Unexpected Love

Fantasy is dead.  We live in a world of reality where our dreams belong to children and can no longer be held true to adults.  The ideas of magic and wonder are in fairy tales and make-believe, they hold no value anymore other than frivolous entertainment.  There is no time for reverie in society today.

We’ve lost the ability to believe in the simplicity of love.  All great legends are based in love and all great love is based on an idea that one being loves another and will never stop.  Love is complicated and tangled, but it starts with something as simple as a boy seeing a girl for the first time and falling in love with her.

The boy, with a dusty-headed mop and thin frame, happened upon the girl unexpectedly.  He wasn’t yet a man, a number of years away from that milestone but still out in search of adventure.  The ocean called to him like it did his Father, to his Mother’s chagrin.

The boy only held fleeting memories of his Father, who had died at sea on a ship that sank years before.  The boy imagined his Father fighting off pirates and patrolling the waters in the Gulf of St Lawrence.  His Mother didn’t have the heart to tell him that his father was merely a fisherman that drowned with the rest of his crew when their boat burst asunder on the rocks off the shore of the Magdalen Islands.

The young lad was often found by himself down on the water with a stick practicing swashbuckling or other heroics under the waves’ roar.  He balanced back and forth, hoping from foot to foot on the rocky shores.

“En guard!”  He shouted at seaweed, crabs and seagulls.  The crabs would skitter between the crevices in the jetty while the seagulls cawed, spread their wings and caught the heavy wind to glide in the air above of him.  The seaweed stood no chance and was at his mercy to poke, jab and fling back into the ocean.

“If you show your face again I’ll give you twice the lesson,” was the warning he often gave the long ropes of algae.

There weren’t many other boy’s that he got along with, most of them thinking he was odd or teasing him of his fantastical ruminations of his Father’s life.  He’d often be alone down by the shoreline, especially when the water was rough and the parents told their children to keep away for fear of being swept out to sea.

There were tales told of sea creatures with body of a man and tail of a fish who would swim close to shore and grab the legs of young boy’s and pull them into the water to drown.  The drowned victims would themselves turn into the sea creatures to do the same to other fishing villages along the coast of Newfoundland.

The story was just told to scare the children, as most fairy tales are, so they would be careful around the water when playing.  The legend goes on to tell of a constant war with the fisherman and the creatures of the sea battling over the territory and rights to the fish within it.  Most cast it off as nonsense and old tales to be told after a few at the pub but it still had a hold on most to keep as a fear in the back of their heads.

But the light-haired boy with the gangling limbs was headstrong and thought of the chance to do battle with one of these sea creatures.  In his mind he also deemed it possible that they were the ruination of his Father’s ship and therefore were his sworn enemy.  If he were to ever come across such a monster he would defend his village and his Father’s honor with a battle to the death.  His Mother’s words only ever fell on deaf ears.

“Thomas!  Ya musn’t go down the shore so often.  I can’t lose you to the sea like your Father.  I couldn’t bare it,” she would plead with him.

He would only ever reassure her with a gentle, “I’ll be careful Ma,” before leaving the house until after the sun was switched off and the moon was lit.

Being alone gave Thomas time to think and his imagination ran wild.  While most of the other boys were focused on learning the trades of their fathers, he would dream of a life on the sea.  He’d sail to the edge of the world and anchor himself at the drop to look over the edge and see how far the universe fell.  There would be amazing other lands to explore and life to discover.  The adventures would be endless and he’d leave this rock and its jagged edges thinking there is nothing out there he couldn’t weather.

While lost in thought he’d often sit on the rocks and stare out at the sea, letting the mist and the salt air guide his mind.  Other times he’d walk aimlessly along the coast and lose track of space and time as he’d weave in and out of the trees and along the surf.  Sometimes he’d go for a couple of hours, slowly making his way further and further until something caught his eye to pull him from his trance.  A piece of ship debris or a seagull’s call snapping him back to reality and having him turn tail and head back home at double the pace.  When distractions such as these didn’t present themselves Thomas would go much further than he had intended and discover things he wasn’t sure he wanted to discover.

The further he lost sight of anything familiar the larger the obstacles of terrain were.  The trees were thick and wild with brush.  The rocks were no longer cobble mixed with coarse gravel but were instead boulder variations that went from too big to lift to taller than a man.  Thomas climbed on, up and over until finally a distraction presented itself to pull him back into reality, only he didn’t spin around and run.  Instead the boy crept quietly over the rock he had traversed and peered out at the amazing sight in front of him.

