Chapter 2: Stranger

There was a girl that lived in a tree. The stories would say her voice was heard from a mile away and from all over the sea.

I found myself sitting next to the fountain. The sun was still shining and the town was still alive with vendors and people walking around. I was wrapped around with a brown blanket, but had no clue how it got there. I looked up and saw a street vendor selling blankets just like it. I got up and rushed to him. “Who gave me this?” I asked him. He looked at me and at the blanket; then he just pointed down the street to a tall blond woman that was walking down. I started running down the street trying to catch up with her, but the more I ran the farther she went. It was like every single opstacle possible wound get in my way! I bumped into two kids that were running around, then into an apple stand and made a mess! The lady in the stand started yelling at me for the mess I had done, but I kept running! I wanted to catch that woman! I almost had her when I heard my name being called. I froze like ice! I hadn’t heard my name since I left my old life. I turned around, scared for my life.

Paul was standing there waving at me with a huge smile. When I realized it was him I turned to see the lady, but it was too late, she was gone. I tuned back to Paul; said hi back and asked him if he had seen that blond woman before. He looked at me like if I was crazy. He then looked around and said he couldn’t see any blond women around. “There aren’t that many blonds here, so if you saw one, I am sure you will see her again. You probably were just dreaming, I saw you napping by the fountain earlier, and gave you that blanket. You looked cold.” He said.

I looked at him very confused. Then, I decided to smile and act cool about it. I didn’t want the only person that knew my name to think I was crazy. “Thanks you for the blanket, that was very kind of you! The sound of the fountain was very soothing and I can see myself falling asleep next to it. Can I buy you a drink as a thank you curtesy?” I asked him. I figured if someone knew about blonds in this town, it had to be him. Having a drink might give me a clue on who she is. I knew from my bones she was real, I had seen her, felt her energy run through every vain in my body. It was not a dream, I had such a vivid memory of her. I just wasn’t sure what the memory was about.

We walked to Pauls favorite bar, which for my surprise it was very cute. It had whiskey barrels cut in half all over the walls, and inside them there were bottles of wine, beer and some other weird blue liquor. Then the tables were very nice solid pieces of wood, all in different natural shapes. They looked like tree trunks but with a modern touch. The bar wasn’t to bright but it wasn’t too dark either. There was a jazz band in the back playing some really nice wind instruments making the room feel light and calm. He brought two whiskeys and two wines to the table and gave me one of each. I told him my intentions were friendly, and I didn’t know we were planning on getting drunk. He looked at me and laughed. “I am not trying to get you drunk. These are my two favorite drinks and I think you are going to love them. Also the show is about to start and I am sure we both wont want to miss it by getting up for drinks.” Then he signaled me to the singer of the band.

A tall blond lady. The tall blond lady. I was sure of it, it was her. I started walking straight to the front. Hypnotized. I couldn’t believe it. Was it the same woman that bumped me earlier? The closer I got the more confused I felt. I was walking into dense water. The closer I tried to get, the harder it was to move. No matter how hard I tried, I just wouldn’t move any faster. It started to feel impossible to move forward. A hand grabbed my shoulder and pulled me out of the water. Paul signaled me a chair and we both sat in the 3rd row from the front. “It’s about to start.” He said.

The pianist started playing, then the drums joined in with a latin soft vibe. They set the mood for a relaxing but energetic show. The piano was soft and romantic but the drums where more folkloric and full of body. When the room was getting full of melodic rhythms, the microphone started singing. Waves of multiple colors converted the room into an ocean. A sea of colors that only I could see. Hypnotized once more, I couldn’t stop looking at her. The way her lips moved as the words would come out of her mouth made rhythms I hand never heard before. The way she would move around the stage made it seem like a we were all swimming in a pool of dreams. She was a mermaid in her own sea. A sea she was creating as her songs filled the space. Beat after beat more people joined the dance floor. And we were all hypnotized by her beauty and her songs. It felt like hours! Hours of looking at her straight at her eyes, hours of indulging on the beauty even though she wasn’t looking back!

The drummer went into a solo, and in his tunes, the ocean tides went back slowly clearing the room back to normal. Everyone started clapping and whistling at the band! So much energy, so much joy! She got the microphone once more and introduced the band. Then she thanks all of us for coming and announces they would be back next week with some new tunes. I got up and told Paul I was going too grab us beers. I knew I would need the liquid courage to talk to her. I got up went to the bar and grab three beers. One for me, one for Paul and one for her. I handed him one beer and then went straight to the blond as she was getting off stage. I looked straight at her eyes and handed her the beer. “Hello stranger, thank you for the journey you took us on.” I said. “I am no stranger M, you just don’t know it yet.” She said back to me.

Chapter 1: Naiad

I packed my bags and ran out of my apartment as fast as I could. I could see the clock tower at the distance mark 5:50pm. I only had 10 minutes to make the train to leave this twisted town. I was ready for a new beginning. I was ready to start fresh in a place no one knew me. I had to make that train! I ran as fast as I could, bouncing my bag off anything that was on my way. When I got to the train station, I shoved myself into the first train I saw. I didn’t care where it was going; I just knew anything was better than this place.

When the train started moving, and I was certain we were out of the city boundaries, I started looking for a place to sit. After walking down the aisle for a couple of minuted looking for an empty seat, I saw a young man siting alone in a cabin. I asked if I could join him. He looked up at me, smiled and moved his suitcase to let me sit. I walked in the cabin, placed my bag under the seat and threw myself in the chair. I felt exhausted! I didn’t know it until I sat down. All the rush of leaving, all the emotions just took over me and without reacting, my body fell asleep.

