A/N: I wrote this story after a really long gap of not writing anything. I can't say I'm really satisfied with the outcome, as in I felt the language could have been better and some words not as overused as they were etc. But the story seemed to flow out the way it did. Unlike most of my other stories, although written with music playing in the background, it's not directly inspired by a song. Rather it is inspired by a really vivid dream I'd had when I was a bit younger. Hope you like it and please please please give me your feedback and reviews.
As usual I apologise for any typos/spelling/grammatical errors which might have escaped my notice.
Blue Moon's night
It was dusk when Tom found himself at the cliff.
He'd been lost in thought ever since he'd started his trek from the tiny hotel, located at the heart of the seaside village, where he'd lodged when his car had broken down that morning.
"Blood bugger will take two days to get repaired," He thought to himself foully, imagining the number of hours he'd waste instead of getting his job done, for he was a marketing analyst for a reputed chain of hotels, who was scouting out locations for the chain to build a new beach resort.
He thought of his car, his job, his sister's wedding to be held in a month's time, but most of all he thought of his wife, Marguerite. Ever since he'd taken up this job, he spent less time with her. Although it seemed to everyone else that she coped well with the amount of time they spent away from each other, Tom knew that it was not the case. Everyone, including Tom and Marguerite's immediate families, thought them to have a blissful, trouble free marriage, but in reality, their marriage was on the rocks.
"The truth is I never really loved her, nor she me, it was just an infatuation from the start and as all infatuations go, what seemed as love just simply faded away," thought Tom. He knew Marguerite was happy to have him away on the job and he felt happy to be away. Also Marguerite was having an affair, with a man a year younger than her, a young hotshot lawyer, and unlike what a husband might usually feel faced with such a situation, Tom just didn't care. He was going to apply for a divorce after his sister's wedding and intuitively he knew that Marguerite would agree without any problems.
Deep in his thoughts, he hadn't noticed when he'd strayed off the path he had started with and reached the cliff. Realization of his surroundings hit him and he jolted back to reality. He could see the sea waves crashing against the rocks below, slightly tinged orange with the rays of the setting sun, and a bit to the right, the little beach which was the main (not to mention only attraction) of the village.
Tom stared at the sea, as if mesmerized by its beauty, when he heard a voice call out from behind him, "Hello stranger."
Startled, 'cause he thought he was alone, Tom turned around to see a young woman of about twenty-three, standing with a smile on her lips. She was quite pretty, petite, with a slight frame, dark curly hair till her shoulders and warm green eyes. She wore a peasant blouse and a skirt which fell till her ankles and three necklaces of various lengths made of different coloured beads and shells, and on her hand she carried a basket full of wild flowers growing around the cliff path.
"Well hello," said Tom awkwardly, "I didn't notice you. I was lost in my thoughts and I thought I was quite alone."
The woman's smile broadened, "So I noticed," she said merrily, and gave a short laugh.
"You must be new here, not many come to the cliff on Blue moon's night," she continued.
"Excuse me?" said Tom, quite puzzled.
"Oh! Don't you know?" asked the woman, "Tonight is the night of the Blue moon." Seeing Tom's bewildered face, she continued, "It's a full moon's night when the moon appears twice as large and completely blue. It's said that on such a night, people shouldn't be walking about as the barrier between our world and other magical ones becomes thinner and all sorts of creatures come roaming around."
Tom looked incredulously at the description given by the woman. She laughed and said, "It's just a silly superstition prevalent among coastal villages of this area, there is nothing to worry about. Come I'll walk you back to the village. My name is Ann by the way."
Saying this she grabbed Tom's hand and pulled him towards the path, which lead to the village. Feel utterly lost Tom let himself be led by this strange woman.
"You didn't tell me your name…or should I keep calling you stranger?" asked Ann jokingly. "I'm sorry, it was rude of me. It's Tom," said Tom sheepishly.
"Well hello Tom, it was nice to meet you," said Ann. "Likewise," said Tom, finding himself warming to this strange but friendly woman.
"So Tom, now that you know about Blue moon's night, would you like to listen to our village legend associated with this night?" Ann asked.
"Sure, why not? It would pass the time on our walk back," said Tom, "But tell me Ann, aren't villagers supposed to be a superstitious lot? If so, how come you are out and about today? For I did notice the lack of people on the streets, when I started out on my walk in the afternoon."
"Oh Tom! Not all villagers are superstitious, although most are! But to be honest I like walking around at this time as I can be alone, and collect the most exquisite wildflowers from the cliff, which bloom only when the Blue moon shines," said Ann, with a smile.
