11: Neri’s dance

Neri loved to dance, just as Jack loved to watch her. It was how he fell in love with his island princess. The way she swayed her hips, rolled her shoulders, bare feet kicking up sand, carefree, joyous, a genuine spirit. She was gorgeous and the dance showed her true beauty.

Now, she was dancing under the nakamal, in an attempt to bond once more with the people she grew up with. She swayed and span and laughed, to show friendship, honesty and genuine love, to make the night forget the anger of the day.

Unfortunately, Pisiv had already dripped his poison before her feet began to move. “She’s not one of us anymore,” he said, moving from family to family that evening. “She’s not my daughter, I don’t know her, I can’t trust her. We can’t trust them.”

The islanders nodded sagely to his advice. The aliens were coming to take their home away. Neri was one of them now, helping them, her friendly smile but a mask to hide their true intentions. The tall blonde had spat in their faces, screamed at them, thrown their welcome to the dogs. Blake shrieked outright she was going to take their home. There was honesty only in her anger.

Pisiv watched his daughter dance, attempt to laugh with her childhood friends, but his beady eyes were bitter. He saw only an attempt to usurp him, to belittle him, to steal what little he had left. Her beauty reminded him only of his departed wife, and the girl whore gyrating before him was but a poor copy.

Neri had already chosen an alien life, running off with a stoner boat bum and it wasn’t right she should flit so casually between both worlds. He would not allow it. Pisiv’s strength was not in his stumpy arms or legs, not in his broken heart or small mind, but in his words, his ability to gain trust and manipulate. That was his black magic. It had made him the man he was today.

So he whispered, and the more he spoke, the greater the disdain grew for Neri no matter how hard she danced. While love and trust can create bonds, so too can fear and anger. One by one the islanders marked their huts with a white stripe. It was a show of solidarity, a sign the foreign devils would brook no shelter there when the time came. Not every home was marked, there were always some who abstained, but as long as the majority held firm their island would remain.

On the Island Dreamer Blake lay down on a bunk and held her daughter close. Her anger  had subsided, she knew she’d embarrassed herself and was ashamed of that rare show of emotion. She had scared herself and, even worse, had scared Madison. That was unacceptable.

She thought of Toby’s watch. She knew he would be wearing it, that he wouldn’t discard the sign of their love, he hadn’t really abandoned them. In her new course of thought Blake experienced something she’d never felt before. It was more than sadness, worse than loss, it was the fear of being alone.

She would apologise the next day, ask the islanders’ forgiveness and their help in finding her husband, wherever he lay. Try to make Madison feel safe once more. She was all she had left.

She felt her blonde angel’s heart beat softly next to hers, the sweetness of her breath as her chest rose and fell gently. Blake closed her eyes, knowing she wouldn’t sleep, but wanting to slip into the security of her child’s peaceful dreams. Maybe it would be better for all of them tomorrow.

Across the village many of the huts flickered with flame burnish as the white stripes glowed orange in the days rising sun.


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