Who Knows? by Ness Owen


Who knows why we are drawn to our demons when we already know they’ll be our undoing. How easy is it to wish you’d listened to mothers, sisters, brothers and never followed ships?


I watched their wasteful ways. Taking all they wished from our sea in their mighty sailing crafts. I sometimes let them see a glimpse of my tail, a flash of my moon-face. Always giving them just enough so they would doubt their own eyes. I could not help but enjoy the fear on the faces. They gave me powers I only wish I possessed.


We lose and find ourselves in the ones we choose to love and from first sight, I was lured to him who carries his sadness in his eyes. He awoke something dreadful in me as I watched his determined, green eyes searching and the salt-wind kissing his face. I sang to him but he didn’t hear me. Was it love or lust that made me braver? I craved to be closer and swam nearer to the ship. Warnings rang in my ears and the smell of land filled my nose.


Too close, the water drew me in but I saw only him and not their nets. As I fought to escape, thrashing my tail, I tangled further. The others stared wide eyed at their catch. Muffled voices argued and fought as they scrambled to pull me up. What they should do? How could they cut the nets and return empty handed to the shore? An older sailor begged them to release me. Turning to me, he mouthed that he wanted no part of this. Pushing him aside, the decision was over. The wind rose as a sign to them and they turned sail, dragging me to shore.


I know the pattern of tides, listen to the wind and watch skies. They tell me all I need to know the sea is leaving me. I beg them to release the nets and to push me back in. The old sailor cries at my song. The others have their own tales of lost kin and ships siren-called to rocks and they turn their backs.


“Just let my tail touch the water” I sing, pleading. Ice creeps across my scales. In their air I am drowning.  I sing just to him and for a moment he listens. He reaches out but fear holds him stronger than any current and he steps back but not far enough as one lash of my tail sends him into the water.


He is no swimmer and choice is now theirs. Will they let me save him?

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