I hated the sea.
It was haunting my dreams every night. Sometimes it was dark and silent like a dead river. Sometimes it was bright and furious like a spreading forest fire.
In each dream, I died.
My fiance knew about my unpleasant feelings towards the sea but he dismissed it as a result of a childhood trauma. Eric had been doing his best to help me overcome my fear. After all, he loved sailing and it was so unfortunate that his wife-to-be could not share his passion. He had been trying to persuade me to join him in one of his little expeditions after he had acquired a fancy white yacht. It had to take two years and a diamond engagement ring before he could finally convince me.
On that day, I held on to the railings of the yacht as hard as I held on to Eric's promise that it would be a smooth sailing. The wind was relatively strong but the sky was clear and the sun was hot. There's nothing to worry about, he assured me because the weather was fine and he had the best crew in his employ. I managed to let out a smile but I was uncomfortable when we left the port. Being in the water again brought back the memories.
My parents and I were on an island hopping tour when I was eight. Having lived in the city for as far as my young self could remember, the sea presented itself as something new and enigmatic. I felt refreshed as I let my face be sprayed by the waves that splashed against our boat. The dark blue water had an alluring effect on me that I could not help but peer over it from the side. It was an extraordinary day for a young adventurer like me and it became more out of the ordinary when I heard a chorus of voices beneath the waves.
They came from the water like a whisper. I wanted to hear the voices once more so I went too close on the edge of the boat. It was probably the stupidest thing I did in my entire childhood life. I lost my balance and fell off. The splash of a skinny eight-year old child went unnoticed until they were already about ten meters away. I waited for the motorboat to turn around to fetch me. As I floated around on a life vest, I felt something cold and slippery swim past me. It bumped my legs several times as if we were playing a game of tag. Then a set of razor teeth opened into a smile. I heard my mother shriek from a far.
The last thing that I remembered were several pairs of arms wrapping around my waist and the words, "We have missed you."
My mother praised me for being brave even though all I did was faint. They said that the shark had simply swum away when the motorboat was near. They said that maybe it was only curious just like me.
The dreams began after this.
Eric asked me if I was alright. I nodded. It was a lie. I did not want him to think that I regretted my decision to come with him. He squeezed my hand and excused himself to talk with the captain. I watched their discussion from afar and I could sense that the captain was troubled. He had the right to be for dark heavy clouds began to form above us. In a few minutes, the waves grew angry and began slapping our yacht like a jilted lover.
Then I heard those voices again.
I looked over the edge of the yacht and I saw them — a group of beautiful women floating in the water.
I heard myself say.
Father has lifted your curse for running away with a mortal. We came to fetch you while you were still on your little human shell before you meet the mortal again. However, you did not recognize us. Please come home little sister.
The eldest of the group pleaded with her eyes. I looked at her and thought of a pink coral castle under the sea. There were no windows or doors so sea creatures that fit could come and go as they please. I shared a big room with my sisters but I had a secret room full of trinkets and treasures that came from shipwrecks.
"What if I don't?" I said out loud.
Then he will put an even worse curse on you. You will live and die many times just like any mortal soul but you will not be given another chance to break out of the cycle and return to your original being. You will meet your lover but you will be alone in each lifetime for he will always die before you. He will always die young. You will never be with that man for too long.
The wind howled and the sky grumbled. Raindrops began to hit my face. Eric had often shared with me how he wanted to explore the world and do more things in this lifetime. He wanted to prove to his parents that he was more than a rich couple's son. I personally don't think he had anything to prove at all after having worked his way through a shipping company and eventually becoming the chief executive officer at such a young age. I think that more than anything else, he was doing everything to stand on his own feet so that his family could accept our relationship. He said to them that I was his inspiration for being independent after all. Our soon-to-be wedding was strongly opposed and I knew that no matter what I do, I wouldn't become part of his family. I decided that this was the best thing for us.
As I climbed over the edge, I thought of Eric again and his love for life, his aspirations and dreams.
"What are you doing?" He shouted from behind me. He couldn't barely stand because the waves were violently rocking the boat. I looked at him for one last time and jumped.
You must die as a human to turn back into what you were before.
Two of my sisters grabbed my hands and and pulled me downwards. My lungs were filling up with water and there was a burning sensation in my legs that were no longer kicking in frustration.
I could hear Eric screaming my name in anguish. His cries were muffled by bubbles until all I hear was a faint party music resonating from the bottom of the sea.
You dream about going up there
But that is a big mistake
Just look at the world around you
Right here on the ocean floor
Such wonderful things surround you
What more is you lookin' for?
Under the sea…
Under the sea…
I was finally home.