I do not break the surface of the waves before hearing miserable, feminine shouting. I emerge closer to the beach than I have ever dared in my life as a sea hag.
“Sea hag! Sea hag!” yells Enya.
She is standing on the shore with an aggressive stance. Her long white dress blows along with her hair, as agitated as she is. She must have found out what happened between her lover and an ugly old sea hag.
She notices that I have answered her calls. She plants her hands on her hips and glares at me, eyes ablaze like hot embers.
“You called?” I ask casually, inspecting my nails.
I hear her heavy breathing. She is an angry girl.
“Why did you do it?” she shouts.
She throws her hands up in the air. “Why did you seduce him? Did you see us having too much fun on the beach?”
I rest a hand on my chest in mock innocence. “My dear, Enya. I did no such thing. It was he who came looking for me and by the sounds of things last night, he liked what he found.”
I can’t help but smile as her face becomes beet red. I don’t recall ever seeing a girl look so mad. She stews in silence as I stare at her in fascination. The last two days have, by far, been the most interesting ones I’ve experienced in a long time.
“You seduced him with your song,” she says. “Why? Why would you do that?”
I tilt my head and look at her like the imbecile that she is. People always blame the woman when a sexual encounter is outside of the sanctimony of marriage, even when the woman is apparently an ugly old sea hag.
“You must have heard us moaning by the rocks last night, then?” I ask, stifling a chuckle.
“I wasn’t the only one who heard,” she says, making a sickened face. “Just about everyone heard. Several people saw it. Including me.”
I laugh at this. I can’t help myself. The best part is that I didn’t do a thing besides sing. He was the one who took me out of the water, lay me on the rock, and took me. I wonder if I should tell her that. Oh, I should.
“Enya, my dear. Will you and Timothy ever be able to salvage your damaged relationship?” I ask, swimming a little closer, but I do not dare to go an inch more.
She crosses her arms. “No.”
“You’re a cut throat lass, are ye?” I ask, mimicking an Irish brogue.
She looks away from me for a moment. “He left the island. I don’t think he’s coming back.”
I feel a small pang in my midsection. He’s barely more than a child, yet I let him take me on that rock. Is my own sanity so fragile? I wonder. I shake off the memory. It’s over now. He won’t be back for either of us.
My mouth upturns into a wide smile as I focus on the girl again. I have to do something to chase away my own darkness and I know exactly what to say.
“You mean, he chose to leave you?” I taunt. “Hm. Are you not enough for him anymore?”
I wink at her.
Her cheeks are flushed. She has lost someone dear to her and I am being cruel. It feels good. Enya’s life isn’t so perfect anymore. This has turned out to be more fun than I thought. I throw my head back and laugh again.
“His parents sent him away,” she says, turning away from me.
“Oh. Well, I suppose this is your first lesson on how to let go.”
She glares at me over her shoulder. “I know this must come as a surprise to you, because you’re a stupid old hag, but Timothy leaving the island is not the worst of my problems.”
She sighs loudly. I wonder why she is still talking to me. Why hasn’t she stormed away?
“They are blaming his indiscretion on my devotion to studying and creating works of fiction. They think it is because of my unfeminine mind that he sought someone else. The arts are not encouraged for females here.”
“They will always blame a woman for any man’s indiscretion, child.”
“I know,” she says, gritting her teeth.
“To be fair, it might not be because of that. Maybe he just prefers ladies who have fat … in all the right places,” I say with an elaborate flip of my hair.
She looks down her nose at me. “Fat in all the right places is still fat.”
I cackle at this. She is cocky. I like that about her. Usually young women don’t have that level of confidence, even when they are beautiful. We are taught from a young age to be meek and mild, despite our abilities, talents, or outward adornments. Though she’s been wounded by her man’s unfaithfulness, she knows her value. She understands what men see when they look at her. When she has moved on from Timothy’s betrayal, another suitor will take his place. Deep down, she knows there are many fish in the sea, even if she still loves him. The insults of an old woman mean little to her, yet they’ll never leave her mind. Once an unkind statement has been hurled out into the open, it stays with the person that it was intended to wound. If her next lover is not attentive to her body and loving to her soul, she may wonder if there is something wrong with her, if there is some truth to my words. I have now planted the seed in her mind and there is no going back. This makes me feel powerful and I love it.
Sea hag and land girl stare at one another. She is the first to break eye contact.
“They are going to burn my books,” she mutters.
“What?” I ask sharply.
This takes me off balance. Who the hell burns books? Only a dead, black soul would do such a thing. Books, like songs, are the heart of humanity. They remain long after their creators pass on, creating a legacy and a connection to future generations. Even I, a murderous creature of the deep, can see that.
“They are burning my books this evening during the love and peace ceremony,” she says. “The elders believe that I must nurture love more than creating art. They say that my mind is too manly and it is a shame.”
Her limbs are visibly shaking. They are going to take her love away from her – writing. They took mine away from me – singing. I cringe, but this isn’t my problem. It’s hers. She’s human. I’m a cursed creature.
“What are you going to do, then?” I ask.
She inhales the salty air then exhales loudly. “I have no idea. Writing is my lifeblood, you see. I will have nothing to fill my time as I mourn the loss of … him. I had hoped to have one of those manuscripts published as well. I always saw myself writing well into old age. I just don’t know what to do.”
My flesh warms. I begin to feel her pain. I can’t say that I hate it. I’d rather see her suffer than feel my own suffering.
“How many books did you write?” I press.
“Three. They are so dear to me. The characters are as meaningful to me as anyone in this world. They will be gone. No one else will read them. Forgotten. Like me.”
I suck in a lungful of air. “I need to go.”
“You’re leaving now?” she cries.
I dip below the water’s surface and swim away from the shore, far from humans. I feel hot, like my insides are beginning to dry out. My tail propels me faster, deeper into the sea. I need a reprieve from humanity. I need to be surrounded by darkness.
Despite my purpose to seduce, kill, and otherwise inflict pain on people, I have allowed myself to become far too involved with her. I ventured into new territory when I allowed myself to converse with that girl. Something very wrong occurred when I didn’t kill her that day. I long to forget her name. The boy’s, too. I want them to leave my memories.