The Kiss

You ask why I sit all day long on this rock, rippling the lily pond with my tears. Surely my sorrow could not be so great, you think. You may believe I am taking things too much to heart, or indulging in sadness and misery. Well, stop and listen to me for a few minutes and I'll tell you my story; then you can judge for yourself.

Once upon a time - well it seems so long ago, but it was only last week - I was the happiest person in the whole wide world, or for hundreds of miles around, at the least. Not only was I the most beautiful girl in all the land, my skin a gorgeous shade of brown, but my fiance was the handsomest, the most charming, the most refined young man that I had ever set my eyes on; and I had seen them all - enough anyway to know a brilliant jewel of maleness when he squatted before me.

We were inseparable, my sweetheart and I. We loved to swim and dive together, equally at home below as above the surface, playing like children. Even before our birth we had been promised to each other. The stars themselves had foretold our union. How many people do you know who can boast as much?

I see you want me to move the story along. Very well then, I'll oblige. Preparations for our wedding were in train for months. Wild orchids were gathered and preserved, invitations sent to all parts of the land, special costumes sewn for the occasion, poetry composed, songs written, pastries baked, the great hall decorated and prepared. Delicious morsels were laid out on lotus leaves for the guests. Everyone rejoiced at the wonderful occasion - even some who envied me, and there were lots of those, let me tell you - even they wished me well and looked forward to sharing my happiness on the appointed day. The date had been carefully chosen by a symposium of the most learned astrologers, so that nothing was left to chance. No cloud could darken our greatest day of rejoicing.

Well, there was one thing - isn't there always, don't you think? Early in the morning of the chosen day, I jumped up and carefully washed myself, eager to begin the day's preparations. As I hurried towards the town where the hall stands, a great black bird swooped over me and his shadow crossed my path directly in front. It scared me. Though the bird did me no harm, it was surely an omen, I thought. As it soared up into the sky I noticed there was something in its beak, but I could not tell what. It was surely an omen, I thought. (Perhaps you aren't superstitious, but wait till the day of your own wedding.)

I stopped and wondered at the meaning of the bird's passage. "The pond, the pond," I thought, "Go back to the pond at once!" Lithe as bubbles on the brook, I bounded back to the lily pond. It was a bright day and the light shone from the water when I was still afar. I ran all the faster, my heart thudding alarmingly and the air whistling loudly through my mouth. I was out of breath as I neared the water, dazed from the exertion and not seeing too well.

That's why I didn't notice something was wrong. Badly wrong. For the very mountains had moved in my absence. No, not mountains - but what then?

Where before there was sky, now something blocked the view. A hill of ghastly flesh, covered with sickly, dried-out, obscenely pale skin towered over me. Not only over me, but over my beloved, for he was sitting at the shore right next to it, unaware of any danger. Could he not see?!

There it stood, a giant, hulking, misshapen monster of a thing - that's exactly what it was. If you think you can conceive of such a horrible creature then think again. Imagine my horror when I saw that my beloved was directly beneath this ghoul, within reach of its gargantuan, malformed limbs. I realised immediately that a spell had been cast, freezing him into immobility. I screamed to him to get away from this foul apparition, but he couldn't hear me; the spell held him fast.

What happened next is too awful to tell. The monstrosity bent down towards my darling, lowering its head to him. As it did so, yellow seaweed trailed down from its head almost to the water. My prince was unable to move. The foul flesh of the thing touched my love. Then it happened, the horror I will never forget.

My beloved, the most beautiful being in all the lands, suddenly turned into a monster, just like the one that had touched him. Then the two horrors bounded off together into the distance. I never saw them again.

In despair I hopped back into my pool.

Tad Boniecki

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