Anita Wu: Confession

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Anita Wu

“Can I tell you something?” She looked at the drink she held in her hand, refusing to bring her gaze to me.

I gently closed my book and placed it on the picnic blanket, gesturing for her to sit next to me so that we could face the scenic river before us. She placed her cup beside my book and settled next to me, but I was aware of the space she left between us. She still refused to look at me, so I laid my hand on my knee, palm facing upwards as though to tell her that I was listening and to give her the choice to reach out.

“What’s up, Sara?” I prompted her. I watched as she glanced around, opening and closing her mouth as though she did not know how to speak. “You can tell me anything.”

“I’m not human,” she whispered, still looking away. As though in affirmation, a bird cawed above us.

But her existence told me otherwise. Her eyes sparkled when she glimpsed the beauty of a whale during our trip out to sea, and her laugh echoed through the caves we wandered in darkness. Her body danced as we made our way through various cities and met countless personalities who fell in love with her just as I had. Even now, I saw the nervousness in her lowered head, her hair at mercy of the wind, and she sat beside me in form.

“To be human is to live,” I told my fiancée, our wedding a mere month away. She looked me in the eyes then, and I saw the glimmer of tears in her golden irises.

Sara claimed she was a Siren, banished from the ocean and forced to flee to land. Her condition for return was to bring someone to endure her punishment on her behalf.

“Were you going to sacrifice me, then?” I asked, knowing I would easily agree to be blindfolded by her for a surprise and just as easily be caught and shipped off into the ocean, never to appear before my family again.

“No, no!” she shouted, repeated, grabbing my hand, then said, “That has passed. I already…”

She trailed off and lowered her head once more. “Already what, Sara?”

She spun me a tale. Years ago, she had made friends, spent months in their company, and trusted them enough to tell them the truth; for Sirens, to them and to me, did not exist. Sirens, werewolves, and vampires were things of myth, stories told through the generations for entertainment. Scientifically, they did not exist.

“But we would never reveal ourselves. Humans would hunt and trap us. We would be used for experiments or trophies. Tell me: would you want to be stabbed with toxins for the curiosity of others who have no care for the value of your life and only for the fact that you remained breathing and scientifically ‘alive’?”

Her friends’ response to her secret was to splash a glass of water in her face, to test the myth that she would turn to a fish once she came in contact with water. They were at a restaurant, and everyone in their area paused their dinners to stare at her. They laughed at her, alcohol making them slur their words and stumble in their steps.

“I don’t know why I did it. But I felt wronged—for my entire people. So I took them here.” She gestured at the raging river before us, the cliff rising to heights in the distance, the trees swaying in the wind, and the seldom travelled road behind us. “I dove into the water here, and I showed them my tail. I proved to them that I existed.”

They screamed at her — a freak or monster — and they threw stones at her before running away. One of her friends came back, and she could never forget him because he held a glimmer in his eyes, a grin on his lips, and a rifle in his hands.

“That’s the scar on my arm.” She brought her hand to grip her arm, covering the scar that I had always asked her about but that she would never feel comfortable sharing.

“Why now?” I asked, unsure how to respond at being flooded with this—information that should not make sense yet explained so many things of the past. Sara loved the ocean and all bodies of water, but she refused to go into them. She claimed that she didn’t know how to swim and that she had a traumatic experience as a child of being in the water, forcing her to avoid even wading in and enjoying the cool waters. “Why did you not just leave me in the dark forever?”

Sara looked away again.

“My people pitied me after that incident. They lifted my punishment and allowed me back home.”

“I’ve heard enough stories to know that a but is coming.” I gave her a sad smile and squeezed her hand.

“I must wed a Siren when the time comes.”

“And I am certainly not a Siren.”

She smiled, then frowned.

“So tell me, darling, am I not mad because your voice can soothe my emotions? Or am I just too heartbroken to feel anything right now?”

She kissed me then. “Do you want to be a Siren?”

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