Sunday Psalms: Fictional Narratives Inspired by the Psalms, Proverbs, & Other Biblical Works
The mermaid had been spotted three times, and from the perspective of the village council, every sighting had come from an unreliable source.
“Can’t trust a thing Old Man Samson says. He’s been senile for years.”
“Can’t trust what little Tommy Mark says either. Why, he’s not more than ten years old. What’s a boy his age know?
“Well you certainly can’t believe a word that comes out of Priscilla Dunlap’s mouth. A woman like that? Tongue’s as slippery as an eel.”
It was a foggy evening and the more prominent members of the community were gathered around the stove in the village lighthouse. This had become the official meeting place for the wise sages, and with Priscilla Dunlap being the third to spread the erroneous report of a mermaid in the harbor, an emergency meeting had been called.
“Folks are beginning to think there might be some validity to their story. We’ve got to do something before it gets out of hand.” The concern was voiced by Albert Rawlings, a tall man bearing the title of head elder. He generously presided over the village affairs like a young mother hovering over a newborn babe.
“Once people start believing in mermaids, they’ll go making up stories of dragons and unicorns and forest fairies,” continued Albert, shaking his fist as he spoke. “We can’t have a community full of nincompoops. People will think the village has run amuck.”
By the time he finished his impassioned speech, Alfred was standing, his mass seeming to occupy most of the room. To describe him as a tall man would be unfair, for he was in fact, the tallest man in the county. Indeed, Albert had often found himself towering above the majority of life.
“But what do you expect us to do, Albert?” Of all the elders, Robin Bletchley was the least motivated, and he frequently voiced a sense of despondency. Unlike Albert, Robin was a man who preferred to ruminate. He often encouraged others to adopt his cautious approach.
Unfortunately, Albert had no suggestions, which only served to heightened his concern. He slumped down on top of a barrel that had been turned over as a makeshift chair and pulled an old pipe from his jacket pocket. He always smoked when he was distressed.
“Hasn’t there been a full moon every time?” Martha Olinger was the only feminine presence on the council. She was the least emotional and was only inclined to speak after pondering a subject for some time. Priscilla Dunlap had burst into her store early that morning, spouting out the story of the mermaid, and Martha had been chewing on the details for hours.
“I think you’re right, Martha. They claim she comes out every full moon, precisely at midnight.” Horace was the village lighthouse keeper. His lamp had been protecting the village for decades, and although he was skeptical about the mermaid, he paid close attention to any local conversation involving the sea.
“Ridiculous,” Albert muttered. “Complete and utter nonsense. Mermaids at midnight.”
“That may be, Albert. But don’t you see? Next full moon we’ll go down to the rocks and see for ourselves. Why, with all of us as witnesses, that will surely be enough to prove there is no mermaid.” The suggestion came from Riley Jefferson. He was the village banker and was, by far, the best at coming up with ideas.
By now Albert had finished lighting his pipe. He took a deep puff of tobacco and considered the matter. “Riley, I think you’re on the right path. It’s the only thing to do. We’ll prove this mermaid business is a lot of cockamamie nonsense.”
On the evening of the next full moon, the sky seemed to understand the council’s mission. The weeks of persistent fog had suddenly dissipated, and every star in night sky was eager to be out.
“Perfect weather,” Horace remarked. It was just before midnight, and the council had gathered in the belly of the lighthouse to finalize their plans.
“Here’s what we’ll do,” Albert began, discounting the need for pleasantries. “Martha, you go up top with Horace. Make sure you shine the lamp out on the harbor right where they claim to have seen the mermaid. Robin, Riley, and I will hike down to the rocks where we can get a close look at things. We’ll stay until half past twelve. When she doesn’t show, we’ll insist that everyone ignore the rumors and make no further mention of it.”
The other elders seemed comfortable with the arrangement and headed to their prospective stations. Martha was pleased to accompany Horace. She’d loved him for forty years but had never found the right moment to tell him.
“Hurry,” Albert called to Robin and Riley as he scrambled down, convinced they were both moving too slow.
