Monday, 20 September 2010

Seaweed, Seaglass

Brought to you by Nishatalitha and the word 'paperweight', way over 200 words.

Seaweed, Seaglass
There are parts of ourselves that we don’t share. We all know it. Everyone has felt the walls go up at some time or another. This is mine, and hers. Or it was.

The paperweight accuses me from its position on the half-finished draft of a new law on my desk. It’s a big piece of bottle-green glass threaded through with olive and blue, like slimy, grasping fronds in dark water. Of course her blood would dry differently to us. She wasn’t like us, for all her protestations.

She was barely out of her teens, when we first saw her, walking naked along the shore. We took pity on her- a mistake. Took her in, gave her clothes, tried to find out where she came from. But she was far, far more beautiful than her years. And she wanted the same man as me. She sang to him and that was it.

When I lost him, I was resigned. I told her one day- one day- there would be a man she wanted and couldn’t have. On that day, she would understand what it was to be me. But then I saw her for what she really was. I had read the old stories, I knew that she didn’t want him the way I did- knew what it would cost him to love her. I could handle her stealing his heart- with effort- but not this.

I followed them to the beach one night. I was very nearly too late. She was lying in the shallows, holding his head under the water, and there were only a few bubbles. I tried to grab her around the waist, but her scales slipped through my fingers. Fewer bubbles. I struck at her- I had not realised I had picked up the piece of sea-glass in my blind panic. I heard the crunch of bone, saw her sink- grabbed him and pulled him to the shore. Tried the kiss of life, willing him back to me. He coughed and spluttered his return, and I held him, watching the shimmer of a silver fish tail, and the cloud of red hair as it was washed away by the tide.

I never told him what happened, and he forgot about her, after a while. We’re happy enough. The paperweight is there to make sure I know my own strength. But you know, on our wedding night I could have sworn I heard her singing.

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