A Window by the Sea

 /   /  By Emma Birches
Stone Soup Magazine
September/October 2003

By Alison Citron, Illustrated by Dara Green

Eve set her bags down with a sigh, and looked around. The room’s white walls stood out in stark contrast to the wood floors, the bed, with its antique-looking iron headboard and footboard and the patchwork quilt, and the bare walnut bookshelf. The only ornament in the room was an old-fashioned fishing net hanging on the wall, with seashells and sea creatures attached to it. Eve looked at her relatively bare surroundings, and remembered her room at home, misty green, Eve’s favorite color, with a huge bed and a canopy Eve blinked away a tear, and began to unpack.

Before she could take anything out of her bags, a knock sounded on the door. “Come in,” Eve called. The door opened, and Nan Carter appeared. Nan was Eve’s foster mother for the month, tall, motherly, and gray-haired. Nan had two children, twins, a boy and girl, a bit older than Eve’s age of fourteen. The twins would be sixteen in October, which was four months away. Eve was just one of the many foster children who came to the Carters’ house.

“Well,” Nan said, concern showing in only her eyes, “How are you doing?”

Eve bit her lip. “I’m great, Ms. Carter. Thank you for the room. It’s beautiful.”

“It’s not much,” Nan said, sighing, “I need to paint it a nice color, and maybe get a couple of rugs down. But the view from the window’s lovely, and I’ve got some nice curtains I’m going to put up tomorrow.”

A Window by the Sea looking out

Befbre she could take anything out of her bags, a knock sounded on the door

Eve nodded. “That’d be nice, Ms. Carter.”

“Call me Nan, please. Supper’s going to be on the front porch in about an hour, so I’ll leave you to get unpacked and settled. You get your own bathroom, it’s right down the hall, and we made a little sign with your name on it for you, and there are towels in the linen closet. You can get Jasmyne to give you a tour of the house, if you want. This is pretty much your wing of the house, because my room’s on the other side, and the twins have the upstairs, so don’t worry about disturbing any of us. I hope you’ll be comfortable here during your stay. We’ll talk more during dinner.”

“That’s good,” Eve said. She turned back to her packing as Nan closed the door.

Pretty soon, it got too dark to work without a light, so Eve switched on the electric light overhead. It didn’t work, so Eve had to make do with two bedside lamps and a floor lamp that lit the room surprisingly well. Pretty soon, Eve had her worldly belongings unpacked, and arranged. She lay on the chaise lounge and looked out the window at the rocks and the ocean.

Nan Carter owned a small island with a “cottage,” and from almost every window, you could see the ocean. Eve had a room that looked out over a rocky area, and then ocean until the mainland, with its little twinkling lights.

Eve sighed, and settled down. It had been a tumultuous day, what with her coming to her first foster home, and the flurry of getting to Carter Island, and introductions, and so many countless little things. Eve kept busy, not liking to think about her parents, her loving wonderful parents, who had been working at the prison. While Eve had waited at home, there had been an awful fire, and both of her parents had died. Eve had no other relations, and so she ended up in foster care.

Before Eve was even settled, there was a rap at the door. It came again, so Eve ran to the other side of the room, and opened the door. Jasmyne and Jake were standing in the doorway, grinning. Eve suppressed a sigh. “Hello,” Jasmyne said, coming in and perching on the bed. “Are you settled yet?” Jasmyne was beautiful, so beautiful that Eve had nearly walked into a pole the first time they met. Jasmyne had long, thick, glossy black curls, with wonderfully fair skin, and not a freckle. Her eyes were big and violet, her mother spoiled her, and she was dressed at the height of the fashions. She had pierced ears, a professional manicure, and Eve would have bet anything that Jasmyne had a huge room, elaborately decorated, and with big windows. Jake was Jasmyne’s perfect counterpart, tall, handsome, with glossy black hair, and gray eyes. Eve was all too aware of how she looked next to these Carters. Eve had long thick blond hair, with startling green eyes, and red lips, but she wasn’t really pretty. Eve had older clothes, her ears weren’t pierced, and manicures were unknown to her. The twins, despite their angelic appearance, were on Eve’s bad side though. She didn’t trust them, not one bit. And they knew it.

