I move around different islands along the way to the Galapagos Islands where I decide to stay for a while. Few people live there. If any of them see me, they might mistake me for one of the seals. I laugh at the thought.
I become obsessed with shipwrecks again. Occupying my time examining people’s belongings inside of sunken vessels breathes new life into my soul as the years pass. I wish that I could find an air-tight container with books in it. I miss reading, especially after Enya gifted me with that novel of hers. I wonder if she’s still writing on the other side of the world. I hope she is.
Ten years have passed by and I find myself drifting toward the beach where I last saw Enya. I began to make my way back to the Atlantic a couple of weeks ago. Though I look and feel the same, so much time has passed for her. Did things work out for her with that man?
I wait for a couple of hours, glancing at the beach from the safety of the rocks. She is not there. I reach up into the crevice and smile. The book is still there. It has been so long since I read anything that it would almost be like reading it for the first time. I pick it up and hold it in my hands. I open it to the first page and smile at her dedication to me. I hope she does not regret doing so, that she understands why I needed to go and let her live an uncomplicated life.
I lean against a rock as I read the first chapter. Before I know it, I have finished reading the final page and the sun is low on the horizon. I sigh, pleased with what I read. She is a good writer. I take a glance over at the beach before preparing to dive beneath the water. I see her. My heart nearly stops. She still looks beautiful and healthy. A young boy is walking next to her. He breaks away and jumps on the rocks. I am unable to fight back my tears as I swim toward her. I have no idea how she is going to react to me after all this time.
My mind reels with all the possibilities until she turns in my direction. Our eyes meet. She smiles at me.
“Ella!” she cries, running for me.
I cover my mouth and laugh as she enters the water with the excitement of a young girl, making many splashes.
“Mom? Who’s that?” calls the boy from his perch on one of the rocks.
“An old friend of mine, sweetheart,” she calls back to him.
When she reaches me, she takes my hand and squeezes it, panting from the exertion. I do not miss the tiredness in her eyes. I can’t help but wonder if she’s coming down with something.
“My dear friend,” she says softly. “I never thought I’d see you again.”
“Enya,” I breathe. “Your son is so handsome. What is his name?”
“His name is Philip.”
I smile. “That’s a good name. How are you? How’s your husband?”
“We are very well. He built us a house close to the shore, so we come here often. I’ve published some more books and Philip writes, too.”
“Two writers in the family now? I’m so happy for you, child.”
Her face becomes serious. “Why did you stay away for so long? I’ve often wondered if you were all right. Where did you go?”
The air around us thickens. “I ventured to the South Pacific and lived in the Galapagos Islands for a long time. I wanted to let you live a normal life without having to explain why you visit with a sea hag sometimes.”
“I understand,” she says sadly. “I just wish you hadn’t stayed away for so long. I missed you.”
“Do they know about me? Your husband and your son.”
“My husband knows. I may tell Philip one day.”
“I read your book again. I left it in those rocks and no wave was able to dislodge it. It’s very good. Do you have another book for me?”
“I didn’t bring one with me today,” she says, looking disappointed. “If I only knew …”
“You wouldn’t know. Don’t worry about this old sea hag now. It’s important for you to live the life you deserve.”
“I’m only living it because of you.”
I take her hand this time and squeeze it gently. I have missed her. The days are sunnier when she’s near.
“Will you please come by more often?” she asks.
I want to. God knows I do. But I can’t do that to her. I look over at her son who’s throwing rocks at the waves. She has a beautiful life. I can’t complicate it. I did the right thing by leaving her alone. She is thriving here.
“I’m not so sure if it’s a good thing that you see me too often, Enya,” I say.
“Please, try to understand. I care deeply for you, but it is not wise for a human to associate too often with a sea hag. You have a beautiful family. Cherish it.”
“Why? Do you still sing to people and then try to eat them after?”
“No. My man-eating days are well behind me.”
“I’m happy to hear that. It doesn’t seem right for you to be out there all alone, Ella.”
She has become so motherly. It makes me smile and want to cry at the same time.
“I’ll be alright. My sense of time and feeling has changed since I turned. Try not to look at me as a sad thing. It really isn’t like that at all. I enjoy my freedom.”
She gives me a sad smile. “If you think it’s for the best that you stay away, then I suppose I shouldn’t press you to keep visiting. You know what is best for you.”
“It is the best … for you.”
“Very well, you stubborn mermaid. This won’t be the last time I see you,” she says quickly. “You will come back here, right?”
“I will and don’t worry about me. I will be fine.”
She gives me a look. “I’ve been wondering something. Are sea hags immortal?”
I can’t help but laugh. “Not quite and thank God for that. We live a little longer than humans. Another fifty or sixty years. A few have lived longer.”
“Well, I’m holding you to it. I expect to see you again,” she says.
“You will, child.”
“It’s so good to see you.”
“It’s good to see you, too, Enya.”
She leaves me and walks over to her son. Once she’s at his side, she picks up a flat stone to skip it along the soft waves. He teases her for having a weak arm. I laugh quietly at the two of them, feeling her happiness. There’s more light in the world as long as she’s breathing. Later on at sunset, she comes to the beach with Eric and they have a quiet picnic. After a glass of wine, they stand up and dance as the fiery sky transforms to a soothing navy blue. I can’t imagine a happier life than the one I’m looking at right now.