art by Seth Alan Bareiss
by Caroline M Yoachim
Five days after my mother dies, I push her into the ocean. Her body is a darker blue than mine, iridescent and nearly purple. Her carapace is brittle, and it shatters beneath the force of the waves. Her body breaks down into a coarse grit that washes up onto the shimmering blue sand of the beach.
My mother's ghost is easy to find, for she had one leg shorter than the other five, which gave her an odd way of scuttling. I spot her quickly, dancing in the sea foam where the water meets the sand.
She thanks me for taking her to the ocean, and asks me to visit as often as I can.
There are some who visit their ancestors every day, but when the tide is high the risk of being swept away by the waves is greater. Drowning is a terrible way to die--the ocean sweeps you away to the south, and your children cannot come to visit your ghost if they cannot find it. So I visit my mother every few weeks, whenever the tide is low enough to reach the ghosts safely.
On one of my visits, the beach looks different. At first I can't tell what has changed, but then the light catches on a piece of something green. The blue sand of my ancestors has always been mixed with bits of rock and shreds of plants and pieces of debris, but this is new, and there is enough of it that the color of the sand is shifting. I ask my mother what it is, for she can talk to all the other ghosts, and together they know more than any single living creature.
She says the green is glass, and that it is made by creatures who call themselves humans. The glass is sand transformed by heat. My mother says not far from here there are great green bowls of glass, on a beach that humans use to land silver machines that they call spaceships.
There are many who are cautious, as I am, and only visit when the tide is low. The beach is always crowded when I go, but never so crowded as now. Everyone needs to consult with their ghosts, for something strange is happening. Humans have come to our blue sand beach, and instead of sitting on the shore and talking to our ghosts, they are taking the sand away.
My mother's ghost looks different. Her entire leg -- that one that used to be shorter than the other five -- is gone, and while she has always been translucent, she flickers in and out of existence now in a way she never did before.