“There is a particular kind of suffering when you love something greater than yourself. A tender sacrifice. Like the pained silence felt in the lost song of a mermaid, or the bent and broken feet of a dancing ballerina.” ― Lang Leav, Love & Misadventure
Dark Eyes and Deadly Sins
“Fever, like deadly sin, took her from me. I hear that mournful voice and see once black pearls alive under long lashes turn dull and dry. Selfish fear of loss grips my soul. A dagger pushes into my heart and tears fall on her inflamed skin while I try to tend to her.”
Derek’s dark tale grips me. His blue-green eyes are bright and moist like a young man. Those eyes don’t see the bawdy crowd in front of him submerged in the art of sin and degradation. He only sees into the past and feels the sharp pains of his lost love. My chest tightens and strangles my breath. For a moment, I consider that I’m looking directly at my future in the old man’s face. I hear the stuttered breath as Derek continued his far-fetched tale.
“Meera lies on her back, turns her head, and looks away to some place only she knows. I wonder what I have done, and guilt weighs on me with the knowledge, I’ve brought harm to this beautiful and pure creature of my dreams.
It’s at this point, I see her skin bright and pink where my selfish tears have soiled her. Then it comes to me as if a thought put in my head by Meera’s distant stare. Saltwater. She needs the essence of her life from which I’ve removed her. I hauled water from the sea. I removed my tattered shirt and began a nightlong ritual of keeping her skin moist with sea water.
I soaked her bandage, her hair, and skin until a light sheen rose from her in the starlight. Her pale white skin with the dappled gray tones glitter in the light from a million tiny crystals of salt and bioluminescent plankton in the water. I watch as the tags of skin on her nose that close off the water while she swims flare and collapse with her quickening breath.
My hands move from pail to fevered skin caressing every tortured inch of her body. She is soothed and I find pleasure in her gaze at my face as wet hands glide over her. The fever burned her then chilled her, and in the heat of the morning, it released her as she slept in peace glistening like the first time I saw her.
In three days she was able to clench her long toes like a fist and walk on tip-toes in the sand in a swaying motion first leading with a slight toss of the head, lean of the shoulder followed by her hips. Meera rocked in a gentle motion like the long grasses in the ocean current until she made her way to the rocks. She rested in the sun under blue skies and wisps of smoky clouds. I watched as she scooped water with her webbed feet and flung it over her body like buckets of rain.
The desire to love her burned in my mind as she sat on the rocks. The scene captivated me and my thoughts drifted across my mermaid’s slender features. She rose and stretched out her arms then arched into the air and disappeared into the water. I screamed without thinking and ran to the widening circle of ripples. God Damn my soul, she was gone again. I dove into the water to catch a glimpse that would never come. Destroyed again, I returned to the sand and worried for her, worried for myself, worried for us.”
“Shit, dude. How do you hold on to a wild creature like that? It’s one thing to love them. It’s quite another thing to keep them.” I’m almost hurt by the old man’s confession of his weakness for his mermaid.
“The answer, young man, is you don’t hold on to them. They come and go as they please, and if you are lucky enough to taste their love, it suspends your life forever. You never move forward even as your life fades in age and sickness. Life remains locked in the memory of her sweet and succulent love,” the old sailor whispered as his mug moved toward his thirsty lips.
“Tell me about it, old man. I have to know.”
“One evening, I sat next to fire on the beach. I don’t know what I wanted more, to see Meera or see my rescue from this island that tempted me to stay to the end of my days with my mermaid.
Splashing in the surf broke my spell, and I looked up at the shadow rocking toward me from the surf in that long sensuous sway. My mermaid sat next to me. Meera’s eyes reflecting the dancing flames and the yellow-orange reflection on her face and golden breasts took my breath as my need for her rose like mercury in the glass.
She held up a fish and offered it to me. Excited, I jumped up chattering and laughing with a renewed joy. I ran to the shelter and brought a pan, knife, and a few spices rescued from the ship’s galley with a small amount of pressed coconut oil. Meera enjoyed her first cooked meal as a child with her face buried in a bucket of ice cream. Oh, the sounds we made as we shared this meal.
That night, we swam in the water to freshen up and returned to the shelter together. She sat with her legs folded and those fanlike feet covering her naked bottom. Leaning on her left arm with her right folded across her lap, she stared out to the Milky Way as it slashed across the sky and dove into the wet horizon beyond us. The inky night flickered from our fire and shadows stretched across the sand. She looked back at me as my hand found her back and played a soft melody of sensation on welcoming skin. In her eyes, I saw questions under the currents of desire. Her lips intimated a smile. Whispers like song drifted from her lips to mine, and I felt drawn to her. I’ll never forget how her lips tasted and the sweetness of her breath. I go to sleep each night in the firm mattress of her embrace. Her hands cloak me in that first gentle love. We share the heat of our bodies as the sound of surf and wind play over us like an approving audience to our love scene on the screen of some classic movie.
She was elegant in my arms and true to her wild nature with her lust. No man has loved until he has loved a mermaid. The best we can pray for is to love a woman with the wild and free spirit of a mermaid. To love a woman one can never possess is an aching and hypnotic love. That’s what we had. That’s what I wish to hold onto.”
“What happened to the two of you? Why did you leave her for this shit hole of a bar and these bastards for friends?” I had to know. I couldn’t rest until I heard what happened.
“It was a cruel fate that separated us, my friend. We spent our days together. I helped her master the earth, and she helped me learn the sea. Together, we mastered each other in new and free ways of pleasure and love. Like wicked sin, we could not break away from our addiction to each other.
One day, Meera grew anxious and tearful. She tried to voice her concern and in time, I understood she sensed something I couldn’t see. Her stress was caused by her unwillingness to leave me and knowing our survival was the sea which in any duration was forbidden to me. She opted to stay on land with me and in a few days, I understood what troubled her.
A violent storm began to brew, and by the time I realized what Meera had known for days, it was too late to do anything but try to wait it out. The storm raged and water beat against the shelter as the tide surged and the wind carried it to us in an angry fist that battered our shelter. A great wave burst through, and the riptide that returned to the sea twisted us like rags. I lost my grip on Meera and was struck by rock or debris, I don’t know which.
I awoke on a freighter in calm seas, delirious and crying for my Meera. In time they ignored my pleas to go back to the island. The captain refused. They told me they found me floating with the wreckage of my ship, alone. They think my Meera was a dream while I was unconscious from trauma, hunger, and dehydration.
“What do you say, old man?” I asked incredulous that such a tale could end in the sweep of a wave on a stormy night.
“I don’t think anymore, Hyperion. I dream and soak my sorrow in the beer good samaritans like you provide. But since you ask, I think Meera took me to the wreckage and left me there. She may even have steered the loose tangle of wood and fiberglass to the shipping lanes. I’ll never know for sure.
“What do you say we go get something to eat and discuss finding your island and your mermaid. Maybe she has a friend,” I insist on helping the old man. We ate at a noodle stand then I took Derek back to the hotel so he could clean up and have a safe place to sleep. I planned on renting a boat after a quick recon of satellite images of the area he described. With any luck, no one would ever see Derek and me again.
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