Today, I took part in a 'live write' on Facebook with British author Hanleigh Bradley. The concept is simpler than the actual writing part: We were given a picture as a prompt, and then had an hour to write a story together. Here's what we came up with (completely unedited): the first mermaid story either of us have ever written.
Like every day, he was sitting on the pier, his legs crossed, his eyes closed. The waves were crushing against the wooden poles below, and with every wave he could feel the vibrations of the sea. This was the closest he could get to being on a boat. Pathetic, he knew that. The sea called to him, but he couldn't answer the call. Not really. He would sit on the pier, every day, breathing in the moist salty air, imagining that he was sailing across the ocean.
He watched as the wavescrashed against the rocks. The sea held a million mysteries, like the way it could be so rough against the stone steps up to the lighthouse and yet so still not two meters away. He could only imagine what mysteries were held beneath its cloudy surface. A thousand years sailing those oceans and he'd never understand it's secrets and yet here he was completely incapable of exploring even what was in his eyes' sight.
It had all supposed to be so different. The sea was in his blood. He was born on a ship, if you could believe that. His mother gave birth to him in a tiny cabin on a smelly, noisy container ship. It wasn't planned that way, of course, but it happened, and she named him Triton, the messenger of the seas. At first, he'd managed to live up to his name. As a young boy, he learned to sail, and spent most afternoons on the water. When he was older, he joined the navy. But then it all changed. How one second could change an entire life...
Everything was different now. He'd gone to sea on one particular voyage that would completely wreck everything. There was a storm like none other he'd ever seen. A dark heavy cloud had taken over the sky and lightning had crashed overhead. The Thunder had raged and the mast was hit. It had set ablaze and the fire had leapt from post to post until the whole ship was alight. There was nowhere to go - into the ocean, the ibis or stay on a sinking ship.
He chose to jump. The impact was harder than anything he'd ever felt before. The sea was icy and for a moment he'd thought his heart would stop. But it didn't. He lived. He managed to stay afloat until help arrived. He was rescued. Saved. Alive. But at night - every night - he returned to the freezing waters, the fear of drowning, the sadness when thinking about the mates he'd lost, the everlasting cold around his heart. Now, the only way he could be close to the sea was on this pier.
This pier where he sat every day, hour after hour. The ocean was his life. The water was in his blood. He watched the horizon. The sun had set hours ago and yet he still sat here waiting for what he wasn't sure. All he knew, his destiny was in the sea.
Sometimes he even fell asleep on the pier. Including on the day everything changed...
He dreamed of a woman, the most beautiful woman he'd ever seen. Her long red hair was floating around her body as if she was underwater. Her eyes were the blue of the ocean, and her smile... He couldn't find words to describe her smile. She looked at him, and everything changed. The dream became brighter, happier, and the nightmarish memories were blown apart into insignificant pieces. Just like that, she stormed into his dream and into his life.
Now she was all he could think about. He sat here on the pier wishing that he could see her again, even if it was just a dream, a wish - he'd settle for a glimpse of her beautiful eyes. But every day he sat here and every day she failed to visit him. The idea of her taunted him, almost destroyed him with her perfection. He wanted to know her, he wanted to talk to her, to kiss her but he didn't even know her name. He didn't even know if she was real.
If she was real, was she thinking of him? Did he mean anything to her? All he knew was that ever since she'd appeared in his dreams, his fear of the sea had slowly started to change. It didn't disappear, but it transformed into something new. A hunger, burning and painful. With every passing day, it intensified. He no longer came to the pier to fight his fears. He came because he couldn't stay away. When he didn't sit on the slowly rotting wood, he was thinking about being there. It was like he only really came alive when he was sitting above the sea, feeling it on his skin, breathing it in. The sea was his life.
He dazed in and out of consciousness as he tried desperately to picture her in his mind. He could see her in his mind's eye as clearly as the first time he'd seen her. His eyes were closed as he pulled himself down to lie on the pier. His left leg fully immersed in the water and his hand tracing the ocean's surface. "Better be careful or someone might pull you in," a musical voice close to his ear said gently.
He slowly opened his eyes. She was there. She was really there. She existed! He smiled and she smiled back. It was the most beautiful sight he'd ever seen. Suddenly, his mouth was dry. What was he supposed to say? What do you say to a woman with the looks of an angel and the body of a - what???
He must be hallucinating. There was no way she was wearing no clothes at all. She was floating in the ocean, completely topless. Her hair was pooled around her, covering her breasts. His eyes explored every inch of her. "Come swim," she requested. I was lost. My tongue was tied as my eyes darted back to her face. She was smiling a sweet yet seductive smile. She called to him, drew him in. He'd chase her through the ocean for the rest of his life if he could just kiss her once.
As she came even closer, her hair shifted and he could see one of her full breasts. Something in him came to life, something he'd forgotten he had. "...yes..." he whispered, his voice hoarse and his breath heavy. He sat down on the edge of the pier, unaware that he was still wearing his boots and clothes. He hung his legs into the water. It was warm, and gentle, and soft, like an embrace. She smiled at him seductively. "Come with me," she asked, and his last semblance of resistance dissolved. He jumped into the water, to her.
He plunged down into the icy depths, chilling him right to his bones. When he resurfaced, he spluttered for breath and grasped out for her. He twisted as he searched for her, "please don't leave." "Where would I go?" she asked him as she swam into his view, still out of reach. He swam towards her, hoping to touch her, hold her, cling to her as if she was all he would ever need. "What's your name?"
She just smiled at him and turned around, swimming further away. His heavy wet clothes were dragging him down, and he was having trouble staying afloat. The sea was having a rough day. He fought against the waves, trying to get closer to the woman. She was swimming gently, almost floating, as if the wild sea was not troubling her at all. She was looking more beautiful with every glance he shot at her. He put all his energy into his legs, swimming as hard as he could. But whenever he seemed to be able to just about touch her, she smiled and swam away.
He didn't once look behind him. If he had, he would have realised that she had led him so far away from the pier that he wouldn't possibly be able to swim back, not wearing his boots and clothes. He considered removing them but he didn't want to lose sight of her. He didn't want her to get away. So instead he chased after her, swimming as quickly as he could. He felt his muscles weaken, the ache growing every second as he pushed them past their capabilities. She paused a little bit ahead, "come on." Her smile was heaven itself and it pushed him on. He needed to be closer to her.
She beckoned him with her ocean eyes and he followed. This was what he had been missing. The sea, the waves, the salt in his mouth. For the first time in years, he was happy. He smiled at her, his eyes full of love for the element they were both part of. Finally, she stopped, and he took her in his arms. Her lips were the colour of starfish, and they slowly came closer to his. He was breathless, and not only from exhaustion. He had never seen lips as beautiful and kissable as hers. When their mouths touched, the sea seemed to freeze for a moment, then came back to swallow them into its depths.
This was the moment his entire life had been leading to. The moment when he finally found peace in the depths of mysterious darkness and the arms of the woman he loved. Their kiss didn't end; it was deep and pure. They gripped tightly to one another as the ocean swirled around them, claiming them, becoming them. They were and always would be one with the sea.
You can find out more about my very talented co-author on her website. Be sure to also check out Author Friends with Benefits, a "family of authors" she is managing.
Scottish storyteller. Tea drinker. Cat tamer. Highland walker. Believes in unicorns and happily ever afters.