Kingdom of the Sea: Microfiction


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.



33 thoughts on “Kingdom of the Sea: Microfiction

  1. I could see him sitting beside the fire on many nights over the years, always feeling cold since that day. Since he has to call people to come closer to him, beside the fire, I also imagine them keeping their distance from him at all times, sensing truth to his story when it happened and not wanting too close a connection to someone so intimate with the circumstances.

  2. That Sea-king is a right one! Check out my story – surprisingly similar, I think, though told by a different narrator. I love rivrvlogr’s points – he does sound quite isolated at the start. I guess he never really got over Jennie and her auburn curls. I like the folk-y feel of it, the idea that this is a true story he’s telling us.

  3. Merril, your story was so wonderfully told, from the beginning up through the ending. It seemed fitting to the painting, too. I liked how you include the eye witness who loved her. He saw how Jenny made the choice to be taken underwater to the Kingdom of the Sea. You helped me visualize every part of this folk styled love story.
    The Swedish fairy tale artist was certainly unique in his portrayal of the Sea King. I think of big Poseidon and his white swirling beard, like a wave upon his chin. 🙂 This portrayal is so sensual and such a sinewy man.

    • Thanks, Robin. I’m glad you liked the story!
      The illustration is interesting–sort of a modernist pre-Raphaelite. Jane has used some of his other work.
      And you know, I had forgotten until just now that he, his wife, and their son died in a ferry crash.

  4. Pingback: Microfiction challenge Under the sea: the entries – Jane Dougherty Writes

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