The girl rose slowly from dark water, sliding gracefully through it as though the current posed no resistance against her movements. It lapped gently against the shore, creating rivets in the course sand then smoothing it back out as it receded.
She stepped, tender footed, onto the beach, her bare feet making soft imprints in the clay. Although she had only just surfaced from the sea, her white dress flowed freely around her ankles, and her hair, dark as a raven’s wing, cascaded down her back. Her soft, brown skin glowed in the heavenly starlight. Her sea green eyes peered into the dark, wisdom from a thousand various experiences evident in her flawless, youthful complexion.
A path constructed of wood planks led to an old lighthouse, its lantern pane dark and foreboding. She followed the ramp, approaching the crumbling structure. Not a soul could be seen - the place had long been abandoned - but she wasn’t expecting anyone to be there.
She paused at the entrance, a gaping hole where the door used to be. Inside the shadows consumed the fragmented shapes of broken furniture and debris. Crossing the threshold, nostalgia washed over her. In her mind’s eye, she saw it as it used to be. Every night, the lighthouse would be lit, bright as a flame, penetrating the fog to guide ships back to the safety of the harbor. It was a beacon of assurance, a shred of hope in the gloom. Inside, there was laughter, peace, even in the dead of night. A happy, young couple made their life together in its depths.
Now it was dead, bodily and in soul, and had been for a long time. The light died, the flame she watched every night from beneath the waves long gone dark, and with it any hope.
Somehow, vaguely she knew it was her fault. She had left, obeying the sea’s call. She discarded any life on the surface, withdrawing to a foreign place - foreign to her lover, but her home.
Hard as she tried not to dwell on the past, it was unforgettable.
An empty crater in the wall replaced what used to be a furnace, dust collecting on the broken shelves.
Carefully, she avoided the mangled remains, seeming to slide across the room with an even, smooth gait. There was a dusty, but still intact, picture frame, displaying a photo of the couple that had lived there a long time ago.
Tearing her eyes away from the memory, she reached out, snatched it off the wall, and threw it on the ground, pieces of glass and the wood frame scattering. Behind it, there was a ragged hole cut into the wall. Tucked inside was a yellowing envelope, which she grabbed, holding it gingerly in both of her hands. It had already been slit, the contents read, so she simply removed the equally musty paper.
Unfolding it, she scanned the hasty writing.
April 14, 1849
It was a night with a full moon, a night with stars, countless stars in the sky, waving to those watching, but only to those who still watched. Only to those who still gazed at the heavens dreaming, to those whose eyes reflect the mysteries of the creation in the dark of the night.
The waves of the sea, crashing on the rocks, spraying into the air, echoing the sounds of laughter, pain, grief, spreading peace to those who still dreamed, those who dreamed of peace. It spoke of dreams, of you. To you who would wait for the foam, the crash, the spray. You who would stand on the pier, waiting patiently, tirelessly watching.
That night was a night like no other. The wind was whispering its secrets to those who listened, those who still cared; cared for the Maker’s creation, one of beauty, enchantment; wonders that could never have begun by pure chance. A chance no one dreams of taking. A risk no one survives. A leap no theory could ever catch, could never hold, could never grasp. One that slips through one's fingers, like the moon in the sky, or a soul from life .
Standing on the pier, wind blowing through your raven hair, the stars reflecting your eyes, the color of the sea, the waves drenching your ghost-like form, pulling her closer to the edge, ready... for what though? Ready for the step too far. Ready for your mistake. Your slip. Ready for the doubt and fear that hollows one’s heart. Ready to crush you with its hold. Ready to drown you in its icy water. Ready to mock you with its snickers caught up in the scorn. Ready most of all to steal your breath as you fade into the darkness of this night.
Standing there, I watched from the shadows. You waited, the stars blinking, the moon glowing illuminating your figure, a single silhouette against the infinite, dark expanse above and beyond, your white gown blowing behind you, cheeks flushed rose, hands trembling, eyes quivering, lips parted with sorrow, stepping, closer, closer, closer, then too far!
The waves crashed once more, sweeping you away, dragging you down, down, down in a merciless grip, crushing the your spirit, never allowing your eyes to gaze upon the mocking stars, nor the moon with its heartbroken mask, nor feel the wind in your luscious hair, nor the salty spray of the calamitous sea, nor hear secrets being whispered in your ear. Never feeling joy, never feeling peace, never feeling pain, never again, forever and always.
