Here be stories our friends submitted. Some be landlubbers, some be of the sea and spray. See how well they fare herein!
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-New- MAGIC HOUR
By Susan Stroh
When I was 18, a lead actress traveling around Europe, Poland and Scandinavia in a play/good will tour, I went to Denmark. After a day of several performances, the next day found our group making the usual round of tourist spots. One on our list was the site of "The Little Mermaid," a small sculpture of the character in Hans Christian Anderson's fairy tale by the same name.
As my group-mates clicked their cameras, I watched and hid my disappointment. She was lovely in form, but so forlorn. Birds had flown overhead, and to add to that insult, she seemed sullied by the brash comments of too many gaping tourists, many of whom from their comments had never read the story. The poor Little Mermaid seemed imprisoned on that dark rock.
A few days later, my Finnish family came over by ferry from Finland via Sweden to greet me and see our group perform outside of Copenhagen in the countryside. I was thrilled to see this wonderful family less than a year after I'd left their home as an exchange student.
After the performance we spent a day touring Denmark and ended up at "Hamlet's imposing castle", Kronsberg. At nearby Helsingor, I saw my joyful family off on the Ferry to Sweden at magic hour (an hour or so before sunset when the light suffuses softly and the environment glows with "God" light streaking from the heavens.)
As the ferry drew further away, I realized that my esteem for my family enabled me to extend my space bigger and bigger so that, in effect, I didn't have to let them go just yet.
Finally, when I could no longer see their hands waving and the sun was rapidly slipping down to caress the horizon, nostalgia and melancholy seized my heart. To try to shake off these dark feelings, I stepped off the dock and walked down to the beachhead where I shed my sandals and walked out into the sea waist high, oblivious of the fact my shorts and shirt would soon be soaked. Tears swam in my eyes and then dropped into the gentle waves. My heart ached with the void and uncertainty of when I'd see Kaija, my Finnish sister and her kind, loving family again.
Suddenly, out of the pink and orange water came a large fish, startling me so much I lost my balance and fell backward into the waves. For a few seconds I swirled down underwater.
Strangely, I didn't have an urgent need to surface, as I usually would. I opened my eyes and saw mostly bubbles but caught sight of the tail of the fish swishing away from me. I should have been frightened, but instead, I felt a growing interest and excitement to see more of this fish.
The creature answered my curiosity by circling back around me, but by then I had to surface to get some air. What happened next was so bizarre, I can scarcely believe it happened except for the proof I have to this day.
After an enormous breath I felt myself lifted up above the waves in an exhilarating toss. For a second I remembered reading about dolphins nudging people with their noses, perhaps a dolphin lifted me! But just then the "fish" popped up before me as I descended into the waves and I saw the head and shoulders of a girl! Yes, a girl about my age, with hair the color of sunsets and a face glowing with radiant health.
She laughed playfully and at that instant, a thrill went through my entire body, electric, pulsing. I whooped and hollered as one does sometimes when so exhilarated one cannot contain the excitement. The girl answered my shouts with a full throated hum as she flipped down into the water with a fabulous flash of a fish tail. Stunned I realized beyond any doubts that the girl and the fish were one and the same!
Before I could process this shock, she surfaced once more and swam directly towards me. Face to face, she lifted my body as she did her own, high into the air. In the rush upward, I can only recall her eyes sparkling with joy as we smiled happily into each other's pearly wet faces. She laughed as if to say, "Yes, I am real. This is real, my friend."
With a sparkling spray, she waved and dove into the darkening water. And for as long as I could see in all directions, there was only a normal rippling of rhythmic waves, uninterrupted by any creature.
The wind came up as I finally had the presence of mind to swim to shore. I walked out shivering, but not with cold. I was shivering with the transformation to soul and flesh. I felt charged with a magical energy. Nature nurtured me and everywhere: on beach, in trees and sky, life forms seemed to blush from the admiration pouring out of me.
I walked around the glistening village for an hour before boarding a bus back to Copenhagen. I was singing to myself and when I passed people, they looked up, nodded and broke into silly grins, perhaps mirroring my own.
I sang because there are no permanent voids. There is always playful possibility and the possibility to play.
I sang because I had a secret that could not be kept but had to be sung--a tune of youthful gratitude for having been chosen by a mermaid.
I continued to sing because as I was walking, when I reached into the pocket of my shorts, still damp from the sea, I found a piece of amber. It shimmered in my hand, smooth and golden--a perfect reflection of the sea at magic hour--and of the face of a being whose countenance shone with an everlasting hope.