The river water was cool and refreshing. I went to the river for water every morning with two pails for water. I filled them and had enough water to use for the day. My home was closest to the river and farthest from town but I enjoyed the silence. My parents died 2 years ago of disease and my brother left to seek his fortune in the main city. I’ve been alone for 6 months now. I don’t mind because I keep myself busy. I have a small garden, a chicken pen and one cow for food so I rarely need to go to town. I also sell any extra food for more coin. Afternoons are spent weaving cloth to take into town once a month.
I woke up later than normal but I had no need to be in a real rush to get to the river. I woke up early only out of habit. I was never on a time limit. I had no one waiting for me at home. I followed the winding dirt path down to the river. As I got closer I heard a song. It pulled me in and I felt as if all my senses had dulled. At first I couldn’t make out the words to this beautiful melody. As I got closer the song sounded somehow sad. It was beautifully tragic. I began walking faster. The song was going to reach its climax then it would end and there would only be silence. I had to hurry. It was going to fade. Faster. My heart was racing. Faster. I could see the river now. I began running feeling the air cool down as I neared. I had to see. I wanted to see who was making that beautiful music. When I finally reached the river I slid to a stop. I was amazed at the figure across the river staring straight at me with fresh tears. Emerging out of the water I clearly saw a deep blue shining tail. It slowly got bigger as my eyes traced it up the seemingly rough rock. Then the scales turned into pale smooth skin. As I continued to trace this beautiful figure up I saw round hips, slim waist, bare and full chest, strong yet soft collar, thin neck, Her hair was black as night and curled in gentle circle, I stopped as I made contact with her deep blue glistening eyes.
Her cheeks were flushed under my gaze. “I’m sorry I,” well I slipped into the river that’s what I was. Other than that I was in complete shock. I just saw a mermaid. Did I just see a mermaid? I quickly got up and she was gone. “Hello?” I gazed around the river as my voice echoed into the empty space. She had vanished.
I looked down at the water that now reached my waist. I saw a rough girl with uncharacteristic blonde lacy hair tied up in an attempt to restrain it. Her soft pink lips in a tight line and her feline face gave away nothing. Her small but strong figure stood out against the forest. My reflection showed how alone I was in this forest standing in the river drenched and perhaps going insane. Yes, I must be going insane.
I quickly filled the pails and walked back home. I thought back on what my mind imagined. Why had I seen a women if I was lonely, shouldn’t I be thinking of one of those silly men that pursue me in town? Her body was too sinful for my mind to create, she must exist. Mermaids don’t exist, I thought to myself in the garden and while weaving afterword. My mind must have created her. My mind swayed with thoughts of her detailed figure as I picked flowers. I couldn’t have made such an amazing and seductive creature, she must be real. As I made dinner I realized I had been alone for six months only going into town once a month, there was no way I had a clear mind. Then as I lay down for bed I remembered her voice. That enchanting voice that sang so sadly felt as if it was meant for me. I knew she was real and if I ever saw her again I would help her sing a song with no traces of pain in its melody.
The next morning I went to the river as I would normally. I listened carefully but didn’t hear the song again. As I filled the pails I looked across the river at the rock she sat on previously. It looked so smooth. I could have sworn yesterday it was rough. Perhaps in comparison to her smooth complexion it was jagged. I turned around to walk away when I heard water splashing behind me. My heart skipped a beat as I looked back there she was glistening. Her blue eyes looked directly into mine.
“Hello.” her low voice blended with the forest and filled my mind with a numb bliss
“H-,” I hesitated out of surprise and after clearing my throat replied, “Hello.” My own voice pierced nature with its higher pitch.
She greeted my response with a warm smile from her deep red lips. She held out her arms to me and whispered “I love you.”
Unconsciously I walked right across the river into her arms feeling as if her voice had enveloped me and pulled me into her body. To my surprise she wasn’t cold like the river at my feet or even wet for that matter. She was quite warm and embraced me gently in her soft arms. She was real.
