There are plenty of fish in the seas...
No one ever told me how comfortable the inside of a Rolls Royce could be. The thought wasn’t something that kept me up at night either, purely because it wasn’t something I had ever imagined would happen. The soft hums of a violin and then of a cello find my ears in the spacious backseat despite the light drizzle and crowded streets. Drops of rain run across the tinted glass — some are panicked on their path and some are controlled, mirroring the dueling emotions within me.
A voice pulls me from my anxiety and breaks my gaze of the rain-drenched Atlanta skyline. “Madame, we shall be arriving soon. Is there anything you wish to do prior to arrival with which I could be of assistance?” Krisham, the mustached main steward, asks in his ever-present comforting and disarming English accent. His eyes find mine, but I glance away.
“Umm… I… I’m okay…” I reply, unable to find the words I want with my mounting nerves. I wonder where Paxton has me headed this evening?
I never asked about the wealth Paxton had in our few, but extravagant dates. I can only assume that it is substantial as I travel down I-85 in a cavalcade of luxury. The two flanking Cadillac Escalades to the front and rear were as black as the satin dress I wear. Like mirrors, the caravan takes on each passing illumination of Atlanta’s late night living lights as the city awakens. After a few more minutes, our convoy slows to a halt in front of a massive building, and I can see large, white letters peeking out from the top of my window. The Georgia Aquarium. Did he reserve the entire building for dinner with me?
A tremor of intimidating panic rolls through my body. I try to collect myself before having to leave the safety and calm of the comfortable leather backseat when I see my door suddenly swing open.
“Shall we, Madame?” Krisham says with one eye slightly squinted in the direction of the rainfall and his umbrella extended over my exit.
“Thanks, Krisham, as always,” I reply, standing quickly, caught off guard by the chilly breeze and misty rain swirling around me.
“Of course, Madame,” he says back through his now fully squinting face.
The hundreds of tiny rain droplets adorn my dress in a bright white reflection from the letters above. I didn’t have to worry about my hair in the rain, as it was pulled up in a messy, but cute bronze-colored bun. I wrap my arms around Krisham’s extended arm, cowering from the icy haze as he guides me to a set of large glass doors. My black nails dig into him with every shiver from my body in response to the miserable weather.
He swings the large door open, unveiling a warmly-lit hallway that curves beyond sight.
“Goodluck this evening, Madame Brigitte, and please, do try and enjoy yourself won’t you?” His sweet and endearing eyes calm me slightly.
“I will, Krisham, and you try to stay out of the rain… and thanks again. I never know how to feel with all of this and you make it easier to accept,” I lean in and give the thin, olive-skinned butler a small hug, which he returns.
“Straight ahead, I assume?” I point down the path.
“Yes, ma’am. I hope you can appreciate the surprise you will see this evening and that you choose correctly,” his tone gaining a minute hint of worry, but his smile overpowering the slight change.
“Choose correctly?” I say back only to find Krisham closing the door abruptly in my face. Great, this is really calming me down. Thanks Krisham, just another thing to add to my mounting pile of worry.
The path ends at another set of double doors and opens into a massive, pentagonal space with floor-to-ceiling glass walls encasing each tank. The center holds a singular lit table set with chrome dinner plates and a small flower arrangement in the middle. The rest of the massive space is dim with the internal tank walls illuminating the innumerable oceanic species within. I gaze at the tanks as I approach the table, occasionally glancing for Paxton, still unable to spot him. He hasn’t been late before, but he hasn’t done something to this caliber either. Where is he?
“Paxton, are you here?” I call out, finally reaching the table. I jump at the sudden flourishing from a group of fish from a tank opposite the side from where I came. A flashing, scaled, underwater torrent builds, moving toward where the door to the hallway separates the two tanks. I hear a thud and the door flies open to reveal a confidently sauntering Paxton Hippios, straightening his collar with a smile growing on his face.
“Brigitte, my darling, it is so good to see you.”
God, why is he so damn attractive? He must make even the fish swirl with excitement when he enters. I stand there searching for deep breaths but only finding shallow ones. I can feel the wave of flushed heat descend and hit my flipped stomach, pulsing with nausea and angst. I force a cocked smile back at him as he walks toward me, his arms extended. I must look like an idiot.
