(First place winner of Writer’s Carnival’s Author-less Flash contest!)

“He promised he’d return today.”

Serena stroked the coral comb through her hair for the umpteenth time. Locks of gold will stop a man cold, her mother used to sing.

“Not this year.”

“You don’t know that, Kay.”

“The day’s done. He won’t come this year. Just as he didn’t last, just as he won’t next.”

Serena shot the dolphin a piercing look.

“Fine.” She plucked an oyster from where the waves crashed against the rock and pried it open with the comb to reveal an engraved black pearl. Turning it over in her fingers, she chanted a haunting song until the pearl vanished into dust on the ocean breeze.

“Whose life this year?”

“His sister’s.”

“Too close. Why not just take his and be done with it?”

“He needs to learn his lesson.”

The friends watched the sun sink into the horizon, concealing a ship that would never appear.

“Sailors are too fickle.”

“Dolphins are too cheeky.”

“And mermaids are too spiteful.”

“He’ll come for me. You’ll see.”

A hint of warning in his eyes, Kay disappeared beneath the waves. Serena’s tail glimmered in the twilight as she combed her golden hair, alone.

He promised.

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