The sea rose in tumultuous swells rocking my small boat like a hammock in a hurricane. With each undulation I would rise up to God, stretch out my hands in prayer, only to be dragged away. The sky had never seemed so near yet so far.
I’d grown long past the point of uneasiness, my stomach having vacated it’s contents the previous evening. All that remained was my soul — I wasn’t ready to give it up without a fight. With no food and only half a bottle of tepid water, I knew time against me, but I refused to yield; I owed it to the others. That’s when I saw her. That’s when I knew hope.
She dipped up and down like a buoy brought to life, a demarcation to more hazardous waters — weren’t they all. I rubbed my eyes but only managed to knead salt into them. By the time I’d finished blinking, her aquamarine fingers clung to the boat.
I backed away — for what good that extra foot did — and waited as she peeped over the rotting wood; she was the most beautiful creature I’d ever seen. More defined than a dream, yet more surreal than reality, her topaz eyes took me in appraising me from head to toe. I should’ve been honoured to be gazed upon by such as she, but I felt violated if truth be known, though I was unsure why. Lascivious, I might have said if pushed. Yes, lascivious; her eyes revealed her thoughts.
You are lost.
It was not a question just a statement of fact. I nodded my agreement.
They will not come for you.
Again, I dipped my head.
She offered me a hand of coral rings, her nails pearlescent in the wavering light.
I took it — wouldn’t any man — my mouth unwilling to spill the questions it contained. And, as I lowered myself into the dark water, I saw it, her tail, extending away in twinkling starbursts.
I will take care of you.
She whispered the words like the wind in a conch, a distant memory of lands once visited. “Where?” I managed as I struggled to keep my head above water.
Beneath, below, is where we go. Beneath, below, forever.
We dipped beneath the ocean, her lips about mine, feeding me the air I required. Through the dark and turbulent waters we swept, I marvelling, she unmoved. And when we’d gone as far as man might, we dipped again into fantasy. She did indeed lead me beneath, below, and I knew I’d never return.