By Samantha Sampson
There have been rumors about the Women of the Sea for as long as I can remember. Rumors that spoke of women passengers aboard sea vessels being drowned. Drowned by sailors who believed having a woman aboard their ship was bad luck.
Women who only wanted to sail, to explore the vast bodies of water they found so captivating.
But it was not yet the time they could freely do so.
So they paid a price for their ambition.
Their arms and legs were tied together, and they were dropped into the sea, destined to die on the ocean floor.
But they didn’t.
The ocean took pity on the women and gave them the abilities they needed to seek the revenge they lusted for so deeply.
The ocean blended the women’s legs together and granted them the ability to breathe both above and underwater.
They became creatures of both land and sea.
They were granted the ability to shed their tail and return to land to find the sailor who was responsible for drowning them. It was then the mermaid’s choice whether she took the life of the sailor or one of their son’s as revenge.
Once the mermaid had drowned their victim, they could either choose to stay a mermaid or return to their life on land. Some stayed and some left.
But this story is not about a woman who was drowned, but rather the son of the sailor who did so.
Alexander’s father was a sailor, an “explorer” he liked to call himself. Alex liked to call himself an explorer as well. Ever since he was little, he enjoyed exploring the woods and swimming in the ocean. He hoped to one day be a sailor, just like his father.
It was just another day when Alex was doing some errands for his mother in town.
After he had picked up the items he needed, he began the walk back to his home. That was when a girl, who appeared to be around his age, 17 or 18, ran towards him.
“HEY! YOU!” the girl pointed to Alex, “Are you Alexander Cornelius?” she asked once she was in front of him.
“Uh…” Alex studied the girl. Her hair and clothes were soaking wet as if she had just poured a bucket of water on herself.
“Do I know you?”
The girl shook her head, sending droplets of water onto Alex.
“Then how do you know my name?”
The girl smiled, “Oh! So you ARE Alexander Cornelius, then.”
“Yes, I am,” Alex answered cautiously.
The girl clapped her hands together, “Lovely!” She grabbed his hand and started pulling him towards the beach.
He yanked his hand back, causing her to stumble backwards.
“Why were you looking for me?”
The girl blinked and stayed silent for a moment as if she were planning her response. Her smile faded and she tilted her head, “I don’t know.”
Alex raised an eyebrow, “What do you mean, you don’t know?”
“I mean, I don’t remember why I was looking for you.” The girl paused, “Now that I think about it, I don’t remember anything.”
Alex gently pressed the back of his hand against the girl’s forehead. “Well, you don’t appear to be sick.” He removed his hand and looked down at her dripping clothes.
“Why are you so wet?”
The girl gestured to the beach, “I woke up in the water and the only thing I could remember was the name, Alexander Cornelius.”
Alex was starting to grow suspicious of the girl.
“How did you know I was Alexander Cornelius?”
“I recognized you.”
“But I thought you said you didn’t remember anything?”
The girl shook her head, “Except for you.”
Alex glanced around trying to catch a glimpse of anyone nearby. He was confident this was some type of prank.
When he didn’t see anyone, he looked back to the girl, “I’m sorry, but I can’t help you.” He started to walk past the girl, but she set a hand on his shoulder.
“You are an only son, am I correct? You have 4 sisters, Beth, Mary, Amelia, and Dahlia. Your mother’s name is Anne, and your father’s name is Julius,” the girl whispered in his ear.
Alex stumbled away from her, “You said you didn’t remember anything.”
The girl smiled eerily, “I don’t.”
He was convinced that this was a joke or some kind of prank. Either that or this girl was delusional.
Alex laughed, but the girl didn’t.
“Come with me, Alexander, and I will show you the wonders of the ocean.”
Alex’s eyes went wide and the blood drained from his face. He remembered the legends his mother would tell him and his sisters before bedtime. The legends spoke of women who had been drowned by sailors, coming back for revenge. They returned to inflict the same fate upon the sailors and the sons of the sailors.
It would explain why this girl was wet and why she knew so much about his family.
Alex slowly backed away from the girl, “I know what you are. You are not going to take me,” he said, his voice trembling.
The girl shrugged, “Then I’ll take your mother and sisters.”
“You can only take the sons or the sailor themselves, not the women!”
“I can take anyone I want…” she said, her voice disturbingly calm. “…but it is the men of the family that can restore my legs.”
Alex gestured to her legs, “But you already have legs.”
The girl looked at her legs and smiled, “I do, but the ocean has only given them to me so I can get the revenge I seek. Once I have killed you, I will be fully human once again.”
“Leave my family alone. Taking my mother and sisters won’t help you,” Alex argued.
The girl seemed to ponder this for a minute, “But on the contrary, I will take your sisters one by one, and will eventually take your mother. I will do this until you give yourself up to me.”
As much as Alex hated to think about the words coming out of his mouth, he said it anyways, “Why don’t you take my father?”
The girl looked shocked at such a comment, but she managed to regain her blank expression.
“Sometimes loss inflicts more pain than death.” She coldly smiles, “Now what will it be, Alexander? You, or your family?”
Alex glared at her before turning and sprinting as fast as he could towards his home.
