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allowed out there at all anymore, clear? Water with ice is dangerous, even if you’re eight years old.” Ricky threw popcorn into the mermaid’s mouth. The toothpaste lips floated on the surface, while the rest of the head was hidden under water. He could just make out the beetle-black eyes under the surface. A puffy, cooked kernel floated, bobbing up and down over the ripples for a few seconds, before the creature found the treat and sucked it into the black abyss of its throat. Ricky threw in another piece. “Give me a turn!” Rachel snatched a handful of popcorn and threw it at the mermaid. The creature ate all of the buttery snacks and then bobbed its head above the surface. It pressed its fleshy lips together and made a throaty burble that colored the air dark purple. “I dare you to touch it,” Ricky told his sister. “I held it yesterday.” “But it wasn’t in the water: now it’s all slimy and muddy and slippery and gross.” Rachel stuck out her bottom lip. “I don’t want to touch it.” “I double dare you.” “You’re a meanie-head.” “I triple dare you.” Rachel looked at the mermaid, who was still burbling out purple noises through a fishy smile. Rachel shook her head. “I chicken out.” “I triple-dog dare you.” Ricky smiled. “I already chickened out!” “You can’t chicken out of a triple-dog dare.” “You’re stupid,” she pouted, but she was already getting onto her stomach so that she could lean over the pier without falling into the water. She stuck her little fingers into the water, and the black abyss of the mouth immediately tried to eat them. Rachel’s voice jumped out of her throat; and her finger leapt out of the water. Then she giggled, and her fingers decided to get back into the chilly water. “It tickles.” Ricky stuck his fingers in the water, and the mermaid started biting him with its toothless, tongueless mouth. And it did tickle. Rachel stuck her thumb in the water. “I wish it would eat my warts. Mom puts medicine on them, and it burns.” She pulled her fingers out of the water and showed Ricky her left thumb with its two raindrop-sized warts, as if he had never seen them before. She stuck her thumb back in the water. Ricky threw the rest of the popcorn into the water, and the mermaid quickly abandoned the girl’s thumb. He watched the creature vacuum up the yellow puffs of food. “We fed it,” said the boy. “Can we go inside now? It’s too cold.” “It’s not too cold: it’s not even snowing yet.” Ricky sat at the end of the driveway waiting for the bus, while Rachel stood by the mailbox. They were statues with blinking eyes and breathing lungs and shivering skin. They didn’t talk, and there was no sound except for the cold November wind. The clouds blanketed the sky with wrinkled, gray fabric. Rachel’s eyes ran towards Ricky and then retreated to the snow at her feet every few seconds. Finally, he sighed. “What, Rachel?” “Nothing.” The girl’s eyes went back to their relay race. “What?”

Profile for Brushfire Literature & Arts

Edition 63 Volume 1  

Fall 2010. Brushfire is UNR's oldest literature & arts journal. Brushfire publishes biannually, check out our website for more info! unrbrus...

Edition 63 Volume 1  

Fall 2010. Brushfire is UNR's oldest literature & arts journal. Brushfire publishes biannually, check out our website for more info! unrbrus...

Profile for brushfire
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