Today I’m sharing the very beginning of my book with y’all. In part because I wrote the prologue of Stay years before fleshing out the novel.
She walks amid the soft gray mist, the fog that rises up from the dew-softened earth. Her lover’s arms wrap round her, draw her to his broad chest, and she clings to him in return. And as always, I watch them from afar, from the lone north shore from behind the docks, listening to the creak of the wooden ship at my back and gentle lapping of waves caressing its hull. Overhead, seagulls cry as the sun begins to slip into its sea bed, casting a glow over the waters until they look to be on fire.
His lips caress hers and they walk together along the sands, towards the cottage stilted upon the rocks.
Relief floods me, completes me as I share in their satisfaction. The luminous cord, invisible to their eyes but ever present to mine, has repaired itself. At last he has given into his feelings for her and put aside his pride. This time took me longer than expected, but this moment makes everything I have done worth it.
Or so I tell myself. I try to ignore the stab of bitter jealousy in my heart. I feel this every time I succeed, whether I want to or not, because their love burns me. As always I watch, cursed to never feel such emotion again by the very man I loved.
I slip into the waters easily, my skin ready to burst with its newfound freedom and the ecstasy of the cool sea as I watch them from the drifting surface. The curse still lies heavily upon me and with it I am incapable of ignoring their feelings for one another. Even from here I see the brilliance of the invisible golden thread tying them together, glowing like the morning sun. When they listened to their doubts and fears, the thread was weak, likely to snap any second. But now it is twisted and tied so tightly I can’t tell where one ends and the other begins. They are one now, as they were meant to be.
From my vantage point on the waterfront I watch them hold one another upon the front porch of their cottage home. Always watching and wondering, I want to ask the unseen power that governs us whether their love is true. So long it has been since I last tasted the ecstasy of true love that I can scarcely remember now. Is it only an apparition, as I have witnessed so often through the ages? A midnight flight of passion, treasured words, looks, touch—all is meaningless to me now.
But once you were like her, young, hopeful. Until the dream was shattered, that is.
We will know soon enough. The cord binding them may be tight, but the true test is coming. Trials never fail to come, by mine or some divine hand. Already I can feel its forces stirring far in the ocean behind me, pushing the waves in rougher breaks along the shore.
Oblivious, they smile and joke upon their whitewashed porch, watching as the sun rises with pink and purple and golden brilliance. At first they do not see the harsh clouds gathering overhead, nor the high mountainous waves gathering in the far distance. But I do, as I know the being responsible for those waves and this test.
I have often wondered if my curse truly is nothing more than a mockery of my love for him. I give of myself to protect these lovers, but in the end nature will be the one to trigger my curse. Will the magic inside of me rise up to save them? Or will it sweep them away to a tragic, albeit romantic death?
In the beginning I did not hesitate to shake my fists at those clouds. The creator isn’t responsible for this. It is him, the being who has been given certain powers and, in my experience, done nothing but abuse them. I loved him deeply once for his darkness and strength, his power that can rival the most violent of hurricanes. He told me we would live forever. He promised me the sea, his world, all to do our bidding.
The glory of dawn fades around us but the couple only has eyes for each other. So they don’t see the colors drain from the skies and the waters and seep beneath my skin instead. Sunlight fills my bones and my soul, until I am bursting with new light, so my eyes reflect the glory of the skies. The waters are gentle around me, even as the winds begin to pull them in harsh circles, drawing them tighter, higher.
I know the lovers notice the change when I feel the sudden spike of their emotions prickling at the back of my neck. Fear is in their hearts though he shelters her in his embrace. And she is comforted, though in truth he is just as powerless as she. And the dark clouds descend, closing the distance between the calm and storm at an alarming rate. Rain pours over us and the waters churn and swell. I can feel the sea’s anger, its great fury, and its need.
I turn back, towards the house by the sea. They have made no attempt to flee to safety, even as the seas grow and the waves turn out a great roar. I can’t help but wonder if it is all worth it. Perhaps they are better off dead? Will they not be happier with their lives ending in the throes of true love, rather than watching the love eventually fade and burn up to ashes? Life is so much crueler than they understand.
Yet miraculously, their cord only glimmers brighter with its own light. In this moment, I know that their love will last. Their devotion will never fade.
Aching within my heart and ignoring that old pang of sorrow that they have found what I must ever forgo, I can feel the color amid the black and gray dawn pour into me, shine through the calm waters about me and the rain. The power of the curse sings above the winds, whispering my instructions, and I take the first stroke towards the cottage. I am pulled towards them, hating that it is his song that compels me to obey when I detest it.
“Cursed,” he once cried in a fit of rage. His temper has always been as restless and unpredictable as the sea itself. But his words had power behind them and I felt the effects instantly. Too late to take it back.
Pain such as I once could not dream of in my human youth and ecstasy such as none could fathom fill my being as I swim towards them. With unnatural strength I push through the wild waters parting easily against my sides, urging me faster.
Tears glisten in her almond eyes. I can see them clearly now as they trickle down her cheek and blend with the rain. His hand shelters her head, in spite of the fear in his heart. He stands firm for her and defiantly for them both.
The waves are growing in strength and so I call upon the wind to push harder and faster. I lift up my arms and am gathered up into the core of a high ocean wave, a high wall of pure water and a force of nature within itself. Color and light surrounds and fills me as I keep my arms outstretched towards them and welcome the pain. Light shines from every pore of my skin, shimmering and changing, inconstant as dawn until dusk.
I watch as their eyes grow wide, disbelieving, as the wave guides me to hover just above the whitewashed porch, mere inches before their faces. I prepare myself for the pain I’m about to embrace and sigh when the air between us shimmers as though lit with a thousand tiny stars. Time stands still in our tiny protected sphere, while rushing madly outside of the captured air.
My body trembles with the effort to hold firm against the hurricane pounding against my back. Despite the sting I do not stop. Instead I focus on their faces, the ones I’ve been led by a higher power to save. Relief, terror and awe emanate from their eyes as the ocean roars around us and shakes the tender foundations of the wooden cottage built upon the rocks. As always I know they will live happily ever after as I never could.
I stand until I can stand no more, until only the spray of harsh winds billows on. Only then am I convinced they will be safe and allow the waters to carry me back down to the rocks. They cave into one another as I limp back into the sea and allow myself to fade from their sight.
Soon I am strong enough to walk upon the shore once more and the colors I stole from the world around me shine yet from my eyes, ingrained upon my skin. Eventually they will fade, when I am pulled to my next mission, my next task.
As I walk away I can still feel echoes of their love. One day they will answer, when others ask how they survived, that they cannot remember what happened when the hurricane came to take them. They’ll push the memory of me away until it is nothing more than a vague dream. Perhaps it is best they remain ignorant of a hidden world they can never see.
I know I will never forget their faces, the ones I managed to save and those I failed. And as always as I walk on alone I can already feel others in the distance.
“Cursed,” he once said, striking his words upon me to satisfy his own fears. I will be with him forever, he says, yet not in the way I wanted.
Always I am doomed to walk the earth and seas, to find love and protect it. The one joy I can never feel again, I am cursed to preserve at all costs. Always to watch and never be seen, never touch. Always I will remain unchanged until I am freed.
My name is Orona and this is my tale.
To read more, Click on the Stay tab above and follow the links!