Before I knew it I was visiting the river often. I came to learn that sense she was young she would watch us from the rivers water. She and her family watched as my parents passed away and my brothers left and I being the younger sister remained at home alone. Her family decided to move on after my brothers left but she chose to stay. For the last six months she was just like me. It was forbidden for her to talk to me due to our difference in species and she had agreed to never speak to me. Men were known to kill mermaids and often vengeful mermaids would become sirens and drown men dragging their bodies to the oceans floor. Merpeople never trusted humans.
The day I saw her was a complete mistake. Sense I didn’t show up as I normally would she believed I had left like the others. She believed she was completely alone without me and only stayed to be with me even if from afar. She told me she sang a prayer to the gods. She prayed I would come back and if they answered her prayer she would reveal herself to me and risk death for love.
“I can’t explain it,” She began, “I guess over the years I fell in love with you. Your blonde wild hair,” she caressed my cheek as she spoke, “your emerald green eyes. I’m not sure what sealed it, either your beautiful smile or your strength to continue on after everyone left. I admire you my darling. As I looked up from the water at you, you looked like an angel to me, with your golden hair.” Then she gently kissed my cheek. This was something she often did, always touching me as if to ensure I wasn’t an illusion. After time I came to realize her love for me was real and went far beyond the love women should have with one another.
It was a month later that I bent down to kiss her pale cheek when she turned and faced me. I felt this shock through my body as a cool numbing sensation began in my fingertips. Her soft lips against mine sent chills down my spine I would never forget.
That morning she came out of the water and her fin slowly turned into a pair of pale long legs. She said this was difficult magic few merpeople could do that was genetically passed down. I helped her walk back to our new home and by the time the sun had set she knew how to use her legs elegantly as she pranced around on her toes. She would always tell me it was I that looked like a floating angel as I moved about the world but she couldn’t see her beautiful figure as I did with my own eyes.
“Whenever I see you walk in the garden you move with such steady and balanced grace,” she began as my cheeks flushed then she embraced me, “I feel as if I have to hold you down or you’ll fly away from me.”
“But, I would never leave you,” she looked down at me confused, “you’re too important to me, my beloved. I would never leave you. This is our home.” she kissed me more passionately than before.
Her tongue traced the inside of my mouth. I pulled back for air and let out a soft moan as she pressed me into the wall and kissed down my neck. I didn’t understand what was happening to us. I needed her touch on my flesh and she needed my own. I clenched her hair as she nibbled on my collar. She began unbuttoning my shirt and kissed my bare chest. My knees went weak from her soft touch and she swiftly laid me down on the bed to continue as I dug my nails into her arching back. That was the first night we made love.
We spent our time together quietly. Every morning we bathed in the river together after filling the pails with water, playfully helping each other wash. We worked on weaves together and ate what we grew in the garden and occasionally she would catch fish for our dinner to save a chicken. While I cooked dinner she would usually go for a swim in the river to replenish. Any extra food we would take into town and sell as I would normally have done alone. The people in town never questioned two women living together alone once we claimed she was my sister. Many men would swoon over us both offering protection; I never understood how any could still see me when she was present. We were left in peace. It was a quiet restful period, and the happiest moment of my life. My happiness lasted three magnificent years full of lustful nights.
“I’ll be back in a moment darling,” I assured her as I walked out the door, “Love you.”
I climbed up the steep hill by our home that had at the top charming and colorful flowers. It was much too steep for my beloved so I went alone. This is a trip I often made to bring more color into our home. As I came to the top I noticed a strange figure there. I was cautious due to the unusual circumstance of seeing someone this far away from town or any other home for that matter. As I neared I noticed it was a man. He looked rather young, perhaps only a few years older than me. I hid behind the great oak tree and waited for him to leave before I proceeded to pick flowers for the house and for my beloved.
“Hello,” I heard a low voice from behind me whisper, “Don’t be afraid, I simply came here to do some sketches.”
