CAMELIA FRENTIU (POPESCU)
“The Tales of the Sea”
The Little Seahorse
Nothing was disturbing the silence of the Sea. As far as the eye could reach the same endless blue with sparkling green hues, the same gentle undulation of the water. A friendly and trustworthy host for her creatures, the Sea can sometimes be very merciless with those who defy her unwritten laws or who betray her motherly affection. Yet, harmony reigns here, almost all the time, and the creatures of the Sea know it all too well.
The Little Seahorse has lived forever on the high seas. Here he has felt safe and fully enjoyed the pleasure of floating at the mercy of the waves and of the currents. He was happy whenever he met some new creature or reached some place that he had never explored before...
He had several times seen his face mirrored in the calm water and, as he could see, from the waist upwards, it seemed to him that he was different, far more handsome than anyone that he had seen before. With closed eyes, pleased with himself, he abandoned himself to the calm undulation of the new born waves, until he noticed that he had got fairly close to the shore.
“Ah, a shore just likes any other…” he said to himself, and leant again onto his back, at the mercy of the waves.
Suddenly, from the top of a wave he saw a horse with his rider strolling on the shore. He blinked intensely. It seemed to him that the horse looked exactly like his mirrored in the water some time ago! The same mane, the same wonderfully arched neck, the same proud carriage of his head...
The horse on the shore came to a stop the rider dismounted, took the bridle, and started to curry-comb him. From time to time the rider stopped to speak and pat his companion… then, after a while, the horse was taken again by the bridle and together, man and animal, continued their stroll along the shore.
The things he had seen left him wrapped in thoughts. He found it very hard to fall asleep that night. And yet he did, with words still echoing in his ears, words that came from the shore, carried by the breeze, the one that gathered up like a scythe the sounds of life in the proximity of the shore in order to take them to the high seas and be reunited with the roaring sea.
Same thing happened, on next day and on the third day as well. Meanwhile, at the surface, the Seahorse had learnt to make short jumps above the water level to have a better sight of the shore and of the things going on there. While swimming at the surface he often stopped, half out of the water, to better look at himself in the bluish mirror, to see how much he resembled the horse on the shore. He was sure that if he were on the shore he would also walk that way, he would also be patted; he would also be spoken too in the same affectionate way…If they both looked alike, and he would get the same treatment, wouldn’t he?
A few days passed but nothing changed. Then, one day, at dusk, while getting his bed ready for the night in an underwater jungle of seaweeds and lianas, the Little Seahorse made up his mind: the following day, probably clinging to a boat, one of the many that sailed those waters, he would somehow reach the shore.
He was not successful in his first attempt. He looked irritated at the smooth, slippery surface of the brand new boat and understood why he couldn’t cling to it…Only after he clung vigorously with his whole body to the second boat, an older one and full of scratches, did he manage to put his plan into practice.
But reality does, not always rise to the level of one’s expectation…After the first unpleasant contact with the hot sand ,although wet, there followed another shock : now he realized that what was there on the sand did not resemble at all to the horse he had seen from the water. Suddenly that horse looked huge, a giant propped on four thick… lianas.
Anyhow, he didn’t recognize himself in this image… moreover, he hadn’t known that he could not live on land the water was, in fact, his natural habitat. But now it was too late for regrets. Caught between the scorching heating of the sun and the hot sand all his strength weakened and he became aware that he couldn’t hold it out any longer.
All of the sudden the horse started to gallop right at the edge of the water where the Little Seahorse was laying, fallen on one side. The horse came closer, than even closer, throwing up clods of wet sand into the sea. On one of those clods lay, fortunately, the Little Seahorse, too. Thus, he made a jump through the air and fell with a soft splash into the water where he had came from.
Back into the sea he began to swim quickly without even looking back, at last happy to be there, never ever wishing to become someone else, and pleased which what he really was…. And so he lived happily ever after content with what life had taught him.
She was born in the Ocean. Down there where she lived, life went on quietly, away from dangers. The Ocean protected its creatures providing a hospitable, honest realm for them, strictly following the cycle of life which had been engraved in the crystal clear water thousands of years ago.
The Half-Shell had been living here for a long time, too. Her beautifully engraved shell had always captured everybody`s attention, being noticed by her mates and by the other creatures too. She was not at all interested in the latter attention. From the very beginning she had been indifferent to it as her dream had always been to find the other half. Her very half!
She had looked for it all her life. Sometimes it seemed to her (she had been lied to being a beautiful shell), that she had found it; but soon she realized that she had been wrong. Thus, in time, she let herself be carried to and fro, by the ocean streams. Sometimes she got carried by the waves, if she was too close to the shore, and sometimes she clung to something moving, with the clear intention to travel as far as possible, to find the missing half.
Several times she was sure that she had found it indeed. The emotion she felt then could not be compared to anything she had experienced hitherto, and from that moment on… And her sadness, when she realized that she had been wrong, was equally profound. Ever since the last meeting of that kind she had became very cautious. She was determined to no longer become emotionally involved until she was sure that she found exactly what she had been looking for.
But time passed mercilessly and the Half-Shell felt that there was not much time left for her to live.
Words could not express her sorrow at the thought that she had not yet found her half… She let herself carried by the last wave towards the shore she had seen long time ago. Feeling her weakness, the wave carried her carefully and left her gently on the damp sand.
