The Heart of the Ocean

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A Memory of Salt


“The sound of the sea colors everything.”

-Louise Glück


The soothing sound of the rain falling on the window of her bedroom disturbed the silence and woke Aide from her deep slumber. The small raindrops hit her window before slowly falling down the fogged glass, leaving a wet trail behind them. The smell of cinnamon and baked apples greeted her as soon as her eyes opened. The magnificent scent that tantalized her senses brought a smile to her face. Nana Alexandra was making her famous apple pie once again.

The young woman rubbed her eyes to get the last remains of sleep away and stretched her body, hearing numerous cracks from her stiff form. Looking at the small alarm clock, which was on her bedside table, she saw that the time was 9 am on this rainy Sunday morning. She sat up in her bed so that her back was resting against her comfortable pillows and pulled her wild dark locks in a messy hair bun to keep them away from her eyes. She let out a sigh of relief as she realized that she didn’t have school today and she could freely relax for the rest of the day.

Lost in her thoughts, she began going over the incidents that happened in her last night’s dreams.

“It was not a dream, but a memory”, she corrected herself as a bittersweet feeling filled her whole being.

The memory that had been repeating in her dreams for many years now gave her mixed feelings. She was partly terrified to think about the incident that had taken place so many years ago, but she also treasured the memory as her most prized possession. She knew that it was a weird combination and that other people would probably think that she was utterly crazy, but she couldn’t control her feelings.

Looking at the raindrops sliding slowly down her fogged window, she began to get lost in the weird memory and reminisce what had happened that summer day so many years ago that had marked her five-year-old self until today.

-Twelve Years Ago-

Her little chest was burning terribly as she was trying to suck inside of her as much oxygen as she possibly could. Her wet frail body trembled both from the cold air hitting her and from the fear that had clouded her troubled mind. She could feel herself lying upon a rough surface and the sun caressing her face with its warm rays offering to her his warmth.

Opening successfully her heavy eyelids that felt like they were glued together on purpose, the first thing she saw was the blue sky stretching above her like a huge silky veil. Listening to the seagulls’ beautiful songs as she watched them flying freely above her and having the feeling of the salty water touching her fingertips, she decided to try to lift herself up in a sitting position.

Immediately, she began to cough loudly, her sounds the only thing that could be heard all across the isolated beach. She desperately tried to remove all the seawater that she had consumed from her lungs, so she could finally breathe properly. Tears began to fall from her eyes due to the pain in her constricting chest and the shock that she had suffered from this tragic experience.

Finally, lifting her gaze up when she stopped coughing out water, she realized that in a way she couldn’t explain, she had found herself lying on the same rock from which she had fallen in her attempt to reach that beautiful blue shell. How could this have happened? She could clearly remember the sight of the beautiful seashells near the surface as she was desperately trying to reach the top. She was alone and drowning in a place without anyone around to help her, so how was she still alive?

Looking around to inspect the beach, she found out that she was still alone in the secluded part of the seacoast and she was standing in front of the very same saltwater pond into which she had fallen. Nobody else was in sight around her, meaning that she had no one who could have possibly saved her from her wet ending.

Upset and frightened beyond her mind, she began to cry with loud heartbreaking sobs. Any thoughts of her sandcastle and the shells that she had gathered to decorate it with, now were long forgotten. Her small hands were holding her head as she was crying as if to prevent her from seeing the pond of horror that was right in front of her. The only thing that could be heard on the shore was her sorrowful sobs.

Suddenly, she heard a strange sound that made her look around in hope that perhaps her savior was still around and she wasn’t alone during this time that she needed someone’s company the most. However, as she looked around she could still not see anyone near her, which made her feel even worse than before -all her hopes were crushed.

She desperately wanted to see her kind dada and sweet mama and give them lots of hugs and kisses, while she told them how much she loved them again and again. But they were nowhere close to her –she was all alone. She wanted someone, anyone, to appear in front of her and assure her that everything was going to be fine.

Rubbing her red swollen from crying eyes, she heard the exact same sound yet again but stronger than the previous time. It was as if whatever she was hearing had come closer to her trembling form than where it was before.

“It sounds like when I splash the water with my feet”, thought the little girl as the sound was heard for yet another time. Little Aide turned afraid but curious to look towards the sea pond in which she had almost drown.

At first, she saw absolutely nothing, but the small seashells on the rocky walls and the dark blue color of the deep water. However, after a few moments had passed, she noticed something moving in the salty waters of the pond. Her young innocent mind could not think anything else, but that it was just a fish –perhaps, a bit bigger than usual, swimming in the sea. But the dark figure that was swimming in the water seemed to become bigger and bigger as it swam towards the surface, making it impossible for it to be a simple fish. Its speed was incredibly fast and it moved through the water without making a sound, like an expert predator that was ready to pounce on his next unsuspected prey.

Little Aide leaned a bit further to have a better look at what was in the water when suddenly she saw something she definitely didn’t expect. An inhuman pair of bright purple eyes stared back at her from the bottom of the pond making her freeze in utter terror. Her breath was caught in her throat and her heartbeats raced at an unusual speed as her eyes widened at the sight.

