What to do with an unfaithful husband?
This is a question that I have long asked myself. Do I take it
out upon him, smite him with my wrath? Should I send the legions
of the deep against him and watch as he fights for his immortal
life? No, that isn't my way and of course there is always the
question whether he really is unfaithful. I had to find out.
I changed, felt my skin shift and twist, allowed my bones to
crack and move. I let my jaws lengthen, my teeth sharpen, my eyes
blacken, I glided along the belly of the ocean, so far from where
the sun falls, and I saw him. He drew his chariot up and out of
the water, its wheels thundering against the waves, the
hippokampoi rearing out of the sea, their manes tossing in the
salty spray, their tails thrashing. The golden leaf of his
chariot glimmered in the sun and he bore his trident high into
the world of land and air. Love is never so triumphant as this.
Once he sought me out with this chariot. His features were
younger then, his hair ebony not ivory and he only had two
hippokampoi, his chariot was of shell. Look how it changes when
you marry someone of influence. I gave him those extra
hippokampoi, their manes writhing, their tails sparkling emerald
scale. My neriedes dug him the gold for that chariot which now he
rides to another woman.
My sisters would not be impressed.
But who was this other woman? Was she more beautiful than I? I
watched him leave the chariot in the shallows of my home, leave
the hippokampoi snorting at their reflections in the shinning
rock pools, and take that other woman into his arms. She was
beautiful. She had the fairest of hair, a light, dusty gold that
framed her round face in delicate ringlets, her lips full and
scarlet in colour, her eyes the deepest blue. That should have
been a warning for him, the colour of his home, the colour of
moonlit waters and of unknown depths. But my husband was never
the thoughtful one, only passionate to the extreme.
When he saw me dancing with my sisters around the coral of the
bay, all those years ago, all he could think of was how much he
loved me. He must have sat there a long time between the rubys
and the emeralds of the reef. He must have been injured by the
sharp sting of the sea anemone, the nip of the knuckle-shell
crab, felt the soft sands sift between his toes and his fingers
while he watched us. We had danced all day and all night, we had
let out the pearly pins in our jade hair and it floated in clouds
around us, entangling the silvery bubbles of laughter and song
that spewed from our lips. The reef adored us and sang to us in
tunes beyond the mortal ear, the lament of the whales to the joy
of the dolphins guided our steps upon the sand.
Did he hear any such song around this other woman?
In truth she would be my sister. In kinship I knew her not,
nymphs of the land were not nerieds of the sea. And what did he
see in her? She was not as beautiful as I am or were, she did not
make him wait, make him long for her touch, she did not sing to
him and she did not give him the life I did. He did not love her,
he lusted after her. There was a difference.
So I slid beneath the churning waves and swam back along the
darkened crags to our home in the crevices of the deep. My father
bequeathed me the castle of gold, gold so bright that it shone in
the water of this dark and gloomy place, its high fortresses of
coral and its buttresses of stone. He gave me my gifts over the
sea and its creatures, my ability to be either one at any moment.
But my husband took these gifts and bound them to his trident so
that when he was angry the sea exploded in froth and wave
and yet at a moments notice be calm and steady as a ripple.
Then why did I marry such a man?
In the beginning I was afraid of my husband. He chased me from
my sisters and I fled from him across the wide planes of the
ocean to the ends of the earth. He was persistent, sending spies
in the form of dolphins after me. One such dolphin was the spy
Delphinus. Delphinus persuaded me to love my husband to see his
handsome face and his gallant nature, his gentle touch but strong
visage. Delphinus told me that Poseidon would be a magnificent
king and loyal husband. Well, he is not the loyal husband and on
seeing him with that woman I wondered how magnificent a king he
In the beginning I had no plan or strategy. As I talked to my
sisters though I realised that I was not doing this just for me.
I had to consider my baby son, not yet a year old, and already
another heir may have been spawned in the womb of that other
woman. I would not have my son fight for his right to be king.
So it was decided that she was to be disposed of.
My sisters and I knew the sea as the fishes knew the sea. We
travelled to the four corners of the earth to gather the
ingredients for my plan. Sulphur from the volcanoes of the
Atlantic trenches, blood of a whale, bone of a nurse shark, scale
of hippokampoi . Seaweed from the gardens of the palace, lush and
green, and shells from the sea shore, little caskets of dead
creatures long forgotten in the whirls of water and sand. Infused
them in a vessel of mother of pearl under a full moon. Add the
hair of a dead fisherman, drowned by a siren, their lament still
ringing in those dead ears. The last touch to this is a touch
most personal. It must be given vengefully and taken willingly.
I had to meet her.
Cutting deep into my own tail I rubbed salt in the stinking
wound. My scales became skin and I walked out of the sea to meet
my husband's lover. My sisters dragged themselves onto the rocks,
their silvery tails flapping, their golden eyes blinking, their
lips laughing. They wanted to watch my act.
She bowed low and long. I plied her with false niceties until she
smiled, a mouth gleaming with a full set of pearly teeth. Of
course she would take a gift from the queen of the sea, how
generous her highness was, how beautiful. Add them to the water,
I said, they will make you the most beautiful of all the land
nymphs. This small bag of trinkets will join you with the man you
most desire. Her greedy slender fingers took the bag from my
grasp and her eyes were that of a starved creature.
I bade her farewell and allowed the foamy fingers of the waves to
bare me down to my kingdom. When I reached my palace I danced on
the marble floors, I twirled amongst the glowing, pulsating jelly
fish and I waltzed up to our bedroom. I seized my son and held
him close to my flesh and he giggled bubbles of silver. I set him
in front of my mirror and strung black pearls around my slender
neck, Poseidon's wedding gift from Atlantis.
"Don't you think your mother is beautiful Triton?" I asked my
infant boy and he gargled happily at the mirror.
I picked up the trident, in all its glory and laid it in my boy's
fingers. The pink and white conch at the top of the trident
hummed happily, sending ripples around us. Triton held the thing
aloft and I could see for a split second the man he would become.
It made me smile.
The door to my bedroom burst open and sharks fled chaotically
through them, agitated as their master. Poseidon's white hair
floated around him and a dark spark danced in his eyes.
"Amphitrite! There is a Kraken at the shore line, the mortals are
in danger. The mer-folk have fled from its terrible form. I have
never seen anything more hideous and dark in my seas."
"All creatures of the ocean should be welcomed by their king." I
"This creature is not of this world and I will not have it
pollute my home or my family."
"Then you know what you have to do my Lord." I said as I passed
him the trident which throbbed in my fingers "You must rid us of
Let lessons be taught, let lessons be learned. The sea is a cruel
mistress but hell hath no fury as a wife scorned.