“Pass me the cool whip, would you Moira?” Beth asked without looking at her sister. A soft thud signified that Moira had tossed the now half empty bottle of Reddi-Whip at Beth. Reaching behind her, Beth’s fingers danced around in search of the dispenser. As they clasped the cool metal, Moira spoke.
“Look.” With a long, elegant finger, Moira pointed to the horizon. Clouds were gathering over the open water and Beth could see the waves rising and crashing. The oncoming storm would be harsh and brutal and Beth couldn’t wait for its arrival.
“Isn’t it beautiful?” Moira asked Beth, who turned to gaze at her sister. There was a wistful longing in her water-eyes. Beth recognized it far too easily; she saw that same expression every time she looked in the mirror. “I imagine,” Moira continued, “that those clouds must be the same color as those that brewed the storm which sank Atlantis.”
“We should go there sometime,” Beth said, turning her attention back to the ocean. “Atlantis… I bet it’s beautiful.”
“It’s been so long…” Moira’s voice trailed off as she lost herself in visions of memory. Beth turned up her gaze from the thunderous waves to the stars that began to dot the fading day sky.
“We’ll get back there, Moira, I promise. Somehow we shall return to the waves and rid ourselves of this strange earth and its ridiculous inhabitants.”
Moira laughed. “Like llamas,” she said.
“Yes,” Beth said. Her voice rang out with that conviction that one acquires when one plans absurd things and knows that there is only a silver-lining possibility of them coming to pass. “We will no longer be the victims of llamas and their unbecoming habit of spitting, nor will these… clowns keep us from resting –“
“That,” Moira said, sipping on her lemonade, “is just your coulrophobia flaring up, Beth.”
Beth turned on her sister, her eyes wide. “It is not exaggerated!”
Moira smiled and held her index finger and thumb just barely apart. “Just a tiny bit, yeah.”
“What about your obsession with these… wombats?” Beth said, her face scrunched up as she recalled an incident last summer where Moira had seen a wombat at a zoo and become instantly attached to it while the wombat had attached itself to… other things.
Moira’s face fell. “It is a pity they aren’t aquatic in nature, I will miss them when we go home.” She looked over at Beth. “Which will be soon, I hope.”
“Don’t look at me,” Beth said. “If I had any control over when and how we’d return you would be the first to know. But that… uxorious umbrella couldn’t convince his wife.”
“Oh, she is absolutely horrid, isn’t she?” Moira said, frowning. “She makes him feel so self-conscious about his feet, the poor dear.”
“Well, to live on land and water with ungulate feet is fairly strange,” Beth said, shrugging her shoulders. “But I agree: his wife is horrendous. If she was out of the picture, I’m sure he would have been much more lenient.”
“Leniency was never up to him.”
The girls spun around at the sound of a third, unfamiliar voice but they did not see whence it came. Their eyes scanned the flat land around them but there was no hint or clue as to the voice’s origins.
“You heard it, though, didn’t you?” Beth asked.
“Of course,” Moira replied. She turned her face upwards as a gentle wind blew her auburn hair out of her face. “Do you remember what it sounded like?”
Beth nodded; she did remember. Hundreds of voices were speaking at once, as gently as a mother’s lullaby. Men and women and children whispered and shouted as one melodious harmony. It was the most promising and most tragic sound Beth had ever heard.
“This way, girls.”
The sisters faced forward and there, hovering just off the cliff, was a vaguely humanoid figure. Not a corporeal form, Beth quickly assessed. It looked like the dust particles that are caught in a ray of sunshine.
“Stardust,” Moira breathed.
Beth exhaled. This had to be it, their term was finally over. They were going home.
“I wouldn’t become too excited, young child,” Stardust said. “Your sentence has not been revoked and you have not been welcomed home yet.”
“Then why are you here?” Moira asked, raising an eyebrow quizzically.
If Stardust could smile, that’s certainly what it was doing now. And just as suddenly and quietly as it came, the dust vanished.
“A bit too foreboding and prophetic to my liking,” Beth commented.
“A bit too unhelpful for mine,” Moira retorted.
The sky had darkened to almost black and the clouds were gathering thicker and thicker. The tumultuous sea storm would soon breach the shore.
“What is that?” Beth asked, squinting.
“What? Where?” Moira asked, crawling to her sister’s side.
“There,” both sisters said simultaneously. As lightning struck out over the water, a large creature crashed through the surface.
“What is that?” Moira asked skeptically.
“A dragon,” Beth supplied.
Moira threw Beth a look. “I know that. What I meant was what do you think its presence signifies?”
“I do believe, dear sister,” Beth said, sliding a look to Moira, “that that is our way home.”