A SEA TALE (part 6)

Asturias Travel Blog

 › entry 5 of 7 › view all entries
Alan stared at the sea in the softly falling, balmy evening light. He heard the sound of the surf on the sandy shore and the shrill cries of the tropical birds high up on the palm trees just behind him. He felt strange this evening, so expectant, so sure that some long awaited sign would be given to him at last. He looked at the ever-moving ultramarine sea and watched the breaking whiteness of the surf, expecting an answer. He felt a cool white hand on his bare shoulder “You still miss her... You still love her, you want to return to her!” He looked up at the beautiful face of Thalassa and her bewitching green eyes entrapped his, drawing him into her depths as they always did. He rose and embraced her, inhaling her intoxicating perfume, feeling himself sinking helplessly in a whirlpool. He heard himself answer feebly “It is the evenings that make me feel like this. You know what I feel for you, yet I cannot seem to forget my homeland. Caitlin embodies for me all of my past life, all of what I am, what I have in my soul. If I forget her, I shall forget myself; I shall no longer be myself!” He looked at her dark hair that blended with the soft darkness around them and gazed into her eyes, the green depths flashing with the reflections of the last gleams of the western sky. She was a sorceress, he told himself, she had bewitched him and he was powerless to act in her presence. She dictated his every response and undermined his resolve. He averted his gaze and gathered the vestigial remains of his self control, moving away from her treacherous embrace tightening his handhold on her smooth-skinned, pale forearms. “Thalassa, let me go, release me! I must return, I must see her again...”

She lowered her eyes and brushed his hands away. She turned slowly away from him and walked towards the cave. He looked at her phosphorescent shape being slowly consumed by the darkness and felt his heart being drawn to her as though it were being pulled by a fine silken thread attached to her slim, long fingers. He thought of her cool hands that he first had felt around his sea-battered, wounded, feverish face when he was washed ashore her magical island months and months ago, he had lost count of the days... Her cooling, soothing, healing hands had nursed him back to life and he felt for her a vast gratitude, a tenderness that reflected her own when she had tended him those first few weeks. He thought of her green eyes and her changes of mood, sometimes calm and peaceful, other times incandescent, powerful, threatening and menacing. But always fatally attractive, bewitchingly beautiful, drawing him to her irresistibly. Powerless, he succumbed once again to her spell and beneath bright starry heavens walked slowly with bowed head, readying himself for her sweetly intoxicating draught for yet another time.

More weeks passed and he felt his strength dwindling, his soul sapped, his heart beating more slowly. His life energy was being consumed by her parasitic existence close to him. He felt like a man drugged, powerless to break away from her, his dependence, a sickly thing fuelled by her presence. He became feverish and was confined to the cool darkness of the cave. Lying down, having almost completely lost track of reality, he saw her slim ethereal figure hovering over him, tending him, preparing herbal draughts, cooling his brow with healing extracts, her green eyes a cool sea into which he could dive every time he looked at them, bringing to him relief and oblivion. He slowly recovered thanks to her unfailing, tender ministrations but together with his illness he was cured of something else; his powerlessness to act, his overwhelming passivity, his total submissiveness to her spell. She saw this change in him and her eyes sparkled with viridian flashes of emerald hardness. Her hands tightened into fists and her long pale pink nails cut into her palms as she felt her power over him diminish. Her manner towards him was gentle and pleasant, her disposition sunny and carefree, but underneath this thin veneer lurked deep shadows and roiling, turbulent eddies ready to drag him down into her web of sorcery once again.

He started to build a raft. He worked hard from sunrise to sunset impelled by a new determination, mindless of her watchful gaze, her shadowy eyes, her silences and her powerless inactivity. He regained his strength and power while she languished away; it was his turn to feed upon her vibrant energy. She became slimmer and more transparent, her skin a pale ivory, her hair darker and more lustrous, her face more beautiful and her eyes larger, brighter, greener. But still he worked on, his raft almost completed, his new-found resolve and strength of purpose making him immune to her increasing beauty and wistful attractiveness. She watched him silently as he worked and at last he thought she had understood him and had resolved to release him. His raft was soon finished and he started to make his preparations to depart. She was mindful of his preparations and as he was almost ready to depart she disappeared.

