"What's wrong?" she said, upon seeing his expression.

"It's my leg. I can't move it. I think it's broken. You'll have to swim for help."

He looked to the shore. It seemed a long way off still, and the waves crested quite high.

"Can't we get them to help us?" she asked.

"I think we'd better not."

"Then you can relax in my grip and I'll drag you to shore."

"You're a ninety-pounder, kid. How are you going to make it with almost a hundred and a half holding you back? Swim to shore and go for some help. I'll stay with the boat."

To his dismay, black thunderheads rolled out over the bay from the east. He had heard nothing of bad weather, and certainly not of a storm. Moreover, the yacht had turned around again and drifted threateningly in the water. A tall man on the bow watched them with binoculars.

"They did that on purpose," Jane said. "Why don't they come to help us?"

"They didn't do it on purpose," he contradicted her. "Don't be ridiculous. They just didn't see us. Maybe the driver's drunk, and they're nervous about doing the right thing."

Though it was a lie, if she became more scared, he knew that she might panic. The yachters had most definitely done it on purpose, and drunkenness had nothing to do with it. Joe had heard a thing or two about Mirror Island in his time. He should have stayed away, but what's a rumor from old people sitting around and telling yarns over a bottle of wine at a bonfire? He had laughed at those old tales, but right now, he certainly wished he hadn't.

"Where are the life jackets?" she asked. She swam the circumference of the boat and came around in a full circle. "I don't see them."

He breathed in to calm himself, fighting his growing alarm.

"Well, they couldn't have sunk." He tried to chuckle, but his courage failed him.

"I'll check under the boat," she said. She returned in a moment. "I can't find them," she said, her glance wandering to the yacht. "Why are they watching us? What are they waiting for? Why don't they come and help us?"

"Be cool, sis. I'm going to try to get up on the boat, and wave to them for help." With an effort, Joe crawled up on the bottom of the boat, but with his leg so sore, he only waved from a position of lying down.

"I must look pathetic," he said to himself.

And vulnerable.

Where had this improbable thought come from? He didn't know, but it struck him as unlike him.

Jane looked up with her puppy-dog eyes.

"Dad's going to kill us."

He saw that she might cry. "It's going to be okay, but it looks like they're not going to help. Go! You can do it."

She looked over to the shore.

"I'll go, then," she said in a troubling voice.

Joe's heart sunk as she began to swim off. The yacht drifted away for a while, and the people seemed to have disappeared from the deck.

"That's the spirit," he called to her softly. "It's not too far, and the water's not too cold."

The first drops of rain began to fall as Joe watched her go.

"For sure they did that on purpose." He swore under his breath when she was out of earshot, the rain falling on the surface beginning to mute any other noise. "But why?"

Chapter 1, Book of Mirrors Where stories live. Discover now