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TEMPEST RISING
by Tracy Deebs

Genre: Paranormal, Young Adult

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I was ten the first time I saw her. I remember this clearly, because my mother left exactly two weeks later—on my eleventh birthday.

We were in Hawaii at a surfing competition—this was back when my father still competed professionally—and it was late, late enough that the moon hung over the sky like a huge, tempting scoop of French vanilla ice cream. Its glow was more than my pre-adolescent heart could resist and I slipped into my bathing suit and out the door the second the babysitter got busy with my younger brothers.

I suppose any reasonable explanation of that night would have to begin with the fact that I’m a water baby. I was born in water, literally, back when that was the hip new thing to do. A bunch of doctors said it reduced trauma for the baby—being born into warm water so like the womb—and it must have worked. Because, while I obviously don’t remember it, my dad says I didn’t even cry. I just slid into the water like it was home. In many ways, it still is—despite what happened to me all those years ago.

After sneaking out of the house my parents had rented on a fairly obscure stretch of Kauai, I went down to the ocean. They were at a big party celebrating yet another of my father’s wins and the three of us were too much of a handful for the fairly incompetent babysitter the service had sent over. She didn’t even know I was missing until my parents got home and asked about me. But I don’t blame her—in the end, it was no more her fault than it was mine.

Though I had spent my life in and out of the water—our house back home was less than a hundred yards from the ocean—my parents had one iron-clad rule. Under no circumstances was I to go in alone. Under no circumstances was I to even think about going in alone. The Pacific was brutal in its beauty, my dad told me again and again. Brutal and completely narcissistic.

I had always listened before that October evening, had never considered disobeying him. But that night, something called to me. Staying inside was an agony, staying dry even more so. I needed to be surrounded by the power and the passion of the water that was so much a part of me, even then.

I hadn’t planned on going deep, had hoped that wading out to my knees would silence the insidious whisper, the crazy voice in my head. But it didn’t and soon I was up to my shoulder blades. The water was relatively warm despite the fact that it was winter, but I remember being cold.

So cold that my teeth chattered.

So cold that I shivered until my bones rattled against one another.

I remember this because it was so odd. Before that night, the water had always warmed me.

But I didn’t leave, didn’t go back inside as a normal person would have. I couldn’t. At the time I didn’t know what I was waiting for. I knew only that there was a compulsion inside of me that wouldn’t let me move. A compulsion that kept me standing there, a gift-wrapped human sacrifice, as the water lapped and swirled around me.