The Mermaid of Zennor

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2.

Sorely, she rose and continued wayfaring with the song of birds enchanting her ears. Green surrounded her on all sides, and she decided it was the best color. A rabbit, possibly her most favorite thing she’d seen, manifested out of nowhere. She raced after it, laughing, but soon lost its trail. However, she found a path and bounded her way down. She was dumped into a grey village.

Men at Tinners started drinking as soon as they opened their doors. The townspeople brewed hearty cups of coffee and breakfast teas. Zennor was miniscule and almost soundless if not for melodic refrains sailing out of the towering chapel. The fragrance of bread hand baked at dawn swooped out of open windows. The sea was still in sight, which was a great comfort. Each sight and sound only fueled her hunger for them. She shivered delightedly and quickened her pace.

Without a doubt, the people minded Morveren with her ornate gown and unrecognizable face. Her hair, which had not once been fully dried, was a sunsoaked, tangled mass of brown. Children peered at her gown and bare feet. A startling aura enveloped her. Farmers guiding their listless cows stopped and stared.

Stumbling on the graveyard encircling the church, she gazed at the tombstones as if they were Renaissance portraits. Square fields slanted upward, enticing her vision. At first she was enthralled by little beetles, daintily pinching them, until a throng of churchgoers scurried in noisily. She arrived just in time.

Morveren crept in rather shyly. She spotted a single pew in the back where she could easily slip out with no attention and plopped down. Stained glass blinded her momentarily. She smiled at the high ceilings and scores of arches. A choir of Englishmen and women swept to the front of the chapel.

He noticed her straight away despite being hidden away in a little alcove. Her face led to no answers of her age and her dress was woven with no material known to man.

His tenor piqued her interest. It soared above her head like gulls and echoed for miles. As soon as his mouth spilled poetry, she lost her breath; the Latin words of the choir were not understood but felt deeply. The entire room trembled like struck harp strings. Tears were coaxed unwillingly and mercilessly out of eyes.

Some goers and his parents complimented the young man, as well as the other members, before heading out. A blond choirboy whispered briskly to the show stealer as he buttoned his lengthy coat. Tossing on a cap, he marched out, abandoning the former.

To the tenor’s surprise, he turned and found the striking woman approaching him. She reminded him of a heart shaped charm on a necklace or a ballerina in a music box. Her bashful spell wore off. He towered over her and thought she couldn’t speak at first. He nodded politely, “Good morning, miss.”

“Your voice,” she spoke slowly, “is like nothing I’ve ever heard. It’s stellar.”

“Oh, thank you. Matthew Trewella.”

With a golden voice came a fetching accent. He extended his hand. The sweat in his palm met the brine in hers. As she stared, a fit of hiccups overcame her. Up close, humans were so alien but so familiar. So frightening but so stunning. He was so solid, soft spoken, and dark.

“What’s your name?” he inquired, rubbing his neck.

“Morveren. I’m famished. Is there anything to eat around?”

“There’s Tinners Arms. I was heading home, but I could show you there. Are you new around here?”

“Yes. Would you mind giving directions?”

“Sure. I hope you like fish,” he replied sheepishly.

“I love fish.”.

“Alright. Welcome to Zennor, by the way.” He started for the door, which he held open for her.

“I love it already. Have you been singing long?”
“Honestly, no. My dad is a churchwarden and recently needed singers. I just wanted to try it. Are you musical?”

“Kind of,” she gestured. “I sing a bit back at home, but not seriously.”

He focused on her ambiguous accent, unable to pinpoint it. Before they got any further, he pointed straight ahead to the sign.

“You can’t miss it. They get pretty busy after sermons.”

“Thank you.”

She hadn’t realized how weak she felt. Her hands shook as she inhaled the steaming haddock on her plate. Afterwards, she eyed a young girl demolishing a mountain of Belgian chocolate sorbet. The old man who sat with her chided her to slow down. Morveren waved her waiter over.

“I’ll have what she’s having.”

Although everyone took notice of her elusive appearance, no one seemed intent to know her. She sat alone in the cozy wooden bar, transfixed by embers in the huge mouth of a stone fireplace. The mounds of sticky chocolate lit off fireworks of taste on her tongue. The fatigued server interrupted her moment of bliss with a parade of random numbers. Panic set in, as she didn’t know what he wanted. She’d seen people exchanging flashes of colored papers and pretty ellipses, but figured he wouldn’t want any.

“I don’t have any-”

The older gentleman handed him the amount due.

“Thank you.”

“It’s no problem,” he began. “You must be new-”

“Yes!” she practically threw herself at him, shaking his hand. “I’m Morveren. It’s a pleasure.”

“Well, welcome,” he laughed. “I could tell by your accent. If you need help with European money, don’t be afraid to ask around.”

He tipped his hat and his girl waved.

She returned to the cliffs, not five minutes from the Trewella household, and hummed as the sun plummeted down. The ocean was wide and vivid, but solitary. When her voice tumbled out, so sonorous and rich, it was hard for him to believe it was a singular sound coming from one small body. No lyrics passed her lips, just a dulcet croon that aroused Matthew from a nap. Moths flickered in the grass towards her. Above the bluff, the colors yielded to each other and the sun bowed to the moon.

Matthew unlatched his window. He saw her rested figure but stayed put, not wanting to disturb her. With so little to do, it wasn’t uncommon for people to walk, especially along the shore or cliffs. He left his window ajar to let the wind carry her haunting yet pacifying voice inside.

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