The Tides of Love by Douglas Schwarz

The sea called out to me that evening as I walked along her silver shore. She spoke no words, yet I fathomed meaning in the soft hiss of waves and the cries of gulls.

Come to me. Let us be as one again.

As though I had barely been alive until that moment, I felt my heart throb, and the blood in my veins was like a small private tide surging in the light of a wild moon. Clumsy with anticipation, I rent my garments in my haste to remove them.

A triton may take many forms: piscine, equine, serpentine. But when I chose, those many ages past, to leave the waters and walk dry land—driven by lust for a human woman—I betrayed my first and deepest love, and she has never forgiven me.

But she is immortal, and I nearly so. In time, all things are possible.

Come to me, she called again.

I had not forgotten our last encounter. Nor the many others. But who would not risk everything for what she offers me?

Naked, I entered the sea.

Her touch caressed me, warm and gentle upon my flesh like the shy hand of a new lover. I strode in deeper, and she surged and rose to meet me.

I felt my feet lift clear of the sand as if I were taking flight. A thrill akin to danger washed through me, for I was truly out of my depth.

A tide pulled me onward, deeper into her embrace. I went willingly, joyfully, abandoning myself to the reckless waves even as the sky grew darker.

We thrashed about, spray flying in the wind, playful lovers wrestling together in our passion. She was of course stronger, Formless and Eternal—but was I too not more than mortal? I gloried in my strength, straining for release…

A cold wave crashed over me, and I gasped an inadvertent breath, all white foam and stinging salt. Choking, I foundered, tumbling in the depths, disoriented, lungs burning for air. I clawed my way upward, fighting the drag of a body turned suddenly dull and heavy.

At last I broke the surface… into darkness and storm. A bolt of lightning shattered the sky, searing what little sight I had left. Thunder erupted, and massive, icy waves tossed me about like so much flotsam.

I cast about desperately, but could not see the land. I opened my mouth to cry for aid, and a fist of salt and ice smashed across my face in an unmistakable gesture of rejection.

At last a great wave caught me up and tumbled me into shallower waters. I plowed facedown into the sandy bottom, minute knives of crystal lacerating my flesh. The waning strength of my leaden arms was barely enough to drag me to the shore.

I lay unmoving on the sand, shivering with exhaustion and cold, restless waves still lapping over me. My tears ran freely, and the sea absorbed them greedily.

Yet even as I lay crying, I knew a day would come when I would hear her voice again. And on that day I would run to her, as I have always done. For who would not risk everything for what she offers me? Who would not risk everything for love?

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