Monday, November 30, 2020

The Sea Hag -Chapter Four-

 

Sirena

The sound of whooping cry nearby startled me awake. I lay, covered in sand, propped up on an elbow, peering blearily at the breaking waves. A human male on a surfboard, golden-haired and stripped to the waist, was in the process of “wiping out”, as they called it. I smirked as he and his board went tumbling into the wave he had attempted to master.

I blinked and sat up. Both my inner and outer eyelids felt gritty. I caught myself before I rubbed them with sand-covered hands. Little brother stirred behind me and craned his head back to stare at me with limpid eyes. Steven was marching up and down the wet sand, probably looking for shellfish.

I stood and stretched. “Yeah, I’m hungry too,” I told Steven. Then I remembered the surfer. The annoyingly, ridiculously good-looking surfer had not popped his annoyingly good-looking head out of the water yet. I scanned the waves and spotted the bright yellow of his board just washing up. It’s little blue tether dragged beside it, but there was no human attached.

My heart leaped into my throat, of its own accord, and tried to strangle me. “No!” I cried as it did so and ran for the water. I took a breath and dove straight for the place I had last seen him. I began clicking immediately as the water was too murky to see more than a couple of feet. The sounds carried, sharp and strong through the water and I felt them connect with something large and soft near the surface. I kept clicking until I found him. The water tasted of blood. Then I hauled him to the surface with one arm around his chest.

His head lolled back onto my shoulder, red blood streamed from the back of his head.

“It’s fine. You’re fine. It’s gonna be fine,” I chanted mindlessly as I swam us both to shore. I made sure to keep his head above the water even though I was pretty sure he wasn’t breathing. How long could humans go without breathing, again? Only a few minutes, if I remembered correctly.

I grunted as I pulled him ashore. I’m pretty strong, but this guy was six feet tall and made of solid muscle. I laid him down where the waves just lapped at his feet and straddled his hips, ignoring the way that made me tingle and burn in the best way possible. Mimicking what I had seen humans do in movies, I laced my hands together and brought them down like a club in the center of his chest. “Breathe!” I commanded.

He remained unresponsive and his blood slowly pooled in the sand beneath his head. A high keening sound was coming from my throat, a sound I had only heard once before, when I saw my brother die. I pounded on his chest, harder this time, and I thought I heard something crack. I hissed in dismay, but he still didn’t react. I suddenly remembered the other part of CPR, where one kneeled at the head and breathed into the victim’s mouth. I vaulted off of him and threw myself down at his head. Carefully, I pinched his gorgeous nose shut, as I had seen, and covered his beautiful mouth with my own. I sucked in a breath and blew it into him as hard as I could. I saw his chest rise as I did so and, as the air left his lungs, he convulsed and vomited up a geyser of seawater. With a small cry of triumph I rolled him on to his side while he coughed and retched spasmodically. I rubbed his back with one hand, making spontaneous and, apparently involuntary, cooing noises. I also took this opportunity to gently probe at the blood-matted spot on the back of his head. His skull felt intact, so the damage was probably not too bad. His coughing was subsiding and I began to worry about what I was going to say to him when he regained his senses. 

You could just leave, whispered my ruthless pragmatism, Say nothing. He’ll never know you were there.

My hands stroked his heaving flank, traced the beautiful muscles of his back, and told my pragmatism to shove it. There was something about this man, something indefinable but inescapable. I had to know him, wanted him to know me, but too much truth, too soon could be disastrous.

His spasmodic coughing soon gave way to the more natural, airway clearing variety accompanied by a long groan. I felt the grin split my face as he rolled onto his back and moaned again, “Oooh..oh. Owwww….” One of his hands went to his chest and I cringed guiltily. The other went to his head, coming away sticky with drying blood which he sniffed and licked, verifying that it was, indeed, his blood. He swore softly and then froze, his ice blue eyes snapping open and searching. “Is someone there?” His voice was raspy from the near-drowning but it was strong and melodic and it made things tense pleasantly in my lower belly.

“Um, yes.” I said, stumbling awkwardly over what to say now that I could actually make words. “Hi. I saw you. Out there?” I gestured futilely at the waves. “You went down--wiped out, I think you call it? And you didn’t come back up so I went out and got you. You weren’t breathing so I did CPR.” He rubbed a hand over his sternum with a grimace and I grimaced right along with him. 

