Red Sky At Morning

Red Sky At Morning

Red Sky At Morning

Alanna Smith

 

Illustrated by Katiana Robles

 

They left Boston around seven and reached the Outer Banks just as the sun merged with the western horizon.

“Red sky at night,” Cassie said, forehead pressed against the cool window glass. The AC system was still broken, and even mild April temperatures were unbearable after over twelve hours of highway driving.

“Sailor’s delight,” Colin responded. His left hand broke from its nine o’clock position and depressed the driver’s and passenger’s window buttons. Cool ocean air flowed into the cab. “Kitty Hawk,” he said, inclining his head toward a sign on the roadside.

Cassie whipped out her phone and caught a blurry picture of the sign.

“Maybe we can go Tuesday,” Colin said. “Take a few days to relax first.” He started pointing out places of interest. The pirate-themed mini golf place where he’d accidentally swung his club into his sister’s forehead. The first place he’d eaten lobster. (“But you’re from New England,” Cassie said.) The sprawling store where his dad had bought him a kite shaped like one of the Blue Angels.

“When was the last time you were down here with him?” Cassie asked.

Colin was silent for a minute. “Ten years, I think. Yeah. Ten. The summer before college.”

Cassie waited for him to elaborate, but he did not. This was the week, though. She’d been waiting to ask Colin about his dad for almost a year. He shut down every time she asked—so much so that she didn’t even know if his dad was alive or dead.

Her phone buzzed. Mom & Dad. Almost there? She smiled and sent them the Kitty Hawk pic. Almost there.

It was almost pitch black, but somehow, Colin found the house. The headlights of his SUV lit up a little seabird-shaped sign with the number 114 and the name “True Breeze” painted on it with unnecessary quotation marks. Exhaustion hit Cassie as soon as the car stopped, but she shook it off. She had to impress Colin’s family. She slid out the door into the balmy salt air. “I feel like I have sea legs,” she said, but her boyfriend was on the other side of the car.

Lights snapped on in the front of the house. It was massive. Three rows of windows. Two tiers of porches. And more people than Cassie could track pouring out the front door.

“Colin! I was just about to call to see if you were close!” The pack was led by a short, curvy woman with an aggressively professional haircut who ran up and embraced Colin. “And you must be Cassandra!” The woman pulled Cassie into a comfy hug. “Or is it Cassie?”

“Cassie is fantastic, Mrs…uh…”

“Margie is just fine, hun.”

Cassie breathed an internal sigh of relief. She’d forgotten to ask Colin what to call his mom, even in all the time they’d been driving. Not Mrs. Wheeler. She knew that much.

“And this is my husband Don,” Margie continued, “and my brother Ralph. And that’s my cousin Fred and his wife Debra…”

A swarm of people surrounded Cassie. Hands took her bags from her. She tried to say thank you, but didn’t know what direction to turn. Colin met her eyes over everyone’s heads and nodded. He could see she was getting overwhelmed.

“Hey mom, is there any dinner left over? Me and Cassie are starving,” he said.

The tide started making its way toward the house. Cassie let herself be pulled along.

“Yes, we made plenty of burgers and hot dogs. You eat meat, right Cassie?” Margie didn’t wait for an answer. “What about alcohol? We can fire up the margarita machine.”

They moved into the house, and Cassie blinked as her eyes adjusted to the brightness. The first thing to greet her was a hand-painted wood and wire sign with a smiling octopus and the caption “Welcome to paradise.” The second…

“Is that an elevator?” Cassie asked. “In a house?”

“Sure is!” Margie chirped. “How about you and Colin take it up to the kitchen? Third floor. The boys will put your bags in your room.”

In the elevator was another sign: “Wish I could stay at the beach forever,” framed in pastel seashells. After a very shaky, claustrophobic minute, the door opened to a large room with pale blue walls and a high, peaked ceiling. There were cushy couches around a fireplace on the left, an open-concept kitchen on the right, and windows facing black night to the east and west.

Unsurprisingly, Margie had beaten them by taking the stairs. “Help yourselves,” she said, setting two paper plates kitty-corner to each other at the end of the dining table. “Ralph will make us some margaritas when he gets up here.”

“I’m gonna do what, Margie?” Someone—presumably Ralph—called out as he walked up the last few stairs into the living room.

“Make me and the kids some margaritas,” Margie said with a laugh.