"Now let me tell you the story," She continued, and Tom noticed her voice sounded a bit odd, somehow deeper and older like a voice from a different time, but he shrugged off the feeling and listened to her speak.
"A long time ago, there lived a man in this village, who was a blacksmith by trade. He had a loving wife and a booming business. Only thing lacking in his life was a child. Every night after finishing his work, he used to go and sit on the beach and pray to the Gods of old to bless him and his wife with a child. It is said that one night, after many years of praying on the beach, his wish was granted.
It was a Blue moon's night when a sea sprite, who had come ashore to take some time off from her duties at the Sea king's court, heard his desperate plea to the Gods for a child. Being a compassionate soul, she felt sorry for the poor man and gave a silent blessing that he and his wife would have a child on the next Blue moon's night. Sure enough about two years later, when the next blue moon shone, he and his wife were blessed with a sweet baby girl. As she became older, she was the apple of her parents' eyes, not to mention loved by the entire village for not only was she pretty, she was kind, generous and helpful.
Inexplicably she was always drawn to the sea, for unknown to her, her parents and the villagers; it was a consequence of being born of the sea sprite's blessing.
Almost every night, when the entire village was asleep she would wake up and walk along the beach, the sea waves gently caressing her feet, always feeling as if her very soul was waiting for something to happen.
One night after her eleventh birthday, a strange thing happened during her nightly walk at the beach. For fatefully, it was a Blue moon's night when she was greeted by the most beautiful young boy she had ever seen. He looked about twelve, although he was tall for his age. He had a delicate face like an exquisitely carved statue from long, lost civilizations; long golden brown hair which shone as if woven with crystals, the brightest green eyes she ever seen, and the most amazing smile, and when he laughed it sounded like the gentle splashing of the sea against the shore.
He was one of the Sea King's sons and with one look at him; she knew this was the moment she had been yearning for, for all her life.
They met almost every night after that fateful day, and their friendship grew with the passing years till the year when she turned sixteen and found herself falling in love with the young Prince who had grown into a handsome youth. For months she kept her feelings hidden from him, afraid of losing him as her friend till finally on the night of her seventeenth birthday, he confessed to having similar feelings for her as she for him, sealing their love for each other with a kiss.
For a year, each night the young lovers met. Each night they talked, laughed, kissed and made love among the waves and the sand, blissfully content with their lives when one day after she had turned eighteen, her world was turned upside down. Her parents wanted her to get married, now that she was of age. The man they chose for her was a banker, a compassionate and attractive dark haired man who was eight years her senior. Horrified at the turn of events, she told her young prince about the situation, when she met him that night and begged him to take her away with him so that they'd be together.
Worried the prince told her that taking her to his world wouldn't be easy and he would have to convince his father to allow her to enter the underwater kingdom. And all of that would take about a year. He kissed her and told her to go back and wait for a year, without stepping on the beach till she heard him call for her, singing a song which she had wrote for him.
What he had forgotten to mention was that time moves differently in both worlds for what was a year for his kingdom was five years in this world.
Within three months of that night her parents got her married to the banker. Although he made her want of nothing and showered her with affection she never warmed to him and always thought of her lover. Two years went by but there was no sign of her prince. She refused to believe that he had forgotten about him even though the circumstances showed otherwise. For those two years she had not allowed her husband to touch her, for although they were man and wife in society's eyes, they weren't so in each others. This saddened the banker to no end for he had grown to love this strange young woman who seemed so lost and unhappy. Four years went by and she started to doubt her convictions about her lover ever coming back to her and this led to her opening up slightly towards her husband, which delighted the man. She had grown fond of the quiet man with his warm smile, whose eyes sparkled with wit and wisdom. Her growing affections for the man, led her to willingly share her bed with him and make them man and wife the actual sense.
He was a much different lover than her prince had been, more earthy and passionate where her prince had been sensuous and wildly seductive like the sea from where he had come.
As a couple of months went by she realized she was with child. Her husband and parents were very happy and some months later she gave birth to a healthy baby boy.
But as fate would have it, one night when the blue moon shone and her baby boy was two months old, she was woken up from her sleep by the sea breeze carrying the soft, lilting voice of her prince singing the song she had written for him so long ago.
At first she couldn't believe it. It had been five years since she had seen him. She hesitated for a while thinking it a dream, but she realized that it wasn't so. Quietly she woke up and slipped out of the house without disturbing her sleeping child and husband.
She walked to the beach, marveling that she hadn't been there at all in the past five years, all the while listening for the song in the breeze.
