This Wednesdays words:
And/or the saying: You can't have your cake and eat it!
I used only half of them, but then I also used the word I had left over from last
It is a continuation of The
Greenhouse I and
I'm quite certain it won't make it into my book if it is ever
finished. It is just too strange.
The pressure of water against Susan's chest was overwhelming and her need to
breathe could not be ignored much longer. Her ears were singing, not any longer
with the waves of the ocean, but with the high pitched humming, that precedes
Tom looked at her: "Sorry! I forgot. It's not quite enough to
hold my hand. Take this!" he said and pressed a Sjóblóm into Susan's hand. As
she grasped the stem, she felt her body tingling from head to toe, and she
opened her mouth wide open. After the first laboured breath, she drank in the
water as were it pure, clean air.
"Sjóblóm!" Tom said, bubbles floating
upwards from his mouth. "I'm surprised Tähti did not tell you more of the
magical properties of this flower."
"She did not, or she might have told
the others while I was getting the flowers, but I doubt it." Susan felt the
bubbles tickling her cheek as they floated upwards.
swam, surely further by far than the width and depth of the basin tit the
greenhouse. Enormous sea weeds drifted slowly in the current of their making.
sheets of green laver, forests of saw wrack and bladder wrack interspersed with
stretches of green eelgrass rolled past them, then the water slowly grew darker
and the larger seaweeds gave way to pillows of Irish moss and small colonies of
corals in all the colours of the rainbow. Shortly after passing between two
peculiar red clumps of corals, Tom stopped. Suddenly they were surrounded by a
swarm of pipefish and seahorses. The pipefish all gave off high, shrilling
notes. Susan felt like holding her ears. The biggest of the seahorses swam up to
Tom, and Susan was surprised to see, that it was taller than Tom. The giant
seahorse was covered in tiny platelets, Thousands and thousands of tiny
platelets like an armour covered its body. And it had spines. Spines everywhere
and of every conceivable colour. Susan knew that seahorses grew all their life.
This seahorse had to be ancient beyond measure to be this big and spine-clad.
It spoke to Tom in shrill tones, more articulate than the pipefishes'
piping, but still not a language Susan could hope to understand. Tom answered,
listened, and answered again; then he asked something as far as she could hear.
The big seahorse answered with a small, but piercing note.
"What was all that about?" Susan asked Tom, as he returned.
people need our help. I do not understand Littoral very well. I just hope I'm
good enough to be of any help."
"You haven't forgotten that I'm a witch?"
Susan asked. "I can cast a spell to make almost any language understandable. It
is the very same Gilvi casts over the Farm every morning." She stopped talking
"... but this means that we're outside Unicorn Farm here ... or that Littoral is
not affected by the spell." She fell silent again. The big seahorse emitted
some shrill sounds, and even without understanding the language, Susan
understood the urgency and looked smilingly at the seahorse.
It spoke again in the strident, sibilant Littoral.
But Tom slowly shook his head and said some words in the strange language. He
turned to Susan. "Try your spell. He is using a lot of words I do not
Susan drew her wand and concentrated. Clearly she spoke the Icelandic words and
swished her wand. It did not work. "It's the water," Susan said. "It hampers my
movements, and makes the swish into a slow movement instead."
seahorse came closer and said something. It was obvious to Susan that it spoke
slowly, one word at a time. Tom answered. The seahorse looked at him and
repeated the same three sounds over again. Susan tried the spell once more: "Mál
sameinast!" she said loudly, as if trying to make up for the sluggishness of the
water by being louder. It worked, partially at least. Suddenly she understood
what the seahorse meant. She turned to Tom. "I think it wants us to eat the
"Yesss!" the seahorse said clearly. "Yessss ... Eat ... Bloom".
"No!" Tom said. "If we eat the flowers we grow. When we grasp the sjóblóm
by the stem and dive into the water, we turn small, smaller than a seahorse, and
we can breathe the sea water. If we eat the flowers, we keep our normal size,
and can breathe the seawater for a limited time only." He turned to the sea
horse: "No good. We grow too big!" and he added some words in Littoral as well.
