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
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 was.
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 said.
“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 such evil.”
Let lessons be taught, let lessons be learned. The sea is a cruel mistress but hell hath no fury as a wife scorned.
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