She lived in the deadliest of times.
When they first started appearing, she was intrigued. There was much to see, colors and odd shapes, in the gifts from the world above. Some were familiar, they looked like the sea jellies she loved, but they were flimsy and dead. There was no life in them, and no light.
She wasn’t meant to scavenge like a brute, or delve into the unknown. She was the king’s daughter. He’d named her Celo after her kind, and then called her strong and hard-cut and insufferable as she grew older. She had let herself be chiseled by the horrors of the sea, when her allies were drawn out of the water in tons and left to suffocate in open air. She witnessed it, and felt herself come apart when the whales hunted, and the sharks’ fins were cut clean off. She witnessed because she believed that she had to learn, in helplessness, the way of the sea to defy it.
But after a while, she didn’t have to scavenge. The trinkets found their way uninvited to the monuments and the corals she called home. Her father sat on his throne there, growing gradually more irritated by what the world above gave them, but still holding peace. She watched as the older ones broke into pieces over the years, and the newer ones clustered into whirring masses that blocked the sun and filtered its light into colorful, malignant rays.
She began twisting the small, thin lines from the tails of seahorses when she went on her forbidden trips to the surface, and ripped apart the threads that entangled turtles. She pulled sacks out of dead bodies, and many specks came along with them. Her home was being suffocated and sunk, and she wouldn’t float there and let it.
She let her anger burn with heat and acid, because it wasn’t the order of the sea that she had to stop. She learned that the humans sent the trinkets, and they drew her friends out to bleed and die, and they cut their fins and sent them back to sink. She saw them. It wasn’t the order of the sea that she had to overthrow; it was the two-legged beasts.
“Father,” she said, her hands curled into fists.
“Do not defy me,” he commanded. He’d known what she came for. His deep-set voice had always been a comfort, but the entire ocean was falling apart around them. There was no comfort to be found in that, none to be sought. “The sea will find way back to her order.”
There wasn’t a companion in the sea who would defy the King of it all, even when he held a naive conviction. She needed an enemy, so she found her way to the very depths, to the most sinister glow the sea held.
The Sea Witch was a siren, and the most beautiful the oceans had seen. In her lived a piece of the soul of the man she once loved. She was an Angler, after all, doomed to dissolve and consume. She held a grudge against males, and human males in particular. Her love was one, and legend has it she’d sung to him and he was lured. Her fate caught him running as soon as she’d declared him hers, and he vanished into the salt of the sea, leaving none behind but a piece that she held in her heart.
“Why,” she said, in a voice subdued, “if it isn’t the King’s daughter.”
And she hated the Sea King because he’d shunned her from his kingdom. Her hair held silver light, and it lured like her voice. It curled and flowed around Celo threatening, but how else would she treat the daughter of her foe?
“Give me legs.”
“Oh?” The Sea Witch said, amused, and tucked her palms beneath Celo’s jaw. “And so easily?”
“You will get whatever you ask for in return.”
And on feet that strode on shards of glass, she walked to the human world.
They were resting beneath the sun when she did, and no one took a single glance her way when she crawled out and toppled to her side. She was aching and tired, and her body wasn’t hers anymore. And the sun was so warm and bright it was almost personally provoking her.
He blocked the angry rays, and her eyes had to readjust to see his features as he knelt overhead. He helped her to her new feet, then and into his world. In a sense, he was helping hers too. The little trinkets laced the shore, and he had been picking them up.
Time passed and he taught her how to live. “These are plastics,” he told her, and he was genuine enough to find it amusing. “You’re like an alien,” he’d said with a chuckle. “How did you not know that?”
His face was framed with an air of innocence, an endearing child-like quality and a complete contrast to the world above the oceans. He told her about plastics and oil spills and whaling and shark-fin soup and how much he condemned all of them. He said that their factories send dark, toxic air upwards, and the ocean swallows it out of courtesy, and that he wanted it all to stop.
She let herself witness the order of earth like she did the sea before that. It bustled with noise and joy and carnage, and it was beautiful beyond words, with its trees growing thick and long, and their canopies intertwining for shade, and its animals treading dry soil and flying its skies.
But the humans refused to budge. They built and they rampaged, and drank out of plastic. Their killing wasn’t limited to the sea, she learned, because they killed one another and the land above. They did it with no conscious, and they proved undeserving of the gifts that the sea gave them.
Her voice was muffled and suffocated and sunk, like the lives in her home, no matter the signs, no matter the time that passed. Her time was counted against her, and the shards beneath her feet became unbearable. The sea was calling for her, tracing shores with death; whales and turtles she could’ve saved if she remained under water. She’d failed it. Her kind belongs in the ocean, and even the severest desire to fix what the past had wrecked wouldn’t change that.
Her resentment grew for all but one man who under the sun told her that he loved the ocean.
So she took him to the shore of the place he loved and protected so fiercely.
It was ugly, and it was angry, that plunge of the knife and the splutter that followed. Humans were terribly warm, and his blood covered her like an inhale, and she felt the tightness in her stomach ease when she did it. “The oceans love you too,” she whispered, her eyes brimming with brine and more honesty in her wavering voice that she’d ever mustered.
“Bring me a human heart,” the Sea Witch had said, and without words, had asked for the destruction that came with it. “It’s a measly price. I’m giving you two gifts, after all.”
Before too long, he’d bled enough, and in despair, became still beneath her. It brought the thought of the sharks that had sunk. He was past the point of no return, as was the ocean.
His insides steamed and convulsed when she reached into his flesh, bones and blood intervening, and tissues cradling tight the organ she pulled. “I don’t want you to see it,” she told him. “The ocean we couldn’t save.”
It wasn’t at all a clean cut. It was vicious and furious and she couldn’t contain it, and, oh, it wasn’t him; it wasn’t him who destroyed our seas. But the order is only impartial, and humans shall bear it.
She held his heart to the sky, and it was slick with mercury. That dragged a giggle out of her, because did Mercury not guide the souls to the underworld? But then she held that heart to her own; it remained precious, and that was the Sea Witch’s second gift.
“I will plant in you the love for one human. It is his heart I want.”
His body was still tremulous and quivering, and she wondered just how broken it was, for his nerves to be protesting even after she’d cut him open and left him to bleed.
She felt the warmth dragging down to her elbows. Then she dropped the heart aside, and her gaze to the mutilated body under her. His blood burned and branded her as it flowed, it was toxic and lethal, and it tore her because he wasn’t that. It smelled of lead and mercury and the black liquid they spill into the sea. And in the gaping hole where his heart had been, she found the lungs that bore the scent of the black clouds that the oceans swallowed.
She reached for the knife and dragged it against his stomach again. From it spilled a million specks of plastics in cheerful disarray. They had found their way back into him, and were the color of fury and destruction and the sea, and they continued gushing between her fingers like the ocean itself, like a nightmare that wouldn’t end.
Come the waves and she left along with the ebb, her laughter trailing behind her and a marred heart in her hands. There was pleasant news for the Sea Witch; she didn’t have to plot the destruction of the human race.
They are doing well enough on their own.
There are many little things I hid in this, and I’d love for you guys to tell me what you found. I’ll be posting an explanation soon ❤ happy reading