When she arrived at the beach, she was shocked to see her prince dressed in an tunic of golden scales, with a crown made of precious stones and shells on his head and his long hair tied loosely behind him, smiling warmly at her.
With a soft cry she ran into his outstretched arms, kissed him fiercely on his lips and burst into tears. He murmured softly in her ears, begging for forgiveness that he'd made her wait for so long and that he had come to take her with him to his kingdom that very night, leaving her old life behind, never to set foot ashore again.
She hesitated for a bit, thinking of how much she'd miss her infant son… her loving parents… her kind husband who had stood by her all these years when she had suffered from heartache for her prince…the village where she grew up… but looking at the radiant face of her lover, she agreed but with the condition that she be allowed to come ashore every Blue moon's night, to look over her family and spend time in the village of her youth.
The prince agreed provided that the night she came ashore she would do so in secret, not letting anyone know of her presence.
The moment she nodded her agreement to his proposal, the prince gave a cry of pure joy and took her in his arms and dove into the sea.
The next morning the village was in uproar at her disappearance. They searched high and low for her but to no avail until about a week from that day, a fisherman came across a woman's dress floating on the waves near the rocky cliff. It was the dress she had been wearing on the evening before she had disappeared. It was widely known that she had been depressed; and many felt that she had snapped and in a moment of weakness, taken her own life by jumping off the cliff.
Her poor parents were grief stricken but none was more heartbroken than her husband, who for many years refused to believe that she had taken her own life. For months after her supposed death, he would wait up at night with the hope that she might return, but she never did.
Life moved on in the village. Her son grew up and had a family of his own and till his death, her husband in some corner of his heart always hoped that she was alive and well; though he had long since given up his hope of her ever coming back…
Even till today, no one knows what exactly happened to her, but it is said that few villagers have seen a woman, with her likeness, walk around the beach on some rare nights, but before they can make sure, she disappears and they feel it was a part of their imagination."
"Well, how did you like the story?" asked Ann in her normal voice, wide eyed with expectation.
"It was lovely, like a fairy tale," said Tom appreciatively, "although I do feel sad for the poor husband and the son, but I guess love for her prince is what mattered to the blacksmith's daughter most."
"Somehow I feel you do not agree with her choice," said Ann with a smile.
"Well to be honest no," said Tom, "It was her choice I know, but I can't imagine a love being so powerful, so consuming and so entirely fulfilling to make you leave behind all those you care and all those who love you."
On hearing Tom's words Ann laughed. "You are interpreting a local legend with a contemporary view."
Tom joined in with a laugh. "Perhaps I am!" he said with a grin.
"Hmm….from what you said I guess, you have never truly felt love in your life," said Ann thoughtfully.
"Yes, you are right," said Tom softly, his thoughts briefly flashing back to Marguerite and his marriage. "But what do I know of what life has in store for me in future," he continued lightly, "And you Ann, have you ever loved a person that intensely?"
Ann's smile deepened and a blush crept into her cheeks, "Yes, I have," she said, and Tom noticed that her voice had changed again to the one when she'd been telling her story. "We've been apart for a whole day and I can't wait to meet him tonight," she said with a faraway look in her eyes.
As if suddenly jerked to reality, she exclaimed, "Oh look Tom! We're already near the village. This is where we must part ways. "
Startled by her statement, Tom asked, "Aren't you going to come?"
"Oh not yet…I still have some more flowers to collect," said Ann with a gesture towards the basket in her hand. "Good bye Tom, it was lovely meeting you and I hope you always remember me."
Feeling a bit sad to be losing this friendly woman's company, Tom said, "Good bye Ann, it was a pleasure meeting you too. I really enjoyed your story and I'm here for a couple of days so we might run into each other again."
At his words, Tom noticed a sad smile on Ann 's face, but it was so fleeting that he was not sure, for at a second glance Ann was smiling with her usual warmth, "We'll see," she said, " Now I must really be going otherwise I'll take too long collecting my flowers and miss my rendezvous. Take care, Tom." And with a wave of her hand she turned around and walked back towards the cliff path.
Tom walked rest of the way in silence, with thoughts about the story and Ann.
On reaching the hotel, the manager, a striking woman in her fifties, gave him the news that his car would be repaired the following afternoon.
This cheered him up completely and in a spurt of spontaneity he hugged the older woman, who gave a cry of surprise.
Shocked at what he had done, Tom apologized profusely to the woman, who although was as shocked as he, accepted his apology with a twinkle in her eyes.
His long walk had made Tom aware of how hungry he was. He went to the hotel's in-house restaurant and ordered some food and a glass of beer.
