Acheron — Chapter 1


Steve Fendt


Sky Pool | author image

Blue eyes. Brown eyes. Green or hazel. Why do we even notice? It’s just pigmentation of the iris. It says nothing about the person behind the eyes. Yet it might be the difference between never looking at them, not properly, and never being able to look away.

It’s unfair. My eyes are sort of muddy. Even my wife of thirty-five years would be pushed to say what colour they are. I was short-changed in the iris department.

Unlike Áine.

The first thing I noticed about Áine were her eyes: the colour of the pre-dawn sky. Her gaze was startling, arresting. When I looked into her eyes, I saw — light.

Yes, that’s it: I felt illuminated by her light.

Does that make sense? Probably it sounds daft.

She wasn’t a pretty girl, in the conventional, symmetrically-featured way we see on TV. It was a strong face: a long jaw squared off at the chin; sculpted cheek-bones. Her long nose had a slight downward curve. Thick brows tried hard to meet under a broad forehead over which thick brown hair tumbled, so dark as almost to be black. Large canines gave her wide smile a hint of the wolf.

Pretty or not, Áine had presence.

To me, from the moment I saw her, she was the only girl in the school. The only one who mattered.

It was in year nine.

‘We have a new student in our class,’ announced Mr Grant. ‘Onya Doyle.’ A slim, dark-haired girl stood next to him, hands clasped, surveying the class with a faint smile on her lips.

‘It’s pronounced Awnya,’ corrected Áine mildly. Clearly she was used to this situation. ‘Long “awn-”, not short “on-”.’ Tittering around the class. ‘Onya, Awnya,’ called some wit.*

Poor old Grant was flustered. ‘Sorry, Awwwnya Doyle … Please make Awwwnya welcome.’

Half-hearted applause.

The uniform she wore was obviously second-hand, and not a particularly good fit. Still she wore the baggy sweater and the threadbare skirt with the poise of a dancer. Straight back, squared shoulders, chin tilted upward. When she walked, she placed each foot.



Steve Fendt Short stories, serial fiction, memoirs of a possibly quasi-true nature. Stories of the Australian beach and bush.