Once, there was the sea, but it was not like the sea you see today. Today when you gaze out upon the great waters, you see only its surface, but had you looked upon the water of long ago, you would have seen everything just as clear as a fresh glass of water. Now when I say everything I mean the entire thing. Near the shallowest shoals on to the deepest depths you could spot every creature, cave, reef, and wreckage that flowed in the sunlit waters. All was a transparent, watery crystal displaying its riches with beautiful hues of blue and gold reflections.

Of course, you can imagine that fisherman found fishing quite simple, for the fish were quite visible. Pirates found their sunken treasures quite easily enough sailing near the coasts and scanning the ocean floor. Explorers mapped underwater forms for their exhibitions without effort while sightseers found just as many spectacles below water as above. Nothing was hidden from them.

At first the sea enjoyed the great amount of attention and eagerly desired to look its best for the next ship to grace its waters; it smoothed its wrinkled waves, sanded off its dusty reefs, and sweetened its gulfs; however, mankind's curiosity of the sea quickly drained, for everything was exposed and seen by all. "Ah, we've seen it before," they would wave away, "What's new about it?" Before long the sea became ignored no matter how pleasant it looked. In time, the sorrowful sea gazed through its teary surface upon each face that passed over its waters; the once passionate eyes that soaked in all the sea's wonders now became dry wells, uninterested and apathetic.

Mankind became indifferent, and the taste of the sea grew bitter. It trembled in rage and wrinkled its surface. The once gentle, lapping waves became violent surfs, overturning boats and flooding shores. The sea smashed its shells into jagged pieces and placed them in the mouths of its creatures. It whispered many awful things to its beasts and turned their hearts against the ones who would sail atop their waters. The sea soon became a frightening dwelling filled with whirlpools, monsters, and drowning men. In time, the sea gazed through its raging surface upon each face that passed over its waters; the once dull and callous eyes that ignored the sea's wonders became wide in fright and horror. The clear sea rejoiced at its newfound respect, but always after its triumphs it discovered a grief that had sunk to the heart of its depths. Few men now sailed upon its transparent waves, and soon the sea found itself regretful and alone amongst the men it had drowned.

At this time, a young maiden walked along distant shores. Her dark, blue gown and black curls flowed with the wind; her bare feet lightly pressed against the sand. The moment her toes lapped into the water the sea knew that she was beautiful. The maiden began to weep.

At this, the sea's waves crashed into syllables: "Dear maiden," it said, "Why must you add drops of sorrow into mywaters? I already contain more than anyone could hold. So do not weep! But if you must, take my water and splash it on your eyes, and let us share our grief."

The maiden waded into the water to her knees, and the sea knew that she was very beautiful. "Oh sea," she lamented softly, "I am a sister to many wonderful maidens. Long ago we came to life after hearing our names spoken and traveled the world to spread our gifts." The dark-blue maiden raised her head to the horizon; her eyes glimmered with fond remembrance. "There is sister Splendor who shone her most valuable diamond in front of the sun and colored the world with its beams. And sister Poesy! Oh how wonderful she was! I heard her sing a poem for so long that she wrapped the earth with her beautiful words. And there are sisters Imagina and Sense, who danced arm in arm throughout the world to leave their footprints forever upon the earth. And how can I tell of Suspense and the high cliffs she hoisted? Or Beauty, who cradled the first man in her lap while he slept so that he would be prepared to meet the first woman? Oh, and Peace and . . ." here her voice became silent, cut short by tears. "All my sisters but I have succeeded!" she wailed, "And there is nothing in the world that can receive me!"

The sea listened to the poor woman in amazement, its hope lifting with its waves. Soon the water rose to the maiden's waist, and the sea knew that her beauty was beyond comparison. The waves crashed once more in a surge of words, "I know of your sisters, young maiden. Long have I wished them to bless my waters with some wondrous gift, yet they each passed over me or beyond me, never through me. Now I tremble and gaze upon the faces of many who care not for me, for my waters are clear as the sky."

The dark maiden cupped a pool of water in her hands and splashed its coolness upon her face. Her tears mingled with the sea, the water dripping from her cheek. "Oh sea, you have felt and brought much grief! It is as clear to me as your depths. The wonder has faded from your waves."

The sea churned about the maiden and whispered, "It would not be so, if you would deem me worthy of your gift."

The maiden smiled and waded further into the water until small waves caressed her bare arms. The water soon rose to her shoulders, and the sea felt itself unworthy, for he knew that her beauty was overwhelming. The dark, blue maiden gazed upon the water: "The gift I give is myself," she breathed, "I have traveled to the sky and to the vales, over brooks and through forests. None can contain me, for I grow beyond them. Great sea, are you vast enough to hold me?"

The sea puffed its waves in a show of confidence. "I can. You have wandered long and though you know it not, your presence has been felt by many places, save by me. Yet my waters run deep and my surfs flow wide. It would be a privilege to house you," His words splashed about her.

The maiden laughed. "Then you shall be my love, and I shall be your wonder for all to gaze upon, but never to grasp." Stepping further, her smooth neck entered the water and the sea could no longer contain its joy at the sense of her beauty.

"What is your name?" the sea passed under her ears.

The blue maiden's eyes smiled upon the sea, as if she were revealing her innermost secret.

"I am known as Melanie, and am the last heavenly sister, Mystery," she spoke and dove into the sea's embrace. Her soaking, dark-blue gown seemed to expand throughout the surface; its blue cloth flowed with the tide, mixing itself with the rippling waters. Her black curls embraced the bottom of the ocean and spread throughout the depths. The once clear crystal of water became obscured by the dark colors; they lovingly embraced each fish and landform and reached to the sandy bottom in graceful swirls. Soon, the flowing blue spread beyond the coast and on into the horizon of the ocean, darkening every clear drop. The gown of mystery obscured all, and from that moment, no one could glimpse through the dark waves the wonders that lay beneath the surface.

The waves became torrents of delight, dancing and falling along the shores. The now dark-blue tides flooded over the beaches in bliss while whirlpools from the deep celebrated the destined union.

"Melanie," the sea whispered to itself, "What a lovely name."

Throughout the currents the sea heard her voice, "I am home!"