Leap of Faith

This is a tale told in the torn lace of sea foam on a rocky shore and whispered where jewel anemones glow  . . .

A hot summer evening. The Pilgrim hands out cool drinks. Her wet skirts drip on the flagstones. Then she stands still to become the teller of this tale:

The swaying of the deck. Lights below the waves. ‘Some sunken city,’ I think out loud.

The child heart at my centre hopes for corals and glass fish. Already she sees twist-tailed mermen and hears the playing of harps. Too many old books have their lodgings in my head.

A passing steward pauses. ‘Some say so, Miss. The realm where they went.’

‘They? Who do you mean?’ I ask.

A gentleman in a pale suit answers, his voice quiet, yet oddly clear over the ship’s engines. ‘The others-not-like-us, some might say. The lost dreamers and fled poets. The wandering musicians and the makers of unusable beauties.’

He leans over the handrail and gazes into the twisting waters. Glimmerings rise from depths as dark and glamorous as the night sky waiting to descend.

‘The more practically-minded say tis only reflections, Miss,’ the steward says and hurries away.

‘But that’s not what you hope for, is it?’ the elegant gentleman asks. ‘You would like there to be a refuge for the odd and the damaged, the unwanted and the weird. You would like there to be some other realm than this one composed of steel and engines and straight lines – and away from any amount of rules for a young woman such as yourself.’

I turn to him. His polished sunglasses reflect my nodding head.

‘Yes, that would be a pleasing thought at least.’

My aunt comes sweeping inbetween us, direct as a battleship. I hardly need a chaperone – the pale-suited gentlemen is old enough to be my grandfather.

‘Ah, there are such quaint legends in this backward region,’ she says,’ flooded realms and a giant fish masquerading as an island. How darling. How sweetly ridiculous in our age of science and reason.

She gives me the full force of her listen-child-I-have-important-instructions-you-should-attend-to look.

‘We go on an excursion to Ellan Vannin tomorrow. Best outfits to the fore – one never knows who one might meet. There is a great deal of wealth about.’

‘Yes, Aunt, I understand.’

She makes polite noises and steams off to a bridge party, clearly bemused the pale-suited gentleman does not play.

He looks towards the isle. ‘That would be a good chance to jump ship. The tender passes right over the sunken realm.’ He takes off his sunglasses. Twin sparkles borrowed from the waves glitter at me.

He hands me a signet ring. ‘Take this when you leap. Tell them Manannan himself sent you.’

A pearl glows at the centre of it, oddly shaped, like a moon reflected in waves.

‘Oh, and don’t worry about your aunt,’ he says as I stare. ‘She will no longer be obliged to manage a difficult orphan, and she looks well enough in mourning.’

I look up to thank him. He has gone, like mist lifting from the island. Tomorrow will be the start of true adventure.

The Pilgrim walks upstairs, leaving damp footprints on the wood.

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Orginal photo by Lua Valentia on Unsplash
(adapted)

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