Far away from his village, much further than he had ever traveled before, there was a woman out in the water.  Her head bobbed out of the surface and Thomas slunk behind a mound of grass jutting out over the beach hoping he wouldn’t be seen.  He leaned just far enough to keep his eyes on her as she toyed about in the water.  His first inclination was to be concerned for her well being with the hardness of the waves but she seemed to be managing herself and he didn’t want to startle her so he sat back and observed for a moment.

He found her instantly beautiful and therefore didn’t recognize her at all.  There were a number of women in his village but none of them held her grace.  He found the girls his age were all awkward and unrefined, only concerned with impressing the boys to marry.  Not that they had much of a choice, but none of them held his lust for the world.  Whenever he’d tell them of his grand plans they would ask why, as if they couldn’t imagine a life beyond their lives.

This girl looked nothing like them, so instantly he thought she was different in every way.  He thought or hoped, he wasn’t exactly sure as his gaze was stuck on her yellow hair and he seemed in a trance.  She was without clothing as she moved slowly along surface of the water.  Her hair hung like rays from the sun beaming down over her chest and blinding anyone who would look upon her naked body.  Her arms were slender, just as Thomas’ were and the water seemed to move at her bidding when she leaned one way and coasted smoothly through it.

The second time he was knocked out of his trance came from a large wave that swallowed her entirely.  Thomas stood up in a panic before running towards the edge of the water, pulling his shoes off and tossing them back up the rocks.  Just as he was knee deep and ready to dive to save her he saw her spring up from the water again.

Thomas froze as the woman shook her head from side to side and her hair fell naturally into place, soaking wet but hanging down the front of her chest.  Her eyes blinking the water out of her lashes as he came into focus to her for the first time.  She tilted her head and stared at him curiously.  He stared back, still frozen in place as the water jumped up to splash at his waist.

She didn’t move at all, but continued to float and look at him like he was the most odd thing she had ever seen in her life.  She was only about ten feet away but he could see the delicate blue of her eyes and his soul cursed the overcast skies to rob him of the chance to see the sun make them shine.

Thomas finally mustered the strength to move his lips to speak.
“H-hi.  Hello.  I’m Thomas.”

The girl’s hand moved up towards her mouth and her body recoiled a few inches at the sound of his voice.  She was startled and her curious head-tilt turned to an inquisitive stretching of her neck and widening of her eyes.

Thomas was confused by her odd behavior.
“I’m Thomas,” he said again, “do you got a name?  Where’re ya from?  I’d never seen ya before.”

She continued to stare at him, her head returning to its tilt.  Perhaps she lived in the woods.  He thought she may have been one of the Beothuk, but he had never seen one so fair-skinned.  Her confusion at his voice may have been because she had never heard his tongue before.  He tried to communicate slowly, tapping his chest as he said again.

“I-am-Thomas,” and then gesturing toward her and bobbing his head to try and pull an answer, “you?”

The girl raised her hand from the water and placed it on her chest, three fingers splayed and pressing into her skin as she looked back at him, appearing to try to understand.  Thomas touched his chest again and nodded his head, “Thomas.”

The girl opened and closed her mouth as she looked at him, a sound escaping finally.  It was soft and almost squeaked and nearly repeated Thomas’ name back to him.  He shook his head from side to side.

“No.  I am Thomas.  What’s your name?”  He gestured again towards her.  She quirked her head at the change in his tone and then looked at his extended hand at her, almost as if she realized what his gesturing finally meant.

She smiled and spoke, again in a squeaking gargle that he could only understand closely as, “Marnet.”

Thomas gestured to himself, “Thomas,” and then towards the girl for confirmation, “Marnet?”

She nodded and smiled wide, her teeth were a bright white and the look of her face lit up made Thomas smile in return.  She dove forward into the water and Thomas’ heart sank and the blood dropped from his face as her torso disappeared and a long, fish-like tail followed where her legs should have been with a wide fin at the end instead of feet.

She arose from the water again a few feet closer and he stumbled backwards.  Her smile turned to shock as he was retreating, a terrified look on his face.  Marnet looked confused and worried at his change in demeanor.  Her tail now completely visible and the fin flapping against the incoming waves.  Thomas’ eyes were huge as they focused on her deformity, the legends of sea creatures and how they would pull children into the sea rushing back into his mind.

