Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Longing - A Short Story


Every morning the waves rose to greet the sun for a new day in the ancient city of Alexandria. And each day, the sun embraced the waves and its inhabitants as it rose to announce the coming of the new day.
Every morning Kreer rose with the waves and his eyes rested on the same place; the Qayet Bay Castle.

It was many years ago when he walked the halls of that majestic castle. He had even seen the establishment of the famous Alexandria lighthouse and with much sadness saw its destruction when the earthquake hit the ancient city.

Now the Qayet Bay Castle stood where the wondrous lighthouse had once stood. Every morning he rises to gaze upon the Castle. His heart beat for the memories he had there. For in that Castle was where he met the love of his life, Yasmine, a beautiful and breathtaking dark-skinned Egyptian woman.
Yasmine was a tour guide who came to the Castle often to show the world its beauty. Kreer would come to meet her after she finished work.

But that was many years ago. He lost count for he didn’t age as Yasmine and humans did.
He remembered the day she professed her love for him.

‘Kreer,’ she said, ‘there’s something I want to tell you.’
They were holding hands while taking a stroll inside the Castle after closing hours. He had taken her to the balcony overlooking the sea. The night air was fresh and slightly salty with a full moon shining proudly over the water.
‘Kreer,’ she began again, her face blushing as she looked down then up to meet his eyes, ‘I’m in love with you!’
His heart beat strong in his chest at the sound of those words. She touched his face and he closed his eyes and rested his head on her hand.
She had stood on her tiptoes and kissed his cheek then his neck.
He could feel her excitement.
He wrapped his arms around her waist and laid her head against his chest.
But it didn’t seem enough. She wanted more.

Kreer was old in life not in years. He did want to spend his life with her but he did not know much about humans let alone women, and Yasmine’s excitement scared him.
As a Merman, he had had crushes on other Mermaids before but Yasmine was the first human; and though mingling with humans was not well thought of, Kreer did it often for he could easily come and go between the two worlds as he pleased.

Yasmine was about 30 at the time. An age frowned upon by society even if opportunity had not presented itself and even though a man of the same age was considered young. Kreer did not quite get that part.

As he wrapped his arms around her, she tiptoed again to kiss him more. He felt her desire on her lips, enjoyed them immensely but was equally afraid for Yasmine did not know he was not human. They had been seeing each other for several months but Kreer had not told her much about himself. He told her that he was from a well to do family that was travelling most of the time and that he lived and worked in Alexandria. Yasmine had shared some of her secrets with him but he hadn’t shared his biggest secret with her. Part of him feared her reaction, another part feared she would let his secret out. He trusted her but because his knowledge of humans was not of expert level not even intermediate, he had his doubts; those same doubts that ruined many of his relationships with Mermaids.

She was acting childishly, or so he thought. 

The sea had bred him strong and slightly cold. Yasmine, on the other hand, was high with excitement and longing then. A kiss would have excited and calmed her at the same time. So it was with women. But Kreer did not know that. He wanted to calm her but did not know how. He also did not truly know much about human love and desire. Merpeople had desires but they were never as strong, stormy or sudden as human desires.
He just held her.

‘Kreer! Do you understand what I’m saying? I love you and I don’t want to spend another moment without you!’
She was excited still but fear and frustration had begun to creep in. Again, she kissed his neck, but he didn’t seem to feel or rather understand what that meant. She felt like she was kissing handsome rock.
Where had his feelings gone? She had felt them before. What was going on?

Yasmine had been heartbroken before. When she met Kreer, she was scared but he had calmed her and eased her previous pain. He did not talk much but he had this soothing and calming effect that lingered with her.

He could hear her heartbeats screaming when they first stood under the moon and she told him how she felt. Bit by bit, her heartbeats began to slow till they were at normal pace.

It was at that moment that Yasmine backed away from him, looking at him as a puppy looks at a fully grown wolf.
‘What is wrong with you?’ Her voice had changed. It was angry, scared and uncertain.