“You, um, hit your head pretty hard, probably on your surfboard, but I don’t think your skull is fractured and the bleeding has almost stopped,” I finished in a rush, feeling an unfamiliar warmth flare in my face and chest. 

He had turned his face to me and this close I could feast my eyes on every perfect detail of him. His pouty lips were quirked in a polite half-smile. His eyes were almond shaped and just large enough to fall into, framed by thick lashes the color of blackened gold. He appeared to be looking at me, or, at least in the general vicinity of my mouth. I knew he couldn’t really be seeing me, though, because he wasn’t recoiling in horror.

“You saved my life,” he said with quiet amazement. “Thank you.” He began to shake his head and stopped abruptly with a small hiss of pain. When his eyes opened again they were pointed down the beach to my right. “Thank you doesn’t begin to cover it. If you hadn’t been here…” he trailed off and then reached out a hand in my direction. “I didn’t know anyone else was here today. I’m Micheal, by the way.”

I stared at his outstretched hand in mild horror. Of course he was going to have to touch me eventually, the man was blind, I chided myself. I looked at his golden arm and soft, pink hands; then at my own webbed and clawed digits, the blue-grey rubbery skin. I sighed and willed my skin to a softer and slightly rougher human texture. My skin rippled deliciously and then settled into its new configuration. I held my breath as I reached out to grip his hand lightly with just the middle part of my hand, careful to avoid contact with my claws.

His expression was bemused at what was probably the oddest handshake he had ever experienced.

“I, uh, Sirena,” I stammered. I hadn’t thought of my own name in so long I barely remembered it. My tongue felt thick and awkward in my mouth. Similarly, I didn’t seem to know quite what to do with my limbs. I felt oddly exposed and vulnerable before his unseeing gaze.

“Sirena,” he said with a smile as bright and beautiful as the sun. My heart melted in my chest when he said my name and I sternly told it to get a grip. “Thanks for saving my butt, Sirena,” he levered himself slowly to a sitting position and I tried not to drool at the way the muscles in his arms and abdomen looked when he did so. He rested his elbows on his bent knees and clutched his head with one hand while he spoke, “I’d have been done for sure if you hadn’t been here.” He paused thoughtfully, his head turned slightly in my direction, a small crease between his golden brows. “I don’t recognize your voice. Are you from around here? I only ask because I didn’t think anyone but my brother and I knew about this beach.”

My mouth worked like the gasping fish I resembled as I tried to figure out how to answer him. I did not want to lie outright, but the whole truth was too shocking. Thankfully he took my flustered silence for what it was and held up a hand in surrender.

“Sorry, I don’t mean to interrogate the person who just saved my life. You can tell me more about yourself, or not, in your own time.” His little smile was apologetic and his eyes roved about more or less randomly as he spoke. He cocked his head when I didn’t answer immediately, his brow knit in apprehension, “You still there?”

“Yes!” I cried, suddenly aware that I had been staring at him without speaking for quite some time. “I mean, yes. Sorry. I am simply overwrought with the events of the day,” I said, which wasn’t really a lie. It had been a very eventful day.

That bemused expression was back. “Overwrought, huh?” He smirked and shook his head, “You and me both; but I wonder if I could impose on your kindness just a bit more,” he raised hopeful brows in my direction, his drifting gaze almost but not quite meeting mine.

“Of course, Michael, anything you need,” or want or desire, my heart finished silently.

His dazzling smile reappeared and he nodded his appreciation. One hand dropped down to finger the Velcro cuff still attached to his ankle. “It’s probably a lost cause, but do you happen to see my surfboard anywhere around?”

I turned and stood, scanning the surf for the bright yellow I had seen before. I despaired for a moment then I spotted a glint of color bobbing way off at the mouth of the cove. 

“I see it,” I said. “It is nearly in open water, but I will retrieve it. Stay here.” I took off down the beach and dove into the surf without waiting for a reply, swimming as fast as I could toward the errant board.


5 comments:

  1. I’m loving this story so much! Sirena is an interesting character and Michael is dreamy. Thank you for sharing your story. Can’t wait to read more!!

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  2. Ehehehe. I liked this chapter a lot. Guess I'm a sucker for sirs in distress. (What's the opposite of damsels in distress?)

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    1. Haha, me too! A suffering sir, maybe? 😂

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    2. Haha! I'm defiantly a fan of "suffering sir". Thanks so much for reading!

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  3. A great story, thank you!

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