The confusion of a beautiful woman with a fish tail for legs overwhelming him as he backed up towards land while tripping over the rocks.  He fell backwards and landed roughly, narrowly missing his head crashing into a jagged boulder to his right.  His feet still in the last inch of water but his mind was focused on the pain from falling on the rocks he didn’t notice Marnet moving up closer to him and within arms reach.

Thomas painfully rolled onto his back and looked upwards at the sky while groaning.  His view was quickly blotted out by Marnet’s worried gaze as she looked down at him, her head tilting and her gargling voice repeating the sounds of his name.  Her hair hanging down in his face and her body dripping onto his as she lay next to him.

He looked up at her and struggled to move but she placed her hand on his shoulder to hold him down.  The pressure was overwhelming, much more than he expected and he could barely wiggle himself from side to side against the rocks underneath him so he placed his hands on her shoulders and tried to push her off.  She continued to make the sounds she made when saying his name but he wouldn’t stop struggling against her.

As he pushed on her to move off of his body she stretched her neck and tilted her head upward and took in a deep breath of air.  Thomas noticed towards the back of her neck a spurt of water escaping what looked like gills.  Her head came down once more, the hair hanging down and creating a tunnel from her face to his and she spoke his name.  This time his name was clear and soft.  It sang from her lips in a slow and melodic tone.  He stopped struggling and looked up at her in amazement.

She continued looking down at him, tapping her chest again and repeating her name, “Marnet.”

Again, this time the name was clear and spoken as if it were part of a song.  She placed her hand on his chest and repeated his name one more time.  His struggling was gone and the pressure on his shoulder was released.  He sat up and  positioned himself in a more comfortable way and looked at her in bewilderment.

Thomas finally took in all of her as she laid on the rocks next to him.  Her beautiful, long face was framed by the lightest hair he had ever seen.  His dusty-blonde was always teased by the other children when he was younger, saying god ran out of ink when making him.  She had a color of her hair that he could only liken to that of the sun with its brightness.  It was accompanied by a blue in her eyes that paired so well on a bright summer’s day by the ocean.

Her body further down made him blush.  Her attractive figure along her upper half and uncovered chest made him nervous but his eyes couldn’t help travel down to her hips where the flesh of her skin faded into the blue-green scales of her tail.  It stretched longer than his legs by a foot and at the end was a large fin that continued to flap in water, reminiscent of the way his dog’s tail would aimlessly wag whenever he was near.

Thomas brought his eyes back to her face and her own eyes shot up from looking down his body and towards his legs to meet him.  He spoke first.

“What are you, Marnet?”

She only repeated the question to him, still in her clear voice but spoken slowly, “what are you, Thomas?”

“I’m a man.  A- well, not man but not a boy.  Between.  But you, your legs, where are your legs?”

“Where is your fin?”  Marnet replied.

“I don’t have a fin.  I got legs to walk.  To run.  To kick.”

“I don’t have legs.  I have a fin to swim,” she flapped her fin in the water and let a large smack in the wave splatter them with droplets.

“Am I dreaming?”  Thomas looked around and everything felt real but didn’t think this could be real.  Sea creatures were things of fairy tales, not real life.  They were supposed to be large, scary looking men who captured children not beautiful women who were concerned when a man hurt himself.

“You are not, Thomas.  Because I am not.  If I am not dreaming then you cannot be a part of a dream that doesn’t exist.”

“No, me.  I must be dreaming you,” Thomas looked at her in a confused way again wondering why she thought she was the reality and he was the dream.

“Why would I not be dreaming you?  A strange creature with no tail and no fin that cannot swim in the ocean and can barely manage on legs to walk to run to kick.”

“I can manage fine, thank you.  And all a sudden you speak up a storm, do you?”  He sounded a bit annoyed at her contradiction.

“I can speak fine, yes.  You startled me.  I’ve never seen a thing as you before with your legs and your walk and your run and your kick.  I didn’t know what to say to something so similar yet so foreign.  Then to find out you speak as well?  In a way I had never heard before.  Pardon if I didn’t sing a song at length,” she returned the annoyed tone and furrowed her brow at him.

“As well, my gills were full of water.  You try swimming all day then speaking a normal tongue to a strange creature as yourself.”

Thomas quickly adjusted his expression and his tongue, “sorry.  I didn’t mean to bother you as such.  I’m a little caught here is all.  And it’s not all of them at once.”

“What isn’t?”

