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She’s sat in the sun lounge, where the sun will break through the ferns for exactly 27 minutes. Welcome to Sunnyview Retirement Home.
Nobody speaks to her, nobody greets her. Still, she exists. She isn’t as powerful as she once was, certainly not as feared, but she’s content. She admits that, after years of travelling and hard work, it’s nice to take things at an easier pace.
Maclir sits opposite her. He’s equally content, but twice as high-spirited. He causes the staff “headaches”. He receives more tribute than her, and nothing puts you in the mood for mischief quite like a healthy dose of devotion. Sea travel is infinitely safer these days, but sailors are a superstitious bunch, they still need to pray to someone. He moves a small piece on the round board between them with his teeth, his arms are indisposed in the jacket he’s wearing. The staff aren’t happy. There’s been an incident with the taps. Again.
The nurse stops by, with pills rattling in tiny cups, and watches as they take them, “Thank you, Brigit,” the nurse’s smile is topped with lashings of condescension. She moves on.
“Brigit? Didn’t you prefer Oya?”
“Oya, Vesta, Huilu, it’s all the same. A name doesn’t matter.”
Maclir thinks this over. “Still, you’d be pretty pissed if they called you Dave.”
She rolls the 12-sided dice and moves a piece across the board.
Maclir snorts, “Australia? Again? That’s a bit 2020 isn’t it?”
Her glare is hot, “I’m not the one that always floods Cornwall just because I like being captured on postcards.”
Nobody else knows the rules, they’ve invented this game themselves. Nobody ever asks because, well, it doesn’t do to encourage them. Plus, it keeps them out of trouble. Or, at least, allows them to cause trouble from afar.
And the day goes on like all the other days, in all the other months, in all the other years they’ve been here. Until he walks in. More accurately, until he kicks the doors in, suspended by large orderlies, and screaming a hoolie.
“Aeolus.” She breathes and drops the glass she’s raising to her lips. Maclir catches the water, but the glass has already shattered. He lets it fall, unseen.
“Didn’t you hear?” Maclir always has the news, seagulls are gossipers. “Poor guy had nothing. Who prays for a fair wind anymore? They harnessed him, used him to power those big turbines you see everywhere. It was all too much. He was found naked in Skegness, screaming obscenities at an offshore windfarm.”
This is when the cogs start turning in her. Ungreased cogs that haven’t turned for years.
She excuses herself. In her room she sits quietly whilst her mind races. And the faster her mind races, the hotter the cogs get. They become a fire hazard.
She notices the extinguisher on the wall. There’s one in every room. As if a little red cylinder can control her. They always use the colour red. A red fire blanket. A red fire engine. Have they forgotten who she is? She was born of the colour red. She owns it.
She’s let them believe they’re in control. She’s let them use her. She powers everything. But rather than going out fighting like Aelous, she’s let it happen. She’s been complicit in her own imprisonment. And now look, where she should be worshipped on a throne, she’s eating soft food and naps in an afternoon. She spits with self-disgust.
Inside she burns with rage. Outside she quietly rings her bell and asks an orderly for juice. It’s Joe on tonight, the one who smells of cigarettes. He brings the juice and she hugs him. Strange behaviour is expected.
Now he’s gone, she’s sliding open the panel under the windowsill. The rest is easy.
Later, not much later, she views the building from the lawns. It’s too hot to stand any closer. The fire brigade will say an accelerant was used. The people from the town will say it burnt so bright it was like looking at the sun.
Maclir’s beside her, “We had it easy there.”
“It’s time we lived.” She says.
Aelous streaks naked across the lawns. In fifteen miles he’ll reach the sea. He’s already cursing the wind turbines as he disappears into the fire cast shadows.
Her next red enemy will soon be here, she’s looking forward to turning the water from their hoses to steam. She can hear the sirens now.
She moves forward to greet them.
Hedy Lewis hails from the UK, roughly as far away from the sea as you can get. Her rural existence is marred by the lack of decent broadband, which is the only reason she writes. She keeps two small humans and a small army of goats alive, come the zombie apocalypse she's not sure which will be more useful.