My desire was to seduce him. Possess him. Consume him. Can you blame me? I did what any woman would. I invited him to the wilderness.
I was staying in a cabin away from people. I loathed people.
I poured two bottles of garnacha into a large glass pitcher. Dark, dense, with a fragrant profile of ripe plum, blackcurrant, sarsaparilla berries, candied violet, and wet bark, it was my favorite—an amalgam of rich blue and black skinned fruit, with whispers of cardamom, molasses, and anise. Sappy tannins gave it a fresh acidic lift.
Too good for sangria… except nothing was too good for Marco.
Gorgeous Marco, tall and raven-haired. I could have any man I wanted. Yet, I knew when I saw him. That’s the one.
My next victim.
It was absurd of him to worry about me.
I mixed in dry rosado, a Spanish rosé, pale copper in color with flavor notes of pink grapefruit and white peach; Torres Magdala Orange Liqueur, a bottled Mediterranean citrus grove; Romate, a Spanish brandy with a translucent mahogany hue; and KAS naranja, a Spanish orange soda, for a sparkling finish.
“It’s too secluded,” he’d said. “You shouldn’t be alone out there, babe.”
I added a smidge of dark amber maple syrup, stirring with a wooden spoon. I allowed the punch to knit together. Crisp fruit slices would be the final garnish.
Just a babe in the woods I thought, laughing bitterly.
I soaked in the bath, imagining the frothy bubbles as my beloved seafoam. I pulled denim jeans over my legs, feeling brand new. A cashmere sweater over my fast-beating heart. Was I actually about to do this?
For centuries, I was intoxicated by spirits. The tightly bottled spirits of men. I lured them deep into sea swells. As indigo waves swallowed them up, their breath became mine.
You understand, right? It was never personal. No more personal than when you bite into a juicy peach blushing with ripeness. That peach once dangled from a sun-dappled branch, alive. Life is the cyclical nature of energy transferred from one vessel to another.
Vessel is a funny word, huh? It can be a body, or a ship. Both travel by water.
Usually, spirits enter babies – tiny, rosy, newborn human beings – after they emerge from the waters of the womb, lungs filled with oxygen. When the body takes a final breath, the spirit drifts through air, returning to the ocean—waters of the womb of Mother Earth. Then the entire process repeats.
Unless you commandeer the brain before it’s brain dead.
With dusk descending, I lit jasmine scented candles. Marco would be arriving soon. I put on my playlist, a heady mix of jazz and trip hop.
Spirits love music. A spirit can be lured underwater by melody, then drunk by an oceanic half-human known as a siren. And no siren loved to imbibe as much as me.
It’s just that… well… Marco wasn’t like other men. He had character. A strength of will I couldn’t override. He lived with purpose, and no amount of temptation could cause him to abandon his sense of self-preservation.
He’d always fight to stay above water. That’s what made him alluring. His passion for life was so great he shone like a lighthouse, cutting through the velvet blackness I resided in. I knew going on land was risky. If I wasn’t back in my tail by sunrise, my legs would be permanent. I’d dry up someday. But Marco made life seem worth dying for. I wanted a taste of it.
And Marco was right. I was utterly alone. Not only in the woods, but in the world.
“Maya!” he exclaimed, walking into the cabin. “This is nice. Not too shabby at all. Do I get to see those watercolors?”
After talking with him on the rocky coastline several evenings, I’d said I was from out of town. I’d said I was renting a cabin to work on paintings for a gallery showing, but he should come over for dinner. And here he was. I’d made paella, but the only painting I’d done was to my ruby lips.
“First, let’s eat,” I said, filling his fruit garnished glass of ice with sangria.
That night, he shared his spirit with me in a way I’d never had a breathing man do. Voluntarily. He spoke; I heard. It was the most euphoric exchange, one without struggle.
This is what it means to be human, I thought. To experience connection. I felt it radiate through my body. And Marco did things that made me feel it more. I felt it in my toes. My legs! My legs shook with it, and I wanted to keep them. So I did. I wrapped them around Marco until the golden dawn crept over them.
What can I say? He was a magic man in that he wasn’t magic at all. His humanness disarmed me. It seduced me, possessed me, and consumed me until there was no me, just an ephemeral human experience. Dust to dust. Engulfed in the desert's parched silence, I was nothing but another grain of sand in the wind.