Fiction: Her dilemma

I read of a creative writing contest on Helium and thought of submitting an entry. Unfortunately they are not yet ready to take entries from outside US I guess and I wasn’t able to join. So I did what any sensible blogger would do – publish it on my blog.

Dear Helium creators and moderators, if you are reading this, please do consider writers from other nations as well.

Now, the story.

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Orion held her hand and tried to calm her, brushing her wavy-flaming-golden hair so very lightly. He could hear her pounding heart and the dilemma in it even though she didn’t say a word. What he didn’t know was the reason for her pain.

Iris was torn between two worlds. On one side was Orion, her childhood sweetheart and on the other the charming prince, to whose father she owed her life. Life was getting tricky by each passing day.

Orion lifted her head by her chin and looked calmly into her sea blue eyes.

“What is it that is eating you from inside? Why are you trying to keep it from me? Won’t you share your trouble with the one you’re sharing your life with? I wish to know and help. Please don’t treat me like an outsider.”

The pain, visible in his deep black eyes, moved Iris. But her tongue was bound by Rules of the Blue Seas. However, her thoughts were already digging deep in her mind to the memory she tried to forget. It only became more alive with every futile effort.

On a day which was supposed to be like any other in Mer-world, Iris was playfully trying to hide from Orion because he didn’t meet her at their scheduled time. Orion knew all her hideouts and came after her when he saw her golden hair behind a huge boulder. She swam as fast as she could towards the deeper and darker area of the sea. She was suddenly reminded of her childhood days when her father, the King of the Blue Seas, had thundered over her escapade to the dark seas. Not knowing what to do, she suddenly changed direction and swam upwards.

She noticed how the sunlight passed through water and formed beautiful patterns on her silk-ivory body and deep blue tail. The light made her shimmer and glow. She was so lost in her joy that she forgot how far upwards she had swum. Realizing her folly she tried to find Orion, in vain. She could see many things floating above water and some things connected to them were inside water. She knew she was in forbidden waters, much dangerous than the dark seas. Something caught on her caudal fin and before she knew it her whole body was being pulled up.

She opened her eyes but a sharp light pierced her eyes and made it difficult to see. It took her more than a few moments to get accustomed to the brightness, after which, she realized she was in the midst of a crowd of… err… she didn’t know what creatures they were. Just then, her father’s words of wisdom replayed in her mind.

“My dear Iris, now that you are old enough to swim all by yourself, I should tell you the most important fact of our lives. Water is our life. We also co-exist with different life forms. Some exist with us, here in water. And some exist outside water. Creatures inside water understand us to an extent because we share the same habitat. While the others who don’t, certainly don’t understand us and hence are most dangerous. We have history, which shows Mer-men being caught and tortured by over-water creatures. They are called humans. So do not, under any circumstance swim near the surface of water. Your limits are our Mer-waters, neither above it, nor below it.”

Just as the people on the boat started crowding around to have a better look at the most exquisite thing, Iris prayed in her mind that they don’t kill her. The most elderly amongst them forbade them from touching her before she was presented to the king. This presentation, he thought, would certainly earn him a good grade from the king together with some gold.

It was late in the night when she was brought to the royal palace and kept in a container with water. Two guards were watching over her. One said to another.

“Isn’t it stupid watching over a mermaid in a container? We know she can’t walk on the land. Where would she go? And how?”

To which replied the other

“Oh yes. We can go to our chambers and sleep.”

Iris listened to their faint footsteps which stopped after a moment and then gingerly stepped out. She knew she had to get back to the sea as soon as she can. She could see it from the window.

She planned to climb down from the window using a vine. She met with another face on the other side of the window. Both were startled and Iris stifled her cry just in time. The handsome face on the other side just stared at her, wide-mouthed. She helped him in and explained that she was there by mistake and started climbing down the vine. But the damage was done. The prince, who was on his usual adventure at night, was already hopelessly in love with the moonlit beauty wearing a deep blue gown.

She fell into the pool below the window and her legs were again bound into tail. She was caught by the guards who thought of making a chance out of this opportunity with a mermaid. Just when they were carrying to sell her to a foreign merchant, the King’s men interjected them and upon questioning, found out about the mermaid.

She was presented before the king who asked her why she was in human land. She asked his forgiveness and begged to be let go to the sea and she would never look back again.

Though the king knew of the rule for Mer-people on his land – slavery or death, he made exception for the young maid in whose eyes he saw only innocence. Arrangements were made for her to get back to her world. And only later did he learn of his son’s strong love for the mermaid.

He decided to meet with the King of the Blue Seas and ask Iris’ hand in marriage for his son. He would break the law, so be it. Nothing was more important than the happiness of his son.

The King of the Blue Seas knew the code of conduct. The human king had given the life of his daughter back and she was indebted to him. The only way to pay back the debt was to agree to his request. He conveyed this to Iris and gave her two days time to make her mind up.

Now in Orion’s arms, she was bound not to tell him the incident which shook her life. She was also bound to obey the code of conduct. It was time to go.

As they swam together to the surface, father and daughter, in her mind Iris was still not out of her dilemma. Can she forget Orion by marrying the human prince? Can she love him like she loved Orion? The question would always remain in her heart, unanswered.

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