As soon as Alex reached his home, he threw open the door and ran inside, immediately getting to work on barricading the door. He pushed the kitchen table in front of the door before heading into the kitchen to warn his mother and sisters about the oncoming threat.
But they weren’t there.
In a panic, Alex tore through the house calling their names.
No one responded.
He searched every nook and cranny he knew of in their tiny two-room house.
But they weren’t there.
They were gone.
That was when he heard a knock on the door.
Alex ran to the door, pushed aside the table, and threw the door open, expecting to see his family.
But on the other side of the door awaited the threat that he was so desperate to hide from.
She looked over Alex’s shoulder into the mess of a house.
She laughed, “Well, I see you’ve been busy.”
Alex narrowed his eyes, “Where. Is. My. Family?”
The girl took a step away from the door and gestured to the beach below the hill on which the house sat upon.
“Take a look for yourself,” the girl said.
Cautiously, Alex looked out the door down to where the girl was pointing. He gasped in horror.
Just off the beach were 3 women who looked like they all could be sisters. They were knee-deep in the water and were leading Alex’s mother and sisters farther and farther out to sea.
Alex looked to the girl with wide eyes, “What have you done to them?”
The girl shrugged, “The ocean sang a song to them, convinced them to join my sisters and I in the sea.” She leaned towards him, “You can stop it, Alexander. All you have to do is listen to the same song.”
“If all it takes is a simple song, then why didn’t you use it on me in the first place?” he snapped.
“It’s better this way, giving you the option of choosing your death. It’s more… exhilarating, watching you give into your inevitable doom.”
Alex shivered at the fact that the girl had said all of that with a smile on her face. She was enjoying this messed up game she and her sisters were playing.
“Please don’t do this,” Alex begged.
His sisters were almost up to their necks in the water, his mother was chest-deep.
“Just say the word, Alexander. And all of this will stop,” the girl insisted.
His sisters were now up to their chin.
Alex didn’t want to die.
He wanted to live.
But that would be selfish, and Alex had been selfish his whole life.
Alex loved his sisters; he loved his mother. He wanted them to live a happy life.
“WAIT!” Alex yelled.
He knew what he had to do.
He had to pay the price for his father’s sins.
The girl shouted something to her sisters. His mother and sisters stopped walking.
Alex turned to the girl, “I don’t want them to remember me.”
The girl nodded, “I can make that happen.” The girl began to sing, and his family started to retreat towards the beach, but Alex interrupted her.
“No, I mean…. I don’t want them to remember that I’m responsible for their drowning.”
The girl looked shocked, “What are you saying?”
Alex sighs, “I mean, that as much as I love my mother and sisters, I can’t die. Not now. I have so much I want to do with my life. So take them, make them one of your own, but don’t let them remember me.”
The girl scoffed, “You and your father are the same.” She looked at him with disgust, “I will take them, but only to give them a better life away from here. But I will not take their memories of you. They deserve to know who chose this fate for them.”
The girl looked at Alex one last time before she left to join her sisters.
She said something to them, then his family continued their descent into the sea.
Two months had passed since the incident, and the guilt was already starting to fade. Alex had assured himself that he had done the right thing after all. He may have had to sacrifice his mother and sisters, but he justified his decision by reminding himself that one man was worth much more than 5 women.
Alex was waiting for his father to return home from his latest trip when he heard a knock on the door. He slowly got up and walked towards it. It was a gross underestimation to say he wasn’t eager to tell his father that his wife and daughters were gone.
He dragged his feet as he approached the door. He slowly opened it, not expecting by any means, to see what awaited him on the other side.
“Mother? Beth, Mary, Amelia, Dahlia?” Alex stared wide-eyed at his sisters and mother. “How?” he smiled as he lurched forward to hug his mother, only to realize that she was soaking wet.
He retreated to the door. All of his sisters were wet as well.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“You were selfish, Alexander,” Beth said.
“You sacrificed all five of us just so you could stay alive,” Mary said.
Alex backed into the house. “I-I’m sorry,” he stuttered, “I did what I had to do.”
Mother took a step forward and the sisters followed.
Before Alex could react, they grabbed his arms and dragged him down the hill and towards the beach.
Towards the water.
“What are you doing!?” Alex yelled.
“What we have to do,” Amelia responded.
Alex fought against his kin as they carried him to the water, realizing what they were planning on doing.
They were going to drown him so they could have their lives back.
“YOU’RE MAKING A MISTAKE!” he screamed.
But by then it was far too late.
His sister bound his arms and legs together just as had been done to all those women from voyages of the past, while his mother tied a piece of cloth around his head and mouth to muffle his screaming.
“You should have taken the girl’s deal,” Dahlia said. “Your death would have been much more painless.”
The sisters and mother transformed into mermaids, giving them the ability to bring Alex to the deepest part of the ocean.
Once they arrived, they said one last goodbye before releasing his body to the sea.
Alex screamed in horror as he sunk farther and farther into the depths of the frigid water. He watched from below as his mother and sisters swam around with glee.
Eventually, he couldn’t hold his breath any longer and his lungs burned with the sudden intake of saltwater.
His limp body was engulfed by darkness as it hit the ocean floor.
But Alexander Cornelius was one victim even the ocean refused to save.