Enya does not sing. She does not come out to the shore. I wait for weeks. I am not sure what happened to her and the wondering is driving me mad. I feel stinging on the inside of me. I saved that little witch’s life and she does not have the decency to return and thank me. I am confused about why I feel so connected to her, why I didn’t just let her drown. I think about this long and hard.
What is wrong with her? One man leaves her and a bunch of stuffy men in town burn a few of her books then she considers death. What a weakling. If I find out she has committed suicide in another part of the sea, I will find her and kill her a second time.
I cannot stay by this island any longer. I swim for leagues until I am far away. The world is open to me. I can go anywhere. No one can stop me. I swim endlessly, stopping momentarily to eat fish and sleep. The only waters that bother me are the tropics. They are far too warm for my liking. When I enter them, I feel myself beginning to dry out, so I move further out where it becomes colder again.
I catch sight of a little boat on the surface. It’s far too small to be out in the middle of the ocean. I am curious to catch a view of the idiot traveling in such a vessel. They are lucky that the waters have been calm for the past few days, but this can change at any instant. One storm from miles away can create waves that will turn over a ship let alone a boat.
As I swim closer to the small vessel, I realize something. Killing is not on my mind. I don’t even want to taunt this person. I’m simply curious. What is happening to me? I must be getting very old. As I come up to the boat, I realize that seeing a random sea hag with a face that could kill in the middle of the sea will scare her half to death. I take a deep breath before speaking. Might as well cut to the chase and get the surprise over with.
“Good day,” I say cheerfully.
The blonde woman screams, standing up in her boat, nearly tipping it over. It is Enya.
“It’s you? I should have known. By the way, I really appreciated you coming back out to the beach to thank me for saving your life!”
She sits down, panting, looking unwell. She doesn’t smell so good, either. She’s sunburned and sweating. Her youthful curves have been reduced to skin and bones. I can’t say it’s the best look for her.
“Are you still afraid of me after I stopped you from slitting your own throat?” I ask, shaking my head.
“I didn’t know what happened,” she says quickly. “I just woke up on the shore.”
I raise an eyebrow. “Do you remember standing on a rock telling me that you want to die?”
I lift myself up on the edge of the boat and peer inside. She’s got nothing with her except some rotting fruit, a blanket, a rope, a paddle, a spear, and several empty canteens.
“Looks like you packed a bit light,” I say.
“I didn’t think it would take so long to get across,” she says in annoyance.
“What kind of awful education did you receive in that village?”
“You’re not a practical one, are you?”
“I don’t know. I just had to get away from there. They burned my books. What else was I supposed to do?”
“You could have come to me,” I say, surprising myself as much as her.
“Why would you help me?” she asks, frowning.
“I’m asking myself the same thing.”
I push her boat forward. With this light breeze, she’ll never get anywhere. She stares at me for a while then looks out at the open sea. The wind makes her tousled hair look even more wild. I steer her toward the coastline. It’s not so far away. She made it quite far, but she would have died from thirst before reaching land if I hadn’t come along.
At sunset, we see the first sight of green. She cheers up then starts to cry. I keep pushing her even though my arms are burning. I can’t deny how nice it feels to use my inhuman strength for something beneficial. It never occurred to me that I could help people. As we near land, the waves become higher. I try to help keep the boat upright, but it capsizes. She falls into the violent water with a scream. I wrap my arms around her skinny torso and dive beneath the surface, swimming underwater until my belly glides along the sand. Our heads greet the air again and warm waves wash over us. She coughs and spits up water. Both out of breath, we sit in the sand and look out at the water for a while.
“You should go get a drink of water,” I say. “You’ll get a pretty nasty illness if you don’t.”
She slouches. “Thank you for saving my life … twice.”
I smile and shrug. “Oh, life.”
“Why did you save me? I thought you wanted to kill me, to ruin my life.”
“I did,” I say honestly. “I hated you. I’m also drawn to you. When I saw the look in your eyes as you stood on that rock with a knife at your neck … I don’t know. Something changed in me.”
I nod. “There’s another thing.”
“What is it?” she presses.
“You were the first person to look at me like I was a human. It’s been decades since someone looked at my face without flinching.”
She shakes her head. “You think you’re ugly, but you’re not. I thought you looked lovely when I first saw you with your vibrant red hair and pale skin in the water. You really don’t have that many wrinkles. I’m sorry for what I said to you when I was angry. I guess I called you ugly to make myself feel better.”
“Timothy didn’t seem to mind.”
We both laugh so hard that we cry. We fall back into the wet sand, holding our stomachs. She has a bit of a sick sense of humour like me. I like it. Then I grow serious when I take a look over her.
“Really, you should go drink water and eat something right away. Then … well, what will you do? Where will you go? I’ve never been to this place myself. This is a strange new world for both of us.”
She looks much stronger than before as she sits up straight. “I’ll figure it out. I have some coins with me. Enough to get me started.”
“Smart girl. I suppose this is good-bye then.”
She looks at me and her eyes cloud over. I feel a strange, deep sense of loss as she stands up to leave. I really hope she will be all right, that someone will help her. She is young and lovely, even in her unwell state, but some people can take advantage of that. I have no idea what manner of humans live on this soil.
“Would you look in on me from time to time?” she asks, her voice shaking. “I’ll be sure to return to this beach when I can. Once things are settled in my life.”
“You would like me to look in on you?” I ask.
“Yes. I would. I owe you my life, after all.”
“Then I will. Go on now.”
“Wait. What is your name?” she asks.
I wince. No one has asked me what my name is. Not since I changed.
“My name is Ella.”
She smiles. “Thank you, Ella. For everything.”
“Good-bye, Enya. Please be careful out there.”
She leaves the shore. I fall back into the waves as she walks into a new life. I envy her ability to do that. Despite my freedom from society, I am bound to the sea. My fate is sealed, but there is still so much hope for her. I want her to find happiness, write more books, and fall in love. I hope she will be happy.