A light tap on my left shoulder and a gentle voice eventually woke me up. When I opened my eyes, I say the same young man staring at me with a weird face. “Lady, where are going? Are you ok?” I wasn’t sure what he was really saying. The tap on my shoulder started to get a little harder but I still wasn’t really responding. I felt like if I was still half as sleep. Then, I felt like if someone had just put me under a shower! I jump off my seat, to find this young man with an empty open water bottle. “Did you just throw that at me?” I asked. His face changed to relief and said he was glad I was alive. He asked me again where was I going. I replied what does it matter. He looked at me funny and laughed looking out the window. I wasn’t sure what he was laughing at. Then I realized the train wasn’t moving. I looked around and saw that the train was basically empty. I looked back at him and asked where were we. The young man, looked at me with calm eyes and said we were at the end of the trip. “Welcome to Naiad”.

I grabbed my bags and walked out of the cabin. The train was completely empty. It was only this man and me. I jumped off the train as fast as I could. Not scared, but didn’t want to go back. The man jumped off behind me and asked if I needed any assistance. He started talking about how he had grown up in this town and decided to come back after 10 years. His mom had passed away and that brought him back. I looked at him with surprised eyes. Confused about all the personal information he was giving me, a random stranger.

-“I am sorry to hear about your loss, but why are you telling me this, you don’t even know me.”

-“No real reason,; but you look as lost as I once was, like if you were running away from something.”

I didn’t reply, just looked at him. He was a tall handsome man with black hair and honey eyes. I smiled at him and apologized for my rudeness. I told him I was just traveling for a couple of months and wanted to explore this side of the country. That I had heard a lot about its beauty and mystery. He smiled back and gave me a card, told me if I needed anything to just stop by and he could give me a tour or something. Then he grabbed his bags and walked away.

As he was walking away, I realized the train behind me started moving. When I turned around back and the train was gone. No way of me going back now! I grabbed my bag and started running to the man yelling to wait. He turned around and waited for me. “Do you know of any hotel around here?” He smiled at me and told me to follow him. When we left the train station I realized how beautiful the town was. The houses were all painted in different bright colors, the roads were made of rock like the old days. People were in the street singing and dancing. Everyone looked so happy! Where was I?

“Whats your name?” I asked the man. “I thought you were never going to ask. My name is Paul, nice to meet you”, “Mine name is Mara, nice to meet you too. This town looks beautiful” I said. ” Yes it is, it’s even prettier than what I remember. But don’t be fooled, everyone knows it’s cursed. All this beauty comes with a price, so be careful with the mermaids.” Paul said. I looked at him funny when he said mermaids, but I figured it was probably just some town joke to keep tourism away. We walked past a park and then he showed me the hotel. “This is a great friendly place, just show my card and they will give you a discount. If you need anything don’t hesitate to find me. I love traveling alone and every time I find someone I like to help. Only advice I can give you about this place, is don’t go to the woods. There is where they live and you don’t want the curse! All locals know that.” Paul said; and with a very polite goodbye he walked away.

I walked into the hotel and got a room. I threw my stuff next to the bed and opened the window. The view was amazing! the sun was setting down over the mountains and the woods looked like dancing dragons. Large colorful trees kept moving with the wind. I had never seen something so pretty. I kept looking out the window thinking about what Paul had said. How can something so beautiful be cursed? It had to be a local story to keep tourists away. As I looked out the window, the moon took the sky and the colorful dragons became glowing stars. When the last ray of sun was taken by the moon, strange melodies started to come from the forest. It sounded like singing or something. I closed the window and headed to bed. It had been a very long day. I had finally left my old me. I had finally decided to live the life I had in my dreams! I knew tomorrow was going to to be a big day. Tomorrow a new life awaited me. And with those songs coming from a far, I fell a sleep and started dreaming of future me.

The sun was coming in through the window, heating up the room. I opened my eyes and saw the trees at the far glaring at me. You could heard the people walking down the street and venders selling their things. I rolled to my side and the only thing I could think of was that this was my new life. A new place to make a new me!

I crawled out of bed, took a long shower and went off to explore the town. I had some cash I had saved up, so I knew I didn’t have to find a job right away, but it wasn’t a bad idea to start looking what was out there. Walked down the streets, people kept doing their regular routine, barely noticing I was knew to town. I was running from a past I didn’t want so being semi invisible felt good for a change. As I explored one alley that had a crooked water fountain at the end, a strong smell caught my attention. I started following it, trying to find where it was coming from. It smelled like warm coco with strawberries all combined in some old memory of mine. As I turn the corner next to the fountain, I crashed into someone. It was so hard I slipped and fell down to the floor splashing myself with the fountain. Some man yelled at me to watch where I was going, but I was still disoriented and wet! I looked up for a second when I found two ocean blue eyes staring at me. I couldn’t move. They were calm and nurturing. They radiated warmth but at the same time uncertainty. I was lost. The more I looked into them the more I was sucked inside. A soft voice pulled me out of the water. Grabbed my hand and and next thing I know I am standing in front of this beautiful blond woman. She was tall, thin, pail skin and had a small smile on her mouth. She looked at me like if she knew me. I wasn’t surprised, many people knew me from the past I was trying to escape. She put her hand on my head, smiled, and then with a dazzling calm voice told me I was fine. Her eyes were looking straight at mine. I was gone again in a pool of light.