“So,” Jasmyne said, smirking. “Is this all of your stuff? Cuz it isn’t very much. My room is packed with stuff.”

“This is it,” Eve said, retreating into her shell. That was what her parents called the quietness and mumbling that came with Eve being upset, or embarrassed.

“May we look around?” Jake asked.

“I’d prefer you didn’t.”

“Oh, but surely,” Jasmyne said, “you don’t have anything to hide?”

Eve didn’t, but she didn’t want these twin devils looking at her parents’ pictures, and at all her other stuff. To change the subject, Eve said, “Why don’t you give me a tour of the house? Nan said you should.”

Jasmyne frowned. “I dunno. Why would you want to do a thing like that?”

Eve smiled. “I want to know where I’m living for the next month. I’m sure your room is lovely. Can I see it?”

Once upstairs, Jasmyne flung open the door. Eve bit her lip to keep from gasping. It was a large room, about the size of a master bedroom. The room was painted a pale yellow, and it had thick yellow carpeting. Jasmyne’s bed was a queen-size, was made of white painted wood, and it had a large net canopy. In one windowed corner, there was a large window seat, with a magnificent view. There were two bookcases, french doors with a balcony, a vanity table, a desk and many soft chairs to sink into, plus a small fireplace. Eve bit her lip, thinking of her small bare room, with one window, and three pieces of furniture. Jake’s room was just as big, painted white, but with another balcony, and lots of nice carpeting. Both the twins had their own magnificently furnished bathroom, and Jasmyne even had a Jacuzzi. Eve had a small tub/shower, a toilet, and a little sink.

Jasmyne paraded Eve through the rest of the upstairs, showing Eve the three large and beautifully furnished guest rooms, Nan’s room, the downstairs, which contained a library, dining room, family room, rec room, computer room, and kitchen. The house was huge, and clearly, Nan had money, so Eve wondered why she got the smallest and barest room in the house. Eve supposed that some foster children could be destructive, so if there were few furnishings, they couldn’t be destroyed.

Eve was silent all through dinner, and through breakfast next morning, listening to Jasmyne rattle on about shopping and cheerleading.

Jasmyne was going off to her hundred different Saturday activities, and Jake was out with his friends, so Eve wandered down to the beach, alone, where she explored amongst the rocks, and wet her feet in the ocean. She was staring at nothing in particular, when suddenly she gasped, and looked at a certain spot very closely. Then she gasped again. There was somebody or something in the water. Eve silently made her way down to a rock close to the water, and waited. A head emerged from the water, beautiful, with long brown locks, and blue eyes, and a sweet expression. Eve stared. “Wh- who are you?” she asked, her voice shaking.

“Merdeel, on wes ceartge!”

A Window by the Sea meeting a mermaid

Eve stared. “Wh- who are you?” she asked, her voice shaking

“What? I— um, I speak English.” The head disappeared. Eve sat on the rock for another hour, and then, certain that the thing wouldn’t come back (had it been a mermaid?), made a little doll out of grasses on a sand dune, and left it for the thing, and went back to the house to ask Nan a question. When Nan agreed, Eve went up to the attic, and began digging through old boxes, looking for old picture frames to hang some of her pictures in. Eve found something far better. An old old diary, with lots and lots of writing in it. Eve made her way down to her small room, and sank down onto her chaise to read it.

Dear Diary,

My name is Catharine Dubloe, and I am thirteen years old. This is my first diary, so please forgive any mistakes. It is June, 182o, and we are staying at this quaint little beach house on Diamond Island. It is a tiny island, and a tiny house is on it. The house has a nice front porch, and several rooms inside, but of course it is nothing compared to our mansion at home.

At this point, Eve looked up, thinking hard. This house must be the same one, as Nan had told Eve that the house was over a hundred years old. But this house was huge. Catharine must have just been used to a palace.

