Saratoga Woods 02 The Edge of the Water

BOOK: Saratoga Woods 02 The Edge of the Water
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VIKING

Published by the Penguin Group

Penguin Group (USA)

375 Hudson Street

New York, New York 10014, U.S.A.

USA / Canada / UK / Ireland / Australia / New Zealand / India / South Africa / China

Penguin Books Ltd, Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

For more information about the Penguin Group visit www.penguin.com

First published in the United States of America by Viking,

an imprint of Penguin Group (USA), 2014

Copyright © Susan Elizabeth George, 2014

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy

of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN-PUBLICATION DATA

George, Elizabeth, date–

The edge of the water / by Elizabeth George.

pages cm

Summary: Fifteen-year-old Jenn McDaniel’s life on Whidbey Island becomes more complicated and her relationships with old and new friends take strange turns, partly due to the arrival of a woman researching a strange black seal.

ISBN 978-1-101-60248-5

[1. Interpersonal relations—Fiction. 2. Secrets—Fiction. 3. Abandoned children—Fiction. 4. Seals (Animals)—Fiction. 5. Psychic ability—Fiction. 6. Sexual orientation—Fiction. 7. Selkies—Fiction. 8. Whidbey Island (Wash.)—Fiction.] I. Title.

PZ7.G29315Eh 2014

[Fic]—dc23

2013014160

The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume

any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.

Version_1

For Gail Tsukiyama, beloved younger sister, who said the word that gave me the story

I have done nothing but in care of thee,
Of thee my dear one, thee my daughter who
Art ignorant of what thou art . . .

—WILLIAM SHAKESPEARE,
THE TEMPEST

Contents

Title Page

Copyright

Dedication

Epigraph

PART ONE

ONE

TWO

THREE

FOUR

FIVE

SIX

SEVEN

EIGHT

NINE

PART TWO

Cilla’s World

TEN

ELEVEN

TWELVE

THIRTEEN

PART THREE

FOURTEEN

FIFTEEN

Cilla’s World

SIXTEEN

SEVENTEEN

EIGHTEEN

PART FOUR

NINETEEN

TWENTY

TWENTY-ONE

PART FIVE

TWENTY-TWO

TWENTY-THREE

TWENTY-FOUR

TWENTY-FIVE

TWENTY-SIX

TWENTY-SEVEN

TWENTY-EIGHT

TWENTY-NINE

PART SIX

Cilla’s World

THIRTY

THIRTY-ONE

THIRTY-TWO

THIRTY-THREE

THIRTY-FOUR

PART SEVEN

THIRTY-FIVE

THIRTY-SIX

THIRTY-SEVEN

THIRTY-EIGHT

THIRTY-NINE

FORTY

FORTY-ONE

FORTY-TWO

FORTY-THREE

Cilla’s World

FORTY-FOUR

FORTY-FIVE

FORTY-SIX

FORTY-SEVEN

FORTY-EIGHT

PART ONE

Deception Pass 

I
was two years old when I came to my parents, but the only memories I have before the memories of them are like dreams. I’m carried. There’s water nearby. I’m cold. Someone runs with me in his arms. My head is pressed so hard to his shoulder that it hurts every time he takes a step. And I know it’s a
he
, by the way he’s holding me. For holding doesn’t come naturally to men.

It’s nighttime and I remember lights. I remember voices. I remember shivering with fear and with wet. Then something warm is around me and my shivering stops and then I sleep.

After that, with another flash of a dream, I see myself in another place. A woman tells me she’s Mommy now and she points to a man whose face looms over mine and he says that he’s Daddy now. But they are not my parents and they never will be, just as the words they say are not my words and they never will be. That has been the source of my trouble.

I don’t speak. I only walk and point and observe. I get along by doing what I am told. But I fear things that other children don’t fear.

I fear water most of all, and this is a problem from the very start. For I live with the mommy and the daddy in a house that sits high above miles of water and from the windows of this place, water is all that I see. This makes me want to hide in the house, but a child can’t do that when there is church to attend and school to enroll in as the child gets older.

I don’t do those things. I try to do them, the mommy and the daddy try to make me do them, and other people try as well. But all of us fail.

This is why I end up far away, in a place where there is no water. There are people who poke me. They prod me. They talk over my head. They watch me on videos. They present me with pictures. They ask me questions. What I hear is “You have to
do
something with her, that’s why we brought her” and the words mean nothing to me. But I recognize in the sound of the words a form of farewell.

So I remain in this no-water place, where I learn the rudiments that go for human life. I learn to clean and to feed myself. But that is the extent of what I learn. Give me a simple task and I can do it if I’m shown exactly what to do, and from this everyone begins to understand that there is nothing wrong with my memory. That, however, is all they understand. So they label me their mystery. It’s a blessing, they say, that at least I can walk and feed and clean myself. That, they say, is cause for celebration.

So I’m finally returned to the mommy and the daddy. Someone declares, “You’re eighteen years old now. Isn’t that grand?” and although these words mean nothing to me, from them I understand things will be different. What’s left, then, is a drive in the car on a January morning of bitter cold, a celebration picnic because I’ve come home.

We go to a park. We drive for what seems like a very long time to get to the place. We cross a high bridge and the mommy calls out, “Close your eyes, Cilla! There’s water below!” I do what she says, and soon enough the bridge is behind us. We turn in among trees that soar into the sky and we follow a twisting road down and down and covered with the foliage of cedars shed in winter storms.

At the bottom of the road, there’s a place for cars. There are picnic tables and the mommy says, “What a day for a picnic! Have a look at the beach while I set up, Cilla. I know how you like to look at the beach.”

The daddy says, “Yep. Come on, Cill,” and when he trudges toward a thick growth of shiny-leafed bushes beneath the trees, I follow him to a path that cuts through it. Here is a trail, part sand and part dirt, where we pass beneath cedars and firs and we brush by ferns and boulders and at last we come to the beach.

I do not fear beaches, only the water that edges them. Beaches themselves I love with their salty scents and the thick, crawling serpents of seaweed that slither across them. Here there is driftwood worn smooth by the water. Here there are great boulders to climb. Here an eagle flies high in the air and a seagull caws and a dead salmon lies in the cold harsh sun.

I stop at this fish. I bend to inspect it. I bend closer to smell it. It makes my eyes sting.

The seagull caws again and the eagle cries. It swoops and soars and I follow its flight with my gaze. North it flies, and it disappears high beyond the trees.

I watch for its return, but the bird is gone. So is, I see, the daddy who led me down through the trees and onto this beach. He’d stopped where the sand met the trail through the woods. He’d said, “Think I’ll have me a cancer stick. Don’t tell Herself, huh, Cill?” but I have walked on. He has perhaps returned to the car for the promised picnic, and now I am alone. I don’t like the alone or the nearness of the water. I hurry back to the spot where the car is parked.

But it, too, is gone, just like the daddy. So is the mommy. In the place where the picnic was supposed to be, only two things stand on the lichenous table beneath the trees. One is a sandwich wrapped in plastic. The other is a small suitcase with wheels.

I approach these objects. I look around. I see, I observe, I point as always. But there is no one in this place to respond to me.

I am here, wherever this is, alone.

BOOK: Saratoga Woods 02 The Edge of the Water
5.23Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
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