As soon as his mom’s back was turned, Colin flipped Cassie a double thumbs-up. A little knot of tension released inside her. She loaded up her plate with food. She snuck a glance at her phone. Almost 8:30. I’ll try to stay awake another half an hour. She hadn’t heard back from her parents, but that didn’t surprise her—there was almost no service.

Colin passed behind her, planting a quick kiss on the top of her head as he did so, and sat down next to her. “Mind if we go to bed soon?” he asked, grabbing a bottle of spicy mustard.

“You read my mind,” Cassie said. “I’m pooped. And I didn’t even drive.”

A rattling, whirring sound erupted behind them from the kitchen. Margie came over and sat across from Cassie. “So tell me, how was your drive? Did you hit a lot of traffic?”

Colin answered around bites of burger: “Just around the George Washington, of course…”

Cassie let his voice flow around her as she did her best to chew slowly and look engaged. A margarita materialized at her elbow with a “Here ya go, sweetheart” and she let its aggressive sugariness both shock and numb her system. Margie asked her a few questions. She answered cogently, or so she hoped. Another margarita appeared to replace the first, which had disappeared too quickly. Cassie sipped this one slower.

“Did your family have a regular vacation spot when you were growing up?” Margie asked. She licked some sugar off the rim of her cup.

“Yes, my dad’s family has a house on the Jersey Shore,” Cassie replied. She always felt awkward bringing her dad up around Colin, and that anxiety only doubled with his mom there. “It’s nothing like this, though. I’ve never been to the Outer Banks before. This is…wow.”

Margie laughed that resonant laugh of hers. “I guess I barely notice it now. But I was like you when Colin’s dad brought me here for the first time.”

Colin tapped Cassie on the arm. “Ready to get some sleep?”

Margie took the cue. “You two head to bed. I’ll clean up. Don’t worry about it,” she said, shooing Cassie’s hands away from her dirty plate. “See you in the morning.”

Their room was on the second floor, almost directly below the dining table. There was a king bed with a palm tree patterned duvet and a decorative pillow that said “Life’s a beach.” Cassie poked her head in one door: a walk-in closet. And the second door: “We get our own bathroom?” “Of course!” was Colin’s reply. She could hear the grin in his voice.

Cassie walked to the other side of the room to investigate the sliding door that took up most of the wall next to the bed. It really was dark outside. There were no big cities nearby. No towns really, either. Just them and the black horizon. She could see herself and Colin reflected in the glass, almost as clear as a mirror. “Can we sleep with the door open tonight? To hear the ocean?” She turned to look at him over her shoulder, but he wasn’t there.

“I was going to ask you the same thing,” Colin said, his voice emanating from the closet.

When Cassie reached to unlatch and crack open the door, the doubled reflection was gone from the window. Guess I drank those margaritas too fast, she thought. A cool breeze carried the soft, rhythmic roar of the ocean into their room.

Colin slipped his arms around her from behind and spoke into her hair. “I’m so happy to be here with you.”

Cassie allowed herself to close her eyes. “Me too.”

 

Cassie woke up to the smell of bacon. And when she opened her eyes, there it was on the nightstand: a plate of bacon, extra crispy. “Am I still dreaming?” she asked.

“No, you’re on vacation,” Colin said, standing by the sliding door. “Want to sit out here with me?”

“Do I have to share?” Cassie asked, swinging her legs out from the sheets.

“No, I’ve got my own plate.”

There were two Adirondack chairs in front of their door. Colin had left her a teal and pink striped mug of coffee on one of the armrests. She settled next to him, hoping her thin cotton PJs would protect her from splinters.

Before them was the Atlantic in all its glory. “When you said ocean views, I didn’t realize you meant ocean front,” Cassie said. “This is like paradise.”

The water was maybe a hundred feet away, with beach access granted via a gate in the wooden fence that surrounded the house. Couples walked along the sand. A few houses down, someone tossed a frisbee to a shaggy dog.

“Did I oversleep?” Cassie asked around a piece of bacon.

“Nope. It’s only 8:30,” Colin said. “We’re on shore time now. Early to bed, early to rise. My mom asked if you wanted to go to church with her and Don, but I didn’t want to wake you.”

“Oh. I hope she isn’t super disappointed.” An anxiety leak sprung in Cassie’s brain.

“No no no. Don’s the really religious one. My mom didn’t get big on church until after my dad…um.” Colin stopped and replaced his words with a big gulp of coffee.

