“Would you like to hear a story?”
Not so long ago, a father held a swaddled bundle in his arms. It was his only son, less than a year old. His pride and joy. He looked to his wife as he rocked the boy back and forth. She smiled indulgently, tiredly, from her place in the corner of the room.
“It’s a very important story,” he told the boy, who blinked up at him with big green eyes. He waved a tiny, chubby hand around and the air shimmered for a moment, blue and sparkling. “It’s your story.”
The boy giggled and the father became even more enamored, heart swelling with so much love that he’s surprised it doesn’t burst at the seams.
“Long, long ago there was a young man who lived for adventure,” the father began. “He left home with every intent to see the entire world, but while on the sea he fell in love with Poseidon’s daughter Rhodos and vowed to sail forever so that he could be near her.
“But soon his tiny ship wasted away and he had no choice but to settle on the shore of an uncharted land. He could no longer venture onto the waters any more than she could touch the sand, but their love remained true.”
The father took a moment to smile at his beautiful wife, fully understanding what a love like that can feel like.
“Poseidon was angry that his daughter had fallen for a mortal and took her form to lure the young man to his death. Mad with love and grief, he threw himself into the sea just to be near her. Rhodos discovered her father’s plan and retrieved her mate from the bottom of the sea to bring him onto the shore. She began to dry up in the bright sun and ignored all of her father’s pleas to return to the sea, choosing instead to coax life back into the young man. He opened his eyes and shared his first kiss with Rhodos even as she died in her arms, refusing to live if she could not be with him.
“Out of contrition, Poseidon gifted his daughter with long legs and a healthy set of lungs so that she could stay on the shore forever. He reveled in his daughter’s happiness and the young man’s eternal gratitude, and kept a watchful eye over the couple as they built a home right there on the shore so Rhodos would never be far from home. The young man was eternally grateful, wading into the sea to shout his thanks to the god that had tried to kill him, harboring no ill will. Poseidon grew fond of the young man, despite himself.
“Soon the couple birthed a son – a human gifted with the magic of the sea. The family grew and remained on that same stretch of beach as the world developed around them. Soon their magic faded, and the truth about their family became no more than fairytales, but there was one boy that believed.
“He believed in the magic lying dormant in his blood and pledged his life to the sea. He vowed to do everything in his power to protect it. He grew up and fell in love at a young age and married the most beautiful woman in the world.”
The father paused again to smile at his wife, and she blew him a kiss.
“They conceived a child and his wife fell ill. There was nothing any doctor could do to save her, and soon the man would lose both of them. That night he ran into the sea, pounding his fists into the waves and begging for Poseidon’s help. The god could not deny him, not when he was reminded of Rhodos herself. He gifted the man with a bit of seaweed, and the tea made from that single leaf was enough to heal her.
He always got choked up at this part.
“A healthy, beautiful baby boy was born, with seaweed green eyes and golden hair. And they cherished him with all their hearts.” He brought his son up to kiss his forehead, and chuckled when the boy’s tiny fingers, glowing a faint blue, touched his cheek. “That child is you. You’re descended from gods, and you’ve been gifted with their magic.”
The boy cooed and the father laid him to rest in his crib, watching as his wife kissed their son goodnight. He went to bed the happiest he had ever been, and immensely grateful for his perfect life.
But it was not to last.
A man hired to protect the family had fallen deathly ill and, twisted by desperation and the knowledge of what the child could do, took the boy from his crib and disappeared into the night. The young couple, wrought with grief, searched and searched for their son, but he was never found.
The man used the child’s powers to stave off his illness, keeping him locked up in a small cabin in the forest as far away from the ocean as he could manage. The child grew up thinking of the captor as his father, remembering nothing from his first short, wonderful year.
The child’s name was Jensen, and not a day of his lonely life passed by without him dreaming of the sea and never knowing why.