Eloise jumped from rock to rock. One, two. One two. The salt in the air made her stomach turn, but she was used to it. The rocks more than made up for the smell, anyway.
One, two, one, two.
Her mother didn’t like her playing on the rocks. She supposed that was one of the reasons she kept jumping, but it was mostly the thrill. The adrenaline. What if she slipped, breaking her ankle or tumbling to the icy water below her? Or what if the tide came in? The thought made her shudder. Good shudders.
Looking up for a moment, Eloise saw a rock she hadn’t seen before. It was further out than her usual adventure, red and glittering. And it called to her. When asked later, she would say it was almost screaming, begging her to come touch it. Just for a little while. The voice pulsed into Eloise’s mind
wiping out all her other thoughts. She had been thinking about her mother, how she had told her to pack her things, they were leaving.
Moving towards the ocean, and wasn’t that exciting? But now, just the rock.
Eloise slid from her current rock into the ocean. The water was knee deep, and skimmed the light blue hem of her dress. She made her way west, out to the ocean, to the rock, still pulsing in the mid morning sunlight.
As she came closer the voice became louder, beating into her mind like a drum. Eloise could also hear the laughter of children, could practically see them dancing on the rock.
“Come play with us,” they chorused, “here on the rock. Its fun here on the rock, Eloisee. Nothing but f-u-n!”
She was stood closer now, and could see an aura of red surrounding the rock, on the water. She reached out to touch it.
“Nothing but sweeties Eloisey. Sweeties for the rock.”
She stepped closer.
“Like the sweeties for the witch in the Hanzel and Gretel story your mummy told you.”
“Those sweeties were f-u-n in her t-u-m.”
She could touch it now. It was red. Pulsing red.
“Get on the rock.” The children/rock sang. Eloise waded past the sweeties, the sweeties that looked a lot like the blood that had come out –
“Get on the rock”
when she had cut her knee that time at home. Eloise climbed on the rock.
And sank. Deeper. Into the red. And then, holding hands with the other children, she sang.