What secrets they whisper behind closed doors, drawing the curtains to check the pathways of light; they think darkness inspires health, but I feel my spirit repining in these shadows. My breaths come at a dearer price every time. The clock strikes 11 in the mourning. I notice the rooster has finally stopped crowing, and I wait. And he comes.
He stands at the foot of my bed. His cloak is black, and inside is blacker. I cannot discern his face. I sigh as he sits by my bedside, kneeling over me as I feel smooth, gloved fingers grasp my own, the weight of the fabric from his sleeve resting on my waist. All other noises die away, all the hushed worries and pitying eyes. Only him.
“She will die.”
I shiver. His voice is older than the stones that fill the hills. A strangled sound escapes my throat. I compose myself, murmuring, “No.”
“Yes,” He says, unflinchingly. “What can you think to argue? You cannot deny me, so I will take her.”
My heart runs cold, for I know He never leaves empty handed. I clutch my little on in my arms, press her closer to me.
“Me. Take me.”
He grows very still. His thumb runs absently inside my palm, following the lines, as his hooded face gazes at the child I have barely known.
“Yes,” I breath. “Yes.”
Very carefully he bends over, pulls back the hood and kisses me. For a moment, half a moment, I am captivated by death.
And then I am gone, and there is nothing.
He met her gaze and saw the fury churning in her gray eyes, unwavering as the sea, gloomy. He could not bear it and turned away. His love, his desire, could not be tempered by her anger. As she realized this, something within her lost all hope. She felt her life slip out of her grasp, and inwardly she died. Her cheeks still held their color, her body kept it’s strength, yet her spirit fell cold.
She had not thought it would be this way. A new way of life was so tempting, a life filled with different textures and sensations, different emotions. She had also known what would happen if she chose to reveal herself, had known what was to happen and be since she first laid eyes on him.
She looked out onto what she had sacrificed; the sea was rife and troubled, the spray reaching to the sky as the waves crashed against each other. But she knew what lay beneath. She knew that sound of peace that rested just below the surface, the calm and silance that permeated the soul.
A pang of physical hurt shot through her heart for a moment, half a moment, before it turned to stone.
She turned to him, and he saw her mouth set and the color of her eyes grow dim. Her tone was dispassionate as she spoke to him for the first time, “Come, my husband, and take us to your dwelling.” For a brief moment he considered giving back what he took, but then he realized how the darkness of her eyes matched the splendor of the midnight blue sky, how her irises glimmered faintly like stars, and he was lost forever. He slowly folded the seal skin and tucked it under his arm. With his free hand he carefully took her by the elbow and guided her out of the rocks. She followed without resistance. She looked over her shoulder on last time, and she allowed herself a trace of wistful sadness for her children when the time came for her to leave them.
For a time when she could no longer bear the call of the sea, and came home.