He looked for her in the cave, on the shore, in the forest, but she was nowhere to be found. He looked up at the forbidding mountain in the centre of the island, rising precipitously, its top swathed in clouds and knew that she must be somewhere up there, having trodden secret paths, being led by forest creatures through hidden passes and river fords. He wondered why she had gone there, to a place that she always had avoided. He wondered if she would return before he left. He did not want to leave her there, not knowing if she were safe, without a last look, a word of goodbye, without clasping her in his arms for one last time. He could not understand his feelings towards her. While his heart ached unbearably for Caitlin’s mild summery disposition, Thalassa’s sullen stormy gaze entrapped his soul and held him tightly. He loved her and he loved her not; he needed her and yet he felt he could slip from her hold and nevermore set eyes on her. This filled him with a sense of strange foreboding and dread; could he really never see her again?

He went into the cave late that night after having walked on the deserted beach for hours. The cave was strangely silent, dark and cold that night, reminding him of the grave. She was not there and he saw that as a warning, a taste of times to come. He lay on the mossy bed and tried to sleep, but sleep evaded him for a long time and when it came it came laden with vivid dreams and frightful nightmares. He dreamt of the open sea, he saw himself strapped onto the broken mast, tossed to and fro, up onto wavecrests and down into the murky depths, his breath stifled by the mass of water around him. He saw his newly-constructed raft battered and torn by towering waves, he saw himself trying to hold on desperately while the fury of the storm unleashed its power on him and his puny craft. And all the while Thalassa was smiling at him beckoning to him, whispering sweetly, her low, softly modulated voice cutting through the might of wind and rain: “Come with me, let us go high up on the mountain, far from the sea. I have found a magic garden full of marvellous flowers, enchanting glades, crystal fountains, tame beasts. Come with me and taste the sweet, succulent fruits that grow there in abundance. Come with me and I promise you all else will be forgotten... Come!” He looked at her, bewitched again as of old, and outstretched his hand to take her proffered lily white fingers. Then, in a gust of wind, hovering high up on the sea spray he saw a dark-dressed woman huddling herself wrapped in a long shawl through which long blond curls were making their escape. “Caitlin!” She looked at him and said nothing for words were not needed between them, their eyes met and said all. He glanced back briefly towards the other woman and saw her eyes darkening to a deep sea green, her countenance clouding and her form fading away...

He woke up with a start finding Thalassa beside him caressing his dark locks, wiping his brow. He looked at her and saw an infinite sadness in her eyes. “Wake up, my love” she said “Awake for you have a difficult journey ahead of you...” He propped himself up and gazed at her with gratitude. He had expected her to try and hold on to him, to try and prevent his departure, but she had returned, urging him on, admitting her defeat. He rose and with her at his heels, walked slowly towards the beach where his laden craft awaited him. He pushed the raft into the sea until the surf lapped at the timber and then went close to her. She looked at him with sombre eyes where the waves were reflected and the expanse of the sea was annulled. He wanted to embrace her, kiss her for one last time but something held him back and he felt uneasy, unsure of what to do. She loosened a gold chain from her fair neck and approached him clasping it about his neck, evincing a shiver down his spine as her fingers lightly brushed his skin. He looked at the chain and thought that he had never seen her wear it before. Suspended from it was an emerald carved in the shape of a leaf, the green of the stone being the exact shade of her laughing eyes. Ensconced within the curve of the leaf was a pure white pearl, its silken pallor a reflection of her skin’s shimmering softness. “Wear this and remember me. I shall await you.” She said softly. He looked at her and saw something in her eyes that he had never before seen marring their crystal clarity: Tears! “Go! The sea is calm, your voyage will be propitious! Leave me now!” She turned, walking rapidly towards the cave. His heart was wrenched from him and he wanted to rush after her, to comfort her, dry her tears, hear her laughter again. But the memory of the other woman pulled at him from across the waves and with a sigh he pushed the raft into the sea, jumped on board and began the homeward voyage.
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