You plummeted into the depths of the black water; it swallowed you like a grain of sand, amusing itself with your terror, sucking away your tears; just an infinitesimal drop in a mountain of tears. Tears shed by children when losing someone dear. Tears shed by parents watching their children leave in anger, wondering what they could’ve done wrong, when there was nothing they could’ve done differently.
You are gone now. The girl whose laughter rang through the verandas, carried baskets of flowers, weaving them in little girl’s velvet hair, scattering them on the streets. The girl who every young man waved at, whispered amongst themselves as you passed with your radiant smile, saying to themselves, “She’s mine”.
I was one of those boys, watching you for years, wishing to talk with you, hold you, sweep you away, but I was too afraid to do it. I was no one, an insignificant soul, but you; you were perfect. Too perfect for me. I was a poet. You were a goddess, a star. I was a boy with aspirations and dreams, plans and hopes, all washed away when I perceived with my dull eyes in comparison to yours, your dainty feet being lifted by the wave; being swept away from my hands for eternity, shattering my heart into a billion pieces, taking my soul as well as yours.
I died with you that night. I mourned for you. I wept for you. My wails could be heard all the way to Athens and Rome. My tears overfilling the sea until it licked the borders of the town. Never has someone comforted me. All have tried, but none succeeded!
And yet, it was not enough. There was no way for me, in all these years, to express how gravely I felt your loss. My tears have not quenched my burning thirst for you, never satisfied my yearning nor enabled me to reach you, lying on the seafloor, too far to find. Your youthful laugh, dear Mari, haunts me, for I can still hear it in the wind and smell it in the waves which you adored more than anything, for you are still there; I can see your face in the water.
After you were taken, the waves no longer laughed or played, the wind no longer blew happily. The sea was dead and silent, regretting its ignorance, feeling my pain when I came to the pier where you were stolen from me, hating itself for what it did to you. The air itself is dead! Your name meant the sea; you were a part of it, and it was a part of you. The stars and the sun knew. They knew, and I knew. You are now resting, as a spirit in the froth and the foam, keeping those less-fortunate like you from missing the wind, sharing your laugh with the others taken. A spirit keeping those from slipping, from coming too close.
You abound in the sea. You are limitless, weightless, fearless, the most compassionate of all. Your jewels are the bubbles, your raven hair is the weeds, your eyes are the coral, your laugh rolls with the waves onto the beach, embedding itself into the sand for others to enjoy.
You are always there, watching me, crying because we are separated for it is truely “until death do us part”.
I am writing this to you now, on my deathbed. The doctor tells me I have only a day or so left to live, maybe less, and since I have no way to contact you, my Mari, I fear we will not see each other again until we are joyfully reunited in the afterlife, although I know that you will find this one day. Know that my soul will be one of the trillions of stars looking down on this world, on you, watching you.
I will never forget...
It stopped abruptly.
Tears welled in her eyes, blurring the last words. She forgoed wiping them away, allowing them to roll down her cheeks. Looking up, she could see the stars through a vast hole in the roof, twinkling at her, daring her to try and fix things. Among them, she knew, was his soul, watching her just like he promised.
The sea had taken her from him, his star. Then the stars, those cursed stars had stolen him, the only thing in the world she still cared about.
In a daze, she stumbled out of the lighthouse, clutching the letter, his last words, to her chest. She stared at the sea, the surf gently breaking against the rocks and sand, the empty, black abyss. With a mighty WHOOSH, water and foam rocketed into the sky, twisting and churning. It arced, racing towards the pier.
She had left, believing her heart lied with the sea. And when she returned at long last, she was too late. So she was going to wipe any existence of her former life away.
The torrent crashed into the building, submerging the cliff on which it was built. The already crumbling structure collapsed in a moment and the tower, along with any trace of its presence, disappeared, washed away by her grief.
The lighthouse, always a guiding light to the ships in the sea, would never be lit again.
Once the tide receded back to its proper place, leaving Mari standing alone on the foundation of her home, a strange shift in the air chilled the bones of the earth. She looked up at the sky again, heart racing as one by one their lights blinked out, like ink on a page overcoming any art.
Only one left, and she knew, knew it had to be his.
Then it too faded into nothingness, leaving her alone.
Note: Mare is sea in Latin. :)