The fishermen woke early. Dawn had not begun to punch her eye through the swirling sea mists, as the fishermen fumbled into clothes. Their warm breath converged with the chilly air and danced about their lips as they tended to assigned tasks and breakfast chores. Soon they were ready to gather up the last of the nets and head out to sea in the little wooden fishing boats.
Hopeful, they unfurled the sails and began their silent bargains with the sea gale gods. Promising what they could for strong gentle winds, those that would see them to their destination without stirring the ocean into a tempest.
Even though they only experienced half of what they wanted they gave thanks for what they had received. The day was sunny and warm and they gathered many fish from the sea. There was much laughter amongst the men. But while they were pulling up the last net of the day a strange occurrence happened. Suddenly the winds came and with it the water began to grow and swell. The men grew afraid because this was unlike anything they had ever experienced. The skies were still blue with not a cloud to be seen and they could not understand why the ocean was acting so strangely. It became worse and worse until the men feared their boats would capsize. They rushed to unfurl the sail again so they could go on their way and leave the wind and the sea to their argument.
On the side of one of the little wooden fishing vessels a woman appeared, her body in the waves and her hands and arms holding on to the boat for dear life. She spoke not a word but the men could see the fear in her blue eyes. They were in shock of finding such a woman with them as she was not there a moment before and they wondered where she had come from. Some men yelled to pull the woman from the sea and rescue her. Others shouted that she was a siren from the deep and it was a trick of the scaled women. They said they would surely die if they helped this creature.
The wind howled and the waves grew as the men argued among themselves. The boats began to drift apart from each other and soon the boat with the woman was alone. As the waves grew, they began to break over the side where the woman was holding on. Her weight pulled the edge closer to the water and it began to slosh in with an ever pressing speed. Still she implored them with her eyes. They knew a decision had to be made before they all died. Either pull her in, or force her away.
One man looked at the others and shook his head in disgust. Then he grabbed the woman and began to haul her into the boat. When the others saw what he was doing they too began to assist the woman. As soon as she was in the boat she looked at the men and smiled. Her long black hair and her strange clothes were soaked. A fisherman offered her his coat to warm herself but she shook her head. Then before their eyes the woman transformed into a Dolphin and jumped back into the sea, and when she did the waves and wind began to calm and the sea was again at peace.
The fishermen looked at each other knowing that no one else who hadn’t seen what they had experienced would believe their stories. They agreed to tell the others that the woman had slipped off of the side of the boat before they could save her, and let that be the end of the story.
Day after day no matter when or where the fishermen who had saved the woman went they were successful in their catch and the boat would come back to shore with heaps of fish. The villagers wondered about their great luck and consulted them for their secrets. But no matter what they did they couldn’t reproduce the quantities the fishermen came back with. This happened even when others would go out with the fishermen and fish alongside them.
What the fishermen or the villagers didn’t know was that she was confronting many fishermen of the world, testing humanity to see if it were worthy of the ocean and her bounty. Sometimes she was met with kindness and she was pulled to safety, other times sadly it was not so, and these men didn’t know that their decisions and conduct weighed heavily for humanity.
One day the woman confronted a small fishing vessel, and like before the winds came and the brine water surged, tossing the small boat to and fro over the waves. The men were fearful of the woman’s appearance out of seemingly nowhere and they thought her some sort of harmful ghost or sea waif come to claim them as a sacrifice for the fickle seas. They tried to pry her fingers from the wood so they could toss her back to the brine where she had come from. Surprised that she was indeed solid and warm, this did not deter them, so crazed by fright they were. They could not pry her grip from the boat. One man began to kick her hands and fingers to smash them into succumbing to her side of the boat. It did not work.
Finally another man took his fishing knife and brought it down upon the woman’s fingers just under the knuckles where her fingers were joined to the hand. The frightened men were silenced by the sickening thud and then the sight of blood pouring forth into their boat. This was no sea waif; this was no ghost of any kind. Blood was life. The shock cut through them like the knife cut through her.
Before their eyes she began to transform and rise out of the sea. She grew and grew until she was more than twenty feet above them. Her black hair turning into writhing Moray Eels, while coral grew over her torso. The men could see sea creatures peeking out of holes full of sea water. Each leg began to grow opalescent scales and fins replaced where her feet had been.
She held her hand before her as she screamed out her rage at what these men had done to her. The sound was deafening and could be felt inside their bodies. The sea became a huge roiling mass as angry as she. The winds whipped at the men, pushing them this way and that. Then the men watched as starfish limbs replaced her stolen fingers. When she spoke, it was as loud as thunder claps, and the men had to shield their ears.
“I have been testing you over the years to see if you are worthy of my bounty and if I should reward you with safe passage over my skirts. Most of you humans have been severely lacking, but I searched and searched anyhow giving you the benefit of the doubt. I wanted to fall in love with creatures such as you because in many ways you prove interesting and some have been compassionate. With your actions today however, I can no longer look the other way. You have proven to be dangerous infantile creatures with only selfish gain at the forefront of your consciousness.
You have taken four things from me. So I in turn will take four things from your future generations. Those of you who have shown me compassion will still reap my bounty, those of you who chose to rape, or tried to destroy me, will feel my wrath.
I will hide the fish in places you will not be able to reach, with your nets or with other means, and I will move their coral homes to places you cannot destroy them. I will create Tsunami to cleanse your filth and dwellings from my skirts and force you to rethink your lack of respect. I will release the storm sisters upon my face to dance their fury into colossal cyclones and hurricanes bringing fear into your hearts and those of your children. They will wonder what they have done wrong to receive the fury, the barren seas, and wonder what they will do for food in the future, and I will whisper to them of you. Lastly I will raise the levels of the ocean with the frozen fresh water and release ice to do battle with your ships in raging storms. Many lives will be lost, and when they are they will swim down to join you in your watery prison.
She raised her hand and the ocean swelled and surged tossing the men out of their boats and into the sea.