William stood over his child. The boy was surrounded by tubes, wires, incessantly beeping machines. Rowans heartbeat was fast, Will felt like his skull throbbed with every thump of the four year old's heart. The white walls were pulsing, everything flexed inwards, then away from him. It swayed and shifted, pumping, pumping, pumping. A giant heart, keeping his son alive.

    He lifted a glass of water to his lips, drained it, then stared at it until it refilled. He was stressed, he was exhausted, his powers were weak.

Everything felt heavier, his muscles felt stiff, dry and tight. Like the water had left him. Lactic acid filtered through them, burning him from the inside out.  He was (quite literally) drained.

    William could feel it calling to him, the voices of his brothers and sisters singing to him. Luring him like a sailor. A handful of months have came and went since he's seen them, since he's been home. Getting a quick fill from bathtubs and pools, keeping the air conditioner on full blast just wasn't cutting it anymore. Will was in denial, and they knew it. He was Siren, his son was half-siren. Deep in his soul, he knew that somehow the River could cure Rowan, but at what price?

    Rowans eyelashes fluttered, a dry gasp passed through his lips.

    Will ran out of the room, pressing his son close to his chest. He slunk away quietly, then barreled down the stairs, out the door, and into the blessedly humid June evening.

    His car wouldn't start, so he ran. 4 miles and a sunset later, Will and Rowan reached the Carnival Bay. The water was gray and murky, weeds and sticks littering its surface. Trees shadowed the edges of the water. It was dark and it was gloomy and it was home.

    His sister greeted them first. She rose from the deep like the undead from the grave. Hair hung in thick ropes on her face and over her chest, shadowing the sickly white skin underneath. He could see the red of her organs through the translucent skin, her heart fluttering and her lungs expanding. As she moved, the scales on her shoulders and hips glittered in the moonlight, they only thing shining in this muddy River. She hummed gently and smiled at him, her fangs yellowed and stained by the blood of sailors. He looked at his hands and could see the same translucency returning to them, he could feel the scales pushing out of his skin, his gums ached as the teeth stretched against them.

    “Welcome back, brother,”

    His mother and father appeared next, then one by one, they rest surfaced. 50 in all, the Sirens watched him intently, their faces mangled with curiosity and disappointment. His mother understood before Will had even uttered a word.

    She reached out to grab Rowan, but Will stumbled back. The boy's pulse against his chest was strengthening already.

    “You fool!” she screeched, lunging forward again. She caught him by the shoulder and dragged him down. William slipped down the soggy embankment, striking the ground with his heels in a vain search for traction. While he struggled, she managed to pull Rowan out of his arms.

    Handing Rowan off to his sister, she turned and they started wading back into the water.

    “No, no, Marissa, please-”

    “Hush,” his mother hissed, silencing them all. Rowan opened his eyes, Marissa smiled down at him with her bile colored fangs. She dropped the boy, a graceful sweep of her arms. Rowan hit the water like a stone. Will tried to dive after him, but his father and the other warriors blocked the way. A barrier reef in the putrid water.

    Rowan struggled at first, but with his father’s words of encouragement from the banks, he started to swim. William felt a hot iron press into his lungs, his son looked so pale, so sickly, so happy.

    “Come here, Rowan. Come on, it's time to go home,” Will said, fighting his own desire to dive in head first. Rowan shook his head and smiled, the fangs bright and white, never been used, ready to kill. “Rowan, now,” Will tried to walk forward, but slipped and fell to his knees in the muck. Rowan laughed harder. He was dancing around in the water, splashing and playing. The Sirens watched with wicked grins. Will’s mother approached Rowan, he latched onto her arm, giddy like William had never seen.

    They look towards Will, who was watching awe struck as his mother walked hand and hand with his son under the water.

    “Stay, Will. Come home, brother,” Marissa coes, taking his hands in hers. His skin was just as transparent as there's now, he could see the blood pumping through his own veins. William felt stronger than he had in months. He felt strong, he felt safe, he felt home.

 

 

Published by Allie Pizzemento