ADRIFT • by Andrew S. Fuller

She was the third eldest of her sisters, born weeks after N’glye and Uwtn’ylh. She showed early signs of restlessness when her lava had barely cooled, by reaching out with long jetties and peninsulas. Two season cycles later, when the last sea turtle departed her south beach, she drifted off into the night.

She traveled slowly, often against the tide. After many moons, she found her first big land, a place where crystal cliffs sang with sunlight. There she listened to an overture that lasted years, and watched the sharp orange birds that fished between their shores.

Then a pod of dolphins caught her fancy, and she moved, studied them until they were out of sight. Heading east, she encountered a land whose edges hung steeply out over the sea, with forests that grew downward. She moved along its coast, through bays and around capes, witnessing great spires of agate, beaches of spherical brocatel boulders, and twisting dunes of onyx sand. Unable to find a canal, she decided this land went on for too long, and turned south where she enjoyed the open water for a great while.

She rode a giant maelstrom until it felt repetitive. She witnessed a savage war between whales and squid. She would hold still if she saw a ship in the distance, then slide away at dark in the other direction. She spent one millennium in the cold waters of the north, fascinated by the wildness of their creatures and their subtle differences in color. She first knew love there, a young and ambitious stark white berg with deep blue edges. She warned him from the beginning that she was nomad, though they were both smitten at first. The more he whispered affection to her, the more she wanted to stay, which only made her want to leave. It filled her with despair to know that he would follow her into warmer waters, clinging to her beneath the surface. But she still went. And still she increased her speed.

Afterward, she craved anger and guarded loneliness. She sought storms. She allowed herself to be tossed by tidal waves. She preoccupied herself with shark feeding frenzies. She swallowed her lagoon, claiming that it slowed her down. One night she snuck up on a fishing boat and capsized it, then drifted just out of reach for hours, until she let the dazed crew onto her beach. When they fell asleep, she rolled, dumping them. And she fled.

She formed cragged shores and sat alone and unmoving for years, whispering to men, then wrecking their crafts. She sank beneath the water for eons, vowing not to return, and slept.

She rose, restless, with bitter hope that the world was now to her liking. She wandered, seeing birds and fish and new animals, but no more ships. She felt hollow but heavier. She returned to the place where she had been born, but her family was nowhere to be found. No shores were familiar any longer.

She wept and wailed. She drifted.

Until the day a fiery thing streaked from the sky. It plummeted and blazed across the clear blue day and splashed into the water not far off. She went to the spot and found a huge rock unlike anything she’d ever seen. He was beautiful and talked in stirring iridescence. He spoke of his home, and promised to take her there. And for the first time in her life, she followed.

Andrew S. Fuller has been writing speculative fiction for nearly twenty years, some of which has appeared in Abyss & Apex, Fantastic Metropolis, The Harrow, House of Pain, Blood Rose, and upcoming in A Fly in Amber. He lives in Portland, OR, where he reads, climbs rocks, and edits Three-lobed Burning Eye magazine.

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