From the Sea . . .

J..W. Waterhouse. / 1900

It happened at the dark of morning, when the sky turned from black to pewter to soft tangerine.

She rose from the surf, waterlogged, the seaweed and starfish whispering her name.

            Sassas. Sassas.

Sassas ignored their entreaties to return.

Once a sea creature, she’d long ago left that life, not of her own choosing at first, but now Sassas was comfortable on two feet connected to two tall long legs.

Those legs sent her past the dunes now, up toward the old man’s house. She squinted as the sun climbed higher, offering rosier pinks and a hint of the blue sky that would surround the town in a few more minutes.

             Sarah? Sarah?!”

Sassas scrabbled up the stone steps. Uncle Josh worried about her when she left for a splash in her old place. The ancient place. He’d hooked her when he was a 24-year-old fisherman and she just a 600-year-old sea nymph.

She had changed little. Her fins disappeared within two years, her long green hair turned blonde in the sunlight, and her smile glistened with the newness of Earth living.

            “Sarah?”

But Uncle Josh, who renamed her Sarah on that long ago fateful morning, was approaching his 90th year of Earth life.

And Sassas wondered how she’d survive without him.ocean, seashore, Ocean City NJ

 She fingered the gold band that encircled her thumb. Uncle Josh gave it to her years ago, intoning reverently:

“A reminder of all that grounds you to Earth now: sky, sand, friendship, me.”

 Sassass enjoyed the rhythm of life out of water. She followed the lunar patterns of the full moon to the new moon, racing outside every evening to catch a glimpse of the golden orb. To her, that’s what Uncle Josh’s golden band represented.

 On sand and mud and concrete, time didn’t swirl like the tides of her old home.

 Time disappeared and then slowly reappeared as a crescent shape, partly in this world, and partly in the other dark mysterious universe above.

            “Sarah!”

 Sassass raced into the house at Josh’s strangled cry. She found him kneeling on the floor, clutching his chest.

  “Uncle Josh?” she whispered. His eyes, once bright with hope and promise, faded.  Suddenly his face became bright with joy, beaming like the full moon.

 And then he collapsed.

 No words. But they seldom spoke verbally to each other.

 Sassass stood over Uncle Josh’s prone form, not alarmed. Just waiting.

 Then she saw it.

 His silvery shiny spirt slowly weaved out of his body, shimmering in front of her for a few seconds, and then lifted away and dissolved into the invisible air.

  Oh!” Sassass exclaimed, and the air absorbed her realization.

 She’d never be alone. Uncle Josh would always be nearby.

 Ocean City NJ, sunrise, seashoreWhen the sun fell into the sea later that day and the moon rose cheerfully above her, Sassass rolled Uncle Josh’s body into his bed blanket, pulled it past the house and the dunes and toward the surf.

 His human form would join her spiritual friends in the sea.

 Perhaps, it was time for her to join them again too.

122 thoughts on “From the Sea . . .

  1. Oh wow! 😀 Pam, this is pure magic and I’m sure I held my breath throughout, hanging on your every word. The serenity is carried until the very end and you manage to encapsulate a whole book almost in this short story. I was hooked by Sass/Sarah, her introspective memories whilst the urgent call from Uncle Josh punctuated her stream of consciousness.

    I recently read Sarah Winman’s mystical and magical A Year of Marvellous Ways, and the main character is amazing, old now but born of a mermaid … an astonishing and most unusual book.

  2. I like story Pamela,

    you described the metamorphosis beautifully. Great metaphor. I believe that we all need to reject our shells and to become new people, on the daily basis.We have to compare only with ourselves. Thank you

  3. A lovely, magical tale, Pam. It’s sort of a happier (celibate?) version of the Selkie myth. 🙂
    A beautiful idea of thinking of living on this way, too.
    I like the Waterhouse image, and your own photograph is stunning!