Suddenly, the Half-Shell felt her heart leap with emotion, something she had never felt before. She looked around and saw the long sought Half-Shell! He lay next to her and he was exactly she had imagined him to be: her peer!
With the next wave, she decided they would become one single shell. She looked towards the open sea, caught sight of the wave getting closer and closer, and then turned towards the Half-Shell next to her and … froze: her Half-Shell had found his match elsewhere!
It was much too much a disappointment for her poor wretched life. Happy and unhappy at the same time, her look fixed on her sweetheart’s figure, she gave her soul as a present to the Ocean…her last feeling was, nevertheless, an immense happiness. Now, that she had found her Half-Shell, she was sure that somewhere, in time, in another world, they would meet again.
Deep, deep in the sea it is dark and very cold. Here, at the bottom of the sea food is very scarce and therefore marine animals are very few in number. And those, which willy-nilly venture to live in these circumstances, are tiny and oddly shaped; some of them are blind and others radiate light.
The Starfish had been living here for a long time. It was her home, the only one she had ever known. As her name suggested it, too, she was a true star among the other creatures of the sea. And this was not so much because of her body with the five arms placed radials around, but rather due to the light she emitted.
But not all the creatures around her could see that light. Some, because there were simply blind, and others because they lacked the inner power of understanding, of seeing it. For, in fact, this light was coming mostly from inside.
The Starfish, however, didn’t know it. Since, she was surrounded only by ugly creatures, blind or, at the most, emitting a feeble superficial light, like the Flash Light fish or the Anglerfish, she thought that she was equally repellent.
She suffered for a long time because, sensitive as she was, and often reacting differently than the others, she would hide it from the letters, believing it to be a handicap, and lest she should be considered weak and vulnerable.
For indeed life is hard in the deep waters of the sea. Here, the creatures often attack one another and even eat one another. To be saved from other creatures, the Starfish would often hide in some pit where no beam a flight would reach her.
Most of the time, the Starfish would feel lonely. The other creatures, especially the fish, would swim together forming schools, but much more rarely in the abyss, while she kept being left all by herself…
After a while she saw that it was better that way, than living near a repellent creature. And this because one day an Anglerfish seemed fallen in love with her.
The Starfish shuddered with disgust when she looked at him: an unshapely body, with some thorn like wings and a huge mouth, kept open most of the time, bordered by big and sharp teeth.
The truth was that he was indeed weaving flashy bait above his mouth and the Starfish said to herself that maybe for that very flash, something matching her own light, they would make a fine couple.
Day in, day out by her side, the Anglerfish had grown so fond of her, that he could no longer stay away from his love. He would accompany her everywhere; he would not leave her alone for a single moment. But after a time, his signs of love had literally got on her nerves.
In an attempt to get rid of him, she let herself carried far away by one of the most turbulent deep-sea currents, but it was all in vain.
Looking back she caught sight of the Anglerfish struggling to resist the force of the water, on the verge of losing his flashy hook of which he was so very proud.
She even startled with admiration at his courage and strength, as he had managed to escape the whirlpool which, at first, had seemed to side with the Starfish.
Some other time the Anglerfish had surprised her with an unexpected gift, a shell, her favorite food. And this happened more and more often. After a while, when she woke up in the morning, there was always a shell there, carefully laid on the edge of the pit, her bed on the bottom of the sea.
His gesture grew her lazy. That way she no longer needed to look for her food…
The days ebbed away in the same manner, one after another. To the Starfish the Anglerfish no longer looked so repellent. By now she had got used to him, so that she missed him whenever he had to spend more time looking for her daily shell or when, too tired from his quest, he would rest somewhere. But what she did not know was that the Anglerfish, busy to fulfill her needs, which felt to be more important than his own, would forget to provide for his own daily food.
Now and then he remembered that he had to eat too, and then he would fish something quickly, no matter what, then he would hurry back to his sweetheart.
When the Starfish learned this, it was already too late as one day, too weak and too tired, the Anglerfish did not notice the sharp edge of a rock bumped into it and injured him severely. He was lucky that the wound did not bleed much, otherwise he would have been lost: if down there you bleed, you’re dead, and you have no chance to escape the hungry mouths of the other creatures living there. But the bump was so severe that he lay unconscious for a long, long time.
In vain did the Starfish wait for him that day. He did not come the next day either.
The following day she started to anxiously scan the dark stretch of the abyss, hoping to see a light… She waited for hours and hours on end.
Eventually, she said to herself that the Anglerfish would never come back again. That certainly brought much sorrow into her soul. She couldn’t believe that in spite of his being so ugly, she would grow fond of him. Only now, when it seemed that the Anglerfish was no longer alive, did the Starfish learn how important it was for her to be loved, to be protected. It had be much better that way than without anyone to care about her.
She covered her body with her arms, making herself small, a tiny ball, wishing rather to totally vanish from the bottom of the sea.
All of a sudden something touched her. She raised an arm, and then scared she let it drop again. She did not want to see anybody; they should leave her alone with her grief. Again, the same touch, but more powerful this time. Then, in a single sudden movement, she unclasped her arms, ready to dash at the intruder. But, she did not carry it through, when her eyes fell upon the form in front of her: it was the Anglerfish!
Her happiness was immense...Now, it was her turn to look after him, and to stay with him round the clock. And when the Anglerfish recovered they enjoyed the happiness of being together for the rest of their lives.