“Sketches,” I repeated searching him with my eyes for evidence of hostility
“Oh! I came back because I left my supplies here by chance.” He walked over behind the tree I had originally stood behind and I didn’t remember seeing any sort of supplies but he was able to pull out a sketch pad and a few pencils. “You are very beautiful.”
“Oh, well I’m gracious for your compliments.” I replied quietly. Now that I was close I could clearly see him, he had blonde short hair, a thin but strong build, taller than me, and his clothes was of very high quality. “May I inquire as to why someone of your stature is in a place like this for simple sketches?”
“Well in my home everyone is required to know an art form and master it and I chose painting.” He replied smoothly with a warm and confident smile that left me strangely uneasy. “How about you model for me? I’ll pay you one copper a day to just come here every day and let me sketch you.”
“W-what?” such an offer was inconceivable, with enough copper I could get my darling a beautiful dress, and maybe even get new tools to make and sell better products. This could be perfect but it was too good. Something was wrong. Why me?
“What do you say? I don’t have much time.” He began to turn away
“Yes! I’ll do it.” I could hardly believe the strength behind my voice.
“Very good then.” He replied calmly, “How about you pick the flowers like you planned and I’ll sketch you.” He sat against the tree and began sketching me. I hesitated unsure of what to do completely. I did as he had said and picked flowers like I planned, although I don’t recall telling him I had come to pick flowers.
Just as he said he didn’t do anything but sketch me. This continued for a few months. His hot gaze burned my flesh. I tried my best to ignore him and thought of my darling’s expression once I got so many beautiful things for her and the new tools would no longer splinter her delicate hands. Maybe we could even get matching rings. Every day after an hour or so he would give me a copper and depart. I grew use to his presence and he became part of the background to my life.
“Darling,” I heard echo as I was on the hill and realized I had been there much longer than normal and saw my beloved walking toward me. Her hair in a long black braid and her arms outstretched as she walked toward me. The worry on her beautiful face pained me to watch. I ran into her arms realizing how scared she must have been if she climbed up this hill.
“I’m so sorry, I had lost track of time,” she held me tightly as she pet my hair gently and we remained so until we heard a loud snap. I then realized what was in the background of my life.
“Oh dear, I’m sorry my pencil broke,” he put both halves of his pencil in his pocket and pulled out one copper and handed it to me, “Don’t worry I clearly see I’ve caused some trouble and I apologize for such an inconvenience.” He smiled grimly, “I’m going back home today so I hope you have enough copper now. Have a nice evening ladies.” He bowed deeply and departed before I could reply.
I explained to my sweet mermaid about the agreement I had made with him and she was upset I didn’t tell her, but happy that I was able to make money to get new supplies for us. A month had passed and we were back to our normal lives alone together. We bought matching rings and had a private ceremony and sealed our fate together with a honey moon out in the forest underneath the moonlight. With the left over copper we bought new tools. Things ran much smoother and I was happy I had met that strange man.
My beloved often sang stories about mermaids to me before bed. I felt like a spoiled child but also felt no remorse. One that stuck in my head was her telling me what would happen after they die. All mermaids turn into beautiful shells that when pressed to your ear allows you to hear them sing to you a song that to our ears sounds just like the oceans waves. She told me that on rare occasions when a mermaid died unnaturally or with a terribly strong emotion you can hear there last thoughts echo in the shell for eternity. Mermaids would use this method to tell their loved ones goodbye.
This was a tradition that began with a king that was very sickly. His wife never left his bedside and every day she would sing her love for him in hopes he would get better. He was too weak to join in with her singing so he just listened quietly. The day he died the queen refused to move from his side and clutched his shell tightly. She remained as still as stone for 5 days until she placed the shell to her ear; then she heard her husband’s voice singing how he loved his beautiful queen and wished her to continue singing to their children. That was the last time the queen showed weakness and from then on was known as the Great Queen for all she did for her people.
