Disclaimer: This is a work of fiction. While setting and some characters have been inspired by real places and people actual commonalities are coincidental.
This is a rough draft written in chapter style to pre-face a webcomic script owned by Stephanie Brown aka Raina the Mermaid. It may not be reproduced without permission. This story/script is subject to change.
Chapter 1: Homecoming
I leaned on the hood of the old Camaro Grandma Brooke still drove fumbling with my keys in one hand and a piece of paper in the other. I never thought I'd come back here - to the Ocean- or Mahone bay. It had easily been 15 years since that faithful night when Grandma Brooke became my parent and/or guardian. I glanced back at her through the wind shield and her kind knowing eyes smiled at me. I gave her a half hearted grin before turning my attention back to the ocean.
I was standing close to the main gazebo. Mahone Bay was a small fishing and touristy town in Nova Scotia where I'd been born. My father raised me alone just off of St. Margaret's bay close to Halifax, but the teaching job I'd landed was here. We took a few trips back when I was a kid. I always enjoyed looking through the shops and playing on the beaches. When he died I vowed to stay away from the ocean but now I found myself staring out at it saying a silent prayer for Dad. I could still picture the last time he'd taken me on his fishing boat -the last time I ever saw him alive. I chided myself for being so melancholy, blinked away a few lone tears and turned back to the car.
"We'll never forget him." Said Grandma Brooke as I fastened my seat belt- it had been her idea to stop. She wasn't my real grandma but I didn't have any living relatives when Dad drowned. She'd been my neighbour and Nanny for the majority of my ten year old life when it all happened and she'd fought very hard for the right to adopt me before I was sent to foster care. When it was finally approved she thought it best we move out west away from the ocean. She certainly didn't look her seventy two years.
"I've always got him right here." I replied patting the pendant that hung from my neck. It was nothing special- just a pewter whale fluke he'd had made in a shop here when I was born-but it was my only connection to him. I usually tried not to think about those days. I let the pendant suffice as a memory. It was hard not to think of him while looking out at that ocean.
"You've got the directions?" asked Grandma Brooke breaking me from my train of thought. I nodded pulling at the piece of paper I had folded in my left hand and holding it over the steering wheel of the car.
"I don't start teaching for another month but the Headmaster wants to meet me Tuesday for an orientation of the building. Right now we just have to meet Carrick at his shop and he'll show us to the place we'll be staying. I think I remember the shop even without these directions." I grinned. I'd always loved Carrick's shop because it was filled with trinkets meant to entice tourists. Such trinkets typically enticed little girls as well.
Grandma Brooke was silent and reflective for a moment. "I'm proud of you Teagan. I know you'll make an excellent teacher here- this town is lucky to have you." I smiled back at her and started the car and we travelled down Main Street.
We passed the Marina and the Wharf and rounded a bend. I saw the little white Christmas lights in the window first. Leave it to Carrick to have Christmas lights in his window even in August. I nosed the car into a parallel parking spot and heaved a happy sigh that the long road trip from Alberta was finally finished. Grandma Brooke nodded in silent agreement stretching as she opened the car door to step out.
It was a humid night and the fog was settling in low. I locked the car and we headed into the shop while a little bell chimed over head. Carrick was seated behind the cash on a high stool with a book about Maritime Mythology inches from his nose. He promptly slammed the book shut upon noticing our arrival and leapt from his perch. "Teagan Lynch my goodness girl you've grown!" he rounded the cash to scoop me into a hug the same way he did when I was ten. "...and Ms. Brooke always a pleasure." he bobbed his head at Grandma in a way that reminded me of church and her eyes twinkled back at him. "How was the trip?"
"Long and warm." answered Grandma Brooke. "No A.C."
"Ah, but who needs A.C. when you've got windows?" teased Carrick.
"This old bird." grinned Grandma Brooke setting her purse down on the cash counter taking a moment to inspect Carrick while he fumbled about with a water cooler. I looked for a moment too.
Carrick was only a few years older than my father so that meant he'd be in his mid to late fifties by now. He looked every bit of it. His face was sprinkled with salt and pepper stubble and his hair which had always been jet black and kept short was now greying and shaggy. Despite the warm weather he wore a long sleeved workman's shirt and I recognize the tell tale circles around his eyes. His eyes were still a sparkling blue though and when he spoke I could hear the lingering Irish accent so many Nova Scotians still had.
"Here we are." he passed us both a Dixie Cup of water. "It turns out the former arrangements we had planned for you have fallen through." he explained fumbling with his own water and his eyes downcast. "We had hoped to room you both together at the Maynar place but the roof sprung a leak and there's been too much water damage. " He paused to look at Grandma "Ms. Brooke the O'Reilly's have expressed a keen interest in having you stay, they've got an add on from when Missus O'Reilly's parents lived with them that I think you'd find most comfortable. Teagan-" he turned to face me but took a moment to down the water from his cup. "It might be a little cramped for you there but I've always got the upstairs apartment here and it would be a fraction of the cost I know the Maynar's were asking." A smile crept at the corner of his lips because he knew I couldn't resist such an offer.