The seahorse nodded slowly. Then it went over to Susan and looked her in the
eyes. It spoke to her, a mixture of Littoral and Danish streamed from it. It
repeated over and over until Susan understood and repeated slowly "I crush the
flower, keep the stem in my hand and put the crushed flower on my wand. Yes?"
"Yes!" The seahorse nodded emphatically. "Flower Crush ... Wand Move!" Susan
did not linger. Quickly she stripped the flower from the stem, crushed the
petals in her hand and drew her wand back and forth through the mashed flower.
"Now. Spell!" the seahorse said. Susan clenched the stem in one hand while she
swished the wand through the language spell. "Mál sameinast!" she said as her
wand swished unimpaired through the water. And the usual mosquito sound was in
her ears. The seahorse spoke again, and now it sounded like ordinary words, even
if Susan still if she tried could hear the sibilant tones of Littoral behind
"Thank you." it said and turned to Tom: "Do you know how many timess
I've watched you sswimming thesse waterss?" Tom shook his head. "And how many
timess have you spoken to my people before today," the Seahorse continued. "But
today you finally brought another one with you, a female even. Will you help
"If we can and may." Tom answered, "We cannot help you against our conscience.
What is your need?"
"It'ss the Sea Mother. She iss dying, or rather
fading. She iss, or was, human like you once. She needss to ssee humans now and
then to remember what it'ss like to be human. She needss the sservice of her own
Susan thought back to the Christmas party and asked: "Is it like
the old tales from Greenland? The tales of the Sea Mother with all the animals
of the sea bound in her hair. And the young heroes that swim down and comb her
hair to let the fishes and seals and whales out of her hair?"
seahorse said. "Ssomething very like thiss iss what I want to assk you."
"Do we have to comb her hair?" Susan asked.
"No," the seahorse said.
"It'ss something both eassier and harder I have to demand from you. You, little
girl, you need to sstand naked in front of the Sea Mother. Only thuss can her
memory and ssanity be restored."
Susan swallowed. "Is she ... , no,
that's not what I mean. ... Please tell me a little more."
to no rissk in it for you," the seahorse said. "But for uss it's a question of
life and death. Tom here has kept us alive by throwing sjóblóm into the basin
for a long time."
She looked at Tom. "Did you know about this?" she asked.
"No, I did not. I did not know about the Sea Mother at all. I ... have
felt like something or someone looked at me. Sometimes. When I was swimming in
here. But my stays in this water have always been a pleasure. I have always
returned a wiser man. I never dreamt .." his voice faded. "I promise to turn my
back and not look. I won't make this any harder for you, Susan. Please forgive
me for bringing you here." He turned away, but not before Susan saw his face
turn all red.
Strangely touched and assured by Tom's obvious confusion and
plight, Susan looked at the Seahorse. "I will do it," she said. "Please lead the
way to the Sea Mother."
The seahorse turned around and spoke to the
pipefish in Littoral, so fast that only a few of the words were intelligible for
the two humans.
The pipefish rearranged themselves, making it clear which
route they should take. And they followed the giant seahorse between two rows of
noisy, softly jubilant pipefish.
They swam into a clearing, bordered
by white and red patterned corals and big globules of Irish moss in intricate
patterns. Suddenly Susan realized that most of the red and white corals were not
corals at all, but camouflaged seahorses. Then her eyes fell on the giant Sea
Mother and she forgot about all the other wonders of this underwater world.
