The first draft of “Fish Girl and the Kapok Spirits” is done and passed along to a few friendly but critical eyes for a look-see.  I am in that curiously optimistic state where I actually hope they have a lot to say about how it could be improved.  It is possible I have contracted some form of brain damage, but there it is.

For those of you at all curious about the setting of this short story, it’s set on St. John in the USVI, and there’s a great description of one of the central pieces of the story here, along with some great pictures.

Excerpt, “Fish Girl and the Kapok Spirits,” first draft completed by M.Winikates 12/16/08

Cora took a deep, despairing breath of the heavy, humid air in the gut. Here between the ridges of mountainous St. John, there was barely a whisper of breeze. Descending through the first half of the jungle that was the Reef Bay Trail in the extremely early morning hadn’t been that bad: there had been still a touch of morning chill, and even now with the sun getting higher she still had the trail essentially to herself. She had a few hours before the buses started pulling up to drop people off for the hikes led by the National Park Rangers, and Cora was pretty sure she could get to her target—the petroglyphs—and back again before hitting the worst heat of the day.

Contemplating the climb back up the three mile trail, she missed her step over a tree root and caught herself raggedly after stumbling forwards and down significantly more quickly than intended.

“And this, campers, is why we just spent the last four days diving. Under water. Cool and wet and completely without tree roots,” Cora muttered to herself, taking advantage of the enforced break to sit on a root and gulp some more water. “Leave this hiking to the crazies. Compressed air and wetsuits all the way.”

‘You often talk to yourself, Fish Girl?’

The unexpected memory of her somewhat irritable but much-loved ancient neighbor made Cora jump a little on her not-so-comfortable perch. Mrs. Nogueira had been a constant on the street where Cora grew up, always ready to patch up a scrape or share a story with any of the crew of wildcats Cora called friends.. Mrs. Nogueira was from the Virgin Islands, Cora remembered now, and was always saying that it was jumbies who made her misplace her keys, or who made Cora trip and skin her knees yet again.

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