We are here for the summer, diary, and I expect to be lonely, as there are no young people my age on the island, and trips to shore are few and far between, except for the servants. I suppose I will have to take the air a lot, since we came to the beach because my health is poor, and I suppose I will have to rest a lot, so expect a lot of rambling entries. Just so you know, dear diary, in April, I came down with an awful bout of pneumonia. I was sick for weeks, and my April was ruined. I lost my appetite, and wasted away to nothing. My health is still poor, and Papa says that we can stay here until the roses come back into my cheeks, and I look healthy again. I need to eat a lot of meat, and take the air a lot, so I expect that I will be on the rocks often. I prefer parties and socials to this dull sitting by myself, but I don’t think I will have any gay times for quite a while. Well, diary, I must go, so I remain your loving,

Catharine Dubloe

Eve skimmed through the book, but it was full of more entries that only talked about the weather, or Catharine’s health. Nothing that Eve was looking for. Near the back, though, Eve found an interesting entry.

Dear Diary,

I cannot believe my eyes. It must be a local trying to trick me. But what a beautiful local and what an accent. This couldn’t be a mermaid. Could it? I was sitting alone on the rock, taking the air, when suddenly, there was a disturbance of the water. I was looking at it, thinking it might be fish; a head came up. I cannot tell you, diary, how lovely this head was. It had long brown flowing hair, and a sweet countenance. She spoke several different words; I couldn’t pick up the language. What does this mean?

Eve sighed in frustration. That was the last entry! Eve stuck the book under her mattress, and went to help Nan make dinner.

At the dinner table that night, Eve was aching to ask about the mermaid, but didn’t know how to without sounding idiotic. Finally, she just said, “Does anybody here believe in mermaids?”

Jake rolled his eyes and went on eating, but Jasmyne said, “Not really Why do you ask? Do you think they exist?”

“No,” Eve said, “I was just wondering, seeing how you all live on the beach. Nan, what do you think?”

“Well, Eve, I don’t believe in mermaids, and I don’t encourage any of that fairytale trash. I’m glad to hear you feel the same.”

The next day, Eve went down to the rocks again, and spent the whole day there. Finally, toward evening, the mermaid came up again. Eve scrambled to her feet, and said, “Um, who are you, and why are you here?”

The mermaid laughed, a lovely laugh, and said, “My name is Catharine, and I am sorry for startling you.”

“What’s your last name?”

“I had a last name, years and years ago; I believe it was Dubloe, or perhaps Dabloe.”

“Were you ever human?”

“Yes. I was like you, a human girl, and the mermaids brought me down to live with them. Would you like that?”

“Very much.”

“Very well, you may bring several of your favorite personal items with you, and be here in an hour.”

Eve, shaking with excitement, ran to the house, and gathered her jewelry, her pictures of her parents, and several of her favorite knickknacks. Then she went up to Jasmyne’s room, and knocked on the door.

“What?”

Eve came in. “I just wanted to tell you,” she said in a calm voice, “there are mermaids, and your home is lovely.” She wanted to tell Jasmyne that she was a brat, but Eve decided her parents wouldn’t have approved.

Jasmyne smiled, that “we must humor the insane child” sort of smile. “Are you gonna go with them?”

“I might.”

Jasmyne outright laughed. “Right, well, since you said something civil, take this.” Jasmyne tossed Eve a pearl necklace that looked costly.

“Thank you,” Eve said, touched. “I enjoyed staying here.”

Eve left Jasmyne’s room, and went down to the shore. Catharine was waiting. Eve slipped into the water, and began to swim.

A Window by the Sea Alison Citron

Alison Citron, 13
Raleigh, North Carolina

A Window by the Sea Dara Green

Dara Green, 13
Marshall, Virginia

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One Comment
 
  1. april_padget@yahoo.com August 20, 2017 at 12:56 pm Reply

    This is an amazing peace of work! I love the mystery and crafting of the words. Congrats on such a beautiful work of writing! The illustrations need some credit too because they are just like the writing! I love it!

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