Cassie held a piece of bacon between her fingers, but didn’t bring it to her mouth. A fly buzzed past them in lazy circles, and above the sand, a seagull flew in much wider circles. “Colin, this week, could you maybe tell me about your dad?” she asked. Her mouth was dry, but she didn’t want coffee yet. “I haven’t wanted to bug you about it, but now, I’m just afraid I might say the wrong thing or…something. I don’t know. I don’t want to insult your mom. I want her to like me.”

Colin stared upward and outward into the clear blue sky. “Yeah, I know. It’s time. It’s just really hard for me to talk about. Can you give me another day?” He reached over and squeezed her hand.

A little knot of tension untied in Cassie’s chest. She popped the bacon into her mouth and nodded. “Of course.”

The morning slipped by as easily as the tide. After a second cup of coffee, and then a third, Cassie showered, changed, and headed upstairs with a book. Colin’s family was evenly distributed between the living room and back porch. As far as Cassie could tell, there were eight people at the house, including her and Colin. She poured a glass of iced tea and headed outside to find a chair on the porch. She checked her phone before settling in with a thrift store copy of Pharaoh’s Gold. Still no word from her parents, even though she’d connected to the WiFi. She snapped a picture of the ocean and sent it to them, just so they’d know she was alive. The day ambled on, with sandwiches for lunch and the margarita machine hacking away at four o’clock on the dot. Cassie went inside after the sun passed to the other side of the house, casting the oceanside porch in chilly spring shadows.

Most of Colin’s family had gone down to the ground floor pool table when Cassie found herself sitting alone with Margie, staring at a thousand puzzle pieces that were supposed to form a Venetian canal. She had just placed the top of a striped gondola pole when Margie spoke.

“Colin’s dad and I did our honeymoon in Italy. A six-city tour.”

“Oh,” said Cassie. “I didn’t know.”

“I learned that the best way to do a honeymoon is to spend it all in one spot,” Margie said. “That’s why Don and I didn’t leave our resort in St. Lucia for our entire honeymoon. Most people don’t get a do-over honeymoon, I suppose.” She laughed, and finished a four-piece cluster of carnival masks with her perfectly manicured nails. “Did Colin tell you about what happened with his dad?”

Cassie shook her head. “Not yet. I didn’t want to push him.”

“That’s good of you, hun,” Margie said. “Colin—Colin Senior, I mean—was a good dad. He loved Colin and Erin. But I’ll let my son tell you the way he wants to tell you.”

Cassie’s phone buzzed. It was sitting on a pillow embroidered with a dog relaxing on a beach towel and the words “Just Lyin’ Around.” She picked it up, hoping it was her parents, but instead it read: Message failed to send. 

That night, Cassie and Colin sat in their Adirondack chairs with two IPAs between them. The sky was clear of clouds and freckled with millions of stars. A lone figure in black stood on the beach in front of the house, probably looking up at the sky as well. “I can’t remember the last time I felt so relaxed,” Cassie said.

Colin reached for her hand and laced his fingers with hers. “You deserve it.” He tipped back the rest of his beer. “Ready for bed?”

“In a minute,” Cassie said. She kept staring at the stars as he went back inside.

The man in black stayed on the beach as well, and for a moment, it almost seemed as though he was facing the house. But then he walked away down the beach, towards the jetty.

She knew it was just her eyes playing tricks on her in the dark, but Cassie could swear that the figure left behind no footprints.

 

The light that woke Cassie the next morning was scarlet. She got out of bed and went to the sliding door. Red light limned the horizon, making the choppy whitecaps look like they were tipped with flecks of blood.

Colin stirred behind her. “Red sky at morning,” he murmured.

“Yeah,” Cassie said. “Are we supposed to get bad weather today?”

“I didn’t think so, but who knows? We’re on the ocean. Anything’s possible.”

They quickly got ready for the day and got on the road. Their destination: fresh doughnuts. It was the first time Cassie had seen the rest of the Outer Banks in the daylight. They drove past enormous beach houses—even more obnoxious than “True Breeze”—and protected sand dunes and shoreline. On the water, adventurous souls were taking advantage of high wind and waves to kite-surf. The sky was clear and blue, although the horizon was darker than Cassie would have liked.  And then they reached the bridge.

The smell actually reached them first, since the windows were wide open. The blunt, wrong sweetness of roadkill. They littered the margins of the bridge: piles of feathers and crooked clawed feet, the remains of dozens of seagulls.

“Oh my God,” Cassie said. “This is awful.”

Colin rolled up the windows, but the stench remained. “They get sucked down by the wind around the bridge, I think,” he said. “And cars create a vacuum when they go by.”

