The days no longer seem to blend together as I explore the new coastline. I see many different types of people come to the beaches to play, sail, build sandcastles, and swim with their families. I realize that my purpose was never pre-determined. I have a choice to be who I want to be. I may be cursed, but it is still up to me to decide what I do with it. No one is forcing me to hurt people. I am the ruler of my own life. I always was.
I can be a good person even if I am not really a person any longer. Maybe that is what really matters. I don’t want to hurt anyone anymore. When I consciously make this decision, everything seems more beautiful. Though I still crave the flesh of men, I stick to a steady diet of fish. I have even become a little slimmer since my eating habits have changed.
I pop my head out of the water to watch every sunrise and sunset unless it is raining. On overcast days, I sit up on the rocks and watch the bustling coastal city from a distance. I wonder if I might have done well at such a place before I turned. A part of me wants to imagine there is a man there who might have loved me as I am. Had I been brave enough to travel instead of killing myself, I may have met him. He would be dead by now, but a warm memory is better than a long, cold reality.
I keep my promise to Enya. I check in on her at the beach from time to time, but I keep my distance. I see her grace the white sands of the shore every now and again. Always elegant despite her hardships. She has made her own way. Every time she walks along the beach, she glances out at the sea looking for me. I don’t think it is good for us to converse.
She comes to the coast with a few friends one time, and eventually, she wanders to the coast with a dark, tanned lover. I blink back tears of joy for her when I see them together. They dance along the water, seemingly drunk on love. They are a beautiful couple, but the sight causes my chest to ache.
I swim deeper out than I have in months. Out in the middle of nowhere, I sing. No one can hear me, but that is not so important. I am singing for the love of it. I spend some time in the deep before returning to the coast. Something tells me that she wants to speak with me.
I arrive at Enya’s beach close to sundown. She is there. I swim close to the shore. I can see her smile even from far away. My stomach knots from nervousness. I wonder if she will be angry with me for staying away. She is wearing a long gown made of silk. A brown leather pack is strung over her shoulder, detracting from the femininity of her gown, but she looks stunning. She lifts her skirt above her knees and wades into the water, stepping toward me with the gait of a fine lady. Life is being good to her.
“Hello, Ella,” she calls.
“Enya,” I say.
“Why have you stayed away?” she asks, looking concerned.
“I think it is for the best, child.”
She nods, looking very serious. “I see.”
She takes it off with a small smile and pulls a book out.
I raise an eyebrow. “What might that be?”
“My book. It’s been published,” she beams. “I have wanted to show you this!”
“My goodness,” I say, nearly touching it, but I don’t think she wants my fish-smelling hands on her work of art.
“It’s for you,” she says.
“For me?” I ask with a small laugh. “It’ll be ruined with one dunk under water.”
“Don’t be silly,” she says. “You can read it on the rocks. Perhaps you can find a place for it there. You can hide it and return to read it whenever you like. If you want.”
“Of course, I want it!” I cry, taking the book from her.
The universe knows that I could use something to occupy my mind and reading is something I haven’t done for a long time. I was wise to befriend a writer.
“I hope you enjoy it.”
“I know I will,” I say. “I am so proud of you.”
“I have you to thank. I’d be dead if it weren’t for you.”
“Oh, well, what can I say? I’ve changed.”
“We’ve both changed.”
“You found love?” I ask, winking at her.
“Yes, but this time I’ll be sure to keep him away from this beach now that I know you’re around.”
I burst into laughter and she joins me. When I recover, I take her by the hand. Her skin is warm and dewy. I can’t recall the last time mine was that way. It will never be again.
“I saw how he was with you. He loves you.”
She blushes. “I think he does.”
“I am so happy for you.”
She sighs and looks back at the shore. “I suppose I should get back. I’m going for dinner later with Eric and his family.”
“Eric is a good, strong name.”
“It suits him well,” she says, beaming.
“I’ll be seeing you around then,” I say.
She clasps her hands together and really looks at me.
“I’m so glad I met you, Ella. I hope I’ll see you soon.”
I blink quickly to keep my tears at bay. What is it about this little witch that tugs at my heart strings so much?
“Farewell and be happy,” I say.
“You, too, Ella. I hope you’re happy out there.”
She reluctantly goes back to dry land. I hold the book above water as I swim to a cluster of rocks. I open it to the first page. She has dedicated it to me. I close it quickly and weep. I open it again and read until I’m finished with her beautiful story about a young woman’s redemption. I leave the book nestled in the rocks and swim far away.
I know that my presence in Enya’s life will complicate things. The few people who know sea hags exist aren’t very fond of them. I wouldn’t want to compromise her reputation or cause any friction in her new relationship. I venture south and round the horn of the South American continent. I jump among the towering waves, shrieking with delight. Reaching the far side of the world, I feel satisfaction that I really can go anywhere I want to in the ocean.