” her expression was blank as though retelling someone else’s pain. The way journalist do, both cruel and organized he thought.

 

“its hit me, and it hit me hard.” He sighed, rubbing his eyes. Glaring out at the ripples in the Ocean, tasting the salt in his mouth. ” She swore she’d never leave, and her ghost sits in the rocking chair,”

” She’s not dead yet doom boy,” thats what she called him, doom boy. He glared at her Midnight skin, the bluish black of her complexion, and the almond bite of brown eyes. Lizzy was a reader, like him. They could see things about people, hear a cry of pain behind a smile, they’d met at the shelter. She was sitting on the steps, and he was coming back from Bridge water Lane cornershop.

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Lizzy was lean and athletic, the scars on her arms told a story, yet she flashed them as though they were a tattoo, a stunning brand on skin. ” Stepfather, ” she simply says, ” i think they make me look pretty. The low cut and the boyish swagger told him she was a tomboy, a guys girl, or girls guy. They played football in the park, table tennis at midnight in the sports centre whilst sneaking in. Despite the graze he recieved from climbing over the jagged fence. ” Go on,” he’d whisper, ” give me a kiss, tell me a secret,” he’d been saying that since he’d hit fourteen, and Malcolm Cauldwell shouted , “look at her tits!! she’s got great tits!!” As though it should have been an add in the paper. ” Not look at the jutted jagger of her cheekbones, and almost feline features, the new curl in her waist as she walked, making the world dance everywhere she went. It was a strange fascination to him, they had been born on the same day, had a rash in the same place, between the buttocks, a mole by the lip despite him being so pale she could scribble on him, and her so black she was charcoal. Now their parents were dying, together and appart, he wondered about the sense of all this, answers he’d find on marches along the Ocean bed. Ocean boy they called him, the water seemed to talk to him, in a language the world didn’t understand. ” Do you think they’ll both die?” Lizzy asked of her mum, ” Yours will live, but mine will evaporate into a dream. When the next tide comes though be ready,” at that he stretched out a hand, she claimed it, wrapping her fingers as thread, pressing her head to his shoulder. ” Which wave told you that?” she teased slightly, yet it was eerie the way the Ocean boy seemed to consistently get things right. He had the precision of a compass, and no one knew why, nor did they understand this strange bond, that was quiet and loud all at once, between a boy whose obsession was the sea, and a girl who trusted no one.

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