The Sea Mother was not a human being, or rather she was more than a
human being. Her skin was pale silver, shimmering like fish scales, because it
was scales. Thousands and other thousands of tiny scales close together covered
her skin. Her hair was made out of filaments of red and green seaweeds and
swayed and drifted slowly in the current. She was clothed in scales, or maybe it
was her skin. Susan could not see where her skin-scales ended and the
dress-scales began, but a dress, kind of anyway, fell from her middle, silver
shining in all the colours of a broken rainbow whenever she moved. Her face was
beautiful and ugly at the same time, the scales gave it a strange, inhuman look,
but the sea green eyes looked like ordinary eyes only now empty and old. Her
upper appendages, or arms were like the arms of a squid, yet with human elbows
and wrists, She held a long, straight rod of pure white corals in one hand.
The giant seahorse bowed, and Tom and Susan did the same, carefully
so as not to get off balance in the water. Then Tom sat down on a boulder
turning the back to the Sea Mother and Susan, while Susan took off her skirt and
her green tunic and folded them nicely, a task made difficult by the water and
currents. Then she pulled off her undergarments as well and placed them on the
skirt. She put a stone on top of it all to keep it in place and then she waited
for the Seahorse to do his bit.
"Dear Sea Mother." he said. "I am here today to bring you a guest from the
surface world from whence you came."
"Did I?" she asked. Her voice was
sweet and ancient, yet strong and clear. "I do not remember. Who are you?"
The seahorse said its name - a hissing, sibilant string of tones and
sounds in Littoral, that the spell did nothing to translate. And satisfied the
Sea Mother turned her green eyes to Susan: "What is your name, strange being?"
she asked in a friendly voice.
"My name is Susan." she answered
"Are you a female of your species?"
"Yes I am," Susan
answered a bit surprised.
"I once was like you," the Sea witch said
dreamingly, her eyes turning darker, sadder, but more present. "I was a girl
like you. I lived in a small village, and I was an apprentice to the witch
there. I was on my way to ... somewhere, when I came here .... Those are some of
my last memories."
"What is your name?" Susan asked.
"That is one of
the things, I have forgotten." The Sea Mother answered. "And each morning I
awaken with more holes in my memory. I need to shed many years' worth of
"All right your Majesty," Susan said, but the Sea Mother
interrupted her: "Don't call me that! I'm not a queen or some such. I am a witch
like you. Only one living under the sea."
"All right, Sea Mother. Look at
me and heal." Susan said, as the seahorse had instructed her.
The Sea Mother looked at Susan, and as she looked, her arms grew more arm-like,
the billowing skirt became more like a skirt and less like an extra skin.
Shortly the Sea Mother looked like an older, more grown up version of what Susan
always had imagined mermaids to look like. Not with split fish tails, but humans
with fish scales for skin. Her hair was still seaweedy, but now browner and
coarser than the red and green strands earlier. "My name is Adele," she said.
"Now I remember. I was a witch-apprentice in the town of Borse. I was on my way
home from my last exam. Then I ate a Sjóblóm on the day of the blue moon and I
turned into a Sea witch, a Sea Mother if you like. Over 400 years ago.
During alll those years my body had changed. It happened gradually. I grew
gills to breathe, scales to protect my skin, appendages covered my arms. And so
on, and so on. I turned into the thing you saw when you arrived. But I had grown
too far from my original form. I did no longer remember how it was to be human.
And I have to remember to be the Mother of the sea; to hinder the storms from
blowing too violently and to let the fish grow for the fishermen to catch."
"Thank you, my child. Thank you for giving me back myself and my humanity.
You may dress again." Susan pulled on the wet clothes, it was hard work as
anyone ever trying to put on wet clothes will know, and she was happy to be
wearing the school uniform of Unicorn Farm, and not trousers.
When she was done, and Tom had once again turned around, the Sea Mother gave
each of them a small coral from the biggest cluster. "Before you return to the
surface, I have this tiny gift for you. This is a special form of marine life,"
she continued. "It cannot do much, but it has some protective properties, and I
foresee that you will need those in times to come. And Susan, keep that stone of
yours in your pocket always. It might be even better than my gift. And one last
thing. If you ever desperately need help from the sea, throw that little piece
of coral into the waters. It will be recognized by sea people everywhere."