Winged Creatures

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    Winged Creatures

    I first met Sera when she was face down in the lake. I thought she was dead. The

    water was calm that day and it was warm and sunny outside. The mosquitoes were

    beginning to swarm in clouds above the lake. My summer holiday had just started a week

    previously and my parents decided to visit the state of my choice that year. I picked

    Maine because its name was spelled like main only different and I had heard that it was

    pretty that far north. Plus, it was sort of a part of New England and being that I am

    English, I thought it made sense.

    She had floated right up to the shallow water along the dock and didnt move

    when I poked her back with a stick. I was about to yell for help when she sprung out of

    the water in a shower of brown lake water, coughing and laughing in between her gasps

    for breath. I fell directly onto my ass and for a moment I thought I was going to have a

    heart attack or something. I had my hands over my eyes. I was much to old for that sort

    of behavior, but she really surprised me.

    She continued to laugh. I removed my hands from my face and squinted. The sun

    was behind her, so at first I couldnt see anything but the shadow of her. She had a halo

    of light around her head and I had to shade my eyes to look into the face of the girl I

    thought was dead. She was tall; at least she looked tall. Her hair was black and shiny and

    her eyes were greenish. She was wearing a red bikini and her skin was browned by a tan.

    She smiled.

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    Get enough of an eyeful, yet? She asked, brushing the water off herself with the

    sides of her hand. It pooled around her.

    Pardon? What? I was still confused by the strange girl dripping water from her

    body.

    Me, silly. You were checkin me out.

    Oh. Sorry, I justwell, I thought that youwere, um dead.

    Nope, not likely. Quite alive. She made drumming sounds on her stomach with

    her flattened palms. It wasnt any beat in particular. Do you want some help up?

    I hadnt realized that I was still sitting on the ground. I tried to play off her offer.

    Im fine, thanks.

    I struggled to my feet. I had dirt on my new shorts. And I had just bought them

    two days previously. She laughed at me as I brushed myself off. My face felt warm, I was

    probably blushing.

    I was still a little awkward around girls. Youd think that I had enough practice. I

    had went to a secondary school in London the previous semester. The girls outnumbered

    the boys most of the time Id been there. My school was small. My parents were wealthy

    so I went a private school with old, smelly hallways and mean instructors. Even my

    mates were only tolerable during school days. I didnt speak to them much during the off

    times anyway when I came back home to the states.

    Whats your name? I asked the girl.

    Who wants to know? She sounded mean or bossy; I hadnt decided which yet.

    It would take me a while to figure her out anyway. She was wringing out her hair. She

    would twist it into thick, black ropes and squeeze it until she felt sure she had removed

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    most of the water. I watched her, fascinated. The water dyed the dock planks a deep

    brown.

    I would.

    Whats your name, kid? She asked this as if I were younger than her although I

    was sure we were the same age or at least, close to it.

    Im Brighton Garrish.

    Youre British.

    Yes, I am.

    Where are you from?

    Im from Fayetteville.

    Carolina? Not London or something?

    Actually, my parents are from London. I was born here.

    She stopped and looked at her painted toenails for a moment.

    Ive never been to London. Never been that far from Skowhegan before. Not

    even out of Maine.

    She sounded a little sad.

    A lot of people havent been overseas before. This past year was my first time in

    London.

    Youd never been before?

    Yes. Once. But I was an infant. I much prefer it here in the States anyways.

    The States?

    Yes.

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    Thats funny that you call here the States. She smiled at me. Do have any

    money?

    I checked my shorts pocket. I had a few dollars rolled neatly and held with a

    rubber band. A bit.

    Do you want to get some ice cream? I know a good place nearby. Well have to

    walk though. My parents wont let me drive until I get my license. Some kids I know

    drive already even though theyre not supposed to. How old are you?

    We started to walk up one of the trails from the lake. We were barefoot and some

    of the small pebbles hurt my feet as I walked alongside her. I didnt complain though.

    The pine trees alongside the trail stretched up into the sky and shadowed our path from

    the sun.

