I only held him in my arms for a brief time before releasing him into the dark waters. But in that time, so much of who he was flowed into my being, into my heart, into my soul, I was reluctant to let him go. But, I knew – he would die if I did not make the sacrifice.
I yawned, stretched and got out of bed. It was a long holiday weekend and I found myself at odds with what to do. The last few weeks had been treacherous at work. I needed to get away for a few days.
The love of my life had passed away five years earlier but I still wasn’t over it. I wondered if I would ever get over it. The idea of finding someone new was beyond consideration. I would never let myself become so absorbed, so entwined, so dedicated to another human being. I couldn’t go through that pain of loss again.
I did have Max, a pup we had shared from the day he was born, three years before Jeff left me. It was some consolation, though I wondered how many more years before Max passed on. The lifespan of pups is never long enough. I had already buried two during my lifetime. I wasn’t looking forward to another one.
I called several friends only to find they had plans for the holiday and were unavailable to play with me. I decided Max and I would take a trip up the coast and tramp along the water’s edge. That sounded like a perfect way to unwind and it would give Max a chance to roam and sniff everything in sight to his heart’s content. I did take him to work but still, he suffered from cabin fever as much as I did.
I packed a few things for me and the mutt and headed out of L.A. We made it through Santa Barbara and Solvang when I began to tire of driving. I knew of a small motel beyond Pismo Beach where Jeff and I had stayed years earlier.
Shell Beach was an out of the way charming place. The overhead WILLKOMMEN sign on the side of this cottage complex was still visible from the highway, but the German couple who owned it were no longer there. A nice young couple welcomed us for the night’s stay.
We had breakfast and were on our way early the next morning. It was a bright, and clear day but, I could smell a change in the weather approaching. By the time we reached San Luis Obispo, I could see the gathering clouds to the southwest of us. I decided to stop in Avila Beach before the storm arrived.
It turned out to be a dark and stormy night with reports of the highest storm surge in decades. When dawn broke I could see the storm had thankfully spent itself. Sunlight would be bathing the beach again with its warmth. I had taken an additional day of vacation so that would give us a full day at the beach before returning the following day.
Max and I began the day by trekking along the water’s edge until I noticed he had disappeared into the rocky outcropping. I wasn’t too concerned until I heard him barking. I called him but he didn’t come. So, I climbed the rocky ledges until I spotted him in the distance barking his head off and wagging his tail furiously.
He refused to come to me so I made my way to him. As I approached, I saw what he was barking at. It appeared to be a huge fish which had been washed ashore during the storm. I called Max but he refused to obey. Somewhat annoyed at his disobedience, I went to pick him up.
As I approached, I glanced at what I thought was a fish, and was startled to see a human arm extending from the mass. I wasn’t quite sure what to do until I saw the arm flinch and the hand spread open.
I rushed over and was shocked at what I saw. It was a man caught in a rock crevice. The shocking part was the lower portion of his body – it was that of a fish. He evidently heard me and began to struggle. I naturally knelt down and helped him untangle himself from the rocky outcrop.
As I pulled him up and turned him over, our eyes met. He reached out and grabbed me around the waist and held me tight. At first, I thought he was attacking me and then realized he clung to me out of gratitude for my help. My empathy for this creature far outweighed the possible danger of the situation.
I gently pulled him loose from my torso and lifted him until his left arm was over my shoulder. As he gasped for breath I saw the gills on his neck fluttering desperately. This creature was literally a fish out of water. I knew we were too far from the ocean but remembered passing a large pool of water on my way to pick up Max. I walked in that direction carrying this creature in my arms with Max trailing behind.
I stepped into the pool and gently submerged the body of my companion. He immediately surged back to life inhaling and expelling water so furiously it stirred the entire pool.
I sat down in the water, submerged to my neck to assure him I wasn’t going to abandon him. Max was beside himself with excitement. He danced around the edge of the pool. I knew he wanted to get in but was fearful because of his unfamiliarity with large goodies of water.
It was obvious our friend needed to get to the ocean if he was going to survive. As he calmed himself I began to get a clear picture of what was before me. A perfectly formed upper torso of a man with the perfect lower portion of a fish. I was beholding the mythical merman. I had to be dreaming since there was no such creature or so I had come to believe. But, there he was – as big as life itself.
