The Collected Accounts of June Bloomer

Across newspapers and television, seventeen year old June Bloomer is being shredded across the country for the cataclysmic events she caused in the quiet town of Johnston's creek. However months after the horror, in that forgettable village, June's only four friends are determined to tell the truth of June from the causalities they received first hand and nothing less.

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32. Entry thirteen:

This entry starts with a history lesson. Johnson’s Creek is named after Adonis Johnson, a boy from the 182os who started the town by migration. He was filthy rich, with an English heritage, inheritance and a love for swimming. That’s all people really know about Adonis, that and that his family tree that grew from when he later married and had eight children. Now, all the Johnson’s descendants have left the town. But the name stuck, as well as the corroding iron placards of his history sprouting from the grounds like rare metal daises.

Anyway, Adonis decided to create a life here in the first place because while he was travelling cross country, he stopped by the Creek for rest and spied something strange from the green-blue water. When he eventually ventured closer, he slipped into the water and came face to face with a mermaid, Leonora, who had been trapped upstream for years and had spent her years wasting in the little pool of water with only the singing birds for company. She was so grateful for company she turned her tail to legs and married him. They lived a full life together, but Adonis died of old age before her skin wrinkled. When he passed, she left her mortal family and returned to the Creek, only to be seen like a ghost of the water.

I mean, you know as well as I do there’s nothing fictional about June Bloomer and this is far too close to a fairytale and a travel brochures then the accounts should be. And no one really believes it, because the less publicised tale of Adonis is that of a spoilt, drunk heir. I just thought it might be handy to know for when I account the next day of our summer adventures; the day June wanted to go mermaid hunting.

Originally, the day was planned for DVDs at my house. I’d over-purchased on snacks tenfold in my desperate enthusiasm to lure them in with food, and the sitting room was decked with fluffed pillows positioned exactly so to look casual and appealing. A stack of carefully analysed movies towered neatly beside the television. One by one, the group arrived. Until at last, we were waiting on just June.

I just remember sitting there, twiddling my thumbs into my thighs, with a smile large and wavering, and thinking this is what it means to be a teenager. I didn’t think I’d get use to the idea of just ‘hanging out’ but I liked it, even more than I enjoyed the safety at sitting at the table at lunch, with extra allegiant bodies who forgot to ask how your weekend was.

Why did no one tell me we live within a mile of a mermaid? June asked as she arrived at my door, tapping the rolled-up dusty leaflet in her hand. Back in the eighties, the mayor had made a grand effort of trying to create a tourist attraction out of Leonora. By blowing the town’s budget on advertising, the townspeople were rewarded by the disappointment as crowds flocked to the Creek only to find nothing. She wasn’t infamous like the Loch Ness Monster, with fake photos and personalities. Instead she was just the wisp of a rumour from centuries ago. Somehow, though, June seemed to have found a pamphlet in a block font and black and white photos of “Leonora”. If you looked for a second, I doubt even a reader wouldn’t notice that it was actually Mrs Sommer with her hair puffy and curly, in a seashell bra – where would a mermaid of the Creek even resource a seashell bra? – and a smile like a dental advertisement.

Because; we don’t, Rose muttered. I groaned. Michael winced. And we looked at each other wondering just how long we could force a bull and a tiger in a room with one another before they’d find a target in themselves.

It’s really not as exciting as it sounds, June. We go to the Creek all the time and we’ve never spotted anything. It’s just a story the town tells to make us seem more interesting. I added, helpfully, and with a compromising smile. I could tell by how her bagpack was sagging under the weight of her equipment that it wasn’t just going to be another quiet day lounging by the poolside. She was just asking for the humour of it; she already had a plan.

A story? More like a legend. I bet no one’s ever spotted her because we’re not calling for her. Listen to this: She cleared her voice: Leonora was told as being faint-haired, blue-eyed, with a complexion Adonis described as ‘as seamless and pure as a pearl plucked from a clam’. Did you know Adonis wrote poems about her?

I knew what we were all thinking just then. A little like you, June. She rattled on a few verses of something called Ode to Oceania, her eyes expanding like anime cartoons and the rest of all trying to catch each other’s looks, to silently decide whether we’d humour her. Outside the weather was streams of yellow light, and a warm breeze filtering through the gaps of the window in my house. My dad was in his study, my mother away, and the dog sitting uneasily in the corner of the room, too lazy to bark at the unfamiliar faces but too nervous to sleep. They didn’t even notice us leave for all the racket with who has the key who has their coat who forgot the basket who needs to pee how will we all fit in the car oh for goodness’ sake just cram in!

