The Fisher's Son
There are things you should watch for out there on the water. The Land Sea is a strange place, full of strange things, and it’s always in your best interest to keep your wits about you. And some of those strange things, the things one ought to be most wary of, sometimes they’re the most inviting of all. A lot of folks think the Black-Eyed Lady don’t exist, but I’ve seen her. The stories about her are all true, as far as I can tell.
She came to me twice, and twice was enough. The first time I was out on the sea. It was a clear day, the sun sparkled off the water. The fishing was good, I remember that, I had plenty to bring back to the markets. I was chasing a school cod, the wind was at my back and I was making good time, and I sailed right past her. In the distance I’d thought she was a mirage, and getting closer, with the way her shadow spilled out behind her, I thought she was one of the spires that sometimes form out there. It weren’t ‘til I was right up on her that I saw she was a woman. Still, though, a woman standing there on the surface of the sea braiding her hair is a sight that I can’t say was a familiar one. I thought once again that perhaps I’d just been on the water too long.
I shook it off, went back to pursuing the cod, and made firm plans to head back in the morning. But the strangest thing happened: the ship moved backwards, against the wind and the currents. It didn’t matter what I did or how I tried to get out of it, the ship sped back just as fast as it had been speeding after the cod. It only stopped again when the woman was back in sight. Something I couldn’t see or make sense of – something besides the wind and the natural waves of the sea below – kept my ship fixed in place.
She walked over to my ship, leaving a trail of ripples in her wake. When she got close, the sea itself rose in a gentle swell to help her over the side. There she was on my deck, fresh out of the sea and somehow dry as a damn bone above her ankles. I asked her who she was and why she was there, if she was the one I’d heard stories about, if she was a sea-spirit, but she said nothing. She just walked towards me, staring at me with this hunger in her eye. The closer she got the clearer it was that she was human, or at least something close to it.
She was wild and untamed and wiry, like she’d been left in the woods to raise herself up. Half animal. And, you know, the thing about wild animals is they take what they want when they want it. And, by god, she took what she wanted from me. Before I’d even gotten the chance to catch my breath, she was gone again. There was naught but the trail of damp footsteps leading over the side of my boat to prove that she’d ever been there at all.
A year later she appeared again. She came on board my boat a second time. I stepped back away from her, tried to put as much distance between her and myself as I could, but this time I saw something different in her eyes--not that same hunger. No, this time, there was just a...pleading.
She carried in her arms a wrapped bundle as dry as she was though she'd once again been sitting on the surface of the sea. When I allowed her close, I heard a gentle mewling come from the bundle. She handed it to me, and I unwrapped it. A black-eyed baby boy stared up at me. The sea-woman left again without a word.
And my boy, bless him, I can’t say he’s exactly the son I ought to have had if you catch my meaning. I love him, I do, fer he is my boy no matter where he came from or what he came from, but he’s always been too enamored of the sea. Too close to it. And he’s never been sick a day in his life, not once, not even a colic.
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