short story, story promptLuke hears the entrancing song of a woman, but she sounds so sad. He seeks her out, but before he can find out what’s wrong, she dives into the ocean and disappears.

The waves were gently caressing the shore as Luke walked along the sand, staying just out of their reach. Reflections of the stars glimmered in the ocean. The faintest sliver of a moon was visible above the horizon. He felt the familiar peace settle over him that he always felt coming down to the cove at night.

The tourists had all gone for the day. The beach was his.

He frowned as the salty air brought a strange noise to his ears. Was someone singing? Was someone still on his beach at this time of night? He followed the sound to the edge of the cove where the cliffs jutted out to sea. Unless he wanted to swim, he wasn’t going any further.

He tilted his head and listened for the sound. Nothing. It’s stopped. Did I imagine it?

Shrugging, he sat on the sand. It still held some of the heat from the sun, warding off the chill of the evening. He froze as the singing began again. It was closer this time. He couldn’t make out the words, but he could hear the mournful lilt. For some reason, it tugged at him, urging him to go to the singer.

Slowly, he got to his feet and moved to the water’s edge. A woman, he decided. It’s a woman singing. She sounds so sad. He couldn’t repress the feeling that he had to comfort her. He had to find her and tell her everything would be okay.

He looked towards the base of the cliffs that descended into the water. There was a rocky outcrop that was raised high above the water’s surface. On top, a woman stood staring out at the ocean. She was the one singing.

Luke spied the narrow line of rocks that led to her perch and hurried over to them, scrambling across them in his haste to get to her. She was so focused on her song, she didn’t seem to notice when he was finally standing right behind her.

He listened, entranced by her voice and the strange, melancholy song. He didn’t know how long he stood there, but eventually her song came to an end. With a deep sigh, she looked down at the waves.

“Are you okay?” he asked.

Shrieking, she whirled around, losing her balance on the damp rock. Luke caught her before she could fall. Her wide turquoise eyes stared at him, shock and fear mingling in their depths.

“I’m sorry! I didn’t mean to startle you.” He set her gently on her feet. “I heard your song and thought you might need comforting. You sounded so sad.”

“L-leave me alone!”

Luke held up his hands and backed away. “I’m not going to hurt you.”

She didn’t seem to hear him. She was glancing about wildly, as if looking for an escape route. He belatedly realised he was blocking the only safe path off the rock. He moved away, to show her she could leave if she wanted.

His movement must have startled her. Next thing he knew, she was diving into the dark water.

“Wait! That’s dangerous!” He fell to his knees and peered over the edge. He saw something swimming away rapidly and had to blink twice. Was that… had he just seen…? He shook his head firmly and got to his feet.

Impossible. There are no such things as mermaids…

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