“To walk to run to kick, they’re three things not one.  Walking, running or kicking.  You do them with legs.”

“My apology, Thomas.  I don’t have experience with such appendages,” Marnet smiled at him and he smiled back.

She looked down at his legs again, “apologies again but, may I?”

Her hand stretched slightly towards his lower half and he looked down and then back at her.  He looked at her face and she seemed nervous from either the question or the act, he wasn’t exactly calm given the tales he’d been told but for some reason he nodded watched while his body tensed and she reached out to touch his leg.

“They’re just so odd.  They’re so thin.  I can’t understand how you would move around on them.  The slightest push and you would fall over, wouldn’t you?”

She looked up at him after her question, her fingers still hovering over his knee.

“No, not really.  You brace yourself and it isn’t too much a worry.  Have you never seen a moose or bear or anything?”

“A what or a what?”

“Sorry,” Thomas laughed, “we must have different names for things.  A moose is a big animal, taller than I.  It’s got big antlers up on its head.”

He then spread his fingers apart and placed them against the top of his head and Marnet let a slight giggle escape her lips.  The sound was so sweet that Thomas felt if he could hear it once a day for the rest of his life he would die happy.  He had never had that kind of thought before and it caught him off guard.

“I think I might have seen one of those before,” her head turned back towards his legs, “we don’t often come so close to land.  If I were to be found out here it wouldn’t cause a severe punishment.  Well, to say simply, I don’t think I have ever heard them given a name with my kind.  A moose you say?”

Thomas nodded and he watched the way her lips pursed into an o shape when she said the word and felt a flutter inside of his stomach.  He merely listened as she continued to talk.

“But I must say that those creatures have an advantage over you and your kind, they have two sets of these legs,” she pointed at them with her hand steadily coming closer to touching, “you only have one.”

Marnet pulled her hand back and gritted her teeth then looked at Thomas.  They were so comfortable with each other despite the glaring difference in their lower half.  Marnet was eagerly taking in all of the new information and wonderment she was experiencing while Thomas was struggling to process the reality of what was happening.

“So, Marnet, where you from?  How did you find your way here?”

She pointed out into the distance of the ocean, “I come from the sea.  I cannot say where, exactly.  We live secluded lives and don’t often venture far away from home, aside from a select few when absolutely necessary.”

“And you are one of the few?”

She shook her head, “no.  I shouldn’t be here.  I shouldn’t be this far.  I shouldn’t be talking with you, whatever you are.  If it were to be found out that this was going on right now I don’t even know what the punishment would be.  But…”

Her voice trailed off and she stared into the waves.  It was unbelievable that these two beings from different species could sit for any length of time and carry on a conversation like they had met during a festival.  The boy was enamored with the strange girl and her half fish appearance, even more so with how beautiful he found her.  The girl was fascinated by this bizarre new creature that she’s discovered.  She wondered if anyone in her home had ever laid eyes on something like this before.  She couldn’t know enough about him and his kind.

“Anybody know where your at?”  Thomas sounded worried.  It was mostly for selfish reasons.  The way she talked about being found out sounded dire.  He feared that if she was he may never see her again.

“No, I don’t believe so.  I wasn’t followed and being this far away has been forbidden outside of desperate times.  We aren’t in desperate times and haven’t been for some time.  I think I am safe.”

“Why did you come, then ?”
The questions continued to jump from his mouth the moment she stopped talking.  He couldn’t even take a moment to think, they waited for her to take a breath and his voice sprang into action.

“You may be more inquisitive than me,” she laughed and he smiled and looked down in a bashful way.
“I came because was curious.  It’s often been poor trait of mine, I’ve been told.  Too curious for my own good.  I’ve looked out through the sea and have known the same caves and ravines my entire life.  I wanted to experience what was beyond our little place in the ocean.  I wanted to know what else was out there.  And look what I’ve found!  A marvelous creature so different and similar to myself that I can barely believe its real.”

Thomas smiled at her and she smiled back, looking down and playing with a pebble between her fingers.  He couldn’t believe she had said what she just said.  It was as if she was in his mind swimming through his thoughts.  This was what he had hoped all of the silly girls in his village would have said when he told them about his plans.  Those words were what he wanted to hear from the girl he would pursue for the rest of his life until she was his and they could sail the world together.

“I want to see everything out above the ocean.  I want to lay back on the tide and stare upward into its reflection and admire its beauty.  Everything is out there waiting for me and can’t keep it that way any longer.”

