by on March 16, 2024 :: 0 comments

photo "Sea-Language" by Tyler Malone

He lived on the coast while I was on the top of a prominent hill from which the sea looked like a huge bluebell. He once espied me collecting shells on a very rare visit to the beach and decided to woo me with his tan, a few nets and a couple of strange-looking reeds–his only assets. My father, who had grown attached to my sullen company since the sudden death of my mother, resented his very presence. He made it clear that he would be welcome to stay with us but he insisted that he could not survive without his baits and his to-be-caught fishes, on which depended his very existence. Farming did not run in his blood; he would fail in such a trade and living on his prospective wife’s allowance was absolutely out of the question.

The strange thing to me was that he never asked whether I fancied his person as a husband. He took it for granted that a solitary un-wooed twenty-one-year-old would be blessed with his offer of marriage. His visits continued despite my father’s apparent reservations about parting with my company and my own lack of interest in his matrimonial project.

On one visit, he found me absorbed in listening to a huge seashell that I had placed next to my ear with unusual interest. He was used to my taciturnity and saying very little as a way of greeting.

“Can you really hear the sea through this,” he asked, eyeing the shell suspiciously.

“I receive messages,” I answered quietly.

“From?” he asked, his eyes dilating with shock and disbelief.

“Sea creatures,” I answered, suppressing a smile that was creeping onto my face.

“You understand sea-language!” he exclaimed.

“Sort of,” I responded.

My father, who was cooking my favorite meal, luckily interrupted the conversation because I was running out of things to say in response to his stupid questioning. He partook of our delicious meal and was disappointed to learn that every meal he had tasted at our hearth was cooked by my father and not by me. That was his last supper in our company.

Days passed and we were not graced by a single visit. I began to experience a sense of relief when a new series of incidents commenced to disturb our peace. Our stone steps received a different gift every other day, such as a troop of dead, stinking fish; a strange-looking effigy of a mermaid, with nails all over its face; a bucket full of animals’ rotting teeth; and an assortment of other trophies of death. My father, who was a very patient man, tactfully removed the gifts without a single comment. He noticed that more people climbed our hill and stood at a distance to watch the proceedings of our simple way of living. It took us years to realize that our farm had become more than a local attraction. I had become the witch who daily communed with the creatures of the deep, such as a sea king, whose three-pointed spear was planted before our house on some evenings, sending bolts of lightning down on the coastal villages. We were much to be dreaded. My father and I were glad that I never got married.

editors note:

Creatures of the deep don’t have a damn thing on the creatures above; they’re terrifyingly mysterious. ~ Tyler Malone

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