Note: I first published this story — Love is love — in October 2016, almost 5 years ago to the day.
Seth slammed his fist on the stump and winced at the self-inflicted pain. He hated his mutilated body, hated to be confined to the wheelchair, 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 had tried to get back on his board. The shark came back, following the blood trail and grabbed Seth’s right leg, ripping it from his body.
Seth remembered seeing the boats approached before he had lost consciousness. They had 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. They could only save his left upper leg. The lower half and his right leg were gone. Ever since Seth had understood what the rest of his life would be like, hate consumed his being.
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 burn him up from inside. Seth didn’t know how. The hate had become so much part of him, 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 make out human forms, but despite the moon, it was too dark. Seth returned to bed, but the voice seemed to follow him.
Am I finally going crazy?
Yes, that’s it, he thought. How else can I hear a woman sing?
The beautiful voice lured him out of bed. At first he wanted to go to the balcony and sit there like he did on all those sleepless nights, but on impulse he turned his chair towards the front door. He steered it towards the pavement, turned left, and then turned left again. Seth struggled to keep the chair from running out of control on the slight downward slope of the road. He finally manoeuvred himself safely on the beach walkway. Only the light of the half moon lighted his way.
For a moment, Seth stopped and listened. The singing was louder now and the magnetism of the voice 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, pulled himself up on his arms, 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. When his fingers touched her skin, a strange calm took hold of him. All hatred left his body when her lips lightly his. 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 other times she sat next to him on the beach. She always had her tail in the water and they always 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 on the night he had 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 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…”
Note: This story was first written in late 2016, not long after Master T started having problems with his stump.
© Rebel’s Notes
Image from Pixabay