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My Imago

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Smoothened Salt, Iron Heart

The night me finks was green. Like an emerald, y'know, blitzing cross the sea. T'was one of em nights that you can feel somefin, a connection to some'n far off somewhere. I was strolling cross the beach, the chill tingling me 'ole body, head to toe. There was somefin definitely strange bout that night. Now I'm a sailor, I is. And Mr. Yuti was me father – famous around Ember for 'is sailin' too. He could turn through the Iron Peaks wit one hand, eyes closed, beer in belly and singing to 'imself. So we know the water.

Well. That night, the water was doing somefin different. Like one of 'em sirens, beautiful red hair, silken nape –the sea was speaking to some'n. I walked norf, and I could see the cottage on top a the head. When I was younger, the more gallivanting type, there'd be a family there. The whole of Ember thought they're haunted. Two twins, a crying baby, a ghostly mother and violent father. You could hear the beatings across the 'ole of Ember, middle of blackened night. Oh how he'd scream nasty fings at 'er, and bash 'er till she'd speak. That's all he wanted, ay. For her to say somefin. That woman was dead quiet. A little mouse, the snow mouse we'd call 'er. Little snow mouse. She'd spend 'er days staring at the sea, or moping in the cottage, paying no attention to 'er misbehaving kin. I had to rescue 'er drowning boy several occasions on account of 'er neglect. She don't deserve children, yet some'ow we all felt sorry for 'er. If ya saw the bruises, you'd feel sorry for 'er too. But still, it was 'ard to like 'er, especially if she makes no attempt at conversation. It was like she was simple in the head, a spastic. Ya look 'er in the eyes, and she'd be lookin straight at ya, but as if through ya.

But on that greeny night, brooding winds, the waves weren't talking to me, the sailor who tamed 'em. They was talking to her.

"I look out at the blue, the only family that had the patience to deal with me."

They was speaking up at the little snow mouse that was standing at the head, lookin out to sea.

"I stand on the brink, my trunk swaying heavy."

A hawk was circling 'er, winding round in perfect circles s'if 'tatched to a string when suddenly it swooped 'er. It got 'er right on the head, I could hear the thwak from where I was standing.

"The hawk, an old, forgotten feeling, knocks at my heart. The ocean whispers again to me."

It did it again, and again, s'if it was pestering her to do somefin. The bird stopped, hov'rin buv 'er and then she leapt forward off the cliff and onto the rocks under.

"My body untangles in the plummet, unwinding itself of its maliciousness. It's uselessness. I feel something, a twinge of that listless, long-ago emotion. I smile as the blood in my heart curdles."

I made my way to 'er fast I me legs could go, I'm an old codger – not much power left in 'em. And as I got to 'er, 'er body was terrible to look at. An arm was dislodged from its socket, and 'er ole body was mangled on the pointy rocks, spattered in hot blood. I moved to 'er, shook 'er up a bit, then lifted 'er eyelids. They were all yellowy, them eyes, and her skin was stiff and icy. She was dead, certain of it. I picked 'er up and tossed 'er to the sea. If it was 'er the sea was talkin to, they 'ad to finish their conversation – respectful, in it?

"I come home, the salt in my eyes and water in my lungs and drown in the blue light, and all words, big and small, come pouring out in waves."

I don't know why she did it. Maybe because of 'er husbands thrashings, or because all 'er kids had moved on from Ember. Me finks t'was cause of the torture she must have felt inside, knowing she was a terrible mother. T'was probably why she kept so quiet all the time, cause she mused over herself and if she were fit to live, if her body was a burden on others. I guess she was just sick of finking. I know my head starts hurting if I fink too long. Can't imagine how much her head hurt, if all she did was fink all day – that's to say if she did fink when she was staring, or was there nofin going on there? I don't know, m'self – I'm not too bright. But she was a sad woman, a broken human – if ya could call 'er that at all.

The original report of a sailor which was later paraphrased and sent as a telegram to sisters Lo and Li.

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