I turned to Grandma Brooke who nodded approvingly. "That would suit me fine." she said to Carrick. "I'll expect you then to drive me over with Teagan's car and my things then bring it back for her. Does that work for you Teagan?"
I had to grin because everyone was acting as if I'd all ready agreed to stay here. Of course in my own mind I had. "That would be find Grandma but are you sure you don't want to crash for the night? Carrick and I can always run you over tomorrow."
"Heavens no child! You did all the driving I've still got my energy." she beamed.
"Well OKay then, I guess I'll take my things upstairs Carrick?" I turned but he was all ready helping Grandma Brooke back into the car and taking out my luggage.
I smiled to myself and playing with my pendant I looked around the store. The walls were covered in shelves of books, sea glass, semi-precious gems, shells, lobster traps and more. All manner of trinket- many of them shiny -coaxed me to visit them. I fingered a glass crescent moon that hung from the ceiling and sent little prisms cascading around the room. I spied a mirror against one of the shelves and decided it was time for a look. The mirror was large and bronze with an engraving of a mermaid and seals around the edge. I peered at my narrow pale face with dark brown eyes. Between my skin and my hair people often thought I was albino. If it wasn't for the brown eyes- my father's eyes- they'd probably be right. Apparently I had my Mothers complexion and platinum hair. Father would always tell me so but would still avoid talking of Mom. I've always just assumed she either died or took off because she's never been a part of my life as long as I could remember and Grandma Brooke could find no record of her when Dad died.
I was dressed in a pale lavender dress. I preferred dresses when I could because I felt pants and most other clothing just too tight. Even in the winter I preferred to be clad in a sundress and wrapped up in a blanket than a bunch of heavy clothes. My hair was braided into a long plait down the back stopping just below my shoulders. I hadn't cut it since Dad died. I felt like if I did I'd be giving up the hair he once stroked to help me sleep.
Overall I didn't look half bad for someone who's just spent days in a car. I smoothed my dress and headed for the back of the shop. I passed through the door that led to the inventory room and took little notice of the boxes all around me. I found the stairs where I remembered they'd be and started up. It smelled like sweet grass in here, even though I expected it to smell musty.
At the top of the stairs I felt around for a light switch while a laugh caught in my throat. Carrick indeed knew I'd take his offer- there were fresh flowers on the little kitchenette table that sat next to the small stove , sink, and fridge. From what little I could see of the lone bedroom the double bed was made with clean sheets and the adjacent bathroom held the near silent hum of the fan. I came up all the way closing the door to the steps behind me and looked around. I had just let walked to the only window to open it when Carrick and Grandma Brooke came up behind me.
"Does it work?" asked Carrick placing my bags on the floor by the bedroom while Grandma placed a brown paper bag of fruit on the table. I eyed it hungrily planning to rummage through it the second they left.
"Of course, it's wonderful. What more could a single twenty-something teacher ask for." I grinned hugging him.
Grandma was inspecting and while Carrick moved to open the window I hadn't gotten to yet I took the opportunity to pull an apple out of the paper bag. "I'll only be a few moments away, Carrick says you can use the shop phone 'til you get your cell phone transferred over." She turned back around to face me. "Please call me if you have any..." she hesitated and I knew she was looking for a polite way to say "nightmares."
"I will Grandma Brooke." I nodded before she even had a chance to finish. Carrick did me the courtesy of pretending he wasn't paying attention. Grandma Brooke walked back to me and embraced me in a tight hug.
"Take care Teagan. We'll hit the shops tomorrow and check in with the locals. Get a good night's sleep you need it after that drive."
Carrick didn't add anything and just followed her out the door with a nod closing it behind him. I stood alone for a moment in my new 'apartment' feeling accomplished. I picked up my few bags and brought them to the bedroom- I noticed the bedspread had a sea horse themed and I rolled my eyes still with a smile while dumping the contents of the bags.
I picked out a silver comb and sat on the edge of the bed combing through my hair. The comb had been dad's- of course he never used it. Belonged to his mother who I never had the chance to meet. It had been important to him to hang on to it and Grandma Brooke read that his will specifically said I would get it when I turned 16. She made sure I did.
I combed until my hair was all loose and gleaming and then I stretched out on the bed. The hum of the fan was lulling and my body felt heavy with sleep. My eyes were closed but I was still mostly alert and aware when I heard the voice.
"Gruagach..." It was barley a whisper and I thought I'd imagined it. "Mhara..." There was a crash and suddenly I was awake and sitting up as the window blew completley open and the drapes were sucked out blowing fiercly outside. I sat frozen for a moment but somehow urged myself to get up and close the window after pulling the drapes in. I stood for a moment looking out- it seemed so calm... where had the wind come from?
I stood a moment longer then got back into bed and under the covers. I retrieved my whale pendant from around my neck and turned it over in my hands. It felt smooth and cold. I placed it on the night stand thoughtfully and rolled over. I started to drift to sleep again once my heart calmed down. "Just the wind" I told myself
"Not a miol mor" said the voice "Mhara..."
but I was all ready so heavy with sleep I couldn't even be bothered to be scared. Dreams were only dreams.