I'm sorry it's been so long guys! I've been so busy and I'm having the opposite of writer's block-I have too many ideas for this story! Hopefully I've made the right decision...I hope you enjoy it! As always, please question/critique/comment. I love hearing from you all and I want to improve.
I realize that this chapter may seem irrelevant. But I assure you, it is EXCEEDINGLY important. Trust me on this. Thanks for reading :) Chapter six is on its way.
He fell in love when he heard her voice. It was delicate and pure, and the haunting melodies cascaded over the waters surrounding the humble island. He immediately scrambled to find her, overcome with excitement.
To his delight, she was beautiful too. She had large brown eyes that caught the light perfectly. Her smile was indescribable. And her voice-he was familiar with sirens, but they simply couldn't compare. He gazed at her in wonder from beneath the shimmering waves. The passing schools of fish had no effect on him. His servants, the sharks, nudged him to get his attention but he ignored them. She was the most important thing. He decided that he must have her.
Out of shyness and curiosity, his efforts were subtle at first. She spent most of her time on the beach, singing while she weaved fish nets, so he decided to leave her offerings from the sea. At first, it was a beautifully extravagant conch shell. When she discovered it next to her on the shore she was thrilled. It was pearlescent and a rosy shade of pink with streaks of purple. Being a peasant, she had never owned something of such beauty.
When she returned the next day, an intricate seashell necklace greeted her. It lay perfectly along her collar-bone, as if it was made for her. She felt as regal as a queen.
And a queen is exactly what Agwe planned to make her.
Eventually, the dreams came. Her nights were soon filled with vivid fantasies of the ocean, and of a mysterious man. Night after night, he would call to her from the waves with his gorgeously deep voice, smooth and unwavering. The man was beautiful. He had silvery-blue skin that gleamed. His muscled form glistened with salt-water. The strangest feature he possessed was a shining, scaly tail where his legs should have been. He would reach out to her each night, singing her name, begging that she come to him. Each night in her dream she drew closer to him, wading into the water. And each night she fell deeper and deeper in love with her man of the sea.
The other peasants thought she was foolish. They would shake their heads and roll their eyes as she would stop her work to gaze at her necklace, which she refused to take off.
"That Atabei always has her head in the clouds!"
"Not the clouds, fool, she is devoted to the sea!"
"Well she needs to be devoted to her work."
No one would believe Atabei's stories about the man of the sea. No one listened...except for a young fisherman named Caleb. Caleb and Atabei had known each since they were toddlers, but lately, Caleb was growing tired of friendship. He would steal a glance at her from his boat occasionally, smiling ever so slightly as he listened to Atabei sing throughout the day.
After a hard day's work, Atabei and Caleb were walking along the shore. He helped her carry the large tangles of netting as they slowly made their way back towards the village.
"I had another dream last night, Caleb. I keep wading deeper into the water."
He raised an eyebrow at her. "Is that so?"
She smiled and then furrowed her brow "Yes...what do you think it could mean?"
He shrugged. "Maybe you're approaching your destiny or something. Maybe it's a symbol."
Atabei shook her head "Not a symbol...I know this sounds crazy, but I think I'm meant to meet him."
"Meet him? I doubt that"
"You don't understand. Maybe this is my destiny. To be with this man."
Caleb sighed and muttered under his breath. "Or some man"
She stopped in her tracks and faced him. She narrowed her eyes. "What do you mean?"
Caleb shifted uncomfortably. "Well...it could be a sign that you might find a husband soon. Not the man of the sea. Perhaps he's a symbol."
"I told you already, he CAN'T be a symbol, I'm sure of it. The dreams are always so vivid-"
"That's the thing about dreams, Atabei. They SEEM real. But they're not. It's still a dream. You still wake up."
"You don't understand, they have to be real, they have to be!" She shook her head defiantly, a twinge of anger churning within her. Why was Caleb turning on her all of a sudden?
Caleb began to shout now. "They're not. They're beautiful dreams, but they're not real!"
"YES. THEY. ARE!"
Caleb threw the nets to the ground and whirled around to look at her, his chest rising and falling rapidly. "NO Atabei!"
They drew closer to each other, yelling in each other's faces.
"How dare you speak to me like this?! Stop saying they're not real!"