She finally reached out and touched his leg, just below his knee.  She startled him and he yelped at the suddenness of her grip.  For a moment he thought she was going to begin to drag him into the water and he would be done for, and for a moment he thought it might not be the worst thing in the world if that meant he could be like her.

“Oh I’m sorry!  I didn’t mean to scare you.”

She tried to comfort him and he apologized in return for startling her.

“No no, it was my own fault.  You didn’t scare me, I just-,” he decided to stop talking and not tell her about the legend of his village.  He didn’t want her to think they were barbarians and that her kind were enemies.  This sent a new wave of worry through his mind.  What happens if someone finds her?

“Marnet?”  Thomas reached out and touched her hand.  She looked at the embrace with a smile then raised her eyes to his.

“Yes Thomas?”

“Can we agree to meet here again?  Whenever we can.  Towards the end of the day before the sun sets and the darkness falls.  If one of us isn’t here we’ll wait but not go beyond this spot.  Can this be our spot?  Can these be our rocks and this water be our water?”

Marnet smiled at him and squeezes his hand in return while nodding, “I think we can do that Thomas.  Maybe not every day but enough that we can know each other beyond a single moment and build moments to share again and again.  I’d like that.”

They kept their promise too.  The two continued talking about life in their respective homes.  Exchanging terminology and laughing at the confusion the other had with it.  When the time came to go, as the sun had been long set and Thomas knew his Mother would already be worried, they exchanged glances of fancy towards each other.  Thomas was smitten with her beauty and sense of wonder while Marnet was attracted to his other world-ness.

They hurried to meet each other the next day and the day after that.  Each awkward goodbye became more familiar.  With every day following their first encounter a day in between of not seeing her blue eyes or his dusty hair never came.  Neither wanted to be the one to let the other down and miss the smile on their face as they climbed over rock to be there or swam in from the waves.

After a while they didn’t even notice their differences.  When he would walk along the rocks she would glide through the water close to shore.  Whenever the water was calm he would join her in her environment and fail miserably in attempts to keep up with her swimming prowess.  Even once he trusted her enough to take his hands and swim out so far into the sea that they could no longer make out land.

The swiftness at which she moved was incredible.  Thomas likened it to riding a horse but along the water.  She didn’t know what he meant when he said that and there were no significant traits he could mimic with his hands, so they both laughed and she splashed water in his face because she thought he was cute when his eyes fluttered.

As the seasons delved deeper and the wind bit harder Thomas grew weary of what the winter might bring.  He knew he wouldn’t be able to make the trip out to their spot when the snow began and storms set in.  The thought of not seeing her for an entire season was heart breaking.  He wondered if she had any idea of the limitations that winter would bring.

“Marnet, do you have seasons below the ocean?”

“Seasons?”  They hadn’t covered this topic yet.

“Yes, currently we’re in autumn.  The leaves on the trees turn color from green to red and yellow and orange.  They fall to the ground and the air grows cold.  The rains change to snow and storms become violent.  Does anything similar happen beneath the sea?”

She slowly shook her head, “there are times when the water grows cold and the sea life moves away from some areas but it isn’t for very long.  I don’t know of the snow that you speak of though.  Why do you ask?”

He shook his head, not wanting to broach the subject yet, “no reason.  Here, I brought you this.”
Thomas handed her a small box.

“What is this?”

“A gift.  Open it.”

Marnet lifted the lid and pulled out what was inside.  An odd, substance in the same shape as the box with similar thickness.  She shook it and then held it up to get a better look before turning her attention to Thomas with a confused look.

“What is it?”

“Open the cover,” he said, reaching out to show her, “it’s a book.  With pictures.  I thought I could show you some of the things I’ve been talking about.”

Marnet’s eyes widened as Thomas opened the book and showed her what was inside.  He pointed and talked about the pictures, telling her what each of them were.  There were markings all through it that she didn’t understand but he pointed at and told her what they meant.

“Oh and here look!”  His finger eagerly pressed against one of the pages.
“This is a horse!  Look.  What I was saying that you moved like.”

She looked at it and tilted her head then looked up at him, “you think I move like this odd looking creature?”

He laughed at her expression, “yes well they’re very fast and graceful.  They look beautiful when they’re running.  Just as you do when you’re swimming.”

As the words left his mouth he realized what he was saying.  She smiled at him and looked back at the book and he dropped his head as well, blushing slightly.  There was a long silence as he continued to flip the pages without purpose.

