Old HandI dribble now, at night in bed, during the dull sleep of a Mediterranean siesta and wake with a white skim of drool on my cheek and crusts in my eyes. By day, I paint my aged face– lips crone-red, Cleopatra eyes, Dietrich brows, and lacquer my nails, hard as cow hoofs, fuchsia to hide the horny discolouration of nicotine. Nothing disguises the knobbled, knuckled witch bones of my fingers. Fingers once delicate which caressed, cradled and composed.  My heels are lower, skirts longer and my shoulders clad despite the violent summer heat.

Except by the pool, in flowered skull cap and failing black secret-slimming-elastane swimsuit, there can be no disguise.

Simple seborrheic keratoses litter my skin, benign but ugly. I know but my grandchildren don’t. When I sit in the late afternoon sun on the lounger, they stare, openly, run their tiny, questioning fingers over my skin.

‘Mind my dragon scales.’ I tell them. ‘I’m evolving. The naughtier you are the more I change.’

Their eyes, wide with fear, shine with the knowledge that naughtiness brings not only trouble but power. It is a heady brew and mischief rules. It brings joy because I know, the little ones crave drama, terror, dark imagination and not lip balm flavoured stories.

‘Spider’s kisses,’ I say with an evil slur when they poke the Campbell De Morgan papules, tiny and red, littering my senile belly. So much more thrilling than their common, cutesy name, Cherry angiomas. Where’s the fun in that?

My sinewed popliteal fossae swallow tiny fingers up to their knuckles and when the little ones squint for a better look at my thighs, dimpled with cellulite, threaded with varicosed veins, I warn them not to touch.

‘One touch and my rotting worms, blue with poison will kill you,’ I whisper.

They step back and gulp.

I hide in the water and wait for the right moment. When mummies stretch out, eyes closed, a glimmer of relaxation on their tanned faces. Then. I rise from the deep, water rappels from my skin, splintering the light and with the gasp of air, I shout.

‘Beware the Kraken.’

Every child stops in their tracks. A dread-filled hush. Splinters of doubt. Before kiddies screech. Babies scream.

I clamber out, shake off the water and flop on the lounger to light a cigarette and swig my ice-cold gin.

I am the Kraken.

***

Shannon Savvas is a New Zealand writer who divides her life and heart between New Zealand, England and Cyprus. Winner of Reflex Fiction, Cuirt New Writing Prize, runner up Flash500 Short Story and frequent bridesmaid in Word Factory, Bath – short story, flash, novel, Fish, Flash500, InkTears, Reflex Fiction, Grindstone LiteraryShort Story Prize competitions. Published online, and in print in literary journalsHeadland Journal NZIssues 1 & 13), Gulf Coast Online and print Issue 12 Into the Void, and has work included in Horizons 3, Bath Flash Fiction, Bath Short Story Award, Fish, Reflex Fiction vol 1 anthologies.