Thursday, August 30, 2007

Shuttered Hearts

Poseidon sat looking out at the waves in silence. It’s not polite to hurry a god, but I did have Things To Do. I tried to glance at my watch.

He caught the look. “Am I keeping you?”

“Not at all.” I smiled. Lying comes easily to a demon.

“Good.” He cleared his throat. It sounded like bathwater down a drain. “You don’t happen to have any of those banana sandwiches?” he said. “The ones with the yellow mustard?”

“I thought you didn’t time travel?” I said. “I didn’t start eating those until the mid seventies.”

“I don’t,” he said, “but I do have the ability to see into the infinite realms of possibilities. In one of them you give me those sandwiches.”

“Perhaps,” I said. “But not today.”

It was shortly after that that he rose. Looking up and down the beach to make sure no-one was watching, he stamped down on a sandcastle. “I love doing that,” he confessed. “Sometimes I come to the beach just to stamp on every one of them. If it’s a really good castle I live it for the kids to play with.” A motion of the hand indicated the waves. “But it’s about as much fun as I get these days. That and catching seagulls that come too close.”

I stood, still holding the letter. “Thanks,” I said. “See you in fifty years.”

He walked into the sea without looking back, merely holding up a hand in farewell. “Remember those sarnies next time,” he said as the waves closed over his head.

I turned and sought out the white-painted house again. That was, according to the old god, where Lydia had been living up until this day. I headed toward it, relishing the sand between my toes. One of the great things about being a demon is that you don’t need to take you skin off trying to wipe away the stubborn grains. I can raise my body heat enough to melt the stuff into glass and then just crack it off.

Lydia’s beach side house was reached by a series of stone steps that rose from the sand. I could see that there was a road entrance as well, but the slight wear in the stone indicated that the steps were used often.

Numerous pots and troughs held a variety of plants. Mostly annuals, still in the pre-season stage but there were plenty of buds to indicate that they were well cared for. Other, salt resistant plats were growing in the ground. Tamarisk, sea thrift and poppies vied with the more traditional lavender for the bushiest plant award, though few had managed to flower this early in the season.

The house itself was covered in white siding, the paint still smelling fresh. Someone was taking care of this house, and I tried to remember what it looked like in the present day but failed. It certainly didn’t look as if the owner was planning to disappear the next day.

I stepped up to the door, a half-glazed one that led to a conservatory on the back of the kitchen. I was surprised that Poseidon allowed this much glass so close to the sea until I spied the shuttering stacked at the side of the house. It would protect the glass during storms and winter.

I knocked on the green paint of the door, leaving for tiny burn marks from my knuckles.

Until the morrow. X

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