It glimmered in the depths of the ocean. It echoed in his heart and spoke to him in dreams. He would pluck it from the sea for her – a gift of his love.
He saw her in his mind’s eye: Emily. Emily, I will fetch it for you.
He dived. He had only minor training, and his guides were against it, but he dived. Its call – her call – would not be denied.
Down into the deep he went, searching. It was lonely and silent but for the song. It lured him, taunted him.
He would present it to her, set in a necklace so fine his love would not be cast aside. He would give it to her, and it would smooth the past when he had nothing and she had waited.
As he searched the gloom, her song kept him company.
At last! He reached it – he knew he had. Within the gnarled shell, protected by jaws clamped tight, lay his prize: her gift and his redemption.
The waters shimmered. He grappled with his price and then he felt it.
He looked up from his labors and his heart bubbled with joy. She was here. It was Emily. He held up the oyster, showing her, offering up his devotion.
“I have it for you,” he said. “I will make you a necklace, the most beautiful you have ever seen.”
She only smiled and moved away. Mermaid, goddess, enigma. She was one with the sea and she summoned him.
“Oh, Emily, would that I had–”
“No, John, come with me.”
Did she speak? Did her lips move? He sighed. The commotion in the waters around him – the tugging lines, the flashes of red, the beeping – fell away. All was calm once more; his heart was full. Oh, Emily.
He watched them bring up his body, saw their dismay even as they congratulated themselves: “We told him, we knew. . . .” The oyster was tangled up in his lines, empty. They did not know what to make of that and he chuckled.
He turned to her. Emily smiled. It was his smile, his alone. Around her neck was the pearl, its luster glistening in the dark waters. She beckoned, deeper into the water. She was lover and teacher, salvation in one. He flipped his tail and followed her, deeper into the sea.