Part 1: Sirina
He spent the afternoon on the beach walking in the surf and trying to clear his mind. Layoffs were imminent and he couldn’t afford to get the axe now. Jake was a benevolent man and caring for his family came to him as naturally as breathing. Still, he was just a man with just a little bit of ‘the devil may care’ in him.
He turned to walk the half mile back to his car when something made him stop and look back. Jake stared into the distance trying to discern what it was.
A sound? No, more like something haunting me that’s trying to breach the surface.
He started back toward the car when it happened again. Jake looked to the heavens, saying aloud, “You’re messing with me, right? This is punishment for taking more than one wife?”
Jake regrouped long enough to wonder how he would appear to anyone that might be watching; standing here alone, imploring the gods, tossing his arms up and speaking to no one there. He shook his head laughing at himself thinking, It’s stress. It’s always stress. That’s what drives rational men mad.
Again the feeling interrupted his thoughts. It was something akin to a gentle tugging at his heart, which made him turn fully to look over his shoulder. Then he saw her.
No shit! No way!
Jake stood transfixed, mesmerized at the sight of her and unable to think. He forced his focused enough to believe he wasn’t imagining her, but didn’t dare move suddenly for fear of frightening her away.
Sirena propped herself on the shore drying her gossamer locks in the evening sunset. Her fiery hair tumbled carelessly down her back as she breathed in the salt-sea air, the vast ocean, and the long expanse of deserted beach. She loved everything about her life; carefree days, full moon nights, warm sunset evenings and wide open spaces; everything that was her freedom.
Only half believing his eyes, Jake made his way down the beach, approaching her with caution, while trying to make sense of the scene before him. The beach had been deserted all evening, not another soul around yet, suddenly, there was a half-naked beauty stretching lazily in the spot where he’d stood fifteen minutes ago.
But it’s more than that, He thought. It’s as if she radiates all the goodness in the world; like she’s emanating the purity of, love.
Jake would have sworn he’d been sluicing through a desert and she was a mirage. He was close enough to touch her shoulder but she showed no modesty, nothing that spoke of shame or covering herself in his presence. She sat at water’s edge, playfully dangling her legs in the waves as he stood stock-still searching for an opening line.
He raked his hand through tousled hair wondering if she had actually spoken.
Did I imagine it? She’s not real. I’m not real. None of this is real! Jake scolded himself; I’m probably in the car having some freaky, stressed-out, highway hypnosis or something.
“Isn’t it customarily polite to speak when spoken to?”
Her back was still to him but this time Jake was sure.
“I’m sorry, miss, I didn’t… ah, hello,” He offered, moving to sit beside her, “I’m,”
Sirena turned eyes to him and he tripped over his tongue, “Stunned,” He finished.
“You’re stunned? That’s your name,” She teased.
“Jake,” He corrected, offering his hand, “I’m sorry, I guess I am a little…” Jake stopped, still unable to tear his eyes from hers, “How, What, Where the devil did you come from,” He asked, still disbelieving his own eyes.
“I’m Sirena. Good to meet you too.”
Did she say that? I’m starting right at her and I don’t know if her lips moved.
“The pleasure is all mine,” He returned, “How did I not see you sooner,” He asked, “I’ve been here all evening.”
“I’m sure you have many burdens and I was pretty far out,” She answered, watching him scan the sea for a boat or diving gear.
“Where are you from Sirena?”
“Oh, you know,” she evaded, “I’m a child of the world.”
“I guess you’ve traveled a lot,” He asked, attempting small talk.
“You could say that,” She replied with a nonchalant shrug as she sensed the change of tide even before she felt it.
Jake knew he was already head over heart in love with her but knew, as well, that all of this was just too surreal.
“It’s getting late,” Sirena whispered, not quite realizing why that fact made her feel melancholy, “I have to go soon.”
“No wait,” He plead urgently, “Can I see you again?”
Sirena couldn’t fathom why she was drawn to Jake, or to anything that could jeopardize the life she had now.
The turn of the tide is a warning. The pull of the moon is trying to lure me out of this, this… this!
“Sirena, please. I must see you again,” He pressed.
“Do you believe in mermaids, Jake,” She probed.
“Do you,” She demanded point blank.
“Okay, yes. Sure. Can I see you tomorrow?”
Sirena slipped into the water saying, “Meet me tomorrow at sunset.”
“Okay,” He smiled, tentatively relieved, “I’ll be here. Wait! Why did you ask about mermaids?”
She smiled up at him and stated matter-of-factly, “Because I’m about to test your meddle.”
With that she ducked below the surface and the last thing Jake saw was a fishtail that slapped the ocean powering her departure.