‘Yas-’, he began but she cut him short. ‘Don’t Yasmine me! What’s the matter with you? Here I am dying to be with you. I’ve been counting the hours till our meeting and here you stand as cold and as silent as stone.’
Her voice was rising and he saw anger in her eyes. He didn’t understand why, but guessed it was his lack of emotions compared to her.

‘If you’ve been playing with my feelings all this time –’, she began but overwhelmed she stopped.
‘No. No. I haven’t been playing with your feelings. I care about you,’ he told her. The word ‘love’ was not something he had heard before amongst Merpeople, and all he knew was what he felt through her. When she professed her love, he felt her tingling desirous emotions. She wanted him. And that was all he knew about love; all he had come to know about love, in his long life, a few minutes before.

‘Care?’ Her tone was venomous.
‘Care? No love? Nothing?’
‘You have to understand. I’m not like you.’ His words were poison.

He did not mean it. Now was not the time to tell her that he was a Merman but there was no other way to explain why he acted this way.
‘Let me show you,’ he said, taking her hand. She pulled away.

He heard her heart beat differently. He’d never heard a human heart beat like that before.
‘Yasmine, what’s wrong? Why is your heart beating like that?’
‘May be because you’re breaking it!’

Tears were forming in her eyes. She looked away, burying her face in her hands.
He came from behind and held her.
‘I’m not human. Please believe me.’ He whispered.
She whimpered.  
‘Will you just let me show you?’ He pleaded, ‘please?’
She was not convinced, but might as well see whatever it is he was saying. Her heart was broken anyway, what did it matter if he turned out to be another liar with a better excuse.

She nodded silently, but tears were already streaming down her cheeks.
She turned around slowly. He was already standing at the edge with the sea banging against the castle walls.
He took off his shirt and jumped into the dark water.
Yasmine screamed and went to the wall to look. Seconds seemed like eons but finally Kreer’s head and torso appeared unharmed.

‘Look!’ he called out, and dived again. As he did, Yasmine did not see legs and feet but a beautiful silvery-turquoise tail fin. Her sadness turned into awe and surprise.
She gaped.
‘Come down,’ he called out.
‘I’m scared. I’ll come from the shore,’ she answered.

She raced down the castle steps, doing her best not to fall and break her neck.
The shore was empty. It must have been quite late. Yasmine took off her sandals and put her feet in the water. Freezing was not the word to describe it but she didn’t know any words colder than ‘freezing’.
‘Kreer!’ She called out, but her voice was lost over the late night wind.
‘KREER!’ She said at the top of her voice as she took a few more steps in.
Now her whole body was shaking and she felt as though her legs were going numb from the cold.

Kreer appeared in the distance. The tide was getting stronger. He edged towards her but for some reason she wouldn’t come forward to meet him. 
Strong tides were harder to swim against but then again it was something he was used to and no longer considered dangerous.
She moved in more, trying to fight the growing tide. The water was a little over her waist now. ‘Kreer, I’m scared.’
‘I can’t come that far with my tail fin. You have to come to me. I’ll keep you safe.’

She wasn’t sure what to do. But he hadn’t intentionally broken heart; he was in fact different. As she debated and turned the thoughts over in her head, several massive waves came down on her like an avalanche, while the tide pulled her from underneath. She dived, came up to take a breath and was pulled down again.
It was only then that Kreer realised that the water was too strong for his beautiful flower. He inched as much as he could but the tide worked against him too. He had reached the utmost he could but Yasmine was nowhere to be seen. He called out at the top of his voice but to no avail. He dived and searched for her and still nothing.

As the sea began to calm, he saw something floating in the distance. A lump formed in his chest and he swam as fast as he could. It was Yasmine, or her lifeless body at least.
He screamed and cursed in all the languages and tongues he knew.

It was then that he knew what heartbreak felt like. That day he tasted fury and bitterness. That day he hated the sea. He had heard humans speak of the sea as treacherous but had never believed it – not until that day when the sea took his life away. That day, he understood. And he has never forgiven the sea since.