Seth slammed his fist on the stump and winced at the self-inflicted pain. He hated his mutilated body, hated the wheelchair he was confined to and hated being locked up in his house. Every day he sat on the balcony and looked out over the beach below and the blue ocean beyond. Sometimes the longing was a physical pain gripping his heart in an iron fist. If only he could go to the beach, but being between people was not his thing. Not anymore. He didn’t want people pitying him because he was in a wheelchair. Because he had no legs. He pitied himself enough and couldn’t bear to see the looks on the faces of strangers when they saw him in this… condition.
His career as a professional windsurfer had ended two years ago, when he became the victim of a shark attack. The big white had grabbed his left leg and severed it just under the knee. At the moment of the attack Seth hadn’t realized that his leg was gone. He tried to get back on his board. The shark came back, following the blood trial and grabbed Seth’s right leg, ripping it from his body. Seth remembered seeing the boats approached and then he lost consciousness. They kept him in a coma for two months. When Seth finally woke up, it took another couple of weeks to realize the extent of his injuries. He hated the doctors. Why did they save him? He should have died. He wasn’t a man anymore. Only his left upper leg could be saved. The rest was gone. Ever since Seth understood what the rest of his life would be like, he was filled with hate.
But, in the past few days Seth had been thinking about his situation. He knew he should be thankful for what he still had. He had to stop this hate that tried to consume him. Seth didn’t know how. The hate had become so much part of him, that he didn’t know how to stop it.
That night, like so many other nights, he couldn’t sleep. Just like other sleepless nights he rolled his wheelchair to the balcony. Tonight there was a whisper in the wind, but he couldn’t make out the words. Was there someone on the beach? He peered into the darkness, trying to see something, but it was too dark. Seth returned to bed, but the voice seemed to follow him.
Am I finally going crazy? he wondered.
I must be going crazy. How else can I hear a woman singing?
The beautiful voice lured him out of bed. At first he wanted to go to the balcony and sit there like he did on so many nights, but on impulse he turned his chair towards the front door. He steered his chair towards the pavement, turned left and then turned left again. The road had a slight downward slope and Seth struggled to keep the chair from running out of control, but he finally managed to get himself safely on the beach walkway. He stopped for a moment and listened. The singing was louder now and seemed to come from his left. He started moving towards it.
The magnetism of the singing pulled him towards the rocks. Several meters of sand separated him from it. Seth pushed and launched himself from the chair onto the sand. He gasped for air before pulling himself towards the ocean, using his elbows. Not only the singing, but also the need to feel the salty water on his body urged him on. He stopped on the firmer sand, used the rocks to pull himself up, turned around and rested his back against the rocks.
Then he saw her.
She smiled and twirled a lock of her hair around her finger.
“I’m Nerida,” she said, flipping her tail up and down in the water.
“Seth. You’re… you… you are…”
“A mermaid,” she interrupted him.
He moved closer and reached out. As his fingers touched her skin, a strange calm took hold of him. When her lips touched his, all hatred left his body. Running his hands through her long, dark hair and starting into her eyes, Seth felt as if he had known her all his life.
He woke in his bed the next morning and it took him several seconds to remember the night before. It hadn’t been easy to get back into the wheelchair, but for the first time since the shark attack, Seth was at peace with himself. That night he went back to the beach and found Nerida waiting for him. Every night she waited for him. Sometimes she sat on the rocks and sometimes she sat next to him on the beach. Always she had her tail in the water and always they had their arms around each other. They kissed and they talked. She sang and he listened. Seth grew stronger – physically and mentally. Every afternoon he napped and in the wee hours of the night he went to the beach.
One night she sang the same song she did the very night he met her. He didn’t understand the words and asked what it meant.
“Love is love,” she said, “love is true, love is you.”
“How can you love me, a broken man?”
“I don’t see a broken man, I see my lover, the one I fell in love with before the shark attack.”
It was quiet for a while while Seth processed her words.
“Can’t I ask you the same: how can you love me if I am but half a woman?”
“But I love you because you are you,” Seth said and kissed Nerida.
“Then you understand,” she said, “together we are whole.”
She leaned towards him, kissed his lips and then resumed her song: “Love is love…”
© Rebel’s Notes