I stayed submerged and waited, watching him become calm after the trauma of what he experienced during the storm. He was a young man with long black hair, a cherubic yet masculine face with the most piercing blue eyes. His broad muscular shoulders and well developed pectoral muscles bespoke of the eternal swimmer he was. His well-developed abdominal muscles flexed as his entire body gently moved in the water. The well-developed fins on the outer edges of his forearms evidently assisted him in swimming.
Overall, I began to realize what a magnificent creature he was. Was it Kismet that brought us together? Max certainly accounted for much of that happening. I would never have found this man if it hadn’t been for him alerting me to the tragic circumstances.
I decided to name him Eros, a name I remember from my brief studies in mythology. He was so beautiful I imagined him to be the God of Love come to rescue me from my sadness. Eros slowly approached me, looked up and smiled. He reached up and put his hands on my shoulders. I took a deep breath and let him pull me down. His hands moved to the base of my head as he came close and kissed me on my lips. He searched my eyes for a few seconds and then released me, realizing I was not like him and needed air to sustain myself.
I came up and inhaled more air. Then a spout of water came up and splashed my face. When I looked into the water, Eros was laughing. He wanted to play. I could not have been more charmed. He came close again, put his arms around my waist and rested his head on my abdomen. I placed my hands on his shoulders, drawing him closer.
After a moment he pulled away, took my hand and pulled me into deeper water. I took my shirt off and threw it out of the pool. Then he did something that surprised me. He began tugging at my shorts, trying to get them off. I undid my belt buckle and let him do the rest.
I was so aroused by his caring hands and lips as he explored my body that I was grateful when he finally pleasured me. I experienced a passion I thought no longer possible for me. But how to reciprocate? My hands explored his body below his abdomen. There was nothing apparent. I was at a loss what to do. He must have sensed how much I wanted him and guided my hand to the crevice. I inserted my fingers and part of my hand until it touched his organ which was fully erect. I gently grasped it and pulled it forward until it was out in the open. I took in a lung full of air and submerged to return the favor.
He let out an underwater roar when he climaxed. I reluctantly came up for air. He leaped out of the water, grabbed my head and engorged my mouth with water as he kissed me and then submerged.
Our bodies lay entangled for I don’t know how long with my face barely exposed to air until I noticed the day was waning. With crude hand signals, I indicated I had to move him to where he could swim. He instinctively understood though the sadness on his face told me he didn’t like the idea. I put on my shorts and tank top which had dried in the sun.
When I was ready, I stepped knee-deep into the water and put out my hand. Eros breathed furiously before he took my hand and assisted as best he could to climb into my outstretched arms. Max seemed to understand the gravity of the moment as I slowly climbed to the top of the rock outcrop and began the descent to the beach below.
Eros rested his head against my shoulder as we neared the water. As we stepped into the water, I felt tears welling in my eyes at the thought of having to let him go. He responded by placing his hand on the side of my head and drawing himself closer.
The burden of his body became lighter as we submerged into the dark waters, while the setting Sun created a surreal backdrop as this drama came to an end. At last, his head submerged and he began to breathe. He pulled me beneath the waves and embraced me one last time, kissing me on the lips and then he was gone. I saw his tail flip in the waves as he entered his world again.
I was sad at my loss but so very happy I was instrumental in saving his life. I went back to shore and paused a moment, hoping to catch a last glimpse of my Eros. Max and I went back to our room; I slept fitfully until dawn.
As the Sun rose, Max and I paced the long pier out to the lighthouse hoping he might appear once more to say farewell. But, alas, he did not. I packed my belongings. Then Max and I went home. I had sworn never to go through the pain of loss again and here I was, right in the middle of it again. But it was a different kind of loss this time. It was still painful but there was the compensation of having given this creature another chance at life.
The next morning, as I walked into the office, I noticed the morning paper on the front desk. The photo on the front page looked familiar. It was the Avila lighthouse. The caption caught my breath. Several people had seen a strange creature momentarily climb onto the end of the pier. They described the creature as being half man and half fish.
My heart leapt when I realized my Eros had come back to say goodbye after all. I felt a pang of melancholy for not being there. I knew it was impossible but I did wonder what life for us would be like if I went back and stayed. For one thing, Max would be delighted to be out in the open on a regular basis. I mused, A long and blessed life to you my dear sweet, Eros.