    Im fourteen. I didnt want to tell her that I had only recently become fourteen.

    Perhaps she would think I was older.

    Me too. Just a week ago. She was my age, after all.

    Okay. Thats cool.

    I like your eyes. She said as we emerged from the trees and crossed the hot

    asphalt of the main road.

    After we had ordered our desserts and I had given the clerk the money for it, we

    sat on the short wooden fence surrounding the ice-cream cone shaped building. We talked

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    about our schools and families and I learned that her name was Serapha Peyton. She had

    a psychological disorder called Polyphobia. I had asked her what it meant.

    Thanatophobia, Centophobia, Hierophobia.

    I told her I didnt understand.

    Im afraid of dying and empty rooms and anything related to churches.

    Polyphobia is the fear of many things. I go to a shrink because of them. My parents have

    a rough enough time, but then they have a crazy daughter to suck out more money.

    I told her that I liked her name.

    Thanks. It means angel, pretty much, although if you hang out with me long

    enough youll see that that isnt true at all. She smirked. What does Brighton mean?

    Im not rightly sure. Im named after an uncle that died at a young age.

    My parents were hippies. She said this between licks of her blueberry vanilla

    cone. It dribbled onto her brown thigh and I tried hard not to look at the sticky bluish

    pools of melted ice cream on her leg. They named my two brothers and I after weird

    things. I think they did a lot of drugs when they were younger and it screwed up their

    brains. She giggled at herself.

    I had asked what her brothers names were.

    My oldest brother is Lennon, because he was born the day after Lennon was

    shot. And apparently he had such a huge impact of my parents lives. And my little bro is

    Dante, after the book. That was the last whole book my mom read before she dropped out

    of school and married my dad. The Inferno. She was real smart in school, but she got

    pregnant with Lennon and dropped out.

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    I couldnt imagine dropping out of school. I thought of all of the hard work it took

    just to stay in school, and I could never leave it unfinished. I feel obligated to finish the

    things I start. I had just finished my chocolate cone and was scratching my neck as she

    said this.

    Was it good?

    What, the scratch? I asked, confused.

    Your ice cream, stupid.

    I did feel stupid. I should have been paying closer attention to my new friend. My

    mind does tend to wander sometimes.

    It was very good.

    So are you staying on the lake? She asked as she played with the melted cream

    on her thigh. She swirled it around into a spiral shape and then began to lick her

    fingertips.

    Yes, my parents have rented a cabin on Millers Lane.

    Is it nice?

    Yes, I suppose so. Weve only arrived yesterday.

    Thats cool. Are your parents rich?

    Pardon?

    You dont pay a lot of attention do you, Brighty?

    I fiddled with my hands in my lap. She looked at me as she licked her fingers.

    I do. It just seemed like a rude question.

    Well, are they?

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    I guess. I didnt feel like talking about my parents. I hardly saw them anyway. I

    would much rather spend time wandering around on my own.

    See that wasnt so bad, was it?

    I changed the subject.

    Do you want to go back down to the lake? Or we could go to our cabin and I

    could get my bathing clothes and we could swim. I thought I sounded a little too eager

    to please her. Really, I was desperate to find someone to hang out with. I hadnt noticed

    many other kids around the lake yet.

    Nah. I gotta get home before the bugs come out.

    Do you live far? I asked her.

    I live in Happy Pines. Its the trailer park a little ways from where you are. Its

    right by the tracks. Do you wanna meet tomorrow and swim or something?

    I did. I do. What time?

    She sighed. Oh, I dont know. Lets say noonish, okay, Brighty?

    I told her it was fine and I watched as she walked down the road in her red suit on

    her toes so as not to be burned too much by the asphalt. Shed told me earlier that she had

    once read a book about a donkey in the Grand Canyon named Brighty and she found it

    very amusing to call me by this name. I didnt care. I liked the way she said my name.

    I had gathered a chair and two towels and had been waiting for nearly half-past

    when Sera ambled over. The second time I saw