And how exactly do you catch a mermaid? Michael finally brought the question to surface, as he opened the door for June of a pink, shiny car. It was his mother’s, and the bane of Michael’s life. I heard even in the desperation of finding June on that snowy morning, he still took the bike. However, just for once, he decided to drive us there. We all bundled in the four seats and headed for the Creek – just ten minutes - , and everyone was arguing about what music to play. Michael’s mother had Total Eclipse of the Heart on repeat, Michael had some sorrowful, guitar melodies, I had the latest pop song. Later we decided on the radio, and rolled down the windows like a warning symbol to the people we rushed by. I mean, it’s not a busy place, so that was only about a crowd of a dog and a person. Nevertheless, we were enthused, and yelled out for them to have a nice day among the murmurings of screams.

June tapped her finger to her mouth, after she’d blushed and taken Michael’s hand on the way out the door. She looked like Marilyn Monroe in that instant; pale blonde hair, curled and tied up, sunglasses and a warm smile. Well, maybe if Marilyn Monroe had a top scrawled with Arthur Miller, JFK and Joe DiMaggio etched in a love scrawled on her t-shirt, and denim shorts.

I was hoping you’d know, she laughed after a paused response. Rose rolled her eyes.  But a good place to start is to dive in. She wasn’t the kind of person who thought about the lone drive home with wet clothes, or how we only had towels for skimming the waters. I guess that’s what we liked about her; the impulse drives the impulse out of others.

She kicked off her shoes and headed straight for the rocks, bounding from one to the other. The white of her skin had never looked brighter than on that grey marble of the rocks, and soon she splashed into the pale green, fusing into a blue at the heart of the creek. It was a spring, with a constant stream lapping down and kissing our feet as we stood just watching her. Awing her. Wondering what we’d be doing now without her.

She beckoned us all in, and one by one we headed out, ungracefully slipping and sliding. I cut a faint line on my thigh from a sharp corner, but I dismissed it. The water hit the red with a painful nip, but I brushed it off. Michael ran and made it in one peace just before me. Ky perched by the side-lines, happily dry and involved as a spectator. Rose was hesitant, but she could never refuse the water. She swam the lengths of the pool-like, morphed circle, never stopping to chat, and sarcastically called it ‘Mermaid Patrol’.

I’d forgotten all about the mermaid at this point. We all dunked our heads in at once, to ease us into the comfort of the mild water. June declared the search party to begin; she’d done her research, and as we explored the nooks and bumps of the Creek, she’d rattle a little anecdote here and there.

Did you know Leonora has apparently been sighted by two people in the past fifty years? Michael and I exchanged the looks of parents in the know, listening to a children’s over-exaggerated tale. As natives, we knew it all when it came to the mermaid. She was just another Santa Claus, or tooth fairy. She was just a good costume option on Halloween. To listen to June made us cringe like we saw the children we once were, who spoke of her as certain as the sea and the sky. In fact, I’m pretty certain that Adonis Johnson must have been an alcoholic to believe he’d actually married a mermaid. It’s true; I couldn’t really explain why any woman, mortal or otherwise, would have been waiting here to be saved. Maybe she was desperate for water or a hallucinogenic herself.

Well, in that moment; I could see Leonora in June. With a soaked shirt, damp silver hair and the blue of her eyes melting with the Creek. Her legs could have been scales. She had a look of wild abandon, like a Leonora when she finally found her Adonis. For that moment, when I felt along the walls and the floor, I was honestly searching for a feel of a slippery scale or webbed fingers. It was dreamlike – Michael was dancing through the water, June was pushing him away and laughing, the seriousness wearing down like sacred old shoes.

June sang little lyrics, and caressed the surface of the shimmering blue as though she was soothing it to sleep. I swear I saw a fin poke from across the water, but it was probably the excitement of the event more than anything. Michael couldn’t concentrate; and I watched his helplessness towards her. She wasn’t a mermaid anymore; she looked sharp and stunning, like a siren. And there was a siren’s call beckoning him further and further towards her as inevitable as gravity. He held her arms, whispered something in her ear and her face drained of colour. She slipped up his feet to trip him up so he fell into the water, body and soul.

