Flume chose to leave her former home and let herself be washed on to Mon Repos Beach. Her foster parents believe she has amnesia. But Flume knows exactly who and what she is – and now she needs to know if she’s made the right choice…
Flume watched from the trees as the massive loggerhead turtle heaved herself out of the surf and onto the long stretch of Mon Repos Beach.
The moon soared high overhead, gilding the waves with silver and bleaching the sand of colour. Beneath the trees where Flume hid, shadows shifted restlessly in the sea breeze and leaves rustled around her. Flume shivered. The sea drew her and repelled her at the same time. Like the turtle, she was both a part of the sea and apart from it.
She shouldn’t have come. She should have stayed at home with her foster parents like the normal human girl she was trying to be, or asked them if they’d take her on the Turtle Encounters tour instead of sneaking out and skulking here in the scrub hoping she wasn’t seen. Dan and Helen would have brought her out here like a shot if she’d asked, eager to find something that would connect her to the life she’d forgotten.
The trouble was, Flume hadn’t forgotten her past life. She remembered every humiliating, terrifying bit of it.
Further up the beach she saw a torch flicking back and forth near the waves as one of the rangers searched for turtles dragging their way up the beach to lay their eggs. They would be up this way soon enough though, and then they’d radio through to the Information Centre and a ranger would lead a group out here to watch. But for now the loggerhead was alone, dragging her bulk slowly up the beach, and Flume was watching her with a mixture of awe and pity. The turtle, so graceful and at home in the ocean, was ponderous and slow here on land.
Kind of opposite to Flume. In the ocean she’d felt like the slow one, the freak, the one who could never keep up.
The loggerhead was heading for a point fifteen or so metres from where Flume crouched, rocking side to side as she heaved each flipper forward. Quietly Flume moved across until the turtle was heading straight for her. She pressed herself against the knobbly bark of a casuarina tree, its needle-like leaves poking into her neck. Flume could see the loggerhead’s eyes now, dark, sand-flecked, intent on her task of reaching the sand dunes and laying her eggs where they would be safe. If she noticed Flume, she gave no sign.
But someone else had noticed her. The ranger had come back up the beach and had spotted her tracks. Flume could hear him reporting in over the sound of the surf. He would stay until the tour group arrived, which meant Flume was trapped.
She cleared the bigger twigs from beneath herself and sat cross-legged, wincing, trusting her dark clothes to hide her. Besides, no one would be looking into the bush. They’d all be focused on the turtle.
Lucky turtle. All she has to worry about is eating, swimming and laying her eggs. Flume looked up and out, to where the waves were creating lacy patterns on the sand. Me, everyone thinks I’m stupid because of what I can’t do and don’t know. She sighed. I don’t belong anywhere…