He sat on his chair, drinking his beer, musing over the events of the day, his eyes wandering lazily over the portraits hung on the restaurant's walls when he sudden came across one, which made him choke on his drink.
"Are you alright young man?" asked the anxious manager offering a glass of water to a coughing Tom.
"I'm fine," Tom managed to splutter in midst of gulps.
"What happened?" the manager enquired, "I hope the beer wasn't too strong for you. It is a local one brewed in the village which has at times been a bit too much to take for outsiders."
"Oh no, it wasn't the beer at all! I was just startled to see that portrait on the far wall," said Tom, gesturing towards the painting, "It's really a huge coincidence, I met the woman in the picture when I was out on my walk."
It was the Tom noticed the strange look on the manager's face, "I'm afraid, the beer was too strong for you," she said with a sniff, "Not to mention you were out in the sun for too long."
Tom stared at the woman, surprised by her tone, "Whatever do you mean? I just mentioned about meeting this woman…Ann was her name…we talked a bit on my walk back and she told me an amazing story, a legend of this village… "
"Well sir, I can't see how that would be possible," said the manager, her tone suddenly kind, "For the woman in the portrait whom you insist on having met today, has been dead for years."
Seeing Tom's shocked face, she continued, "Her name was Annabel, she was my great-great grandmother. She was the daughter of the village blacksmith and had married my great-great grandfather who was a banker. She committed suicide about five years after her wedding and when her son, my great-grandfather, was just a baby, though her body was never found. No one knew why she decided to take her life, but she had been depressed ever since her wedding had been fixed. After her death, my great-great grandfather left his job and decided to convert this house to a hotel. I'm his great-great granddaughter and our family has been managing this place for generations."
Tom sat very still trying to absorb this information. The manager looked at him curiously and asked, "Where did you say you met her?"
"At the cliff," replied Tom.
"It figures," said the manager with a sad smile, "It was the place where she was supposed to have committed suicide. Also it is said to have been a place which she liked frequenting when she was alive; after the beach of course; for she loved the wildflowers which grew along the cliff path."
"Then you mean to say, I spent my afternoon talking to a dead woman," asked Tom disbelievingly.
The manager laughed softly. "No my good sir, " she said, "Today being a day when a blue moon is supposed to shine at night, if old superstitions are to be believed, meeting a dead woman's spirit is nothing out of the ordinary. But I'm sure modern folks, including myself, would like more scientific explanations to such phenomenon. Perhaps you read of the village legend or heard someone say something similar…perchance you'd have seen the painting before but failed to register it at the moment; not to mention your day was quite stressful, culminating with a walk under the hot afternoon sun…well I say anything is possible, where the human imagination is at work."
Saying this, the manager left to fetch Tom his food.
"Was it really a ghost I saw?" Tom mused, "Somehow I refuse to believe it even if the manager thinks I'm batty."
Ann had felt so real… so full of life. Tom remembered her strong grip on his arm, her friendly way of speaking and the warmth of her smile. "A ghost can't exactly feel like that," Tom muttered to himself, as the manager came in with a warm tray of food.
That night, Tom was unable to sleep. He tossed and turned, trying all conventional methods of attracting sleep but the events of the day kept playing over and over in his mind. Knowing his efforts were futile, Tom got up and dressed, deciding to take a stroll outside.
As he snuck out of the hotel quietly, by the light of the moon, he saw that the streets were deserted, the houses locked up and windows dark. The whole village was asleep. He looked up at the sky, and saw a full moon which to his astonishment shone a deep icy blue.
All of a sudden, he was filled with an unexplained desire to visit the little beach. He walked quickly towards it, urged by a feeling in his gut that if he was late he'd miss something very important.
As he neared the beach, Tom saw a lone figure sitting near the waves. Squinting, he made out that the figure was a woman with her back towards him.
Tom was about to call out when she got up and turned slightly so that he could see her face. He gave an audible gasp. It was Ann!
Before he could react, the sea waves near Ann's feet became quite still and started glowing slightly with a silvery light. The glowing increased in intensity till Tom couldn't bear to gaze at it and shut his eyes. When he opened them again, he saw a handsome, smiling man in a bright tunic, with long golden brown locks, which shown like crystals and an exotic crown of shells and pearls on his head, standing with body half submerged in the water. Ann gave a shout of happiness and ran to him. He caught hold of her and kissed her passionately. The sea around them started glowing as before and Tom closed his eyes again at the sheer brightness of it.
When he opened his eyes, they were both gone, leaving no sign that they had been there just moments ago.
As Tom walked back to the hotel, he tried to make sense of what he had just witnessed, but then he found that he didn't need to. He just knew it in his heart.