The Forgotten Mermaid. -All lost hearts may be redeemed.
By Gregga J. Johnn
Should you like to hear me read it to you;
Bailey lay in the Captain’s bunk, fully aware of her surroundings, but too exhausted in her grief to interact, or care. She lay there quietly huddled under his covers, listening to him click and tap away on his desk.
He mumbled to himself a few times and listened to voices that seemed to either relay news messages or sometimes just make jokes. Brice intermittently chuckled to himself randomly and Bailey tried to wrap her head around this new, magical interaction with which he seem so comfortable.
What was he? He said Trevel, but that word held no meaning in her mind. Bailey recalled the few snippets of information she had glanced through on his desk. There had been accusations of treason against the Powers and he had been called a Bacht enthusiast as well as a mer-ambassador, but the tone of the two titles seemed to be both derisive and glorified. She just couldn’t make it out.
Perhaps this was all just a dream. She tried to sleep in order to wake.
The Captain’s door burst open and Mathilde bustled in with commanding presence. Bailey feigned sleep.
“Knocking would be polite.” Brice muttered, not even looking up at her.
“And not leaving me abandoned with the Bacht would be respectful.” She snarled back at him.
“My crew,” said the Captain, “have my respect. I expect you, as my guest, to give them the same.”
Mathilde scoffed, but then she saw Bailey in his bed and hardened her heart toward him even more.
“Men.” She snarled in disgust.
“What?” Brice looked at her with returned contempt.
“You’re all the same. Sex. That’s your only guiding force.”
“Do not presume to judge me based upon your own failings or presumptions.” He demanded, standing to gain a commanding presence.
“Oh!” she laughed, “so you dare to claim that you aren’t keeping the chattel on board for your own sexual benefits?”
“I dare to claim that I am Captain of this ship and nothing I do is any of your business.” He demanded. “Now if you will excuse me, my Lady, I have more communique’s to write in order to ready your return.” He gestured with a show of restrained respect toward the door, “My crew is ready and able to assist you with your departure tomorrow. Tonight, however, I suggest you relax and allow them to mourn.”
Mathilde looked out the door in shock,
“Surely you don’t mean for me to sleep with the crew?”
“Absolutely not. In fact, if you touch or seduce any of my crew, or other guests, I will personally end your life.”
With rising panic, she demanded,
“Where am I to sleep, if not here upon the bed?”
“This is your island, my Lady. I’m sure your home comforts are better than any I could offer. And I would never want to presume to bring any woman into my bed who did not come to it eagerly on her own.” He bowed and as she stalked out he offered her a, “Good evening.”
Mathilde did the only thing a siren, or banshee woman might do. She screamed and rushed out onto the deck, flew around to try and startle the crew, then burst through the translucent, blue barrier out into the waters and swam back to her fortress.
She sat upon her rock outcropping, pouting and chewing upon another liver. They were her favorite.
When she laid down to rest, she noticed for the first time, just how hard her bedrock was. She pouted some more and dreamed up all sorts of vengeance upon her rescuer, all night long.
Back on board the Pursuit, Mama D finished washing Barnabus’ body with her bowl of chamomile tea. It soothed both herself and his taut, cold skin.
Daniel had made a fine bed with straw and sail. He’d even brought up the drying lavender from the store room to lay about the body. He said it was to ward off any smell, but he laid it all with such careful design that his proud mother encouraged him to consider more decoration. This kept the young boy distracted from the horror of his duties.
At the head and feet of the body and at both hands, Mama D laid large metal bowls and filled them with tied brushes of sage. She lit the ends and blew out the flame, leaving only the smoldering end burning.
A peace settled on board.
Derek and Daves scrubbed the deck with vigor and insisted the two gentlemen give aid, also, in the cleaning. Dr. Scrandon asked to examine the body, but was denied any access to it other than a limited visual exploration. The Reverend prepared words for a typical burial at sea.
As the sunlight gleaming through the waves above dimmed and turned golden, Captain Brice gently rubbed Bailey’s neck to waken her. She hadn’t slept and pretended to not enjoy his touch as much as she did by faking her rousing. Her arousal was disconcertingly real, though. Especially after hearing Mathilde’s twisted interpretation of her presence in the Captain’s bed.
