by Louis Rakovich
“So you’re a fisherwoman,” says the girl.
“Like a fisherman. I heard you talking to the tour guy.”
Dr. Conrad puts on her robe. “The tour – oh, you mean the tour guide. No, I’m a marine biologist.”
The girl is strange. In the hotel room’s dim light her naked skin appears veinless, lifelessly smooth. Dr. Conrad remembers the swaying, ghostlike manner the girl walked up to her table, a quiet figure among the bustle of the restaurant. Not much older than a girl-child, and how old is she, really? Worry clings to Dr. Conrad’s ribs, then fades – this is her last week on the island. Old enough. But strange.
“What’s that?” asks the girl.
Dr. Conrad moves toward the shabby little makeup table. “It’s someone who studies marine – sea life. Fish, I study fish.”
A small wave of understanding ruffles the girl’s features. “I can show you one.”
Dr. Conrad sees the girl from the corner of her eye, thin white arms picking up a flowery dress from the floor.
“What, now?” Dr. Conrad smiles. She lifts her makeup case.
It thunders outside and the light goes out. The lipstick container drops from Dr. Conrad’s hand, and as it falls, it suddenly changes direction, as though it hit an invisible obstacle. Dr. Conrad kneels down and feels with her hands. A string. She tugs at it.
The girl whimpers. In the new half-darkness, she’s glowing with a faint white light.