“Daughter of Blue,” by Sarah Diemer
At the urging of her friend Jess, Leila–a Wiccan–casts a spell to attract love into her life. A strange dream involving a being from the sea then seems to seal the spell…
(photo by Frakkola)
(Part of Project Unicorn: A Lesbian YA Extravaganza, updated twice weekly on Mondays and Fridays with a free, original, never-before-published YA short story featuring a lesbian heroine. Also, every story is a work of genre fiction [Fantasy, Sci-Fi, Dystopian, Post-apocalyptic, etc.].)
“Daughter of Blue”
by Sarah Diemer
She never thought she would go this far.
I’m afraid. It’s cold. I can’t swim.
Leila gripped the edge of the rock, feeling it cut into her palm, glad for the vivid red that trailed down the side of the boulder, color in this monochrome heartbeat. And everything was heartbeat, this great rushing that filled her ears, nose, mouth, throat. The ocean pounded relentlessly at her feet, hissing and dragging, curling white fingers of foam toward her boots. It wanted her.
“For the spell to work, it has to be thrown into the sea, at twilight, the day of the full moon,” Jess had told her, pressing the notebook paper into her hand, the same hand cut by the boulder now.
“That’s stupid,” Leila had muttered, glancing down at the carefully folded paper before shoving it into the zippered front of her backpack. “You know it could be done whenever you need it.”
“Not this one.” Jess’s eyes had gotten all big, like they did when she told Leila about the first time David had kissed her. But Jess was dramatic all the time, really. The spell didn’t need to be perfect to work. If Leila knew anything about Wicca, she knew that much.
But that didn’t explain why she was here, now, edging out on the slippery rocks as the tide came in, tiny bottle filled with carefully ground and measured ingredients hanging from a thong around her neck.
She sighed, reached up, touched the cold glass with a frozen fingertip.
Stupidity would explain it. She rolled her eyes, glanced up at the turbulent heavens that heaved an intense wall of gray at her.
“By my will,” she began, closing her hand around the bottle, “and charmed by one, this spell is marked and cast and done. An’ it harm none and blessed by sea, as I will, so mote it be.” Her teeth were chattering on the last line, but she didn’t really think it mattered. With a vicious tug, she yanked the bottle off her neck and flung it as hard as she could over the water. The waves crashed and roared and the bottle disappeared from view, swallowed and gone.
Leila almost fell as she made her way back across the boulders. She cut her other palm as she scrabbled for a grasp, the water sucking at one sneakered foot.
The wave was cold as death.
*“Well?” Jess’s face always looked super distorted through webcam—the lighting in her room consisted of one string of Christmas lights and a glow-in-the-dark My Little Pony. She was grinning, though, if Leila could make out anything.
“It’s done,” said Leila heavily, bringing up a browser window and minimizing Jess. “Look, I got a lot of homework…”
“That’s ridiculous! Tell me how you did…”
She could hear the pout, rather than see it: “Well, fine. See if I ever give you super awesome spell knowledge again.”
Leila couldn’t keep from grinning as she rolled her eyes. “Goodnight, Jess.”
“Goodnight, Ms. Brooding.” The chat blinked off and Leila closed her laptop, glancing sidelong at the crinkled piece of paper on her desk.
Wicca 101: Do Not Under Any Circumstances Ever Cast a Love Spell on Anyone. Do Not Pass Go. Do Not Collect Love Potions.
Wicca 201: It’s Totally Okay To Cast a Spell for Love In General.
The notebook paper had a list of herbs, crystals and ephemera scrawled out in Jess’s blocky writing. Instructions. Not a single mention of the word love. But still. Leila folded it, carefully and small, and put it in the Altoids tin in the top drawer of her desk.
She still got sick to her stomach every time she did a spell. It was ridiculous, really. It’s not like her mom was religious or anything, but there was always this undercurrent of dread…how do you explain Wicca?
How do you explain how lonely you are?
Leila rubbed at her forehead, her temples, squeezing her eyes shut so tightly that she couldn’t see Tamra’s laughing face anymore. It’d really seemed like she’d liked girls. Totally. Even Jess had thought so. But then Leila had become friends with Tamra, and they’d gotten close, and then Leila had come out to her and asked her out to a stupid fucking movie, and Tamra had laughed.
And the next day at school:
Everyone sang the same chorus: Dyke.
Leila sat back, pressing her palms against the cool surface of the desk. She breathed in, and she breathed out, and then—with a shaking hand—she turned out the light.
*“What would you do for her?”
Leila opened her eyes.
Blue. Everywhere. Crashing, roaring waves. Her lips tasted of salt, and she was the coldest she’d ever been. But everything else disappeared, falling away, as she stared at it.
It was vaguely human-shaped, but towered over her, its giant-sized beard blue and white and dripping water down its massive chest. It held a silver trident in one powerful, fridge-sized hand, and it seemed to be made entirely of water. Or, if water was trapped in a massive bag vaguely shaped like a man.
It was monstrous and beautiful and it was staring at Leila with two wide, baleful eyes.
