Posted by: jolantru | February 28, 2010

Bonus Tale: “The Sea Witch’s Tale”.

I am not much of a storyteller, even though I am already given so many names by many people whom I know and do not know. I am the Sea Witch to many people, because I have done something abominable in their eyes. The name hurt for a while, but then people give names to other people and things they do not understand.

I am the Sea Witch, simply because I know magic. It tingles on my fingertips, glowing blue concentric circles in my mind, filling me with wonder. I am the Sea Witch, simply because I defended myself against a man who tried to dominate me, who thought by removing my dignity, I would be reduced back to just being a woman without anything.

Am I angry at what he had done to me? Yes. I am furious. I wanted to live. This man wanted to shame me, to make me die inside. But do I hate him? No. Hate consumes the person and twists the psyche: I just wanted to leave the village, to seek out my own path. My own ilk.

~*~

My village is closer to the tip of the bay. We cultivate and harvest oysters. My hands have the scars to prove it. We also do a bit of abalone farming and the village is replete with abalone shells, from small ones the size of a baby’s ear to large ones as big as my palm. They glisten rainbow in the sunlight, more so when they are dipped in water and the colors come forth, vivid, strong.

The women are the oyster-divers, the abalone-farmers. The sweet-salty flesh of oyster and abalone are commonplace to us. In our veins throb seawater; our hearts beat the currents of the sea. Yet, there is a division between the men and the women: the men claim that they carry the mystical knowledge of our ancestors, that they are the rightful bearers of magic. I know that it is false, because we all came from the same ancestors and our gifts were their gifts. Often have I spoken against such prejudice, but my words are ignored or brushed away, even by my mother and her mother.

The blue concentric circles came when I reached adolescence and flowered, blossoming into full view. The men did not like it. Their sullen faces were evidence enough.

I practiced, in the middle of the night, when the village was asleep. I practiced willing the concentric circles to spin, to shift things, in front of the sea because I knew She would listen.

~*~

There was a man in the village who saw himself as the guardian of men’s magic. He also claimed that he was my suitor and wanted to win my hand. I knew he was a petty individual and would do anything to get his way. I had already repelled his advances and turned him away. He nursed his grudge and waited for the right time to put me in my place.

I remember his name. Corin. The men in the village called him Wan. He prided himself on his physique and his looks – and he loudly proclaimed his presence during the night meets. Now Corin watched me intently, just as we intently watched the shoals of finger-fish with our nets.

Initially, I did not think that he was a threat and went on merrily, making necklaces with sea-stones and sea-glass, bantering with my friends. I was a young woman, brimming with youth and energy. I could feel the whisper of my magic in my bones and I felt powerful. Strong.

~*~

Limpets are my weakness. I like to eat them fresh and sweet, straight from the sea rocks where they cling. Unfortunately this weakness was made known to Corin who bade his time and waited.

The day when I was assaulted was a beautiful. Blue skies, the sea gentle and green. The waves kinder than usual, exposing the limpets. I brought along my basket and picked my way across the sea rocks, careful not to slip and fall. I had my knife with me and I wasted no time picking the tiny shellfish. The sun was warm on my back. I was humming a tune. I did not hear the footsteps behind me until he was almost upon me.

He grabbed me first by the hair and yanked it hard so that he could make me face him. I tried to pull away. I could see his beefy hand grabbing my dark curly hair and his face… awful, lust-filled. And hateful. So hateful.

“What are you doing?” I gasped, shock hitting my body at the realization that he was going to rape me. “Have you lost your mind?”

“No,” Corin replied with a sick leer and all I knew was that he was an ugly person. Ugly to the core of his being. “You are a strange woman. A user of magic. An aberration. A freak. Your mind is different from the other women. Perhaps you have lost your mind…”

“It’s time to put you back in your rightful place.”

The words dripped like fish toxins. I struggled, swung my heavy basket at his head. It connected with a sodden crunch, the limpets scattering in all directions. He did not seem to care. Instead he became angrier, more driven. I sobbed. I had lost my knife in the struggle.

“Just because I rejected your advances doesn’t permit you to rape me,” I said desperately and my words choked as he yanked away the top of my tunic. It ripped, revealing my bare torso. With an animal growl, he plunged his head between my breasts and his breath was hot. It stank. He pushed me to the uneven rocks and my head made contact with one particularly sharp one, making me cry out. Broken bits of limpet shells nipped into my skin. He seemed to enjoy my terror like some dark moonshine and began nuzzling my throat, biting, marking me.

I knew there and then I did not want to die like discarded fish or a rejected abalone. I knew that I wanted to live. I willed the concentric circles to come forth and slipped one, like a noose, around Corin’s neck. He was smothering me and I had to act fast.

I willed the circle to tighten and it did, cutting right into Corin’s windpipe like metal wire. He gasped, choked and turned blue. His eyes stared at me wildly and I knew that I had gone too far. He fell heavily across my torso. His heart had stopped beating.

Pushing him off, I tried to take stock of what had really happened, shivering with fright and adrenaline. It was then I realized a crowd had gathered and they looked at me as if I was a monster emerged from the depths of the sea. Perhaps I was, draped only with sea kelp fronds and my pride.

~*~

They started to hurl names at me. Killer. Murderer. Whore.

All I could do was to hide in my own hut. Mother defended me. And still they jeered and called me vicious names.

Sea Witch spread through the village like a relentless disease. I broke down and wept. In a way Corin had accomplished what he wanted to do: to shame me and reduce me to nothing. I felt dirty, unclean. I washed myself repeatedly, using sea water to scourge my skin.

I became furious then. When I stalked out of the protection of the hut, people scattered before me like dry fish scales, frightened, outraged, horrified. When I gathered the sea rocks for the necklaces, they pointed fingers and said things they thought I did not understand. Sea witch, seducer, killer! Even the women, whom I thought would support me, ran away. My friends refused to even look at me. It was saddening and frustrating.

I decided to leave. My skills would tide me through. I was already a woman grown and I did not need anyone to help me.
~*~

I am called the Sea Witch. But I do have a name. My name. I am Auri. I am no abomination, no monster. I am as real as you are.

I am Auri and this is my tale.

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