Blood & Water
by Alethea Kontis
Love is the reason for many a wonderful and horrible thing.
It was the reason I lived, there in the Deep, in the warm embrace of the ocean
where Mother Earth's crust spread and gave molten birth to the world. Its soul was
Love is the reason she came to me in the darkness, that brave sea maiden. I
remember the taste of her bravery, the euphoric sweetness of her fear. It came to
me on wisps of current past the scattered glows of the predators.
The other predators.
Her chest contracted and I felt the sound waves cross the water, heard them with an
organ so long unused I had thought it dead.
Help me, she said. I love him.
The white stalks of the bloodworms curled about her tail. We had a common
purpose, the worms and I. We were both barnacles seeking the same fix, clinging
desperately to the soul of the world. Their crimson tips brushed her stomach, her
shoulders. They could feel it in her, feel her soul in the blood that coursed through
her veins. I felt it too. I yearned for it. A quiet memory waved in the tide. I was a
maiden, too. Once.
My answer was slow, deliberate. How much do you love him, little anemone?
More than life itself, she answered.
She had said the words.
I had not asked her to bring the memories, the pain. There is no time in the Deep,
only darkness. I could but guess at how much had passed since those words had
been uttered this far down. Until that moment, I had never been sure if the magic
would come to me. Those words were the catalyst, the spark that lit the flame.
Flame. Another ancient memory.