Paxton spins once, “What do you think? Have you ever enjoyed dinner inside of the sea?” He says proudly, knowing I have never dreamed of such an evening. His perfectly form-fitted black suit hugs his figure; his white shirt unbuttoned slightly, allowing his dark olive skin — very similar to Krisham’s — to peek through. I can feel my heart trying to leap out of my body with each thump.
“No, I have not. Do you take all of your dates here?” I say back playfully, barely managing to rein in my thoughts.
“Brigitte, you know I only desire one. The ones before are meaningless,” Paxton’s smile now draping across his face, his perfect teeth shining in the luminescent room. As he speaks, there is a strange pulse from all the fish in the surrounding tanks. The fish are rather irritated tonight aren’t they? I bet they usually sleep around this time; wait, do fish even sleep?
“Please, my dear,” he pulls out my chair and gestures his hands forward. Paxton guides me toward the table and then grabs my shoulders, softly whispering in my ear, “You look incredible, my dear.” He places a tender kiss on the top of my head, and I feel something cold touch my upper chest. I jump a bit, and he continues to whisper, “ Perhaps this would elevate you even higher?” I nearly explode at the bold yet sweet display.
I look down and see a thin gold chain holding a graceful, heavy embellishment of the top half of a horse rearing up and being pierced by a trident. “This is the Hippios family crest,” Paxton explains, “I hoped it would suit you, and I was correct. Do you like it?”
I know we have been on a couple of dates at this point, but this seems rushed.
“I love it; it's beautiful. Thank you, Paxton.” I gaze up, trying to hide my surprise at the gift, meeting his eyes upside down. He grabs my head and kisses my forehead.
You know, I guess I don’t mind the gift. This man is so sweet despite being so wealthy and desirable, and he chose me.
“Now, let's eat. I am famished.” He uncovers the dinner plates to reveal a decadent array of lamb and fresh vegetables. The aroma fills the room with a savory and hearty scent. I have never seen — let alone eaten — such an ornate and beautiful meal. I can’t imagine the cost.
“This is gorgeous, Paxton!” My eyes widen trying to keep up with the euphoria of the smell. “Though I will say I expected us to eat some sort of seafood based on the venue for tonight,” I add, smirking and placing the napkin on my lap. I look back up at him, expecting to see a returning smile at my humor only to find his face pointed down, dark and disturbed.
“We will not be eating fish. Ever. Do you understand?” He rebukes, his glare searing.
“I wasn’t trying to offend you at all, and I am so sorry if I upset you. I was only trying to joke,” I attempt to justify with reeling panic. So he has no issue chowing down on baby sheep, but fish crosses the line? I reach over to grab his hand, but he pulls it away and stands a second after.
I hear a thumping behind me. A small blue and yellow fish swims back and forth from the glass facing me to the glass facing the path I entered from. Again with the weird fish? At least it’s only one this time. I guess it didn’t enjoy my dinner idea either.
“There is something I need to show you, Brigitte,” he takes a couple of steps, facing away from me. I hadn’t noticed him remove his jacket since we sat down, yet it is hanging on the back of his chair. He begins to roll up his sleeves, his gold bracelets and rings shimmering with the tank light. “This is something very important to me, I hope you can understand,” his face, determined and intimidating. He looks over to the frantic fish, and it stops moving, seizes a little, and begins floating to the top of the tank. Lifeless.
So he uses crazy mind powers to kill the fish but won’t eat them? Seems a bit unfair. I pull my phone out of my small handbag and set it on my lap, unlocking the screen and typing “911” with my thumb hovering over the call button. I will never understand why my mind runs to silly jokes in serious situations. I smile faintly at my own humor, still aware something is very wrong. “Paxton… what are you going to do? You’re scaring me.” Is this what you were talking about Krisham? That I’m dating a fish wizard?
A remote-like device appears in his hand. He clicks a button, and a loud groan sounds through the space - the sound of large objects moving against one another. I look around and watch as the five glass walls begin to crawl forward until they all connect, removing the walkways. The glass walls above the walkways retract into the ceiling allowing the five tanks to form into one enormous pentagonal tank.
“What is this Paxton? What are you doing?” My fear builds as my exits disappear. The words begin to shake out of my mouth upon their exit. Now I can’t leave, even if I wanted to.