The frightened little girl panicked as she watched the strange eyes coming increasingly closer to her as the creature approached the surface of the water. Terrified out of her mind, she immediately turned around and tried to find a safe way to descend from the rock she was upon. But it was much easier to climb on a rock than to get down from it and the mysterious figure was much faster than the five-year-old girl.

While she was trying to climb off the big rock as quickly as she could, Aide felt something wet and strong gripping her delicate ankle, successfully ending every effort she had made to come down and off the rock. Panicked, the girl began kicking in her attempt to free her small leg and screaming for help, but the mysterious creature was much stronger than she could ever be.

Unable to do anything else, she turned around defeated, only for her to be left completely surprised by what was standing before her. In front of her was a weird man with long brunette hair and piercing captivating purple eyes. But what made him look like something out of a fairytale were the shiny emerald scales that adorned his otherwise flawless face, his broad shoulders, and toned sternum.

Looking down at the hand that was holding her little foot, Aide discovered that his fingers were joined together by a thin green layer and that he had sharp long black claws that looked capable of causing great harm. Scared, the little one started to cry not knowing what else to do.

Then, the marine creature in front of her, after liberating her small and fragile ankle, lifted his heavy body up from the water and sat on the same rock she was currently on. And it was in that moment that Aide noticed that in the place that his legs were supposed to be, he had a long wide tail adorned with emerald and deep green scales.

Dazzled at the sight in front of her and barely believing in her eyes, the little girl stopped crying, remembering her favorite “Little Mermaid”. She stared with admiration the beautiful shiny tail of the merman as if she were in a trance. Curious about his tail, Aide touched it with her small palm to find out if it was a fiction of her imagination or a part of her reality.

After seeing her positive reaction and her visibly calmer behavior, the handsome merman lifted her small body and sat her upon his muscled tail, resting her tired back on his toned chest. Then, after he wiped away the precious tears that had fallen down her rosy cheeks, he kissed her gently on her forehead and stroked her wet hair the exact same way that her mother used to do.

“You are safe now, little one”, he whispered with his melodious voice.

He smelled her delightful scent by putting his aristocratic nose in between her long hair and embracing her tightly. He didn’t know why her scent affected him that much. He didn’t know why he saved her –what had drawn him to her. His kind stayed away from humans –it was better that way.

“Shhh...I’ve got you now. You don’t have to worry about anything”, he murmured softly in her ear along with other sweet words as he tried to calm down the sniffling child.

“I...I almost w-went to heaven....“, Aide started to cry into the merman’s broad chest, making his body stiffen.

“T-The water ... it was b-burning...“, she barely stuttered.

“Now now, nothing will ever harm you as long as I am here”, he rocked her slowly from side to side trying to stop her from crying any longer.

After a considerable amount of time had passed and the young girl ceased her cries and sniffles, the merman positioned her gently back on the rock that they were sitting on and dived back into the ocean’s water.

“My beautiful Aide, I have to go now”, he whispered to her in a hushed voice as he placed a small object in her palm. He closed her hand so she was holding it tightly.

“Are you going to meet the other mermaids?“, she shyly asked as her cheeks turned a pink color, showing her shyness.

“Yes, I have to go back to Atlantis with the other mermaids”, he laughed at her cute question and smiled as he heard her soft giggles.

“They will probably be looking for me”, he admitted with a saddened smile as he had to leave her behind.

Aide’s eyes breamed with unshed tears at the thought of never seeing the merman again. He had saved her from her wet grave and had been so sweet towards her, whispering sweet nothings in her ear and caressing her tangled hair in an attempt to make her relax. She had felt a sense of safety and familiarity with him that she had felt with nobody else, not even her own parents. Besides, she had a soft spot for all things mermaid-related (thanks to princess Ariel, of course) and she wasn’t ready to lose him just yet.

“Don’t cry”, he whispered to her not able to watch her tear-filled eyes.

“I promise to you, one day, we will meet again”, he said with a determined voice while looking deep into her eyes.

After leaving a lingering kiss on her small hand, he disappeared in the deep waters of the pond, leaving Aide alone once more. However, this time she wasn’t frightened. Once he was gone, she opened her palm curious about what he had given to her. What she saw made a smile lit up her young face.

The gorgeous blue seashell that she had wanted so much to reach was finally in her hands.

-End of Flashback-

The drowning part of her memory had made her terrified of the water and kept her as far away from it as possible. She didn’t dare to swim in the sea since that day, but she did enjoy visiting the beach and drawing her sketches with the sound of the crashing waves in her ears. However, she was thankful that she had met her own personal merman on that day and treasured this part of her salty memory. Even if everybody insisted that he was never real. That he was a creation of her mind to help her deal with the trauma.

Aide opened her bedside drawer, taking hold of the necklace that her father had made for her as a gift for her sixth birthday. The blue shell that decorated the necklace was her only proof that all of these were real and not just a fiction of her imagination. It was the last present she was ever given by her parents before they died in a car crash accident a few days later. Even though she didn’t have the courage to wear it, the necklace meant a lot to her. It reminded her that her parents were always by her side, even though they weren’t there anymore.

It also represented something more.

The hope she had that...one day she would meet him again.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

End of chapter 2!!

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