In a flimsy clapboard house on the shore of an endless gray sea lived a girl with calloused hands and wide eyes and a heart made for loving. Her house was weather-beaten, the thin coat of dull white paint chipped in places and dusted with sand. But inside, her warm yellow light was a beacon for those who were lost and couldn’t find their way home.
She walked the shore every morning, the cold gray pebbles shifting beneath her boots. Every day she went a little farther, a little deeper into the mist that shrouded her beach. At night, her house glowed with softly lit paper lanterns, barely visible in the veil of night, but just enough to draw lonely souls to the girl in the house on the beach.
Some days, when the feeble sun dispelled the fog and the beach lost some of its magic, ordinary people happened upon the shore, drawn by the glittering promise of the sea. She would invite them in and put the kettle on the stove; they would peruse the uneven driftwood shelves of sea-green bottles filled with curses
Visitors always left with a bottle of potion they didn’t know they needed until they used it. They never asked why her shelves were always full or why her home was always open. As they walked back into their own world, she faded from their consciousness and lived only in their dreams, the type of dreams that fade faster the more you try to recall them. But she, too, was looking for something she needed. Unlike her customers, though, she couldn’t find it.
The girl was older than the sand on the beach. She’d seen the mountains grow and the ocean fill. She could only reach so far back into her past before she became lost in a maze of her own creation. She couldn’t remember what she was looking for, just the faint feeling that she hadn’t always been alone, that once, a smile lit up the darkness brighter than her paper lanterns, that once, a hand held hers in November when the autumn wind turned vicious and the ocean beat angrily at her doorstep.
The tossing waves didn’t just wash up secrets and oddities. Venturing out at low tide, she watched as the waves brought to her a girl. Her skirt was shredded and her hair tangled with debris, but she looked peaceful in the sand. Miles away, her ship was on the ocean floor like a giant beast put to sleep.
The girl awoke in a house next to a warm hearth and a pair of staring eyes. Familiar eyes. As the haze cleared from her memories she knew her old life was gone, buried in a watery grave. The girl from the sea looked at the girl on the beach, and suddenly, they felt less alone.
“My name is Kaori. This is my potion shop.”
This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.