The Grizzly Growl

The Grizzly Growl

Short story

Hannity Johnson, Author

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The Île

By: Hannity Johnson
Image result for stormy sea

“Idalia!!” my father screamed my name through the storm. My face and arms, the only parts of me not submerged in the freezing ocean, continued to get pelted by rain. Thunder and lightning shook the sky and illuminated the world for seconds at a time. The seemingly black water surrounded me. No land was in sight. I flailed as another wave engulfed me and swirled me under the surface. My lungs finally gulped oxygen and I gasped.

“Father!” I shrieked and looked across the sea to where the pieces of my father’s ship floated. He floated among them, searching for something—me. As soon as he saw me, his strong arm-strokes propelled him in my direction. I reached out to him, but before I could touch him, I heard something. It would be an understatement to say it was simply a song. It was breathtakingly mesmerizing. Immediately, I forgot everything except for the song. I was unaware of my own movements or the movements of my father’s crew members. My senses were dulled by the song. I moved towards it. I neither knew nor cared where I was headed. I desperately needed to hear it—to be closer to it. Then, suddenly, my muscles stopped working. I knew I should be scared or panicked, but the song calmed me. I smiled as I slowly sank beneath the waves to a watery grave.

I violently lurched awake. I shook myself until I could comprehend my surroundings. I was all right. It was only a nightmare. I was alone on my island. I tried to comfort myself with these truths, but they didn’t change the fact that my nightmare had been my reality once. The only difference was the ending. I hated myself for not just dying peacefully in the ocean like I was meant to. Instead, I was taken by the ocean, transformed into an immortal siren, and used to lure innocent people to their deaths. Every time I spoke, anyone within hearing distance threw themselves into the ocean and drowned. I ran away and confined myself to isolation rather than murder thousands more. I grimaced. I needed to stop thinking. I stepped out of bed and then out of my cottage into the small jungle. I walked the mile or so down to the beach, but didn’t get within six feet of the water. I scowled at the beautiful ocean. It lapped at the shore and seemed to claw at my peace. I sat down and watched the waves come with distaste and sadness creeping up on me. Before I could get too self-involved, however, I noticed something on the beach several yards away. I stood and walked over to it cautiously. As I got closer, I could see fabric and skin. A small gasp escaped my lips. It was a person! The first human being I had seen for the hundred or so years I had been on my island. I knelt and discovered it was a man. His shorter hair and unkempt facial hair gave him away. Though most of his bloodied clothes seemed to be intact, his shirt was in tatters. I carefully nudged his bare shoulder. His eyes shot open and I jumped back. He tried to get up, but failed with an agonizing scream. I approached him again and helped him into a sitting position.

He yelped only a few times before quieting down. I didn’t dare speak for fear that he would throw himself back into the murderous clutches of the ocean. With much protesting and whining on his part, I helped him to his feet. I started walking him back to my small cottage. By the time we arrived, I was practically carrying him. I opened the door and helped him onto the bed in the corner. He was almost immediately unconscious. I tore off what was left of his bloody shirt and cleaned the scrapes scattered along his torso. I discovered a jellyfish sting on his side and applied a salve I had made. When I was finished, I covered him with a blanket and left to go pick some fruit. I had never had to eat since being a siren. I was excited to finally have a reason to make food. When I returned, he was awake and walking around. I ran up to him and gently pushed him into a chair.

“Stop,” he weakly protested. “I’m fine, really!” To prove this fact to me, he stood back up and began snooping around my little house. “I’m Seul by the way. Who are you?” he asked as he picked up a blue conch shell as big as his head. I quickly swiped it from him and replaced it. “Okay, I get it,” he said in response. He continued snooping. I began to observe him. He had curly sand-brown hair down a little past his ears. His eyes, I had noticed before, were a remarkable shade of green. Though he did look a bit malnourished and pale, he had an athletic build and sun kissed skin. I would have guessed he had done a fair amount of manual labor before washing up on my island.Image result for island

“Why aren’t you talking to me?” he finally asked after a few minutes. When I didn’t answer he continued, “What’s wrong?” His voice took on a concerned tone. “Is there something in my teeth? Does my hair look bad?” He started aggressively feeling his hair and face for mistakes. I smiled. “Actually,” he said, “I probably look like a wreck. Do you happen to have a mirror?” I regretfully shook my head. I had started here with nothing but a stolen merchant ship. I barely had a bed. He smiled. “That’s okay,” he assured me. “Fortunately for you, I am not as narcissistic as some men. I can survive without a mirror.” He stopped and looked around. After finding I had no kitchen he added, “I cannot, however, survive without food. Do you have any idea where I might find some?” I grinned and gestured to the fruit I had thrown on the table when I first arrived. He hurried over and began to practically inhale the food. I sat in my rocking chair and looked out my window at the sky. I could tell it was almost time for my evening ritual. I jumped up and rushed to the door. Before leaving, however, I remembered my guest and gestured for him to follow. He grabbed a few more fruits before obeying. I ran down the jungle path to the beach. I sat down in the crook of a tree a few feet away from the water’s edge. He sat next to me on the sand. I had timed it perfectly—the sun was just going down. I took a few deep breaths to calm my beating heart and observed the sky.

Gradually, more and more colors were added to the blue of the heavens. A million shades of a million different colors lit the sky. The ocean seemed to amplify them. I heard a gasp from beside me, and when I turned, I saw Seul open his eyes wide in wonder. I grinned.

“I have never seen anything more beautiful!” he exclaimed as he stood up to better take it in.

“I know,” I said. Then, before I realized what I had done, “Isn’t it absolutely magnificent?” I cried out briefly, noticing that I had just condemned my new friend to death. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see the horror that I knew was coming. I waited, but I didn’t hear anything. I slowly opened my eyes and found myself face to face with Seul.

“Wow,” he whispered, “your voice is amazing. Why would you want to hide something like that?” He looked at me expectantly. I was speechless. I had only ever heard about this in legend. There was a certain human that heard the sirens voices and miraculously resisted because of the dire need he felt to return to his true love. It was said that his posterity had the ability to easily resist the pull of the sirens. I didn’t think it was true. No one I had ever met in my whole 216 years had ever been able to resist me.

“Oh my gosh!” I exclaimed jubilantly. “You’re not dead!” I leapt up and began to dance around him.

“Well,” he replied awkwardly. “I would hope not.” I laughed, then suddenly stopped and remembered something. It was a faint and distant memory. I tugged at it and strained trying to remember. Then, like a flash of lightning, it was there—a fact I had learned during my many years of research after I had been turned into a siren—the only cure other than death by the ocean’s command. To be cured, a siren needed to kiss someone who was unaffected by their voice. It was virtually impossible to do so, but not for me. I looked at Seul. He was staring at me curiously. It was worth a shot. I cautiously tilted my face and moved until I was inches away from him. The colors of the sunset bounced off his face. My breath stuck in my throat. This was my one and only chance. I leaned infinitesimally closer. I could smell the ocean on his skin. I inhaled deeply and took the only opportunity I would ever get to save myself from this life of misery and loneliness. I closed my eyes and felt our lips touch.

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