How would you like to drown in your love for me, Michael? How would you like to drown? She was smiling, but her veins were pulsing from the effort of fully submerging Michael to a point where he was kicking back, gasping for the breaths that could reach him far down. Then the smiles were coated in the streaks of tears falling from her pale eyes, darkening her lashes. Her lips caught the salt from the water, and Michael was frantic from what we could see. Rose was screaming now, trying to run through the water at a glacial and ferocious pace, yelling at June to stop. Ky was roused from his trance of deep thought, and called out himself. And I was paralysed, trying to understand how blurred the lines between a joke and a violent threat could be. Two seconds ago, I’d been giggling with her.

Eventually, Rose reached her, dragged her wet limbs from Michael and pushed her into the ground, just inches from bashing her skull from the hard rocks. Then she pulled Michael out, shook him and continuously pestered him with are you alright? Are you okay? Until she could catch the slightest nod of a head from him. All at once, the sun seems to leak from the sky. And we felt limp and sodden, awkward and scared. June fell backwards, gently as not to injure herself, and seemed to have trouble with the idea of breathing. I was still stuck a foot from the action, unsure if it was a betrayal of Michael to comfort her, or a betrayal of myself to ignore her. Rose hadn’t stopped yelling sense June had lost it.

Lost it… I don’t think I’ve described what she did correctly. It was more like she found it. Everything we didn’t know about her past had consumed her in those bright instances, all her frustrations from the little she knew of love for Michael. It all flipped on its head, spun around a dozen times, and the internal chaos was unbottled. That was the first time we’d seen the bright fury. Before, it had been a slow, dwindling fire. And now it had faded to ashes again.

Ironically, in her moment where she played with life and death; she’d never looked more vulnerable. Crouched tiny and rocking in her own recovery position, she nested on a nearby rock with the impression of being the victim herself. Now she was pulling at her hair in a manic distress, speaking without making a sound. It felt as though we had all flicked mute. Only Rose eventually reassured me I hadn’t gone deaf altogether with her continuous screech of hysteric fear and revenge. She nearly strangled June on the spot, but her hands were too committed to helping Michael up, a wild look of panic all over her heart-shaped face.

When we all trudged up the grey stones, spluttering and silent, the air had changed. Michael, forgiving as ever, ran up to her, bent his tall frame so he could reach to her head and tell her it was alright because he knew she didn’t mean it. His eyes were so full of worry you’d think he’d been the one to nearly drown her. She was shaking, as we all were, but not from the cold.

But I did mean it in the moment, or at least I think I did. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry… She looked up to him, with red eyes and a voice breaking from shock. He couldn’t really comfort her, but he could lie.

I know what you’re thinking right now. The alarm bells are probably triggering more and more with every word I just wrote. So you’re not going to like my excuses, defences, or whatever they are. You probably want to know why we didn’t phone the police just then. Why Michael’s blue lips didn’t make us consider whether she was a danger.

I don’t have excuses; he just didn’t. In all honesty, you weren’t the one who saw her after. She was just confused, lost, dizzy with the summer heat. We all drove back, without the radio, without a word. And one by one he dropped us off like sad rain drops. I was the second last lift, and waved goodbye trying to not to notice the back seat, with June burrowing her head in her hands. Michael smiled with a look as though he was carrying the whole world on his heavy lip.

I guess what happened that day on the Creek was the signs you were all looking for. Wasn’t it? That’s what the detectives would have liked to have said, when they asked if there was anything that could have made us think June was a danger. It was never like that, though. You can’t just stare into your friend’s eyes, and see Red where there is only a clear, calm blue. No more than they could instantly find Aubrie’s body under that ice. I can honestly say, I didn’t think she was dangerous. I think I have a gut instinct has been numbed over time so it’s a reflex to head for the easy option. When I arrived home that day, with hair damp and nerves chattering inside me, and a strange fear snaking my ribs like a wind-up toy, I shut the door on my in. And that was the last I thought about it.

So, I was thinking June. Could we maybe go back to when you walked into our school and we didn’t know your name? Further still, to the root that caused you to do what you did? I would like that a lot. Let’s hope someone makes a time machine soon, and we get on a priority list.

But now as I consider it all, I have something to confess.  I said I would confess, after all. Would it be guilty for me to not want to lose everything she did? Maybe I could just keep the friendship and the laughing. Maybe a parallel June of little home heartbreak could move to our town with a happy family and a sunny, rare disposition. And we could have both. 

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