I awaken surrounded by warm softness. I breathe in air instead of water. Sitting up in a panic, my eyes take in the pink flowers on the papered walls. My old bedroom.
“How?” I ask with a racing heart.
I slide off my bed and walk on trembling legs toward the round mirror. I gasp at the sight of myself. I am young again. Twenty-seven. My long, red hair emphasizes my pale skin and green eyes. I’m so beautiful. I wander through my old house touching all the familiar objects. Why am I back here?
A knock sounds at my door and I jump. I rush to answer it. Maybe they will tell me what is happening.
“Good day, Mistress,” says a young post rider, handing me a sealed letter.
“Thank you,” I breathe, gazing out at the little town.
I lean against the wall and open the envelope. The letter is an invitation. A rich family in town has invited me to their ball to perform five songs. I press the paper against my breast as I try to breathe. This event has already happened. It was my last big performance before they favoured a newer singer. Before someone poisoned me. Or maybe someone has been doing it for a while. I shudder. This is bizarre and I don’t know if I should be relieved or horrified.
I go back to the mirror and take in my own reflection again. The shock is wearing off. I need to act fast before history repeats itself. I used to be vain about my looks, thinking I could get anything I wanted with them. In truth, I did. Now I humbly acknowledge that I didn’t do anything special to achieve these looks. I trampled on other young girls to become a stage siren, yet I couldn’t handle it when others tried to bring me down.
My love for Enya must have broken the curse. I am currently one month away from the day that I kill myself at sea. Now is my chance for redemption. To change the course of my life.
“I need to leave,” I say, quickly changing out of my white nightgown and into a simple sleeveless frock.
I wander outside, nodding to people who greet me with wide smiles. Men tip their hats to me. These are the same people who would scorn and poison a girl for being confident in herself. That was why my health deteriorated so fast and my looks waned. I was becoming too popular and someone, maybe a lot of people, began to hate me for it. My heart races as the overwhelming brightness and noise wrap around me. I can’t wait to leave.
“But first …”
I walk to the beach. Several children are playing a game of tag. I smile at the sight as I scan the area. My eyes rest on a young girl with long cornsilk hair. She is hopping on the rocks and singing to herself. My heart aches. It’s her. Enya. She looks to be about ten.
I walk over to her. Seeing me, her jaw drops.
“Hello, sweet one.”
“Hi,” she says shyly. “You’re the stage siren! Miss Rose.”
“Yes, that’s my stage name. I noticed you enjoying the treasures of the beach alone. I bet you’ll be a writer one day.”
“I’m a writer now,” she says proudly. “My name’s Enya. What is your real name, Miss Rose?”
I blink back tears. “My name is Ella.”
“People tell me that girls can’t write, but I want to write a whole library of books!”
I want to take her with me and sail away from this place as soon as possible, but I’ll need to be patient. We’ll make a secret plan to get away.
“You will, Enya. I know of a place that allows girls to write. They can even publish their books there. Would you like me to tell you about it?”
She nods enthusiastically. I sit down on one of the rocks and smile at the one who helped me break the curse.
“I’ll tell you a story about a young writer who meets a sea hag. I promise you it has a happy ending.”