Of Soul and Sirens

Jude stood by the sea wondering what his heart would look like in the hands of someone as blind as he. Would they feel the pump of his blood any thicker than himself? Would they shy away from the tremors of his discontent?

The fish swam out of the sea towards him and brought their messages of escape and freedom to his ears. He smiled, a deafening undertone to their glee, and watched as they passed over him and into the past. His head, showered with the dirty water of their prison, tilted slightly and skewed the horizon away from its perpendicularity with his body. He dreamed of sliding unconscious into the sand, but his heart held him up.

Through the air, there echoed a scream just south of beauty, half a mile north of foreboding, and right between fear and melancholy. Immediately, Jude wanted to be pressed against the source of that call from the sea, the siren’s whisper. He fearlessly stepped out into the water and began making his way towards the cry. Fish nipped at his bare feet and sharks stole his knees from him. Jellyfish danced around him and stung him just to put some color into him. He had been so pale for so long.

Ahead loomed the rocks that surrounded the siren, the only real danger to any pursuit like this one. It’s not the siren that kills her pursuer, but the rocks that guard her. The sea began to get violent after having imbibed too much of the air; it’s drunken stupor left Jude bobbing uncontrollably like a wallflower in a room full of ambulance drivers.

The cry continued, its melancholic promise of strife unending and infinite satisfaction, whether through death and dismemberment or the siren’s chilling embrace, began to beat along with his blood through his body. The sharks swam away from Jude, and the jellyfish twitched and danced away from the looming rocks.

Only then did Jude truly realize his predicament.

With a violent suggestion of direction from the sea he was thrown headfirst into the rocks. With a crack, his skull split open, his brains spilling out and floating on the water’s surface like grey popcorn accidentally dropped in a cup of soda. He was swept back and catapulted again towards the rocks. This time, his chest caved in and his heart set sail away from him, heading towards safer ports. A final time, the waves threw him and this time he took flight and somersaulted unwillingly onto the craggy island of the siren.

There she stood, proud and quiet. She was a princess of pain, a duchess of death, a grail attained by only those willing to sacrifice themselves to the rocks.

The siren looked at Jude and she said, “Where is your brain? I want a man with brains.”

Jude silently pointed to the grey bits of his brain floating away with the tide.

The siren shook her head. “Where is your heart? I want a man with a big heart.”

Again, Jude reluctantly raised his arm and pointed a finger towards a part of himself he could not regain as his heart floated off into the sunset.

The siren shook her head. “Where is your soul? I want a man whose soul is glowing with the passion for life.”

Jude smiled, for of all the things he might lose, he knew he would never lose his soul. He checked his pockets, but they were empty. He felt inside the hole in his skull, but it was only filled with seaweed and eels. He felt inside his chest, and was pinched by a crab that had made the empty cavern of his chest its home.

The siren sighed and pointed to the beach from where Jude came. There with its head in the sand was Jude’s soul, a sad monolith of wasted effort, mocking him.

“You have nothing to offer me,” said the siren. “Your journey has been a waste.”

In protest Jude exclaimed, “But here I am! I’ve risked everything to get here and lost everything to reach you!”

The siren nodded and said, “And so have many other men, and none have reached me with the things I need.”

Sadly and with tears in his eyes, seaweed and eels in his head, a crab in his chest, Jude stepped back into the sea to return to the beach and claim his reluctant soul.

As the waves took him, he turned and asked a final question of the beauty that had shunned him.

“Why do you need these things?”

“Because I have none of them myself,” said the siren, and began her call to the next man foolish enough to waste the things most important to him to reach her.

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