She moaned grumpily,
“Do I wake from this nightmare, yet?”
“No,” said Brice. “But a nightmare is only the past of the next dream that you make it to be.”
“What?” She said, still teary as the soul filled ache of her body burned within.
“Come. It is time to say goodbye.”
Brice carried her to his chair by the desk. He had somehow captured the scene of a stunning outdoor beach upon the desktop. Bailey started in wonder as it moved and wavered in the soothing motion of waves upon tropical sand. Some baby turtles were birthing themselves up from their buried nest, and she smiled, unaware of the precious healing that such beauty restored to her soul.
While she was transfixed by the imagery, Brice brushed out her hair and gently sponged down her skin, careful to not expose her most feminine self. He helped her out of her old clothes down to the nightshirt and then carefully re-dressed her in long, fitting pants, a supportive tight vest, and a coat of leathery softness.
When he showed her her reflection in his mirror, she remarked,
“I look beautiful,” as if in shock.
“Of course you do.” was all he replied, then led her out to the deck.
The Reverend attempted to take his pose at the head of the body to drone out his memorized reading, but Brice shook his head and informed him,
“I am Captain here. The soul safety and guidance of my crew is under my care.” Then he stepped in and led the ceremony.
“By the Powers of this Oneness in which we are unified, we bid you, Barnabus, man of faith and man of God, fare thee well.
“May the energy it takes for the sun’s illumination to reach across vacuous space and touch our faces with warmth and light- burn your way to your next living.”
Brice instructed his crew, “Now, repeat after me, ‘Burn your way to your next living.”
The small gathering repeated so and Brice continued. The mourners quickly picked up their repetition role.
“May the energy that flashes the friction of electrics across the sky, inspiring all to seek clearer ways- clear the path ahead of you now.”
“Clear the path ahead of you now.” The crew recited.
“May the energy of the air that blusters and blows about us in an effort to pass on life and move freshness across the rotation of the earth- pass you on to where you will dwell eternal.”
“Pass you on to where you will dwell eternal.”
“May the energy of heat in fire that gives light and warmth and transforms simple raw produce into delicacies that delight and nourish our being- bring you into your newest evolution.”
“Bring you into your newest evolution.”
“May the energies of water that pound and bubble in a continuously refreshing cycle of life- restore your source to its next wave.”
“Restore your source to its next wave.”
“May the energy built into the breath of fauna, birthing new life through a dizzying myriad of forms- birth in you a renewing of life that cannot be corrupt, henceforth.”
“Birth in you a renewing of life that cannot be corrupt, henceforth.”
“May the energy it takes a single flora bud to carefully open up so that it may stretch out and feed and grow and reproduce- bloom within eternal memory the glories of all that you have accomplished.”
“Bloom within eternal memory the glories of all that you have accomplished.”
“May the energy that contains this earth as foundation and casing for the precious core that boils in a molten mass beneath our feet break open- and let you soul pass over into spirit.”
“And let you soul pass over into spirit.”
“And, finally, may the energy to pierce, to hold together, and to decorate all areas of our lives with raw, or combined metallic force- hold you forever in our hearts and minds to do justice with your remembrance, for as long as we all shall remain.”
“Hold you forever in our hearts and minds to do justice with your remembrance, for as long as we all shall remain.”
Bailey repeated the last line,
“For as long as we all shall remain.”
They all stood silent a moment and felt the energy of the world encompass them.
Then a movement made the humans startle. All but Bailey froze in gasping horror as a dark presence passed through them and gathered up the freshness of Barnabus’ frame and his body was carried from out of their midst and left them forever.
Bailey wept silently and leaned upon the body of her Captain.
Mama D and her sons nodded in wonder and respect and moved to return to below deck with their guests following them.
Captain Brice Deluse stood patiently calm with the mourning missionary wife; she leaned upon him in consolation. Together they remained statues in the night until her legs weakened and her Captain carried her to her bunk where she slept soundly and restfully.
Brice continued at his desk and made ready preparations for the following day.