“I apologize that I have to show you this way Brigitte, but I hope you can find a way to see past this. I am still just Paxton after this, please remember that,” he pauses looking down. His muscles are larger than before. They are stretching his shirt almost to the point of ripping, and he is taller. “I am not of this world Brigitte. I am the protector and father of the seas,” his hand raises and rotates in a swirling motion. I watch as a school of small fish begins to swim frantically in a swirl, mimicking his every movement.
His other hand extends towards the whales and larger fish. He balls a fist and flexes his arm upwards. Every whale and larger fish completes what I can only assume is a bow before him. He thrusts both palms out, arms fully extended. I look around the whole room and witness every fish in every tank pressing their face against the glass, staring at us.
“Does this frighten you?” He glances back over his shoulder, eyes glowing gold. “Would you not want to be with someone like me… a god?”
I’m frozen. He is a… god. I finally muster the courage to say, “I am frightened, yes. Why would a god want a mortal woman like me?” I stand from my chair trembling softly and curtsey. “I don’t believe I am worthy to be with someone like you.” A GOD?! He is a GOD?! Are you shitting me?
He turns abruptly, faster than I can register. “Are you saying my judgment is flawed? A mortal claiming I am incorrect?” He is substantially larger now with gold lines imprinted in his arms and neck. I desperately search for potential exits but they have all been sealed by the glass. Is that why the fish died? It was trying to help me against its master's wishes.
“Tell me, which is it? Do you deem me a liar or simply reject me?” His voice thunders.
“I…” My words are cut off by the searing burn of the necklace he placed on me. The air leaves my lungs. I can’t breathe.
“So be it,” he walks toward me and picks me up by my throat. The jolt of force is rough and I drop my phone, unable to hit the call button.
“You mortals are truly pathetic. To reject the offer of a god, you are no better than the fish in my sea,” he carries me over to the glass and presses me against it. The necklace melts into my body and I can feel something shifting inside of me.
“I had such high hopes for you, but you are just like the rest. Pitiful, lying cowards unable to see past differences. If I cannot claim you, then no one can. Enjoy being a part of the Harem of Poseidon, my dear. Forever,” he pushes my body through the glass, which doesn’t shatter. It melds around me until he removes his hold and I am in the tank surrounded by droves of fish watching the transformation of the new addition unfold. My body contorts and writhes in pain at the transformation. I can breathe, but I also feel every bone breaking and rebuilding, scales forming in lieu of skin. I swim to the glass to see I am now like the blue and yellow fish that died earlier.
Poseidon pushes the remote button again, and the single tank separates into the five from before. He leans down and picks up my phone, which hadn’t been able to click the dial button. “Clever, but this would have changed nothing. I will ask you again in 1000 years, should you change your mind to be with me. Until then, savor swimming with those who felt the same.”
His phone rings, “Krisham, this one was bad. Find me a new one,” he exits and the lights go out. I turn to face the fish in my tank who all stare at me in a semicircle. Hesitant, they close in and all huddle around me in a tight hug. All of these women denied him. How long have they been here? How long will I be here?
The next day arrives and visitors from all over the world flood in to gawk at the aquarium. Small children stare at me as I press my face to the glass, hopelessly pleading that someone will recognize me and get me out, revert me back. I wait day after day, watching kids slap the glass while the other fish watch me in pain at my hope. They gave up so many years ago; I just can’t comprehend what's happening to me. This can’t be real. I wait, hoping for something – anything – that will get me out of here.
Weeks pass and I finally see a police officer walking around, speaking with staff at the aquarium. I lean as close to the glass as I can, hearing pieces of what's said.
“Have you seen… They were here on…” They have to be talking about me. They will figure it out and get me out of here.
I watch the officer begin to write notes, when behind him I see Paxton stroll by. He looks at me directly in the eyes, winks, and twirls his finger behind the officer and the employee. Their eyes gloss over gold momentarily, and they shake hands and part ways. I stare at Paxton, and he stares back.
“Get comfortable, mortal,” I hear in my head as a sinister smile cracks across his face.
Other fish gather behind me, as I shake with rage.
Are they truly that conceited… A god with the temperament of a child? I won’t be stuck in this cage forever.
I will find a way out.
About the Creator
I am a new aspiring writer with much to learn. I am excited to share my worlds with you and more so the receiving knowledge and feedback from this lovely community. Thank you to all who read, Enjoy!
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