    • This may sound strange (and a bit ignorant), but I don’t know the Selkie legend/myth. Someone just commented about a movie called The Secret of Roan Inish, which I’ll try to find on Netflix. Perhaps somewhere in my head are the universal myths that we all share; that’s what it felt like as I wrote this – a watery universal legend. Thanks so much for your lovely comment, Merril. Oh, and my photos are from Ocean City, NJ. Surprised? I bet not. 🙂

      • I love The Secret of Roan Inish! It’s a movie we watched a few times with our daughters. There’s a Child Ballad, and I first heard it when I was teen–probably Gene Shay’s radio show. Joan Baez did a version of it.
        Of course, Ocean City, NJ! 🙂

  4. A magical tale, well-told. Perfectly lovely, something to ponder as I garden this weekend, tilling old plants into the earth as I start new plants in their place. A transformation, eh?

    • Best of luck with your transformative gardening, Ally. I’m doing the same, gardening my pansies and watching the tulips pulse out of the earth. Spring is always a surprise to me – the transformation many times not believed until it happens in front of our eyes. ❤

  5. Dear Pam, this is such a magical and beautiful story. Poetic an mystical tale
    that holds me spellbound throughout. The beauty of Sassas/Sarah and Joe; their spirits entwined and dancing together.
    His silvery, shiny spirit staying with her and she returning his physical remains to her spiritual friends in the sea.
    Thank you for the magic
    miriam

  6. Your prose sounded lyrical Pam…a hangover or the magic of the story? The sound effects accentuate the mystic nature of this tale that perfectly blends all the elements of story telling…romance, fantasy and suspense. One reading is not enough!

    • Such a good question, Balroop. I think the mysticism of the story, the spirit of the sea within, is what makes the prose lyrical. I didn’t set out to write a story that was necessarily lyrical, but as Sassas whispered her secrets to me, the prose followed her sound…. xo

  7. Oh Pam…you take us to such wonderful
    places with each of your ‘wightings’ :))
    thank you for this mornings’ journey to the sea as I sit in land locked AZ!!!
    love you

    • I appreciate your comment, Patricia. I’m not as well-informed about mermaids as I should be, but Sassas has me wanting to know more about her kind. And the ending, of course, is only the beginning…. xo

    • Earthlings can just get in the way, for sure. A young friend encouraged me to read a book called A Nearer Moon by Melanie Crowder. Have you read it Janet? I’m just starting it, but in a mystical way, it shows how Earthlings can get in the way of awe and wonder. 😦 May we reverse that tendency…

    • I found this J.W. Waterhouse painting soon after I finished writing about Sassas, and heard a whisper inside me that said, “Yessssssssssss.” I think Waterhouse would have liked to have known about Sassas. Hmmmm, but maybe he already did! ;-0

  8. I just finished reading Circe and as I usual when finishing a wonderful book – I am famished for more. How delightful to read your magical post that staved off my hunger for a time.

    • OH! I’ve now just put Circe on the top of my To Be Read list, Bernadette. Did you read Madeline Miller’s first book also, The Song of Achilles? I wonder if I should start with that one. I’m so glad Sassas appealed to your reading desires. Sassas surprised me when she appeared under my writing pen. I love that kind of magic. xo

      • I didn’t read Song but I am now on the waiting list at the Library for that one. I often end up reading things backward but when I read the review of this book it sounded like it stood independently. I will be waiting to hear what you think of it.

    • My guess is that you hear those Sirens off the coast of your beautiful Jersey, more than I do in my landlocked suburb here in NE. I hope to visit Sassas this summer…

  9. Now, I know this is not the same* but I absolutely loved this story! It has so many levels and you could flesh this out and really expand it. *I’m agreeing with Diana.

    I equate your sweet sea nymph tale of Sarah (Sassas) to the more complicated fantasy (alien) story in “The Shape of Water.” The ending will enchant you, like yours enchanted us all here. The golden ring and golden moon made me get teary eyed, it is this kind of detail which raises your short stories into mythology​ level, dear Pam. 💗

  10. Pingback: From the Sea . . . Pamela S. Wight | Sue Vincent's Daily Echo

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