Ariel’s Story #8 – Captive

by MW Cook

     I did not understand him at first. And once I understood, I refused to believe. But his words forced me to look closer and I saw that it was no small object the man held in the water. It was a head. I strained my eyes and could see that Sume (yes, I recognized her) was submerged in the fetid pool up to her nostrils. Her eyes were barely open, seeming to collapse on themselves with fatigue.
     “What the fu-”
     “Would you like to be a part of her?” the man was asking. “Would you like to join with the Husband and be a part of the blessed Bride, lovely and free? I can show you how.”
     “Show me how? But, she’s trapped, can’t you see?”
     “Whatever do you mean?”
     “Why, I mean that man there. He’s holding her head under the water!”
     The man smiled. It was a smile without mirth and as full of condescension as the pool was full of filth. “I suppose to your eyes it may seem that way. But that is how the Husband shows his love to Sume. What do you think it would be like if the Bride just ran about, galavanting around like some harlot? He controls and restrains her because of the love he has for her.”
     “But why does he need to do that? I thought … I mean. I was at the dinner. I saw her cleaned!”
     “Indeed, she is clean. Would you like to join her?”
     I looked out over the filthy pool. Sorrow pierced me. For Sume was far from clean. Only the crown of her head was unsullied from the water. I was sad because I had once seen her so clean and happy. I was sad because I had once seen her so free. I was sad because I had never thought the Husband would restrain her in such an unnatural way. I was sad because the pool was a dirty as ever. I was sad, finally, because it looked as though Sume offered nothing new. Just the same filth that this pool had always offered.
     I knelt, at the bidding of the man with me, as he led me in a prayer tethering myself to the Husband out there in the water. I could not think of anything else to do.

     I did not sleep that night. The moon was bright and high in the sky. It illumined everything but cast no reflection on the pool, as it was too dirty to relfect anything. All it did was consume, it seemed. It consumed the light from the moon and turned it into filth.
     I gazed out from my place by the water. I stared at the Man and his Wife. I think I wept a little. There he stood, staring at nothing, it seemed, holding that beautiful woman under the water. Why? What had she done? I felt a burning urge inside of me. I had to know.
     As silently as I could, I slipped into the water. It’s oily coldness made me shiver and a few of my companions stirred. I slowly strode out toward the center of the pool, the water reaching up to my waist. I was afraid that the ripples I was making would alert the Man of my approach (I did not wish to talk to him) but he paid me no mind. As I came close I found myself wondering if he were blind or deaf, as he never shifted his gaze.
     I was close enough to touch, now. I bent down and spoke to Sume.
     “Ho, can you hear me?”
     Her eyes flitted open and she turned them on me. Those blessed green eyes. I remembered seeing them so full of love and wildness and passion. Now they were nearly asleep.
     “What happened to you?” I asked her. She struggled. I thought she was trying to say something. I placed my hand on the hand that was holding her in the water. It was ice cold and strong. I tried to lift it. It was like moving a rock. But together I was able to give her another inch and her mouth, filthy as it was, rose above the surface. She was able to utter two words before the Man’s strength pushed her back into the pool.
     “Save me.”