To celebrate the one-year anniversary of the Falling into the Five Senses anthology, we are very pleased to share four, fabulous, free short stories with you!
Written by the Five Senses anthology authors, Maria Carvalho, Cedrix E. Clarke, Reena Dobson and Roger Jackson, these short stories focus on the ‘sixth sense’. The sixth sense theme was the brainchild of Roger Jackson (thank you Roger!) and is the result of the ‘five senses’ theme of the anthology’s launch ‘falling’ into the traditionally other-wordly, spooky moods of October!
We’ll be posting one story each week. If you can’t wait, and you’d like to buy the Five Senses anthology right this minute, you can do so here.
Yours truly has the next story up. Enjoy!
by Reena Dobson
For as long as she could remember, Lilli-Pilli’s mother’s light had never shone bright. It always gleamed faintly, like a star that was too distant to be seen properly.
People would give her mother all sorts of advice: “you’re doing fine”, “you need to eat more”, “you need to eat less”, “you need to exercise more”, “you need to exercise less”, “you shouldn’t worry so much”, “you should make more of an effort” and round and round and round with the endless words her mother had never asked to hear. Lilli-Pilli didn’t understand why they couldn’t see how their own lights would pulse and spray noisily and try to dominate her mother’s light even more. She wanted to yell at them all to go away, but instead she just clung tightly to her mother and glared at the noisy people with all her might.
Her father’s light was long and strong. When he was there, people didn’t try to encroach onto her mother’s light as much. But still, Lilli-Pilli frowned, she didn’t like them. She reached to her father as she hugged her mother protectively.
One day, they travelled to the beach. Lilli-Pilli was glad to see her mother’s light shining serenely on the trip. It glowed stronger, more sure of itself, the crystal light of a star coming into clear focus.
But the same types of people were at the beach too. Too bossy, too loud and too ready to tread on her mother’s light. Were these people everywhere in the world?! Lilli-Pilli huffed as she resettled herself and went with her mother to the ocean’s edge for a late afternoon walk.
The sky was a big endless archway to the whole universe as it faded slowly from blue to gold-soaked apricots and pineapples. Closer to the water, scatterings of clouds danced from grey to pinks and back to grey. Lilli-Pilli’s mother breathed in the sea as though she had never breathed before, and then she exhaled a single, long breath. They walked and walked, feet pressing softly into wet sand. Lilli-Pilli was pleased to see her mother’s light humming happy and strong, bathed in the rosy colours on the horizon. Behind them, the ocean danced busily forwards and backwards to wash footsteps away.
Lilli-Pilli took in the sight of the wide, grey water, shimmering with kisses of light and the air that her mother was breathing in so deeply. This was what her mother’s light needed. If only she could hold onto great, big handfuls of it for when her mother’s light needed it most.
They rounded a gentle curve in the coastline, and Lilli-Pilli saw a figure standing in the ocean a short distance away. The figure was tall and thin, her silver hair was piled messily on top of her head and she was staring out towards the horizon as the sea waltzed around her calves. Her dress was the colour of the lagoon in the middle of a sunny day—somewhere between a delicious aqua-blue and aqua-green. The skirt of her dress was long and it flowed down to the middle of her calves, where it was skimming the water’s surface, as though trying, teasing but not touching the water’s surface. Lilli-Pilli glanced at her mother and saw that she, too, was watching the woman in the water.
As Lilli-Pilli watched, all the edges of the woman’s skirt dipped into the ocean. Immediately, her dress seemed to change colour and it took on the grey shimmering dance of the ocean. As the sky deepened and softened, Lilli-Pilli watched the silhouette of a fish—a small turquoise dolphin—jump from the ocean into the skirt. A lilac tuna leapt from the skirt back to ocean. Another dolphin followed the first into the skirt. A tiny school of blue-hued fish splashed into the ocean and then back into the skirt.
Lilli-Pilli laughed delightedly and she could feel her mother’s amazement and wonder. The woman turned towards them and smiled, and Lilli-Pilli’s mother smiled back.
“Hello,” said the woman, wading back towards the shore. “I’ve been waiting for you.”
She put her hand gently onto Lilli-Pilli’s mother’s arm and walked with her along the water’s edge and spoke to her in soft words. Lilli-Pilli couldn’t hear what was being said, but her mother’s light glowed gently outwards in the dusk.
The woman finished with, “This is for you and your little one.” At her waist, she untied a layer of the skirt, folded it into a neat square and held it outwards. Lilli-Pilli’s mother accepted it reverentially with both her hands. The skirt fabric was dry; it was back to being somewhere between lagoon-blue and sea green but with whispers of dusk-grey, and as Lilli-Pilli studied it, she thought she could see two dolphins swimming in the water of the fabric.
Six moons later, Lilli-Pilli felt herself being wrapped into the lagoon fabric. The dolphins swam around her protectively and she heard her mother’s voice. “Hello my darling.” Lilli-Pilli looked up and saw her mother’s light shining rosy and strong, her eyes bright. She cuddled into her mother, glad to be meeting her at last. Exhausted by her journey to become a newborn in the world, she inhaled the ocean breeze and closed her eyes. She let her light swim joyously with her mother’s, and then she slept.
Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed this gem of a story, you can browse the other free sixth sense short stories below: