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Part of the finale for The Siren

Lilith stumbled back from the rocks and waded back to shore. As she looked back, she saw the white of Amalthea's garments and the tawny bronze hair waving in the wind like fearsome flags. She was suddenly constricted with fear for Jim, realized she should not have left him alone with Amalthea.
But it was too late to return. She knew it in Amalthea's sudden keening cry. She saw her slender form collapse upon the jagged rocks as her melodious voice lifted in terrifying song. The sky melted suddenly into pools of ink, and the wind was blunt and cold across her wet clothes.
Lilith turned and ran back to the house.
The kitchen door slammed behind her as her eyes adjusted to the sudden darkness. "Lorena? Is anyone home?"
She tracked sand across the clean linoleum. Her clothes dripped as she wandered from room to room, shaking with grief and sudden fear. She felt horrifyingly alone. "Mother? Mother.?"
She opened the door to her parents' bedroom, a sanctum she entered perhaps every few years at most. It was so still and neat and quiet, too empty. There were no personal belongings there. Lilith opened the wardrobe. There she saw two of her mother's uniform-like black dresses that she wore when she taught school, and nothing else. None of her father's shirts or suspenders. None of his shaving accessories by the mirror.
How long since she had seen him. A week? Perhaps two? It had not been since that night she found them on Faulkner Island.
Her throat constricted with fear. If her father had left them, finally, then where was her mother now?
"Lorena?" she cried, stumbling back through the hall.
Her aunt was in from the garden. Herb pots were piled on the kitchen table, seedlings she had decided to rescue from the coming storm. Lorena was standing at the window, oblivious to Lilith's presence, as she faced the looming waves. "Oh, good Lord," she whispered.
The sea was filled with bodies which, at first look, might have been whitecaps. But Lorena and Lilith saw the drag of hair against the waves, the movements around the jagged outcropping of rocks.
Lilith dashed to the kitchen door. She glanced back and on impulse grabbed Lorena's hand in a grasp which would not be thwarted. Lorena choked as she was dragged outdoors without a headcovering or shawl. The wind buffeted her full, white skirts as she hurried to keep pace with Lilith.
Together the women ran toward the sea, just as large, heavy drops of rain began to fall. The sky cracked with thunder and the sun seemed to disappear even as the jagged outcropping glimmered with radiance.
There lay two forms, huddled together as though seeking protection from the volatile storm. Their hair and garments whipped ferociously in the wind, but their bodies lay prone, entwined in one another. Surrounding them were colorful barnacles and glimmering pearls and shards of sea glass as the mermaids came forward to make their offerings.
A low dirge shimmered in the air, and Lilith held Lorena as she shivered. "What does it mean?" she asked, terrified.
"They are dead," Lilith said. "Jim and Amalthea. She chose death with him. The others must be making offerings to her."
"Why?" Lorena asked fiercely.
"Because. she was the greatest of them. Their fearless leader."
Lilith went forward when she could not drag Lorena any further. She trembled as she saw Amalthea's pale face nestled near Jim's. Her poison ring was opened and emptied.
"She was as human as any of us."
The other mermaids stared at Lilith. She was an outsider to them. She backed up toward the sand near Lorena.
"You might as well know," Lorena said, holding Lilith to give and receive support, "that your father is gone."
"And mother?"
"Gone," Lorena whispered.
Lilith did not ask where either of them were. She looked back toward the sea, wondering if her mother was among those offering funeral pieces to their queen.
When they were in the house and had lighted enough lamps to dispel some of the storm's gloom, Lilith said, "I think we should leave here."
Lorena glanced at her doubtfully. "Perhaps I should go. But why would you?"
"There's nothing to keep me here." Lilith smiled bitterly.
"That's baloney."
"No, it's not. I refused Sam. I know I'm not good enough for him."
"Not good enough for his family. And that puts you on a level with every other almost-engaged girl in the world."
"I won't." Lilith's voice broke. "I won't do this to him. I won't do this to the love we had, or I thought we had, or almost had. I won't disappoint him, and shame myself, and chain either of us to this misery."
"I think," Lorena said as she put a kettle on, "that you're really just afraid of his mother."

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