I pressed my weight against the edge and leaned forward to watch the waves as they crashed against the side of the ship. I observed them as they lulled for a moment, caressing the wood as they returned to the sea. There was something so admirable about they way they continued to storm at us with confidence, only to sink back down upon defeat, and start the process all over again. Never losing dignity. Never giving up.
She reminded me of the sea. I can still picture the glistening of her eyes as I indulged in those watery pools for the first time, each one sparkling a delicious emerald. She was standing on the other side of the rocks when I noticed her. She had been watching me, waiting for me to look up. She was hardly a few feet away, and yet I remember she appeared so distant. In fact, it remained a constant quality of hers. I never really knew where she was.
As I straightened up she held out her hand. Her index finger was pointed, luring me closer to her. As she beckoned me to move forward, I found myself almost shuffling along the sand towards her; I had become hypnotised, charmed like a snake.
She told me her name, asked me to accompany her on her voyage. I said yes. I don't know why I said yes. Perhaps I thought I'd like to be a pirate. But I could never have been a pirate. I was a fraud, fabricating my dedication to the ocean and the battle and the clan – anything to be close to her. Anything to convince myself that she cared about me.
Had I refused her offer, I never would have experienced the sweetest songs she created every time she spoke. Her accent was soft, musical; each individual note echoed the vast beauty of her diction. She rarely said anything when we were sailing – she was so often silent - but I enjoyed the rare times when she did speak to me.
I'd plucked up the courage to ask her if there had been any others. Anybody like me. “Buachaill beag!” was all she replied, her words thick with venom. This was the only time she ever mentioned her husband. I never found out if there'd ever been any crew for the ship; I was always too scared to ask her. Perhaps she had spent all her life travelling on her own.
She was lonely. That had to be the only reason she asked me to join her. I was there to serve her. Obey her. And I would be lying if I said I hadn't savoured every last second of the time I spent with her.
Though there came a time when I was beginning to grow weary of her ways. I started to realise that I meant nothing to her; I was just something she could order around and manipulate. She knew the powers she had over me. She knew I couldn't say no.
I allowed myself to lean a little further over the edge of the ship. I used to find the sea breeze so refreshing as it swirled around me, lifting me up from the inside. But now it seemed to produce a bitter taste in my mouth as it tried to force me away. I could spend hours watching Grace as she controlled the wheel of the ship. Her long hair, dark and waved down her back, would dance around in the wind; no matter how fierce the storm was, her hair always seemed to cascade in perfect condition. It was one of her few elements that was allowed to move freely. From time to time the wind would tickle the bottom of her skirt, causing the soft chestnut-coloured material to kiss her delicate ankles. Otherwise she would be motionless, her gaze locked on the water, her hands clasped firmly on the wheel.
I often wondered what she was thinking during those moments. Perhaps she wasn't thinking about anything at all. I never knew how she was feeling, or how she perceived things. She never opened up. Though there was a time when she made me feel so alive. It was as if nothing else, or nobody else, mattered any more; I lived for Grace.
She was beautiful. Every time she looked into my eyes, or brushed past me, my soul became ignited by this ethereal vision. But time rendered my emotions numb. The sadness that was left in me was slowly fading away, disappearing drop by drop as each tear rolled down my cheeks, falling into the water below to lose itself forever.
I blinked away the desolation and dried my eyes with back of my hand. The wind was beginning to pick up and the darkness of the night had crept in above me. A few stars had started to appear, twinkling brilliantly as if they were encouraging me to proceed. Grace had abandoned our journey for the night with nothing but the sea surrounding us, and had already disappeared to her bed. But I needed to say goodnight to her. I needed to say goodbye.
I began to tiptoe down the stairs, running my hands along the uneven wall to feel my way down the narrow passage to where she slept. As I approached her door, I could hear her breathing. I listened for a moment as she inhaled lightly, before releasing her breath with an innocent sigh. As I walked into the room I noticed how vulnerable she looked as she lay there in the dark, a thin sliver of light from the window at the top trickling onto her pillow to softly illuminate her face. I padded across to her bed and knelt down by her side. I sat there for a moment, just watching her. Watching her the way she'd watched me.
Taking the corner of her bed sheet in between my fingers, I pulled it forward just enough for the material to brush over Grace's bare skin. She lay there in a thin night dress that was once so white and pure, now tainted with age. For a moment I did nothing but observe her chest rising, allowing my eyes to become fixed as she breathed in, and out.
Leaning forward, my shadow spilled over the light as I approached her face. Though not wanting to wake her, I ran the side of my finger over her left cheek, following the lines of her high cheekbones, tracing the hollow shape. Faint little patches of pink sat on either side of her face, the natural blush standing out against her pale skin.
Grace stirred as I moved my fingers down towards her neck. I knew I'd have to act fast before she woke up. But how I longed to pierce her naked flesh, to sink my teeth into the poison apple. Turning my attention away from her head, I nudged at her night dress to expose her stomach. I couldn't resist pressing my lips lightly on her bare skin, just above her navel, if only for a moment. For so long I'd yearned for the touch of her body against my own. I'd entered euphoria; no matter what happened now, it'd all be worth it.
I reached for the sword that rested by the bed. Grace's sword. I held it still in my hand, pressing my fingers against the cold metal of the blade. I wondered how many men Grace had defeated with this sword, how many men lay buried beneath her fingernails. I was certain no woman lay there; she wouldn't bless me with such a privilege. The room was silent as I lowered the sword towards her, hovering it above her as I gazed once more upon her sleeping face. She looked so peaceful.
I forced the blade into Grace's stomach. The room became smothered in her wail, masking the sound of the sword as it sliced through the smooth, taut surface. I looked up at her and watched as her eyes flashed at me, staring into her watering shining emeralds before they fell shut for the last time. A river of crimson had started to pour out of her, dirtying her milky white flesh. I pulled her closer to me and pressed the bed sheet between us to barricade the wound. I held her tightly for a moment, before clasping my own hand in hers. It had turned cold, lifeless.
She had once been mighty by land and sea, but now she lay wilted in my arms. I drew my face closer to hers, slightly parting her lips with a finger. I allowed my tongue to search for her own, and upon the union, I indulged. I drank the metallic essence of my own corruption, sucking at the blood straight from Grace's mouth; it filled me, drenching the last of my purity. Finally I had her in me, finally she had become part of me. She'd given me what I'd always longed for. I loved Grace the day I met her. I loved her every day since.
And now she will be with me forever.