“I, um, thought we could keep it here somewhere in the box.  I could show you things and tell you about them.  What we call things and show you our writing.  To help you understand how life is up on land.”

She kept her head downward, her eyes from his view.  She had never felt quite like this before.  Her eyes welled with tears and sniffled slightly.

“Are you okay?”  Thomas asked.

She nodded and lifted her head to look at him again, her eyes red and tears running along her cheeks.
“I am.  Yes.  This is all so sweet.  It’s so kind of you.  I never could have expected something as lovely as this.  It means the world to me, you have no idea.”

This moment was the first time Thomas had kissed a girl’s lips.  It’s all he thought of her as, a beautiful girl with a slight difference in appearance.  He didn’t care about anything beyond who she was because he enjoyed everything about her.  And the kiss was the greatest experience he had ever had in his life.  Her lips tasted of salt water and it made him want to taste nothing else for eternity.

He had been in love with her from the moment he first saw her in the water, yet this was the moment she fell in love with him.  Her eyes sparkled in a new way when she looked at him.  It was as if she couldn’t imagine a moment spent away.  Even when they parted the shine didn’t dull, her excitement merely grew to their meeting the next evening.  She would always come early and make her way up the rocks to pull the book from its box and study the pages until he arrived.

He taught her to read and she attempted to teach him to swim.  Both attempts were painfully slow but progress was made with patience and care.  Thomas traded out the books and brought more for her to enjoy, some without pictures but the stories captured her spirit.

Finally the time came where Thomas needed to tell her about winter and how he couldn’t come to see her.  He struggled with the idea of spending months without her but he couldn’t reason any other way around it.  It was too dangerous for her to come closer to his village.  If she was ever spotted she would surely be killed.  His mother would never allow him to go out for so long during the winter, she would have search parties scouring the shoreline and the same result would occur.


“Yes, Thomas?”  She smiled at him as she frolicked in the shallow water along rocks.
She noticed his demeanor was quiet and solemn but she was scared to ask what was the matter for fear of it turning her happy world upside down.

“I need to tell you about winter now.”

“Is this the same as snow?”

“Similar.  Snow happens in the winter and its the particular problem we have.”

“Problem, Thomas?”

He nodded, “yes, when the snow sets in and the winter storms start I don’t know how I’ll see you.”

“I’ll see you though,” she smiled, not understanding what he meant.

“No, I won’t be able to make it here.  The weather will bury the entire shoreline in snow and batter our village.  We spend most winter’s hall’d up indoors.”

“Oh,” she pondered, “and I can’t go to your village.”

Her words were ominous.  She knew she couldn’t visit him at his village the same as she couldn’t take him to her home.  Neither’s own kind would understand the other.  She understood the fear that would happen from the discovery of each other.  She also knew that it would be the end of them seeing each other and that was a thought that was unbearable.

“I don’t know what this means but I’m stuck, Marnet.  I don’t want to go a day without seeing you.  I don’t want to miss you for an entire winter.  I can’t bare it.  I wish I could just be as you are with a tail and a fin and come live with you in the sea and then we’d never be apart.”

She smiled at him as her tears began to well in her eyes again.  The same was happening to Thomas as he spoke.

“No, no silly boy with the cute hair.  We are different.  You don’t have gills and I don’t have legs.  It’s our curse to be so much the same yet so far different.  It’s even worse that I’ve come to love you because of those differences.”

The tears began to fall steadily now on both faces.  They kissed a hard kiss and wrapped each other up in their arms.  With their foreheads pressed against each other they talked in a gentle whisper.

“I’ve come to love you too, Marnet.  I can’t bare the thought of any harm coming to you.  My people wouldn’t understand.  The legends, the myths are too deep in their words to change.  I can’t lose you forever so I think I’ll have to lose you for a season.”

She nodded and smiled a sad smile.

“Can we let this be it then, Thomas?  Say goodbye until the winter sleeps.  I don’t know if I’ll be able to do this again.  These tears and this feeling of heartache.  I can’t do this twice.  Can we go away and come back to embrace new when the snow’s evil has gone?”

He nodded without a smile at all.

Marnet was the stronger-willed and pulled herself from him.  She knew if she didn’t leave that he wouldn’t either and they would likely spend an entire night there.  It would create strife for both of them and cause their entire reality together to crumble.  She swam out to sea far enough that she could only make out his form and before diving into the ocean she blew him a kiss, then disappeared to where the tears wouldn’t matter.

