Tide - By Daniela Sacerdoti

Salt and Lilies

Islay, October 2002

It was the first time that Sarah ever felt close to Morag Midnight, and the last time she saw her alive.

The beach was vast and windswept, and the black-haired girl wrapped her scarf around her neck twice, struggling to keep up with her grandmother as they strode towards the sea.

“Come on, Sarah!”

Sarah broke into a run. She didn’t understand what the rush was, and she didn’t know why her grandmother was desperate to take her for a walk on the beach all of a sudden. Her parents had driven over to the other side of the island – Secret business, as usual – and they had left her with Morag, in spite of the fact that Morag’s behaviour was becoming increasingly erratic. As soon as Sarah reached her grandmother on the shoreline, Morag took the girl’s hand.

“The water is very cold,” the old woman said.

Sarah felt a flutter of apprehension. The sea was wide and grey, and choppy under the wintry wind. She didn’t like to think how cold the water would be, how freezing the white-topped waves. Her skin puckered into goosebumps.

“Have you ever swum in the sea in winter?” Morag asked. Sarah noticed how the water was lapping their boots now. The bottom of her jeans was wet already.

“No. My mum and dad wouldn’t let me. It’s too cold.”

Morag laughed, a brittle laugh that made Sarah shiver. “Of course! Imagine your mother letting you swim in there at this time of year. That would be crazy. What mother would do that?”

Morag’s grip was tight around Sarah’s hand, and Sarah flinched but she didn’t say anything. She knew better than to provoke her grandmother. Her temper was such that she would fly off the handle at the slightest provocation.

“It’s so cold that you wouldn’t drown. Your heart would just stop,” Morag continued. Her once blonde hair, now grey, was coming loose from its bun, and long strands framed her graceful face. Morag’s eyes were big and blue, and her features as stern as a northern goddess. She was tall, and always stood very straight. Everything about her spoke of pride and strength.

Sarah swallowed hard. She fought the instinct to free herself from Morag’s grip and run. She didn’t want to be standing with her feet in seawater, with her grandmother holding her hand so tight it hurt; she wanted to be home with her mum and dad.

“Gran, I’m cold. Let’s go home.”

Morag turned to look Sarah straight in the eye. She softened her grip on the child’s hand and bent down, her face now level with Sarah’s. Unexpectedly, she stroked Sarah’s cheek.

“The world is changing. I won’t be here to see how things map out, but you will be. Remember this, Sarah: whatever happens, the Midnight family must be protected and preserved by all possible means.”

Sarah didn’t know what to say. Though she was only eight years old, she was an old soul, and could see and feel things much beyond her years. Morag’s intensity petrified her. She nodded.

“At your age, Sarah, I was hunting already. But maybe you’re not meant for the hunt … like she wasn’t. Maybe there’s something else you need to do. Had I known … had I known what was happening, back then … what I was about to lose! But it’s too late now. It’s your parents’ time. And soon it will be your time, Sarah. Come,” she said, grasping her granddaughter’s hand tight again.

“Where are we going?”

“Back to Midnight Hall. There’s something I need to show you.”

The next morning Sarah awoke to find her mum sitting on her bed.

“Wake up, darling. Wake up …”


Sarah was startled to see her mother’s face streaked with tears.

“There was an accident,” Anne began.

“Gran is dead,” Sarah said. “She walked into the sea.”

“Sarah … How do you know? Did you dream? Already?”

The little girl shook her head.

“Then how … Did you hear your father and me talking? Were you awake?”

“No. She told me.”


Morag had kneeled down and held Sarah tight all of a sudden – the little girl had stood tense, breathing in her grandmother’s scent of salt and lilies. “Sarah … They say that people from these islands belong to the sea. I think it’s true. Tomorrow I’ll go back where I belong.”

A teardrop had rolled down Morag’s cheek, and Sarah had wiped it away with her small finger. “Don’t cry, Gran,” she’d said.

“No. Of course not,” Morag had whispered. “I won’t cry anymore.”

Without You

For all the lovers who had no choice

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