Cassie eyed a seagull hovering a few feet above their car, but luckily they passed without an incident.

The bridge may have been bird hell, but the doughnut shop was Cassie heaven. The scent of frying dough and cinnamon sugar pushed the last wisps of decay from her nostrils. She bought a mixed dozen as a gift for Colin’s family. And Colin bought half a dozen maple bacon doughnuts for the two of them to share.

They started the thirty-minute drive back, both sipping from cardboard cups of scalding black coffee. Cassie held both boxes of doughnuts on her lap like they were chests of pirate gold.

“Would it be okay if I told you about my dad now?” Colin asked.

Cassie carefully put her coffee in the cupholder. “Yes. If you’re okay with that. I don’t want you to feel like I pressured you or anything.”

“No, you didn’t. It’s time. And it’s a pretty short story. Honestly, I should have told you sooner, but I was embarrassed.” Colin took a deep sip of coffee and then put his cup down as well. His eyes were still glued to the road. “My dad was pretty great with me and Erin growing up, but he was always busy with work. He was pretty high up at First Boston Bank. He and my mom never got along great. And I guess spring of my freshman year, he and my mom were down here, and they had like, the big fight. And he left. Without saying goodbye.”

Colin swallowed hard, and Cassie could tell from his tight voice that he was trying not to cry. He took another minute to continue. “He moved to Montana, and then I guess one night he was driving home from a bar and… uh…hit someone. Killed them. And he went to prison. I think he’s on parole now, but yeah.”

Cassie felt like the bottom of her stomach had dropped. It was almost as bad as it could have been. “Oh Colin, I’m so sorry. That’s really, really awful. Have you talked to your dad at all since…everything?”

“He’s sent me and Erin like two letters. In nine years. But I’ve kind of accepted it, you know? He didn’t want us in his life. So I don’t have him in mine. It’s almost better to pretend that he’s dea—oh shit!”

The SUV swerved, and then Cassie heard a muffled bonk. She looked out the window. The bridge. They were back on the bridge. “Did we hit a seagull?”

“Yeah, unfortunately,” Colin said. “Luckily it didn’t hit the windshield. I’ll have to clean the feathers and stuff off the car when we get back, though.”

Cassie nodded and looked down at the pink doughnut boxes in her lap. She didn’t feel very hungry anymore.

 

By the late afternoon, the sky over the ocean was a solid strip of graphite. Margie looked out the window and shook her head. “I don’t think you kids will want to go to Kitty Hawk tomorrow.” By the evening, they could see dim flashes over the dark sea. And by the time everyone made their ways to bed, the first drops of rain began pattering against the roof. Cassie wanted to leave their porch door open a crack so they could hear the storm, but Colin warned against it. “You’ll hear it, trust me.” They fell asleep snuggled against each other.

But when Cassie woke up, they were on opposite sides of the bed. Her phone read 3:01. The thunderclaps were the loudest she’d ever heard. The wind screamed outside. And the house itself was shaking. She thought it was her imagination at first, but no—the framed beach scene over her nightstand was trembling.

Cassie got up and went to the bathroom to drink some water from a Dixie cup. The violent movements of the house were amplified in the smaller room. It was like being on a train. She tried to throw out her cup, but missed the trash can, and just left it on the floor. A morning problem.

She padded over to the sliding door, considering waking Colin to watch the storm with her, but deciding against it. It was dark outside. Even darker than the cloudy night they’d arrived. But every few seconds, lightning illuminated the beach. The waves crashed against each other, and the water itself covered most of the sand, giving the impression that the ocean started at their fence. The dune grass was flat under the weight of the wind.

The lightning also revealed a lone figure standing in the water. A familiar silhouette. The man Cassie had seen the previous night, maybe. He seemed impervious to the chaos that swirled around him. With each flash, the figure seemed to get closer. Cassie wanted to believe it was her imagination, but then he was just outside the fence. Flash. Inside the fence. The wind didn’t stir his clothing. Flash. His dark hair was plastered to his scalp.

Another flash and a synchronous rip of thunder. He was gone. Cassie let out the breath she’d been holding, but her heart didn’t stop rattling in her ribs. It was just her anxiety. This was one of those waking nightmares. Flash. Nothing but the storm. She needed to go back to bed, close her eyes. Flash.

And then he was there, right outside the glass. Shredded clothing. White, ragged, soap-like skin. Strips of dull silver at his wrists and mouth. And eyes that were either deeply sunken, or completely gone.

