There are these cliffs by the sea. There used to be a white wooden fence at the base to keep Them from wandering up too high, but it is mostly just a few detached posts with some peeling paint now. There aren’t many of Them to keep off the cliffs anymore, it is mostly just Us. Once you let the cliffs become a part of your life you are always a little gritty to the touch. The sea water dries on your skin and the salt stays behind. Not to mention the sand; all the sand. It covers and sticks to your feet, it gets under your clothes, and collects by the handful in your hair. Sand is a part of life, if your life includes the cliffs.
At just the right time of day, when the clouds are full in the sky, you can see the pinpricks that are sailboats far off on the horizon. They don’t really come by these cliffs anymore. The music the wind makes as it speeds around the cliffs is too beautiful. The sailors believe they are hearing sirens and some claim to have even seen some so most of Them are too afraid to come close. Too many sailors have been lost at sea after being enchanted by a rare siren’s call so any music near these cliffs spook them. Of course since the sailors have stopped coming the few sirens that were here have all moved away. They aren’t bound to the cliffs like Us.
I am fashioning the shape of a siren in the sand; I make her hair wild like the wind makes mine; adding a few strands of clingy seaweed for color. I pick bright white pebbles smoothed over by the waves for her eyes. There aren’t any shells the right color red for her lips or shimmering purple for her scales. My scales are grey. In the right light they glimmer and have a bluish hue, but I’m still waiting for them to grow in. They only show up in patches; a row down my arm or across my back. One day they will fully come in and they will be a soft blue like the ocean on the clearest of days. I hope they are delicately speckled with lively green like my mother.
My mother fell in love with one of Them; which is why the fence is there in the first place. We aren’t supposed to fall in love with Them. My mother loved to sing. Most of us don’t. She did though and she would sing and sing. One day a man was sitting on the edge of the highest point of the cliffs. He had climbed over the fence and trekked up the side. The terrain isn’t hard for Us, but most of Them aren’t used to it. He made it with very little difficulty and sat on the very edge looking out at the water for a long time. No one knew what he was looking for or even if his eyes were searching for something. After a while he pulled a small hollow tube from his pocket, put it too his lips and when he blew into it lovely music came out.
My mother was resting in a cove below him and called out, matching her voice to the notes he played. They did this for a long time. The notes had meanings only they could understand and that’s how they fell in love; singing to each other from across the cliffs. She tried to go home with him, but we are bound to the cliffs and she began to wither away. Her hair dried out and her scales lacked their natural luster. Her voice cracked and her spirit started slipping away. She loved my father, but she belongs to the cliffs. She stayed with him for three years until finally he knew what he had to do. One day he scooped her up in his arms and carried her all the way to cliffs. He laid her down on the sand and instantly her color began to creep back. Her hair was wetted by the beckoning waves and she smiled for the first time in months. She dug her hand into the sand and began to sing.
They stayed like that, all that night, my mother lying on the sand with my father sitting next to her. Him playing his flute and her matching his notes; conversing in a way only they understood. No one remembers exactly when the music stopped or when he finally stood up and walked away from the sea; but he couldn’t stay. He isn’t bound to the cliffs. Even if he wanted it, this could never be his home. I don’t remember ever hearing his flute or my mother’s voice. That was a long time ago, but that is why my hair is dark like Them instead of light like Us.
There are these cliffs by the sea. There used to be a white wooden fence at the base to keep Them from wandering up to high, but it is mostly just a few detached posts with peeling paint now. There aren’t many of Them to keep off the cliffs now though. They know better than to risk falling in love with one of the ladies by the cliff. So it is mostly just Us.
There was once a little tree, that bloomed only by the light of the moon.
As the petals of the many flowers collectively opened the night air grew-
By the song of the Night Lark the stars of the sky would begin their courting dance.
With each twinkle
They coaxed another star, made of petals, to open.
Each night the flowers shook with excitement as they waited for their star sky star to call to them.
There was one flower that did not tremble with anticipation as the nocturnal creatures opened their eyes.
This flower bloomed each night a little more reluctantly than the night before.
Not a single star in the sky caught her eye, not a single song encouraged her to dance.
She sat there, upon her tree, petals open, scent wafting, going through the motions until the moon grew tired and began its descent.
As the sky grew blue and the star’s light paled the little flower perked and stretched her petals. The flowers around her fell asleep and folded in upon themselves.
The tree that once mirrored the star filled night sky now stood, unobtrusively, a soft green in the first of the morning light. Only the single flower remained awake vying for the attention for the one star she couldn’t have.
As the sun replaced the moon the little flower tried to remain open, but with each passing moment the leaves surrounding her rustled to her.
“Close little flower. The day is not our time. We are for the night. Close little flower, close.”
The sun did not welcome the blooms of night Jasmine like the moon did, it did not dance to entice their good favor or caress them with a gentle glow. Even so, the sole flower bloomed, transfixed by the sun’s enigmatic warmth and the power with which he lit up the world around her.
Despite all her attempts to gain the sun’s attention, he did not turn his rays her way. He awakened the birds that sang from other trees and reached out to the groves of flowering plants that turned their faces towards him as he traveled across the sky. Everything on the earth was vying for his attention.