We slept together peacefully. As I looked at her pale skin in the moonlight, I wished for our love to last forever just like those thoughts engraved in the shell. To echo for all of eternity and eons from now after we had died someone would hear it and smile.
We began the day as we normally would on February 14th. Bathing, gardening, weaving, flower picking and dinner. Once I started making dinner she left for a swim as usual. Everything seemed like a blissful dream.
“I’ll wait for you right here darling,” I assured her once again, “I promise I’ll never leave you. We will always be together, that’s what it means to be in love right?” she smiled, kissed my lips gently and departed wordlessly.
I always had to reassure her. Even though we had been together so long her fear of losing me never ceased. I enjoyed feeling so treasured be her and perhaps her obsession over me is exactly what I wanted. I began singing to myself as I cooked dinner which is a habit I picked up from my beloved. Dinner was done and she hadn’t come back yet. I fixed the table and she still hadn’t returned. The sun had now set and I was starting to worry. I went and searched for her and found nothing. I ran the river’s edge countless time. By sunrise I was exhausted. I returned for what seemed the hundredth time to the rock I first saw her on. What I hadn’t noticed that night I now saw in the daylight. Engraved into the stone were these words:
“This never could have worked out darling, you are human and we are both women we could never be together. You no longer have to wait for me. Goodbye my love.”
That was all. I stared at that stone what seemed for ages. Reading it over and over in hopes of finding one sign that it wasn’t true, one sign that she’s coming back. Where did she go? Why? I loved her and she loved me, why did it matter if we were both women? Or that she was a mermaid? We are in love aren’t we? Weren’t we? Or was it only I whom loved her. What if this entire time it was only pity that she stayed with me? Not love, but pity as if for an injured bird. Was I ready to fly now? Was she letting me go? I didn’t want to be without my beloved.
I returned home that night without having done anything but stare at the stone. In the morning it felt like I had awoken to a nightmare, but it was reality. My beloved left me. For the first time in years I was completely alone. It was happening again. I walked to the river, the writing still there. I cared for the garden, weaved, picked flowers and made dinner for two but only ate enough to keep me alive. I then went to bed and woke up to what felt like the endless nightmare.
It felt like an eternity passed with no change to my solitude. On one afternoon when I went to pick flowers I heard that familiar voice…it was as confident as I remembered.
“Hello beautiful.” He held his arms out to me as I embraced him and began sobbing. I hadn’t cried until then. Until then I hadn’t realize how alone I felt without my beloved. He hugged me the entire time patting my head gently with that cocky yet handsome smile on his face. For once his smile didn’t make me feel uneasy; I didn’t feel anything but pain.
I explained to him everything that had happened. I was happy just to not be alone again. I didn’t remember it being like this when my family had left. I didn’t remember being so lonely. Why had that beautiful mermaid meant so much to me? He told me his beliefs on my story and said she had perhaps bewitched me and fed off my pain even now. I didn’t believe him but I had no strength to argue. I didn’t care. He asked me to marry him that moment and I accepted. What else did I have now that my beloved had left me? It didn’t matter where I was as long as I wasn’t alone. That’s when he confessed to me.
“I am no human like you, I am neither demon nor man, I am a god.” He said directly, I didn’t particularly believe him but didn’t care where I went either. “I am a god of love and I will heal your wounds my beautiful angel.” The look from his hungry eyes would normally have scared me but I no longer feared anything. I was already dead.
To my mild surprise wings grew out from his back, his clothes morphed to reveal a toned hard chest which caused me to realize he was in some sort of toga. He carried a bow and arrow instead of a book and pen only then did it occur to me perhaps he was some sort of go. Perhaps he would heal me. He picked me up and swept me off my feet most literally although my heart was not swayed. I’m sure the view was amazing but my indifference allowed nothing to affect me. He took me straight to his room where I was the only one to eat what I’m sure was a wonderful meal he had prepared. That night I realized I was his meal. His embrace was rough and painful. His kisses ravenous and forceful but I did not resist. He used my body every night and the pain never lessoned. In the day I walked thru the garden he made for me in this strange golden home above the clouds. There was no darkness here but the night sky. It’s never ending black flow of hair that glimmered and showed the true pale beauty of the moon it held. Sometimes I wasn’t sure if I admired the moon or just what beautiful pain it brought my heart.