Her scream was lost to the thunder.

 

Tuesday morning was grey and foggy, and a straight, steady rain fell. Cassie didn’t remember getting into bed or going back to sleep, but when she woke up, she was wrapped in Colin’s arms. Just a dream. But when she was brushing her teeth, she noticed a little paper cup lying by the trash can. In the shower, she picked up the slick bar of soap, and the white corpse-like face popped into her mind. She washed her body with shampoo instead.

“Are you feeling okay this morning?” Colin asked Cassie as she pushed the whites of her eggs around her breakfast plate.

“I didn’t sleep well last night,” she said. “I had horrible nightmares. I dreamed that I saw the ghost of a drowned guy, and it ruined my appetite.” She slid her plate to Colin and grabbed a doughnut instead.

Ralph, Margie’s brother, reached across the table and cut himself a thick pat of pale waxy butter for his toast. Cassie had to look away. “You know,” he said, “there are a ton of ghost stories about the Outer Banks. It’s a hotspot for shipwrecks.”

“The ‘Graveyard of the Atlantic,’ they call it,” chimed in Fred from where he sat reading the newspaper on the couch.

“Maybe I did see a ghost. Maybe someone died on this very beach,” Cassie said in her best Vincent Price impression, trying to alleviate the sick feeling in her stomach with humor, but nobody laughed.

Margie set her mug of tea down on the table with a thunk, and some liquid sloshed out. “That would certainly be a tragedy, Cassie hun,” she said as Ralph passed her a napkin.

“And it would definitely drop the property value,” Ralph said. That got a laugh.

Since it was still raining when they finished breakfast, Cassie tried to find a comfy spot to read her book, but the sickly natural light reflected off the page in a nauseating way. Instead, she pulled out her phone. Finally, a text from Dad: U ok? Saw there was big storm last nite. She texted back: Yep. You get my pictures? She crossed her fingers that her text would get through. Feeling a little ashamed, but also morbidly curious, she pulled up a database of felons in Montana. She typed in Wheeler. There was a Connor Wheeler, listed as “Probation.” And a Colleen, listed as “Secure.” But no Colin.

Next, she switched to a search engine. Colin Wheeler, First Boston Bank. A photo of a handsome man in a suit and tie popped up. She’d never seen a picture of Mr. Wheeler, but he looked just like his son. The same dark cowlicked hair. The same hazel eyes. But that wasn’t the only reason she recognized him. Dump a bucket of water on him, put a strip of duct tape over his mouth, and she was looking at the same face she’d seen last night. Whether it was a dream or a vision, it was the same face. A chill ran through her. Had she ever seen a picture of Mr. Wheeler before? On social media? A ragged photo in Colin’s wallet? She wracked her brain, but in her gut, she knew she hadn’t. It was like Colin had said. He’d erased him from his life.

Cassie sat staring at her phone, but the screen blurred in front of her. She was being paranoid. Why would she see the ghost of Colin’s dad, bound with duct tape? That didn’t make any sense. But he’d never been in prison in Montana, either, and that also didn’t make any sense. Unless the database was wrong, or Colin lied to her, or made up a story…but why would he make up a story that seemed to cause him so much pain?

She spotted Margie heading to the kitchen. She followed.

“Hey hun, I’m just about to make some tea. Want some too?”

“Yeah, that sounds great.” Cassie did not want tea. Her stomach was churning. She lowered her voice. “Margie, Colin talked to me about his dad yesterday, and I just wanted to say how sorry I am that you had to go through that.”

“Oh thank you hun, I appreciate that,” Margie said, starting the kettle. “It was a long time ago, though, and obviously I am happy. Life’s been good to me.”

“I’m glad to hear that,” Cassie said. “If you’ll excuse me for asking, where does Colin’s dad live now?”

Margie paused with her back to Cassie. “North Dakota. No, South. South Dakota. Why?”

“I thought Colin said Montana, and…” Panic welled up inside Cassie. “My mom’s best friend from college lives there. I was wondering if they lived in the same city.”

Margie turned, two mugs in her hands. “Oh that’s right, it is Montana. This is what happens when you get older, hun. You can’t remember your states. Ralph was our divorce lawyer. He’d know where Colin Senior is for certain.”

Cassie wandered back to her seat with a cup of tea she knew she wouldn’t drink. Something was wrong here. Or was it her anxiety? She’d been good about taking her medicine, but it had been such a stressful year. The rain trickled down the window in bars.

