When Tomas was born he could not hear. The nursemaid cooed and his mother cried but only silence fell upon Tomas's ears.
He grew up a happy boy in the sea side town of Wev. When other children began to speak, Tomas's parents taught him about the world with their hands. They weaved stories with their fingers and in turn he crossed his heart, and signed that he loved them every night.
When it was time to go to school his parents sent him across town to a school where children were taught with signs instead of voices. Everyday Tomas and his father crossed the five bridges of Port Well early in the morning, and every evening they crossed them again on their way home. They would converse for the entire 2 hour journey. Tomas's father would tell him stories about the whalers he met on the harbor, and Tomas would ask questions everyday.
By the time Thomas turned 14 he had been told everyone of his fathers stories a hundred times, but he didn't mind the hours they spent walking and talking were his favorite part of every day.
One chilly Autumn day Tomas's father shared the news that 3 sailors had gone missing from the dock beneath the first bridge. One after another for three days in a row. His father signed about beautiful women and strange singing. A shiver ran down Tomas's spine, but he shrugged off the folk tales of sailors.
That night when they crossed the same and final bridge on the way back home Tomas's father, slowed and wandered toward the ledge. His eyes were distant as he pulled himself over the little wall. Tomas watched for only a second in confusion and shock before pulling his father down, nudging him off the bridge and the rest of the way home.
A cool and misty morning, some days later, the two men set off on their daily journey. As they crossed onto the second bridge someone working in the water below caught the attention of Tomas's father. The man shouted towards the pair, and Tomas's father signed to him to explain. Another man is missing, this time a dock hand. 9 total gone, and not one man found.
Maybe it was his fathers words or the ocean air, but something chilled Tomas to the bone. He hastened his steps until they were across the bridge.
That evening the end of the school day came and went, but Tomas's father was nowhere to be seen. The other boys were long gone when the instructor finally found Tomas on the front steps and signed to him only It's time to go.
Tomas did not get lost. He knew the bridges like he knew his own hands. But alone the journey seemed twice as long, and extra dark.
When he got to the final bridge he climbed down the muddy stares to the dock where his father worked. The men there know Tomas as his father's son so they did not speak. But Tomas only needed to see their sorry eyes and glances towards the sea to understand that his father was gone.
Instantly he was flooded with rage and grief. Thomas ran off of the dock and waded into the sea, where he wailed and screamed. He couldn't say how long he stayed there stomping and cursing the sea, but maybe hours, maybe minutes later he saw them.
At first it was just one face - a couple of feet away - that seemed to be glowing from some internal light. She was beautiful with eyes that matched the midnight black waves and auburn hair that fluttered gently in the wind, despite the fact that she sat in the tide. Around Tomas more and more lovely faces emerged from the sea. He saw their lips moving and their chests heavin. He stared at them curiously and while their eyes became vicious and their movements more intense. When they began to circle Tomas in the waves he tore through the water and ran all the way home.
The next morning he descended the bridge again, this time with a bag of rocks and a plan. He hefted the sack over his shoulders and waded once more into the sea. He kneeled in the shallow waters and waited for the faces to appear. When they did he threw his rocks at them as hard and as far as he could, but the women in the waves just sang and giggled. When he ran out of rocks and his arm ached from throwing he dragged himself out of the ocean and back across the dock. One of the dock workers watched him as he went, hands pressed over his ears, eyes wet with worry.
On the second morning he returned with a sturdy arrow that his mother used to shoot down seabirds and a quiver full of arrows on his back. He shot them into the sea until there was nothing left. The women of the sea glowered at him with angry stormy eyes but they did not flinch, they did not leave.
All the while the man watched him from the dock, hands over his ears and eyes trained on the sea.
On the third day Tomas came down the stairs with a pack of matches, a canister of oil, and a little pack stuffed with rags. Before he could climb off the dock the old man approached him, a giant whaler's harpoon in his hands. Wordlessly he handed the harpoon to Tomas and gave him a reassuring nod toward the sea. The harpoon was so heavy that Tomas had to drag it off the dock and through the sand.
Once he was waist deep in the ocean Tomas used all the strength to heft the harpoon onto his shoulder. This time he did not have to wait very long at all until the women emerged from the waters and began to sing their songs. Tomas waded out towards them, now chest deep in the cold pre-winter water. He took aim on one of the angel-like faces, contorted with rage and intense song. When his shot landed true the beautiful girl disappeared beneath.
The other sirens glided to her for a few seconds before their anger turned on Tomas. They descended upon him but he did not back down. His second shot took down another, his third another. The closer they got either it was to balance and aim the harpoon.
In moments their anger had transformed to panic as they splashed and fled into the sea. While they retreated something else crept up on to the sand. Soaked and pale and barely crawling dozens of men pulled themselves onto dry land. Gasping for breath that was not filled with salt and sea. Tomas's father emerged from the waves, his eyes alight with pride as he watched his son chase away the beasts of the sea.
But Tomas did not see him. The young man was transfixed on the spectacle before him. A stunning siren, with a perfect pale face and soft pink lips set into a lovely smile. She watched Tomas with the transfixing onyx eyes that had watched him everyday as he crossed the bridge, that had seen every conversation between the boy and his father, that had studied every gesture and every word.
Bobbing in the water she signed the most beautiful story Tomas had ever heard. Her fingers floated through the air and the prose she spun pulled him deeper and deeper into the sea. When Tomas has reached her in the choppy water, under her alluring spell, she pulled him deep into the sea.