The lovely and talented Sierra Kummings posted a few different prompts on her blog today and offered a challenge. Because I so love to procrastinate, I’m taking her up on that. Here are the results.
On her final descent, the sun dripped toward the Western horizon, turning the sky into a pallet of pinks and blues and purples. Clouds threatened to blot out the water-color image as we broke into a clearing. The water called to us. Home, was all I could think.
Henry had reservations, his steps faltering as I tugged him along with me, down the hill.
“Marlie, are you sure that’s where we belong?” He came to a stop behind me.
I turned back to him; I could feel my face flushing in the cool air, then the blush of excitement and anticipation tinting my cheeks.
“This isn’t our world, Henry.”
“But,” he hesitated. He looked up at the trees, the sky. “This world though. It feels so…”
“Ours is below the surface. Don’t you feel it pulling us? Hear it calling to us?”
Henry shook his head. “That can’t be right.”
My heart stopped. We were already too late. He’d been free of the water too long. He forgot who we were, what we were. I needed to act fast if I was going to save my love. With only minutes to spare, I grabbed his hand and pulled him down the hill with me to the dock.
The sun, just brushing the tree tops, was disappearing fast.
At a full run, I refused to let go of Henry’s hand. Just before the wood planks came to an abrupt stop, Henry’s hand jerked free. With too much momentum built up, I couldn’t stop. I was already flying through the air, arms stretched out to the side for a few seconds before I brought my hands together and sliced into the choppy water. Beneath the surface, I felt my legs fuse together, my tail propelling me through the cool, dark world we came from.
Oh how I’d missed that feeling, that feeling of belonging to the place I was. I would have kept going, the other world nearly forgotten already, but something stopped me. My heart let me go no further, pulled me back to the surface. I stayed where I was, for just seconds, before turning back to where I’d just come from.
His hair, normally a golden blond, turned to a fiery shade of red in the disappearing light. He stood there, jaw slack, at the end of the dock. Terror filled his eyes as he stared at me.
“Henry, you have to trust me. I know it’s been a long time, but this is where you belong. You don’t belong up there. We belong down here. We’re merfolk.” The sun, half hidden now, sent me into panic mode. “Henry, please. Jump in. You’ll die if you don’t.”
Strong hands wrapped around my tail and pulled me under, but I fought free and surfaced again. “Henry!”
He jumped when I screamed his name.
I grabbed his ankle, the only thing I could reach. “It’s happening, Henry. Now! You need to jump in.” Hands tried to drag me down, but I held on. Without Henry, life below the surface was no life at all. I would rather die with him than live without him.
A tear dripped from his lashes and slid down his cheek, glistening in that last ray of sunlight.
“I’m sorry.” His voice, barely a whisper in the roar of the wind as the freeze overtook him.
“Henry!” I sobbed as his form turned to ice. Another pull from below, but it was too late; everything above the surface was already frozen.
We stayed that way. For one hundred years, I held on to my love, part above the water, part below. Through the birth of our children, I survived, half frozen, half alive.
When dawn finally broke again, the ice began to melt, and the world above turned green again. I’d held enough life in me below the surface that I survived above the surface too.
But my poor Henry. Turned into petrified wood, he was destined to remain dead in our world and the world he’d so stubbornly refused to leave.
As I slipped beneath the surface, I wept. Our children would never know their father. Our children!
The twins, Trista and Ewan, waited with my sister. She’d made it back with her love, and together, they’d raised my children as their own. I embraced my children, both so much of their father in their appearance.
“How you survived is beyond my doing.” Clarice, the queen, adjusted her crown as she spoke. “You risked your life for his.”
“Live with him. Or die without. There was no other choice.”