A Siren and Her Secret
I stand with my feet buried in the grainy sand, my only company being the stars, the moon, and the sea. I stare at nothing, letting thoughts roll and crash through my mind as steadily as the waves lapping at my ankles. I’m covered by a sweater, much too large for my frame, and shorts that allow the cool breeze to gently graze my legs. I run my tongue across my ruby lips; the taste of salty tears and bitter heartache. Then suddenly, I am no longer alone.
A man approaches me, it is only he and I. For a moment, I turn to observe him. He is tall, with tangled, blonde waves that fall to his shoulders. His eyes are a devastating green; a perfect match to the dark seaweed laying trampled on the soft, wet sand.
He speaks to me in a rich voice, “Hello, there.” I look away, concealing my face that had been cleansed by the salty ocean within me just moments ago. “Greetings.” I mutter quietly, crossing my arms, keeping my dark eyes averted. “What is a lovely woman like you doing alone with the Ocean at this hour?” he asked gently, standing only a few feet away from me now. I could feel the wind from the Ocean tickling my neck and blowing both of our hair around our faces, as if she were sending the breeze to comfort me and the mysterious man. I glance over at his handsome face again.
“She consoles me.” I answer softly, turning my face to look back at the vastness of the water before me. “I see.” he replies simply. I expect him to continue on his walk, to move on from me like all the others, but he remains. For a few quiet heartbeats, we watch the waves crash and foam on the grainy sand, the water reaching for our toes.
“What pains you?” he suddenly asks me, turning his emerald eyes in my direction. I do not return his gaze. “How can I share the reasons for my heartache with a strange man when I cannot even speak them to those I am closest to?” I ask him openly, tired of concealing my broken heart. A small well of tears form in my eyes once again. There was something about him that seemed easy to be honest with. I didn’t quite understand it, but I appreciated his company nonetheless.
“I am a stranger, whom you may never cross paths with again. How could it be of any harm to share your brokenness with someone who doesn’t believe you feel anything else?” he replies carefully, not removing his eyes from my face. At last, I look over at him, admiration blooming within me. I blink away the tears in my eyes, my lost gaze finally meeting his. “What shall I call you?” I ask the stranger.
“You may call me your Secret Keeper.” he tells me, the corners of his lips rising into a small smile. It brings me great comfort. “Very well, Secret Keeper. I may be known as Siren, a daughter of the sea.” I turn away from him to watch the stars reflect off of the surface of the waves. “The Ocean has always provided a familiar peace to me. She and I long for one another.” Hot tears fill my eyes once more, but this time I let them run down my face. “But lately, I have been drowning in my own despair. I have no one to comfort me except for her. I am here because I did not want to be alone tonight. Not again.”
My lips tremble, and I turn to watch him as he stares out into the horizon, the moon turning his chiseled face silver. He appeared to be contemplating, and then he looked toward me once again. “I understand your sorrow, my Siren. I came here because I knew no one waited for me at home. The Ocean soothes my aching heart as well.” he tells me softly.
I see the same Ocean inside of him escaping his eyes, tears falling down his cheeks and his chin. I reach out, and take his hand. “My Secret Keeper, you are not alone.” He squeezes my palm, and moves closer. He stands before me, and tears spill from both of our eyes. I reach out and wipe the streaks of water from his face. He does the same for me. His fingers are soft against my skin, and so very gentle.
After a few heartbeats of silence only broken by the crashing of waves, he speaks. “I came here tonight to leave my life behind and let the Ocean sweep me into Her depths, where I could seek Her comfort forever. I was ready to finally let go of my pain and my last breathe. She was the only one I could rely on. But you, dear Siren, have brought me an even greater peace. I know now that I am not the only one hiding a broken heart. And perhaps I do not have to hide it any longer.”
He closes his eyes, his long lashes heavy with tears, and he lifts my hand to his face. I feel the choppy texture of blonde stubble along his jaw, the roughness a distinct contrast to his careful hand taking mine. “I know that is why you are here as well, Siren. I see my aching reflected in your gaze.” he tells me. I look into his beautiful eyes, studying them very carefully. I felt like I could swim in the emerald color for all of eternity, as if I was meant to look into them. “Yes, it is,” I solemnly agree, “but we don’t have to let go. We are not alone anymore, dear Secret Keeper.” He smiles, the last of his tears rolling down his cheeks. He gently releases my hand and takes me by the waist, pulling me close and resting his head on mine. I wrap my arms around his muscular back and listen to his steady heartbeat as my head rests on his chest. We stay just like that, holding the pieces of each other’s brokenness together for as long as we need.
A short story by Jacqueline Baines