Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal, Romance
Type of Short Story: Novelette
Summary: One hundred years ago, a father threw his pregnant daughter from a bridge. The baby swam free of his mother, and the first river rat was born. Most folks in the little river town do not believe in such tales. But to sixteen-year-old Floyd Lebus, it's simply his family history.
Floyd lives with the entire clan of river rats in a cluster of ramshackle houses on the cliffs overlooking the Kentucky River. The Lebus family is tolerated by the townsfolk, as long as they stick to their own kind.
Mandy O'Dell is not Floyd's kind, but she is drawn to the river and to Floyd that summer. His love for Mandy causes him to test the boundaries of family tradition. Their forbidden union unearths buried secrets, and Mandy may suffer the brutal consequences.
It didn’t seem real. Yet, he was there, holding the gun in his hand, watching the girl go over the bridge. She seemed to fall in stop motion animation. The bright colors of her clothing whirled. She became a spinning pinwheel of arms, legs, hair, and screams. Her screams he remembered well. Or was it only a single scream? A bungee cord shriek stretched from the bridge, bouncing off the water. He remembered the water, too, dull and green, and the smell of the river.
Upon close inspection, Floyd even resembled a fish: glossy, wide-set bug eyes, thin, nearly transparent, slimy lips, ears that stuck out like fins, a green-blue hue to his skin, and patches of scaly, everlasting eczema on his cheeks. Fishy Boy Floyd lived up to his name.
The source of all of Floyd’s trouble was Mandy O’Dell. She was pretty in an unpolished way. At school, she wore her long, wavy, blond hair pulled back, and she dressed modestly. During the summer, she wore paper-thin sun dresses, and let her hair swing loosely down to her waist. Her skin was sun-darkened; her face was dotted with freckles. It was her eyes that first caught Floyd’s attention though—her amber-flecked, green eyes were like the river when the sun hit it.