Down on Pancove beach, where seagulls taunt the tourists brought on by the warm summer months, sat three particular birds. These were different birds than those that crowded the blue green sky above. Their wings were translucent, their feathers an elegant ivory, and their eyes, dark. Standing still, they could have been porcelain figurines.
One bird in particular, the one with the darkest eyes, watched the other two with clear vexation. As much as a bird could be vexed.
“Do you think there are clouds on the moon? Why do you suppose we can’t see them?” one of the two birds in her line of sight asked the other.
“That’s a good question.”
The bird with the dark eyes did not agree, but waited for the other bird’s response.
“I think we don’t see them because they’re on the other side of the moon, you know the side that faces the sun.”
The answer appeared to satisfy the other bird, who then returned its gaze to the horizon.
“That makes sense because the clouds protect us from the sun,” it added after additional reflection. “What do you make of it Devi?” it asked the dark-eyed bird.
Devi, held a deadpan expression- or perhaps a look of incredulity-hard to say on a bird. Having spotted figures in the distance, Devi stretched her wings, “I think you two are morons.”
With a hard flap of her translucent wings, she dove off the rock and into the air. Before she got too close to her target, she flapped her wings again and a stroke of white light masked her figure. She transitioned into a youthful maiden striding confidently, barefooted, across the salty white sand. A ruffled white sundress flapped audibly in the sea-kissed breeze. Her long, brown hair rippled behind her in sporadic waves.
She began to hum. With time, the hum turned into a song. Her silky voice pierced the billowing wind like a needle through a carefully woven blanket.
“I’ve been waiting on what’s been owed…”
The strap of her dress slid off her shoulder, she glanced behind her and tugged it back into place.
“My mother will make just on what was once foretold…”
She faced ahead, making brief eye contact with her target. Smile, not too much, stay modest. She averted her eyes, faking her attention elsewhere, perhaps the waves, perhaps the clouds, or perhaps a boat in the distance.
“Ay, pretty lady! Sing yer songs over here!” a voice called out from the shadows.
She grimaced, preparing herself mentally for the show she had to put on. Morons, all of them. Both mortals and sirens.
Justifying her own actions to herself was part of the routine. She wouldn’t hurt them had they not acted so predictably.
Shedding her scorn, she turned back to the group of men who were smoking in the shadow of a tall boulder. Her face, flushed with embarrassment, she stood hugging her own arms.
“Oh, no, sorry I’m only passing through!” she cried out in a humble tone.
A few of the men chuckled at her.
“That’s a mighty fine dress ye got there lass, suits ya!” one continued to heckle, “Really shows off them fine legs of yours.”
Devi turned away from the men, disregarding the comment. The silence that followed made her believe that she was in the clear, that perhaps the men had their wits about them after all. But she had only taken a couple more steps when the man called out to her once more. He had a death wish after all.
“Hey don’t be like that! Pretty girls ought thank a man for a compliment, tha’s just proper!”
The dark-haired young woman wore a clear frown when she faced away from the men, but when she turned around a practiced and perfected smile sat in its place. “Thank you sir.”
The man shared a sly grin with one of his comrades as he went on, “Now I don’t know if that’s a ‘thank you’ worth the compliment eh? What about a thank you kiss?” He winked at her and her stomach turned.
At this point, Devi couldn’t keep up the charade. This was enough to justify her actions for today, and with this many men, her mother would be proud. Perhaps even earned Devi a day off.
She dropped her facade, and in another burst of white light her large white wings flared up around her. A gust of wind forced her hair behind her into a dark halo. The men’s wide eyes saw the creature before them as an angel… if only that were the case. The siren wished she were an angel, but she didn’t have a need for her usual ‘tuesday night self loathing’ at the moment.
Accepting the cards that had been dealt to her, her eyes flashed a blinding white light, and with a crack of electricity the men vanished into thin air. When it came to the technicalities of her ruse, it was more power heavy than she desired, and she wasn’t proud of it. Other sirens were more subtle in their techniques, but as old as Devi was (older than she cared to admit) she hadn’t gotten any better at it.
The violent wind died down. Devi rested her eyes, then leaned forward into her bird guise, diving straight through the breeze. She flew up into the clouds then plunged downwards towards the earth. She corrected herself before she got too close to the ground, she often thought of what would happen if she ever made the decision not to.
It’s not self loathing Tuesday Devi, she reminded herself with a sour look on her face.
A lone figure in the distance caught her eye, a well-timed distraction. Sitting on a short cliff that overlooked the beach, was a boy. Rather a young man, different then the men she sent into the void moments earlier. He was one of those pretty boys. Some sirens preferred those sorts because they were simple and easy to lure. Devi on the other hand, not only disliked taking young men because she was lousy at it, but because in her opinion they were too young. That was what she told herself anyway.
Devi was not very good at being a siren, mostly because she hated being a siren.
But… she had a strong start this morning, and if she bagged one more- a young one at that, she could likely talk Felicitas into giving her the whole week off.
Fine, she made her landing and walked into her mortal appearance. She would be less flashy this time around and put more into the voice, the younger ones were not as forward. This required actual skill.
Out of the air, she pulled a sun hat and placed it on her head. She resumed her song.
“The skies are starved and they thirst the final word,”
She wandered down the sandy path, the young man was lost in a book and had not noticed her yet. To be fair, she was a ways away. Her words reached him with a slight delay. The winds fought the siren’s song as it twisted through the curves of the wind. The song would win however, it always did.
“I can count the times this tale’s been told,”
Finally the young man glanced in her direction. He squinted at the day’s brightness then returned to his book.
Alright, he’s blind, Devi decided. She waited until she was a couple meters closer and made her next attempt.
“It will turn around…. I’ve sung this song,”
Her sweet voice reached his ears then. With his attention held, she released her hat, allowing it to dance with the wind. The young man’s eyes followed the whirling hat through the air.
“I’ve walked so far, don’t tell me it’s wrong.” She let the note hang, and watched the boy snatch the hat out of the wind’s grasp.
Devi approached the short cliff shyly, it all being a part of the theatrics. He leaned over the ledge, holding the hat towards her. The sun was behind him, making it difficult for Devi to make out his face. His frame was lean and elongated by the angle she studied him from.
She took the hat and thanked him. He didn’t respond, merely saluted her and returned to his seat.
Devi frowned at this, she turned away and her voice rang even louder.
“I’ve watched crowned kings on their knees,”
She walked away, in her mind she heard the music, the drums whose beats she matched with the strides of her feet.
“And they ask, ’Who is that in the light?’”
There were many factors that could affect her power on any given day. This was not unheard of. The young man could be too young, or he might have a partner that he is loyal to. The second was rare, but it did happen. She had a warped understanding of the mortal realm, good men had to exist. The more plausible reason was that her heart simply wasn’t in it. She knew it never had been and never would be.
Or perhaps she was wrong, perhaps she lucked out this time. She turned around beaming, this time her hopeful smile was genuine.
“You might not want to walk that way, or you might want to put on shoes. The northern part of the beach has a lot of broken glass,” the boy didn’t look up from his book.
Devi raised her eyebrows in near disbelief. “Thanks,” she said flatly and the young man did nothing but nod.
Heeding his advice, she pivoted and returned from where she came.
“I’ve turned palaces into rubble…” she hummed to herself, “I’ve left them nothing to find.”