The power went out right before they were supposed to cook dinner. “And of course my phone’s dead!” Margie said, and laughed. “Cassie, mind if I borrow yours? I’ll see if I can order some pizza, provided everyone else hasn’t lost power.”

“Oh sure,” Cassie said, passing it over. “My service has been a little spotty, though. Passcode is oh-six-two-two. Me and Colin’s anniversary.”

Debra started lighting candles around the living room as Margie made some calls. After about ten minutes, she got through to a place—Antony’s, it sounded like—and placed an order. She finished up and handed Cassie back her phone with a “Thanks hun.”

Normally Cassie would have been salivating in anticipation of pizza, especially since Margie had ordered Hawaiian with bacon, but her stomach was still upset. She opened up her browser, and almost gasped. She had left her searches open. The picture of Mr. Wheeler in his bank suit stared at her, judging her for her carelessness.

Colin came and sat next to her. “You excited for pizza? Want to go pick it up with me?”

Cassie’s stomach twinged with nausea. She stared across the room. Colin’s family was crowded around the jigsaw puzzle, trying in vain to solve it by candlelight. The flame cast their shadows in a grotesque relief on the vaulted ceiling. “I think I’m going to go take a quick nap, if that’s okay,” she said. “I’m still tired from last night.”

“I totally understand,” he said. “I’ll be back in like an hour, okay?”

“Okay,” she said. “Please drive safe in the rain.”

Cassie went downstairs to their room and lay down on the bed, leaving the door open a crack behind her. The sliding glass door framed nothing but the angry ocean, but she turned her back to it anyway. She heard Colin head out, and she closed her eyes. She didn’t like him being gone. But she didn’t like the idea of being outside in the night, either.

After maybe fifteen minutes, she heard someone come down the stairs. Footsteps crossed the hall, and paused outside her room. The door creaked, very gently, and then the footsteps retreated. Cassie held her breath, and though her blood was rushing through her ears, she swore she could hear someone upstairs say: “She’s asleep.”

Cassie’s heart pounded. Colin was gone. His car was gone. And she was alone in a house with a group of people she barely knew. And one of them may have done something very bad. Maybe more than one. The wind shook the house like it wanted to get in. She prayed that Colin was okay driving. She should have just gone with him and napped in the car. The ceiling above her creaked as people moved around upstairs. What if they were collecting knives? Looking for duct tape?

Stop it. Stop being paranoid, she told herself. Her brain was just making up narratives to fit the spooky atmosphere. It wasn’t as if Margie had killed Colin’s dad…was it? Drowned him for his banker money or life insurance or giant Outer Banks beach house? I wish I could stay at the beach forever. The corny sign from the elevator flashed in her memory.

Cassie rolled onto her right side to face the porch door. Slowly, very slowly, she opened her eyes. He was there. The figure was there. Colin Senior, maybe, or something else entirely. She forced herself to sit up, even though she was shaking. Her head felt cold. Her chest felt fuzzy. He didn’t look at her. She didn’t think he could. The fish had taken his eyes.

Footsteps sounded at the top of the stairs. Multiple people coming down. The flicker of moving candlelight through the door crack. Cassie stood up and took a step. And another step. The awful sweet odor of decay tickled her nostrils, same as the seagull bridge. The figure stood still in front of her, behind the glass, and slowly raised his bound wrists, as though pleading with her. His nails were very long and very sharp, she noticed.

The footsteps were in the hallway now. They were whispering, but Cassie could barely hear them over the wind and rain and pounding of her own heart. They were right outside her room. So was he. I wish I could stay at the beachforever.

Cassie reached forward and slid open the door. The wind surged in.

 

Story by Alanna Smith

Alanna Smith is a Boston-based copywriter by day and an M.F.A. candidate at Emerson College by night. After receiving her B.A. in creative writing from Providence College, she moved to Nepal, where she spent nine months teaching English and creative writing on a Fulbright grant. Her novelette about Jersey Shore vampires, The Bloody Pub, was recently published in Blind Corner Literary Magazine. You can follow her on Instagram @alanna.travels.

Illustration By Katiana Robles
Katiana Robles is a full-time artist working out of Orlando Florida. Her works spans a variety of media such as food art, sculpture, and illustration. She has exhibited throughout Central Florida; most notably at Orlando City Hall, City Arts Factory, and Osceola Arts. To see more of her whimsical work follow her on Instagram @kat_robles.