Ann Lockley angrily rubs tears from her eyes. She refuses to be sad. She has convinced herself it’s perfectly fine to be a little girl with no friends who lives on a cold rock that gets smaller with every splash of frigid North Atlantic water that reaches its shore.
A lighthouse stands tall on this island and a gravel path leads to a small wooden dock. Both are painted white. A motorboat bobs in the grey water dotted with rust and neglect. A lobster pot marked with a small red striped buoy sits about hundred feet out. Not a single plant grows here. Not a single animal lives here. Just the howling salty wind and a never changing slate grey sky dotted with a small white splotch that some say is a star millions of miles away.
Ann shares this desolate place with her father. He is tall and has little to say to her since her mother died. She doesn’t like looking at him, because she can tell he doesn’t like looking at her anymore either. She has caught him crying when he thinks she is on the other side of the island. She doesn’t like knowing her father cries. He promised her mother that he wouldn’t and he does and that makes him a liar. She doesn’t want her father to be a liar. She wants him to laugh and pick her up and dance with her and rub her face with his great bushy beard and take her out on the boat and fish with her and answer her questions about life.
She has only one question, but she doesn’t want to ask it. She is afraid to ask it, because she already has an answer.
Ann has decided to spend the day on her special rock. It’s just high enough to avoid the water lapping up against the island and low enough she feels invisible from her Da.
From her rock she can sit and she stare across the channel to the town of Stockholm.
That is where she is from. Where her mother died in a tiny white room of a hospital run by black-habited nuns. Where her father stopped looking at her. Where her father crawled into bed with her mother and shook with sorrow after he promised her Ma that he wouldn’t.
She tries not to miss the little seaside town with its quaint cobblestone roads and red fired clay shingled roofs.
But she does.
She misses the bakery. She misses the little church. She even misses sitting at her desk in school. She tries to convince herself that she doesn’t miss the other kids though. Maybe that was the best part of being on the island. No screaming children. No stupid boys pulling her hair or putting worms down her sweater.
She watches a wave crest and crash into the rocks. Under the loud roar of the ocean water she thinks she hears a small clacking voice, “You know that’s a lie, right?”
Ann sits up and looks around. “What?” Of course it was just the wave. Just the wave and not the giant black lobster that now sits on a rock flexing it’s eyes in her direction.
“A lie. You are lying.”
Under any other circumstances Ann would be be a bit frightened if a thing that shouldn’t be talking started to talk to her. But this thing just called her a liar and there was no way she was going to take that without a fight.
“Excuse me? I do not lie. I am quite content here,” she argues with an air of unconcerned nonchalance.
The lobster raises a black claw and snaps it in her direction, “I beg to differ.” And before it can offer its argument, a brown and white osprey suddenly drops out of the clouds and lifts the ugly sea spider into the sky with a piercing shriek that in memory sounded like it was laughing at her.
Ann blinks, debating whether to pinch herself, but of course she is dreaming. Lobsters don’t talk. Any second she will wake up. Any second she will find out the whole day was a dream. The wet cold she feels, the belly of gluey oats she ate for breakfast and the craggy rock under her bum, all will turn out to be figments of her sleep drunk brain.
She settles back onto the rock wondering when she wakes up how the day will be different, but the osprey returns ruining the whole fantasy. This time the bird lands within arms reach and releases the lobster before hopping over a bit away flapping its wings as if waving hello.
“As I was saying my dear, you are a liar.’ The lobster clacks with its little pincer of a mouth. ‘But don’t worry. I’m not offended.”
The hawk screeches.
“Yes, yes, I will ask. Our friend here would like to know, have you any tea? We have much to discuss and a little refreshment would certainly help things along.”