I love the sea.
Tonight I’ll make it love me back.
My feet dig deeper into the sand, the wild surf sucking the shore from under me. Wind whips my hair around me. The waves pull at my nightdress, the white cotton sticking transparent to my skin as it holds onto the water that fights me.
I like the way the sea fights the moon. It’s strong and reckless. I like the pull I feel in it, as if it wants my heart and soul.
Tonight I’ll give it one.
My grandmother once told me, “Georgia, take what you love and make it yours.”
Her words say that the sea will be mine. Maybe that’s a selfish thought, but most witches are selfish. Tale as old as time.
I wade father into the surf, up to my waist. The salt water fortifies me, making magic sing in my veins. My skin is full of the grit of salt and sand, and my hands fill with water warm from a summer sun that long since vanished over the horizon. The moon waxes. I hardly need the lantern I left on the sand.
As I start to whisper, clouds roll in. Even the heavens know that a seawitch is at work. But a tempest couldn’t stop me now.
At first, I whisper words that the sea will recognize. I match the rhythm of the old language to the song of the surf slapping the shoreline. I speak of waves and wanting.
The sea is dark and it kisses the shore over and over. That’s what I want from it. Want. A lover worthy of a seawitch has to come from the place her magic lies thicker than blood. I will have a lover. Tonight the sea will give me one.
I speak faster. The old language is silk and honey on my tongue, dripping from my lips and onto the sea. I speak words of building life. Bones and sinew and a beating heart. A ribcage of coral, eyes like sea glass, a body as strong as the waves, a mind ten thousand leagues deep. And the heart. The heart must beat.
“You give of yourself,” my grandmother said. “That is the way of a witch.”
So maybe not entirely selfish, witches.
And so his heart must beat with blood. I must give that of myself.
I whisper those words too, and the sea hears me. Lightning splits across the moon, leaving lines of light in my vision. The waves roil and growl and snarl like thunder, and then there is thunder too. Sheets of rain pour down, soaking me where the seawater has yet to reach. Clouds cover the moon, defying the wind.
The words become a chant as rainwater courses down my face. My magic reaches out into the waves. It threatens to pull me down to the bottom of the sea, but I hold fast. My palms heat with magic.
The knife is slick in my hand. I am not afraid of this magic. The sea will give me a lover if I give it my blood. Fair trade.
The sky splits as the sea whispers the old language back to me. It sings of fingers, skin and teeth. Gulls cry in the wind. I wait.
The waves crash and crash and crash. Rain pelts the ocean, but it doesn’t stand a chance against the salty tide. Lighting flashes and the edges of the clouds stand out like embers. I stand in nature’s crescendo.
The sea’s song changes from whispered spell to demand. It sings for a beating heart. The pull of magic is strong in my gut. The sea sings for blood.
In the old language I whisper, “Heart of hearts, blood of mine. Take this life and make it thine.”
I pull the knife across my heart. Blood spills hot and red down my nightdress, sizzling where it drips into the saltwater.
Water sucks away from me, the magic pulling it out and back in again so fast that I stumble and fight for footing. A stories-tall wave overtakes me, and I fight against the sea and the magic. The ocean pulls me under.
The water tastes of salt and blood. My chest burns. Salt in an open wound and lungs that ache for air. The sea doesn’t sing. I cannot find the surface. All is black, and I have failed.
Stars explode in my eyes, and I inhale saltwater.
Something clamps around my arm, and I’m bombarded with a rush of sea air. Strong arms carry me to shore as water pours from my mouth, my nose, burning and hot. My eyes stream with tears. I cough and splutter, but in the light of the moon I grab a hand that smells of brine and my blood.
“Who are you?” I ask the sea-glass eyes.
He pushes my hair out of my face. “Yours,” he says.
For more amazing art by Alina Sliwinska, please visit her Deviant Art page (lady-amarillis.deviantart.com). Stay tuned for Rebecca’s answer to this prompt on Wednesday. Follow us on Twitter to get updates and news.
Artwork © Copyright, Alina Sliwinska 2011. All rights reserved. Used with permission.