“What would you do for her?” it repeated, as Leila thought it’d said, but was in too much shock to compute.
“Her?” Leila managed, and the great being shook its head in disgust.
“To whom much is given, much is required,” it said, its voice a cross between a wave pounding against rocks and the roar of a sea squall. “You asked for love. You desire it. I do not give freely.”
Leila dropped to her knees, then, staring up and up at this watery being.
Ocean, she realized.
She was staring at the spirit of Ocean.
It raised its trident and pointed it down at her. “What would do you for her?” it repeated, staring, staring. Leila swallowed, breathed out, tried to stop shaking.
“I don’t…I…” The Being cocked its head as Leila stammered, biting out syllables that meant nothing.
Between them, a strange, blue mist began to form in the air. It writhed and twisted and turned, almost at the longest point of the trident. A sphere of water began to spin, suspended in the air.
And in the water, a girl.
“You asked,” said the being, its voice thunderous. “Now, what will you do to deserve it?”
Leila stared at the suspended girl, her features blurred by the water that moved around her. She was curving and rounded, blue-tinted by the water, and—if Leila could judge—the most beautiful thing she’d ever seen. Her heart hammered as she stared, as she longed.
As she wished, with all her heart.
“I would love her,” she whispered, gulping air. “So much. I would love her with all my heart.”
“You must do better than that,” the being roared.
“I would protect her from assholes,” said Leila, biting out the word. “I would…” She thought of her mother, before her father left. “I would listen to her. I would comfort her when it was hard. I would be kind to her. Gentle.” Her mother flashed before her eyes, sobbing in the kitchen when she thought Leila couldn’t hear. “I’d protect her from the shit in the world,” she said.
“No being can do this,” said Ocean gravely.
“I would try,” Leila whispered.
It stared down at her, the sphere of water spinning, suspended.
And a wave of blue crashed down on Leila, absolute.
And cold as death.
*Leila gasped, thrashing, opening her eyes to the blurry dark of her room, her sheets tangled around her legs.
Fuck. Fuck. She pounded against the mattress with her fists, shoving her wrist against her mouth so her mother wouldn’t hear her sobbing.
What did you expect, Leila?
It was just a fucking dream.
*“Woooooow,” said Jess, not unkindly, as she slid next to Leila at their table. “Jesus Christ, who died?”
“Shut up,” said Leila, pushing the sunglasses farther up her nose to hide her eyes. Jess stared down at her lunch tray, then back up at her best friend.
“So…the spell…” she began, but Leila crossed her arms, slouched against the table.
“I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Seriously, Jess. No.”
Jess shut up.
They ate their lunch in silence, Leila breathing in and out around gulps of turkey sandwich that tasted like dust in her mouth. It was so stupid, really. Why had she thought it would work? She got up, balancing the tray on her hip while she heisted the backpack up on her shoulder when she stopped, staring across the room.
The girl who’d walked in was dressed all in blue. It’s why Leila noticed her, really, her eyes drawn to her as if by gravity. She was curvy and tall and walked with confidence through a group of boys who were jeering at her for wearing a “hippie skirt.” She ignored them. Her warm, black skin at the plunging “v” in her blouse hypnotized Leila’s eyes, and when Leila was able to wrest them away, she glanced up at the stranger’s face who came toward her like a tidal pull.
“Hey,” said the girl, smiling, her grin dazzling in the most beautiful face Leila had ever seen. “I’m Shay. I’m new here.”
“Leila,” Leila managed when Jess punched her in the leg.
“Jess!” said Jess, grinning so widely, she might have been mistaken for a Cheshire Cat.
“I know this might sound ridiculous,” said Shay, leaning closer, voice dropping to a stage whisper, “but I feel like I’ve seen you before, Leila. Have we met?”
“No,” said Leila, mouth moving as if in a dream. “I would remember you.”
She had seen Shay’s shape before. But only in a dream.
“I’m sorry if I’m being forward,” said Shay, flashing her dazzling smile again, “but I’m not one to sit by and not talk to people. I’m trying to make friends here, and it’s hard for me not to say hello to beautiful girls.”
Jess blushed the brightest shade of red Leila had ever seen.
And Leila stared at Shay, spellbound.
Shay reached out, took Leila’s hand. “Would you go see a movie with me?” she asked. “Sometime?”
Somewhere, the ocean hissed and roared and came and went.
Here and now, Leila breathed out and simply said: “yes.”
And the spell was done.
If you liked “Daughter of Blue,” you can now enjoy the entire month of “The Monstrous Sea” Project Unicorn stories on your eReader, and support the project at the same time!
Sarah Diemer is an award-winning author of lesbian young adult (YA), speculative fiction. Her debut novel, The Dark Wife, the YA, lesbian retelling of the Persephone myth won the 2012 Golden Crown Literary Award for Speculative Fiction, and was nominated for a Parsec Award (first two chapters of the audiobook). She writes her lesbian adult fiction under the pen name Elora Bishop, including the Sappho’s Fables: Lesbian Fairy Tales series, which she co-writes with her wife, author Jennifer Diemer.
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