7 December 2012
Farewell Mariner, Goodbye Teenager by Lucy Vanderstelt-Gu
Farewell Mariner, Goodbye Teenager by Lucy Vanderstelt-Gu (15)
Memphis Elke spent a great deal of his time exploring the intricate threads of his mind; delving into the unknown realms of imagination. He was neither introvert nor extrovert, but an articulate, perceptive ginger-haired boy with a dimple in his chin and freckles sprinkled across his pale cheeks. He hosted a weedy figure, with very little muscle. He was not a sportsman like the majority of his year. Instead he preferred to spend his time philosophising in a cranny in the school library. Any other 15-year-old male with a similar personality and physical features would have been throttled blue, but not Memphis. Some of his classmates believed it was his eyes that made him accepted into the school social circles, they were glittering turquoise pools that surveyed his company shrewdly, but kindly. Others believed it was his clear, expressive voice that captured everybody. Whatever it was, it was undoubtable. Memphis had a presence; an intense, charismatic aura that wielded its work into anyone nearby.
He rested his gaze calmly, tugging gently on his ginger beard in thought. Confronted by stormy white tops on this vast body of water, he was collected, not in the slightest bit concerned. He had faced much worse situations. Hurricanes, devouring, savage animals, and he had a hook for a hand as a result. He was their Captain, with thirty years of experience. He had navigated the Indian Ocean, the Atlantic; explored lagoons and crocodile infested estuaries. Memphis’s crew responded to him like a well-trained horse responds to the slightest tug of the bit. His serenity was theirs. So they neither questioned nor disputed when he directed them to sail closer to the rugged cliffs off the Greek shore.
The brown and green, blurred together many miles away, sharpened dramatically into cruel daggers as they approached. Rocks gnashed at one another ferociously, snarling and growling in response to the howling wind. It was a sight so completely wild, so hungry, it ached for destruction. Memphis’s breath was halted as he observed in wide-eyed awe. Then he heard it. The sound of beauty. In that instant, he was no longer anchored to the world by gravity. The music consumed and engulfed his soul. It was prettier than the sweetest singing bird, it was better than the angels in his dreams. His crew crept forward, just as enchanted. They were mice unknowingly tangoing with deadly, hypnotic snakes. ‘Come forward,’ Memphis pleaded, in a husky whisper. And so they did, they glided through the rocky isles, surrounding the ship. Their angelic voices fitted their perfect human faces. Their hair spiralled through the water like spun gold. Beneath the ocean waves, their porcelain skin melted into strong tails that easily supported them in these treacherous storms. And the singing continued.
All that he knew was gone. All that was left were these beautiful creatures and a foreboding sleepiness. Memphis could feel his nerves tiring, and his muscles becoming heavier and heavier. His eyes waged war on him, determined not to fall asleep—how could he even think of taking his eyes off them? He barely acknowledged the dull thuds of his crew falling like defeated soldiers, one by one onto the deck. He barely noticed he was the only one left standing. He had no logical senses left. ‘Thou has a majestic heart, strong, free…’ One of them bubbled; the others parted their lips in a chorus of silvery laughter. And suddenly, Memphis’s legs buckled. Panic encased him. ‘Don’t go!’ he tried to manage, but he was unsuccessful. He was lost; he neither sensed nor saw the sources of his amazement slither up the sides of the ship. He neither sensed nor saw the ancient dagger plunge through his chest, piercing his heart in a bloodied mess.
In the midst of his class, Memphis’s eyes bulged. His hands clasped his chest, slapping his unpenetrated skin. ‘Don’t stop singing! Please! I know what you are! You’re sirens! Please!’ he whisper-screamed. Every eye was drawn to him; his panic dizzied them in confusion. He made frantic grabs at his classmate beside him. ‘Don’t let them get me!’ he quivered in terror. But his violent tremors were slowing, and blood seeped through his T-shirt, flooding his body and classroom floor like a tidal river. Memphis Elke’s heart stopped beating. Not one of his classmates noticed the sketch of a beautiful creature carrying a beautifully crafted dagger in his exercise book. No one noticed the drawing diminish and vanish on the open page. And nobody heard the faint cackle of pretty laughter emanating from his book.