Arrival at Leah's Cove

Elena Selk


She arrived on a container ship and asked to be pointed in the direction of the house where the Montgomery boy lived. But the people in town didn't know how to talk to the kind of woman who appears on a container ship, or how to tell someone that the person they are looking for is dead, so they waited for the little girl to push through the crowd and take the woman by the hand. Then, once the woman was gone, they asked each other who she had to charm to get herself on a container ship, and estimated the length of her journey by the length of the hairs on her legs.

It was the little girl who told the woman that the boy was dead, that he'd fallen off a cliff (on accident, but also, maybe, on purpose), and that his parents had been so full of grief that after the fishermen who found him carried him up the hill and placed him on a sheet in the basement, they had taken one look at their son and walked straight out of the house and through the town and had never come back.

The woman had come to marry the Montgomery boy because she'd dreamt about him. In her dream they were together in this town, in this house too close to the edge of the hill, and she felt something that she thought must be happiness. The woman was crushed to hear about the boy being dead, but only momentarily. The dream, she felt, had been vague. The boy was not necessarily alive in it and, now that she thought about it, neither was she. I will be dead now, she told the girl, who stood on the threshold of the house because, as you can imagine, a house with a body in the basement has a truly wretched stench. 

The woman would live as the dead, she said. She would stay in the house and eat only asphodel, the flower of the dead, and she and the boy would live together as they were meant to, according to the dream she once had.

The people in town never went to the house on top of the hill, so only the girl, who was old enough to think that all of this was very strange, but not old enough to think it was impossible, knew anything about the woman. The rest of them only gossiped and called her names. The girl was the one to bring the woman asphodel and to see her pacing the house above the body of the boy she thought she was meant to spend her life (death?) with. She was also the first one to notice her hair. 

It's said that hair continues to grow after death so, perhaps, if someone is both living and dead their hair grows twice as fast as the hair of someone who is either living or dead. Perhaps this is why the woman's hair had grown to the floor within a week and had carpeted the living room within a month. 

When the house had grown so full of hair that it was hard to breathe, the girl suggested cutting it, which the woman refused. Instead she instructed the girl to throw segments of it out each of the windows, then she settled supine on the living room floor, a floor above the body of the decomposing boy. 

Of course, when the townspeople first saw the hair spilling out of the windows and tumbling down the hill, they had even more stories to tell, and plenty to speculate on. Fences were built and children were warned about touching the hair. It wasn't until a year later, when the hair had reached the edges of the water, catching fish in its tresses, and had piled upon the soil long enough for it to turn so fertile that trees and vegetables spontaneously arose from once dry ground, that their stories changed. 

The hair had turned their town into something more than a place where ships docked and goods were exchanged. It offered sustenance and value and possibility. It also created greed, which I'm sure you're not surprised to hear. In fact, I'm sure all of this is beginning to sound very familiar to you. You've heard this story before. It's a story that, in one way or another, you are probably participating in right now. 

So, whichever way you think this story goes is probably the way it went. 

I do wish, however, that I could tell you more about the little girl, who loved the woman and wanted nothing more than to be close to her. But after everything that happened finished happening, the girl left the town. I don't know where she is or what became of her. In fact, now that I think about it, I never knew that much about her to begin with.