"I'd be lying to you if I said otherwise. They aren't real!"
"Yes they are, I KNOW they are!"
"I'm sorry, but they're not. You know what is real though?! What's real that you never seem to see?"
And before she could object, Caleb cupped his hands around her cheeks and kissed her passionately. It was aggressive at first, due to their anger at each other. But that quickly melted away. Instead of objecting, instead of pushing him away and yelling at him for questioning her dreams, Atabei's eyes fluttered shut. The dreams didn't matter anymore. What mattered was this. The kiss became slower, gentler, more intimate. She placed her hands on his chest hesitantly, but as the kiss grew sweeter still, her nervousness ebbed away and they at last surrendered themselves to one another.
Finally they broke away from each other, breathless. Caleb stared at her with wide eyes, as if stunned himself by what he had done. He stammered, obviously embarrassed.
"I-I-my gods...I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me. I'm so sorry-"
"There's nothing to be sorry for." she smiled slightly.
Caleb smiled back, and they leaned into each other once more. As they were about to kiss again, a thunder-clap resounded directly over them and it began to pour. They screamed in surprise and then delight. They clasped hands, picked up the nets and ran to find shelter from the sudden downpour. Their laughter echoed across the sea.
Someone beneath the waves was not laughing at all.
The dreams kept persisting, but now Atabei did not long for the man of the sea anymore. Perhaps he was a symbol. A symbol for her love, Caleb.
They had known each other all their lives. The young couple already had an intimate understanding of one another. They already had stories that would always make each other laugh. They already knew each other's secrets. Now that they had admitted their feelings for one another, feelings that had been stifled or disregarded for so long, nothing would hold them back. After a few months, they agreed to be married.
Though more gifts from the sea floated ashore, Atabei didnt interpret them to be signs of the mysterious man. They were clearly the god's blessing of her relationship with Caleb.
What was odd though, was the fact that Caleb was not having luck in his fishing. He was usually so skilled that everyone raved that he must be a favorite of Agwe. Now the young man's nets were surprisingly bare.
At first Atabei blamed herself. "It must be my nets"
But Caleb would shake his head and kiss her forehead reassuringly. "Impossible. Your nets are foolproof."
The wedding ceremony was beautiful. Even the elders of the village, who had once disapproved of Atabei and her dreams, nodded in approval. Everyone was in agreement-there had never been such a happy couple in memory. Yes,they were poor. But they had all they could ever want in each other.
There was a terrible storm that night though. The walls of the couple's small cabin shook from the strong gusts of wind and the rain hammered brutally against the roof ceaselessly. Atabei couldn't help but tremble. Caleb wrapped his arms around her tenderly.
"Shhhhhh darling it's just a little storm. It'll pass"
"Do you think it's a sign?"
Caleb smiled slightly. "You're so analytical. Can't you just relax and accept that its rain?"
Atabei shrugged. "Maybe I am being a little over dramatic...but we are going to be up all night if the rain doesn't stop. It's so loud." She walked to the edge of the room and gazed out the window pensively.
Caleb paused, hesitant. At last he spoke, choosing his words carefully. "Well...I guess we'll have to figure out a way to pass the time..."
She looked over at him, confused at first, and then she realized what he meant. She blushed slightly and then sighed, determined to vanquish her embarrassment. She walked slowly towards him, un-buttoning her blouse. With each step she took forward her confidence burgeoned, and he would step backward in time with her until he hit the bed. Her hands slid beneath his shirt and gingerly slipped it off. Caleb placed a hand on her cheek and gazed at her thoughtfully.
"I love you"
Atabei smiled back. "I love you too"
They kissed and fell back onto the bed. They were awake for much of the evening, but it wasn't on account of the rain.
The next evening the skies were clear. Not a cloud was in sight and the seas were calm. The beaches were beautiful, almost more beautiful than usual. It was as if a stage was being set for the climax of a show. The waters surrounding the island seemed to be foreshadowing something to come, the atmosphere was holding its breath for some grand display.
Exhausted from the lack of sleep and a hard day's work, the newlyweds were eager to get some sleep. They said their good nights and climbed into bed. Caleb succumbed to sleep almost instantly. Atabei smiled as she listened to his rhythmic breathing and turned onto her side, closing her eyes. After a few moments, she began to dream.