Dejected, the little star like flower folded up her petals and wept.
“Why doesn’t he like me?” She wondered.
“The other flowers must be prettier.” She pondered.
“What can I change to be good enough?” She contemplated.
That night the flower again bloomed at night and didn’t even notice the many sky stars that danced for her attention. Instead she watched her fellow blooms and rejected their happiness.
“Why can’t I have that?” She wanted to know. “The sun is wonderful. I want him.”
She waited through the night as the moon watched over her darkened domain. The province of the unknown, of lovers and wonder. The realm of the spicy scent of Night Blooming Jasmine and dark deeds taking place in back alleys. The moon watched over her region of night owls, human and otherwise; over creations too unexpected for the daytime. The moon watched over the little flower who was not interested in any of the night’s stars.
“What’s wrong little flower?” The moon called down.
“I miss the sun.” The flower answered.
“The sun is not for you.” The moon gently reminded her.
“Why not?” The flower cried. “Am I not a beautiful? Is my scent not as alluring? What is it about me that the sun does not like?”
“It is not you my dear flower and it is not the sun. It is the trouble of time and harmony.”
“I do not understand.” The flower said boldly.
“You bloom under nightfall and he brings the morning. Your celestial pairing is here in the night sky. They will be there for you when awake. You will not have to strain yourself to bloom into the day. You will not have to compete for their attention with other flowers for they will only want to see you.”
“But I want the sun to be that for me.”
“But the sun cannot rise earlier to see you and it cannot neglect the other flowers and creatures that depend on his strength for survival. He does not spurn you because he does not care it is simply that you are of the night and he is the day.”
The flower was quiet and the moon let her contemplate in peace. She gazed at the many stars in the sky dancing for her devotion. She still wanted the sun, she missed his warmth and the comfort he gave her, but she could see herself being happy with a different star, one day. She was just as beautiful and important and fragrant as the other flowers the sun cared for. It wasn’t a failing on her part she realized. It was a matter of time and compatibility.
She was for the night and the sun was of the day.
She was for the night and the sun was of the day.
She was for the night and the sun was of the day.
The moon is swirling and spreading like butter across the sky; the stars expanding and shrinking and expanding and shrinking and performing a jig throughout the sky. The looming oak tree that has stood over a hundred years leans over him stirring the hair on his head. The shadow figures sway back and forth and form a circle around him. You cannot see the colors they wear for the moon is fading into the dark blue blanket on which it sits.
“Stand up, child of this temporary realm.”
“I cannot, everything is spinning. If I stand up I will fall over again.”
“I said STAND UP!” and instantly his body stood and hands invisible to him held him steady. Another hand thrust a golden cup with golden liquid into his hands.
“No, I cannot drink anymore.” He turned the cup upside down and poured the gold juice onto the ground. Sparks flew from the point of impact and a patch of fully bloomed yellow roses sprouted in seconds.
“No matter child; you have already consumed the forbidden fruit. You belong with us now.” At this the shadowy figures swaying around him circled faster and faster until all shape was lost.
“What do you mean? I didn’t eat any fruit.” The young man spoke foolishly for he had in fact eaten the food of the otherworld; cakes of wondrous colors and drinks of ponderous taste.
“Don’t lie to us,” the voice told him. “It is of no matter what you believe or what we saw. The spell never lies. If faery food lies in your stomach or faery drink has traveled down your throat you will not be able to leave. Go on; try to break the circle.” The voice laughed and the boy grew scared. He tried to move his legs, but they would not obey his will. He twisted his torso back and forth trying to look for an opening or something he could use to pull himself to safety, but nothing could be seen except the speeding circle of shadows and darkening night sky. A laugh, a merciless amused laugh boomed throughout the night and fought into his ears. “Do you see, you cannot try to escape us? Walk four steps to your left, but do not attempt to escape or we will know.” Again the boy tried to move his legs, but could not. He had noticed a slight opening in the shadows, but would never reach it if his feet couldn’t leave the ground. “I SAID DO NOT TRY TO ESCAPE!” The voice screeched so close that the boy whipped his head around expecting to see a face mere inches from his. But none was there. Only the dancing shadows and the darkening sky overhead. “Now try again and do not try to escape.” The voice whispered in constrained control. This time the boy cleared his head and made his goal four steps to the left. He whispered to his leg to move and move it did. He took four steps to his left, so bewildered was he by his new found freedom he forgot to make a run for it. “See we did not lie. No attempts at escape will be permitted. But do not grow angry at us or even yourself. Grow angry at your village for not warning you against the strangeness of the night.”
“You are the strangeness of the night?” the young boy squeaked in fear.
“So you have heard of us. Don’t you remember the tales or your village; the dancing, the shadows, the swimming moon, and of course the never ending goblet of golden liquid?”
“Yes, yes now I do.”
“Unfortunate that you remember now that it is too late, even if we wanted to let you go the spell cannot be persuaded.”
“You mean I am stuck here? Forever.”
“Yes, but don’t worry too much, soon you will not remember and you will fully become part of us.” Suddenly the circling shadows that had kept their distance for so long changed direction and swooshed in on the boy and he became a part of the darkness himself.