Thomas sat on the rock for a long time after she left staring out to where she disappeared.  Looking at the place where he first noticed her and along the beach where he spent so many evenings.  When he pulled himself from his spot he took a glance back at the box he left for her.  He stared at it for a moment then a smile spread across his lips and he headed back home in a hurry.

The next day he ran down to the beach close to the village and rummaged around in the rocks.  He tossed pebbles and smaller stones aside.  There was a very specific kind of rock he was searching for, something flat and wide.

After a trying search he found a stone two hand-widths long and carried it up to his room.  He then went to the blacksmith and borrowed a chisel and hammer and took it back to his room to start onto the flat rock.  With great care and attention to detail Thomas chipped away at the rock.  His artistry wasn’t exceptional but he was able to make out the general look of his favorite place he knew, their beach.

He also wrote a note on a piece of paper, using smaller words that she would be able to read.  They had made progress in her reading but he wasn’t sure how far along she had come and he wanted her to understand it.  When he woke in the morning he made his way down the beach again for the last time before winter and until it was gone.

It had been two days since he was last here and it felt even worse being in their spot without her.  He carried the rock over to the box and set it down gently.  On the face of it was a clumsily chiseled picture of their beach.  The rocks made out as best he could, the trees as well and in the corner the first letter of their names M&T.

He pulled the note from his pocket and placed it in the box, but noticed the book had a leaf between its pages sticking out.  Thomas pulled the book from the box and opened the cover and removed the leaf.  On the inside cover he noticed very fine scratches as if they were made with a needle.  In a clumsily written note it read:

Thomas, I love you.  I will wait a season without blinking my eyes.  Come back to me as I will you.

He pulled the book from the box and replaced it with his own note before closing the lid.  There was a smile on his face a mile wide.  The book was clutched in his hand the entire walk back to his village.  He spent the night running his fingers over her scratches and reading them again and again.

Marnet returned every day before they would regularly meet to see if Thomas had received her gift.  She wasn’t sure what to expect as they had agreed to make their last time together just that until the winter was gone, but she hoped he had a sting in his heart as she did to find their secret place one more time.

With the claw of a crab she took the book and to the best of her ability wrote him a note to keep his heart through the cold.  She only hoped he would see it.

The second day she went and her heart sank a little when she saw the book was still untouched.  Did he forget her already?  She shook her head at the thought.

“Oh!  Maybe he didn’t know to look inside?”  She thought that might be the more likely idea.  To be sure he saw it she slipped a leaf under the front cover as a sign.  She smiled to herself, sure this would grab his attention and left in a hurry so the day would pass and she could come back again the next.

Upon the third day of coming back she hurried up the shore and stopped as she saw his gift.  She picked the rock up in her hands and laid it on her, tracing the lines he had chiseled out and recognizing the very place she was sitting.  The face of the rock was dotted with tears falling from her face.  She looked around for a possibility of him hiding in the trees, partially hoping he was but mostly hoping he wasn’t.  The moment would have been softened if it had to endure another goodbye and his gift was special enough.

She lifted the lid and saw his note as well.  With her hand over her mouth she read his words:

Dear Marnet,

Someday I will be a man.  When that day comes I will get a boat.  With that boat I will travel the ocean and I hope you will join me.  The wind in my sails and my lovely Marnet in the sea.  We will explore the world together and never again be apart.  Until then I will miss you, but I will always love you.  I cannot think of time better spent then with you and I want that to be the way I spend the rest of my life.

Waiting for spring,

Your Thomas

Years passed and Thomas did become a man.  He learned from fisherman and sailors.  He learned everything he could about becoming a captain of his own ship.  Something modest and small that he could man himself.  Everything he set his sights on he achieved and with every achievement his Marnet was waiting to hear the story.

With every passing winter they returned to each other in the spring and rekindled their love.  The beauty he saw in her never waned and her voracious curiosity exploded.  They read entire libraries worth of books together and planned their explorations.  She would swim the channels and harbors alongside him.  They would race the open seas.  He would be there for her and she would guide him.  All they needed was each other.

In the eyes of an old legend they grew a new one.  The tale of a lone captain sailing the world with his love in the sea.  They would dock in no port but hide themselves away in secluded bliss.  The world theirs to explore and discover amazement too foreign for normal understanding.  Only needing each other for happiness after finding it unexpectedly.

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