He often would tell me how much he loved me. He once explained that using the fountain you could see directly below the castle in detail. That’s how he first saw me picking flowers. He often watched me from above and imagined touching my body in lewd ways before I ever knew of him. I found I felt no real love from him. Everything he wanted was physical and I not once told him I so much as liked him. I didn’t even care enough to be uneasy about him having watched me while I still lived on land. Or that he never once sketched me, he explained that all he did was watch me never touching pen to paper. These confessions seemed to fuel his lewd desires.
I gave birth to twins. I had lost track of time completely and walked in a haze not even calling them by the names he had given them. I’m sure some part of me loved these bright glowing children but I could never find that part of myself. I played the part of mother and continued on as was expected of me. One evening I was moving things about looking for a toy for the children he had me bare, so they would play together and leave me be, and found instead a large wooden chest. When I opened the chest I found many dull and irrelevant things. The younger of the twins pulled out a brown cloth that smelled revolting from the box and unraveled it.
“Mommy,” His sharp crystal voice chimed “this shell speaks to me. Is it magic? I think it broke.”
As I took the shell from his hands a shiver went up my back and my hair stood at end. Before I understood what I was doing I pressed it to my lips as if pulled in by an unseen force, I felt a beautiful shock that left my fingertips numb. I knew this feeling. From where though? Where had I felt this exhilarating rush from? At that moment a ring fell out of the shell. This silver ring matched my own which I still wore and refused to remove. I then remembered a terrible yet beautiful story about a merkings death. Then I gently placed the shell to my ear.
“Run away darling, he is no god he is but a jealous man. I love you my darling please run away! Run away!” I heard it echo repeatedly.
That beautiful voice I loved so much. The voice that melted with the forest; that called my name so sweetly. Yes I did still love. I never stopped loving I just couldn’t grow to love anything else I had left no room in my heart for anyone other than my beloved. It’s then that I knew what he had done. I grabbed the brown cloth and realized it was the dress I had made for her covered in blood. This blood belonged to my beloved. She was the only one that didn’t leave, she was taken from me by that god of love no that god of lust.
I searched the trunk feverishly and I found his old sketch book and it was empty as he had said before save one picture. It was of my beloved and I embracing the night he first met her. Blood covered her gentle loving expression. He took my beloved from me.
“Mommy?” his children stared at me with their rosy cheeks full of life. Like the life that was taken away from my beloved. “Are you okay mommy?” they chimed in disgusting unison as they held hands. I then knew what I had to do.
When the god of lust returned home he returned to what must have looked like a tragic scene. I fed the children poison and they died painlessly but he had no way of knowing that. These children he forced me to bare I took away just as he took away my beloved. What I did after was the horrific part. He saw pieces of them scattered, smashed and torn to bits around the entire grounds. The smell of their blood stained the air bitterly. He was confused at how an enemy of his could enter the castle so far up in the sky. He panicked searching for his love doll. Never once did he think that he had created a monster not a doll. When he entered our bedroom he found me hanging from the ceiling with a shell at my feet and he knew what happened. He picked up the shell from the floor and heard that familiar echo of a voice I always loved, then to his surprise he heard the sweet voice of the one he lusted for full of malice and sorrow.
“I have taken from you as you did to me now I will return to my beloved and you will remain alone for all eternity my sweet god.”
Just like that my story ends. How can I tell you this story? Well isn’t that simple. The dead are truly free in speech and love.
By- Dinorah E. Lopez
Okay fine I will.
but by then you’ll have missed your chance.