John Bauer, “Agneta and the Sea King,” [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
The Kingdom of the Sea? Yes, I know of it. It lies beneath the wine-dark water. You can’t see it from the surface, though perhaps you might sense its presence. Perhaps you think you see something, a figure there under the shimmering waves. But then you’ll blink or shake your head. Oh, I imagined it, you’ll say. Still, you will shiver. Because you know there is something there.
I’m an old man now; perhaps you think my mind wanders. Perhaps it does. But I’ve seen The Kingdom and lived to tell the tale. Come, pull your chair closer to the fire, and I’ll tell you about it.
You see, it was because of Jenny with her long, amber curls and blue-grey eyes. I was in love with her. All the boys in the village were. But she said her heart belonged to the sea. Foolish poetic ramblings, I thought.
She had come out on my father’s boat with me. It was a warm day, and the water shimmered with light and possibility. I kissed her there—the first and only time–and I swear, she kissed me back for a moment, before gently pushing me away. We dozed then in the warm sunlight, rocked by the waves. I woke to see her hanging over the boat. I heard her whisper, “Come for me, Love.”
I saw him then–the Sea King, glorious and terrible. He reached up and pulled Jenny down beneath the ocean’s surface. I dove into the water, frantic to save her.
But I know now, she did not want to be saved. I watched Jenny enter the Kingdom of the Sea with the king, and as she did, she turned and waved farewell to me. The castle glimmered beneath the waves; like a vision, it was there and gone. Then there was a sudden darkness inside my head.
I awakened on the shore, soaked and exhausted, but Jenny was never found.
Of course no one believed my story. They said she must have fallen out of the boat and drowned, while I was washed ashore by the waves as I tried to save her. But I know what I saw.
This is for Jane Dougherty’s microfiction challenge–though since I’ve gone way over the word count, I guess it’s not really microfiction. The prompt was the illustration above by Swedish artist, John Bauer, for a book of fairy tales.