Or at least she thought she was dreaming. For some reason she was uncertain. Everything was increasingly vivid. The singing was calling to her strongly now and she felt herself gravitating towards it, almost as if she couldn't help but follow. The dream was so realistic. It felt like her feet were actually connecting with the floor of the hut, then the soft sand. She could feel the wind on her skin, feel the rippling fabric of her skirts. Her imagination must be improving! This was unbelievably realistic.
She reached the beach and gasped in surprise as she saw him. The man of the sea. Her man. He seemed even more beautiful in this dream. He smiled at her, his silvery eyes twinkling in the moonlight. This time when he sang she felt the melody reverberate in her chest. He outstretched his muscular, arms towards her and she felt herself forcibly pulled to him as if by an unseen force.
The dream certainly was realistic. It felt as if the ocean actually was surrounding her as she waded in. She could feel its cool, rhythmic movement around her waist. Her man of the sea gazed down at her, beaming, his blue flesh glistening in the evening air. He leaned forward and kissed her forehead gingerly. This was a new part of the dream...that had never happened before. It felt so real, she could feel his warm lips on her forehead.
Placing a hand under her chin tenderly, he finally spoke in his deep, soothing voice. "Atabei. My queen. We are united at last. Now for the last step."
Before she could object, the man forcibly kissed her. Oh gods-this wasn't a dream. She pushed away in horror but the kiss was the least of her worries. Atabei's fragile form shook violently. Something felt wrong. Horribly wrong. It felt as if her lungs were shriveling within her, yes-that was exactly what was occurring. She felt them dry up and crack within her chest, then, gasping, she coughed up clouds of dust. Her eyes widened in sheer terror. Her lungs were gone. Before she could react any further she felt herself changing again-it felt as if her sides were splitting apart violently. The skin stretched and contorted as the girl cried out in agony. Her knees collapsed, but the man caught her instinctively.
"Don't fight the change. Just stay calm. The first stage is almost over"
Suddenly she felt the change stop. Cautiously, she lifted the side of her shirt up. Along her rib cage was a set of gills.
"There. That's all for now." The man stated soothingly.
Atabei was far from calm. "What have you done to me? Who are you? Let me go please change me back-"
The man blinked at her, confused. "Why would I do that? I did this for you."
Atabei burst into tears. "What? You're not even real-I mean-youre not supposed to be real. This is a dream. It has to be."
"I sent you those dreams. They were merely foreshadowing our union."
"I never agreed to this!"
The man shook his head. "Do you remember those gifts you found on the beach? The shell? The necklace? You accepted them and you fell for me in the dreams. Don't deny it. You accepted the gifts and thereby agreed to be my queen."
"Oh gods no please-"
The man chuckled. "There is no need to pray to one who is already right before you, child."
Atabei's eyes widened in shock. She was speechless. All she was able to manage was "Agwe?"
He nodded and grabbed her hand. "Come. I shall show you our kingdom."
Atabei resisted, struggling for shore. "No! I will not be your queen! My heart belongs to another!"
Agwe tensed suddenly. He whirled around, his long tail flicking beneath the waves in anger. His grip on her tightened and the once calm sea began to churn with dark intent.
He didn't yell, but his quiet made the situation more terrifying.
"Make no mistake: you belong to me. Now. Come. Along."
Agwe's silvery eyes darkened to the color of a jet black sea. "Then you leave me no choice."
The god raised a hand over the water directly beneath them. The pair began to move with a circular current. Atabei attempted to escape the whirlpool, yet as she moved towards shore, the pull of the waves intensified, thrusting her back into the sea. The waves surrounding the whirlpool arose, creating a impenetrable imprisonment. Atabei's petite form was catapulted around again and again and she felt the current pull her closer and closer to the heart of the whirlpool, which terrified her with its impossibly deep and impossibly dark appearance. Despite her experience as a swimmer, resistance to the current was futile. Agwe pulled her into his arms and they quickly plummeted into the threatening heart of the whirlpool. The instant they entered the jet stream, the whirlpool closed on top of them and the waves returned to normal. All that was left was the calm beach.
What had once been Atabei's dream had become her nightmare.