Everything below the cut-tag is by Sterling.
Today is my wedding day. I am joyful and hopeful, but...a part of me doubts. This is my seventh marriage, you see. Seven. A lucky number. I adjust the veil so that it lies just so. Six times before I took a chance on love. From each of those doomed relationships, I bore a child I will never see again. I know, I know...but it is complicated. And so, in order to find that peace and love, I take a chance again. Lucky number seven, no?
It's almost time. His sister, Helen, is with me as my Matron of Honor. None of my family could come. They never can and it is always so hard to see my side of the church empty. I have a few sisters who are happily married but they are so busy with their children, and they are afraid of what I represent. Failure. No matter how careful I have been, my choices in men haven't been the best. I will never forget the soul rending of walking in on my husband with his secretary, his personal trainer, our maid, my "best friend, his ex-girlfriend, or the prostitute. I always knew when he would cheat. My heart would freeze in my chest, and my bowels would seem to be filled with ice water. But this time will be different. Oh please let it be different.
The church bells are ringing now and I make my way to the sanctuary. The carpet muffles my steps but the rustling of my dress seems echoingly loud. I'm glad for the bouquet so my nerve-moist hands don't flutter. I realize my fingers ache from clutching the bouquet and I force them to relax. I smile and make myself respond to Helen's excited chatter. Oh please let it be different this time. Let the love be real. I don't know if I can bear to have my soul ripped out again. I just don't...
I am struck by the beauty of the church as I slowly pace my way down the aisle. The stained glass throws jeweled colors on the walls and floor. Every face is lifted to me and I know what they see. I am beautiful. My skin is ivory, my hair gold. My eyes are as blue as the sea. I shine from within from the force of my love for Michael. His name like a prayer on my lips. His brilliant smile and the warmth of his love sustain me in that long walk down the aisle. My father has never taken this walk with me, and although I understand his reasons, it breaks my heart. I am there and Michael takes my hand.
The next few hours are a blur. No, who am I kidding. The next few days! I remember the dinner and the reception. All the dancing and laughing...but it is so surreal and honestly, all the receptions of the past bled into this one until sometimes I wasn't sure what dress I would be wearing when I looked down. My only anchor was Michael. My shining angel of hope. He would not fail me, he wouldn't be like the others. He would not betray me, take my child from me, and tear my soul from me. He loves me. Truly and honestly he does. This time, it will be different.
The seasons have changed and so have I. We have been so busy moving to a new house and settling in but we did have plenty of time for some things! Michael and I are expecting! I'm so excited. I almost feel whole again now that we are going to be a real family. Not that we weren't before, but something was missing. Michael is surprised I was in such a rush to have a child but he is happy. The next few months won't be hard on me. They never have been in the past and I do glow when I am pregnant. Michael is very funny as the doting and nervous father to be. I don't begrudge his wanting to wrap me cushioning to keep me safe, but women have been doing this for years and it isn't like it isn't my first time.
I love to walk along the beaches, even with the chill in the air and feel the spray on my face. I'm so glad we moved here before the baby is born. I love the sea and am never very comfortable from it. The sound of the waves lull me to sleep and I sing lullabies to their rhythm. Only a few more months and everything will be perfect.
I gave birth to a healthy boy today. I will never forget any of my other children but this was something different. Michael is not like the others and I can tell that this time, everything is right. Everything is perfect. I am fulfilled, I am whole, and oh how my soul blossoms within me again. I gaze at my new son and then at his father, whose face is transfigured with awe and adoration. My heart finally thaws, and I can love fully and without reservation. We have named our son Gabriel, after Michael's father. Our baby is perfect and beautiful!
Things have been going so well lately. The baby is a bit fussy at times but for the most part is a perfect angel. Michael and Gabriel, my angels. I could not have asked for a better husband or father than Michael. He dotes on our son and how he loves me! He can still take my breath away and I feel my soul swell every time he is near me. All the suffering was worth it. All the doubt, pain, and fear are gone.
We have been so busy that I don't write anymore! Michael is working late again. He has been put in charge of a new case at the firm and is hardly ever home. He is always at the office when I call and never misses one of my texts. And yet...I can't help but wonder. I can't help but be afraid. I can't even say it here, but I can't lose it again. I just can't!
The worst has happened. My world has collapsed like a house of cards. It started with him working late. Then taking calls at all hours. Then I wasn't allowed to touch his phone. He changed his email passwords. Did he think I wouldn't know? Did he think I am blind and stupid. Karen. Her name is Karen and she is his partner on the case that has been keeping him away so many nights. The case...of course. I was going to surprise him with take out tonight. I felt bad he was working so hard to make a living for us. I wanted to do something special. I thought some spicy Thai and maybe some naughty office stress relief would be just the thing. I had forgotten how fast joy can turn to ashes as I walked toward his office. I had forgotten how quickly my heart could freeze.
The door was ajar, and the lights were all on. I almost called out, but then I heard a sigh. Not of boredom, not of frustration, not of one colleague to another. A sigh of pleasure. I froze. I couldn't move, couldn't breathe, couldn't run from the pain about to tear my soul apart. I prayed I was wrong. I prayed to whatever God would listen, to not believe. I crept forward and peered through the open door. I had not been wrong. With the proof staring me in the face, my soul was torn from my body. The sound of a pounding surf was what rent my soul from my form. I was covered in ice water, and I could taste the salt on my lips. I could not fight the compulsion. I had no will without a soul and I fled.
I have only minutes before my geas to return to the sea compels me to shed these human trappings and return to my father and to my sisters who have been unlucky, like me. I write these words in hopes that someday, my Gabriel, my true angel might read them and know that I did not willingly leave him. His father's unfaithfulness destroyed my soul and I cannot stay here without one. From the sea I came, and to it I must return. I'm sorry I could not stay.
Maybe after a few centuries, the longing for a soul will overwhelm the agony of betrayal and loss. I have lost so much. But I have to go. My skin is pale and cold. My family awaits and the sea will not be denied any longer. My geas pulls at me relentlessly and I must obey. Never doubt that I loved you, my Angel. the sea the sea home but empty the sea my sea
This story is called Undine's Lament, but to tell you at the beginning would have ruined the end.
Oh hai, 'song again. :)
Please pitch in to get Gwyn home for Thanksgiving, and check her LJ later today for her poem or story! And thanks, Sterling!