I could breathe!
And there was this beautiful woman, smiling at me, her hair flowing all around her like sea foam. Like the very water itself.
She took my hand and we swam together, deeper and deeper into the depths of the sea. I saw the tops of a sunken pirate ship, and thousands of sparkling jewels that littered the sand below, like stars in the night sky.
I saw a sleeping leviathan, its one eye as large and bright as the Moon.
We swam, this mermaid and I (for I knew she was a mermaid; she had a tail like a fish, like the stories say) until we came to her abode. It glimmered bone-white in the deep blue sea, and fish flew in and out of its windows like sparrows.
Here she sang me a song, and told me a story, and tended to me. She fed me the curly ends of seaweed, and many things that tasted rich and pleasant, things I cannot name.
There were many of them, women with fins instead of legs, and hair as effervescent as sea foam. She told me that I could stay with them. That they, too, had once been women, that had been castaway or thrown overboard boats, like the Gibraltar. They gave me a ring from the jewels of the seabed to welcome me.
Because they said women were bad luck.
Bad luck on boats, they said. They angered the sea gods.
“But we are the sea gods now,” she told me. “They are the ones that have angered us.”
I ate their food. I sang their songs. The longer I stayed down there, the more I began to resemble my hosts. Barnacles stuck to my legs. I grew fins, and a tail, and webbings between my fingers. My voice became sweet… and poisonous.
On the anniversary of my death--no, of my new life--my sisters and I rose arm in arm out of the sea, singing our songs.
And there was the Gibraltar--or perhaps a ship like the Gibraltar, it didn’t matter to me--floating lonely on a dark sea.
We sang to the sailors. Our sweetest song.
Their captain told them to plug up their ears, and turn away from us. But we sang all the more sweeter, and they could not resist.
What sailor can resist us? We are sirens. We are the sea. We are the seafoam and the salt, the tempests and the mysteries of the deep. We are the very thing they chase.
We sang so sweetly it brought tears even to my eyes. Tears and saltwater stung my face.
One by one, my sisters took their husbands with them to the deep. Kissed them with their salty lips. Dragged their bones into our castle. I took the captain for myself--the captain whose face reminded me of that boy, my blue-eyed boy, my very first friend on the ship of the Gibraltar.
I kissed him. I took him to my home. And there he slept forever.