“I’m coming, Albert, but it’s rather dark out here. Wouldn’t want to take a tumble,” Robin said as he held a lantern out in front of him. Riley followed close behind, picking his way to the edge of the precarious rocks.
Meanwhile, Horace and Margaret were already patrolling the water with the lantern. Like artists on a canvas, they swept wide brushes of light back and forth across the sea, their eyes searching for something other than the waves.
“Got anything to eat?” Robin asked Albert as they settled down onto the rocks.
“Eat? Robin, there’ll be plenty of time for that. Let’s get this matter over with it.” Albert flipped open his pocket watch and began clicking his tongue. “See? What did I tell you. Midnight and not a mermaid in sight.”
“There. There! Mr. Rawlings, do you see it?” A shout rose up from the cliff, and the men turned to see little Tommy Mark scampering out to them. “Out there! Don’t you see her?”
“What are you talking about, boy? I don’t see anything,” Albert said and rubbed his eyes.
“Right there,” Tommy insisted, pointing out to sea. “You don’t see her?”
“Of course not,” Albert grumped and turned to the other elders. “You two stay here with Tommy. I’m going to find out if Horace or Martha can see anything from up there.”
By the time Albert had hiked back up to the lighthouse and climbed the stairs to the tower, Horace and Martha were out on the balcony, leaning over the edge.
“I think Tommy Mark has lost his mind,” Albert said as he joined them.
“Quiet,” Horace whispered without diverting his eyes from the sea.
“The mermaid, Albert,” Martha said, her voice reverent. She was pointing to the same spot Tommy had indicated.
“I swear, I think you’ve all gone mad. I don’t see anything.”
“You can’t see her, Albert? She’s beautiful. Her long hair and tail?” There was a catch in his voice as Horace described the mermaid’s fluid actions, and Martha felt it appropriate to reach out and grasp several of his fingers. Horace was happy to oblige.
With his binoculars Albert examined the spot off the rocks where the others’ attention was focused. Granted, he could see the water splashing about. A jumping fish, perhaps? That’s all it was.
“I don’t see any mermaid and neither do you,” Albert insisted. What was wrong with them? They were the village elders. They were responsible for maintaining the integrity of the community. What was he going to do with them?
“Did you see it, Albert? Did you see it?” Robin and Riley nearly collided with Albert as they ran back into the lighthouse, their faces beaming like children at Christmas.
“Not you too,” Albert growled and pushed his way past them. “Has everyone gone insane?” He stormed his way back down to the water and firmly planted himself on one of the rocks.
“You still don’t see her, do you Mr. Rawlings?” There was compassion in Tommy’s voice as he sidled his way over to Albert.
“I can’t see something that doesn’t exist, Tommy. Why doesn’t anyone understand that? Mermaids aren’t real.” Albert hung his head in frustration. How could he make them see this was all wishful thinking? A mere hallucination.
“It’s okay, Mr. Rawlings.” He felt Tommy reach out and pat him on the shoulder. “You’re just not ready to see her.”
“What do you mean, Tommy?”
“The mermaid. Not everyone can see her. Only some people.”
The boy looked back out at the water where the mermaid continued to swim. The moon highlighted the orange and yellow hues of her long hair as it billowed in the water around her. Little Tommy Mark had never seen anything so beautiful.
“But what about me. Why can’t I see her?”
“You could if you wanted to,” Tommy said. He giggled when the mermaid jumped into the air then dove back under the water, her tail splashing water everywhere.
“And why wouldn’t I want to see a mermaid?”
“She scares you, Mr. Rawlings. When you’re not afraid, then you’ll be able to see her.”
Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. Psalm 119:18 (ASV)
In that same hour He rejoiced in the Holy Spirit, and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou didst hide these things from the wise and understanding, and didst reveal them unto babes: yea, Father; for so it was well-pleasing in thy sight. All things have been delivered unto me of my Father: and no one knoweth who the Son is, save the Father; and who the Father is, save the Son, and he to whomsoever the Son willeth to reveal him. And turning to the disciples, He said privately, Blessed are the eyes which see the things that ye see: for I say unto you, that many prophets and kings desired to see the things which ye see, and saw them not; and to hear the things which ye hear, and heard them not. Luke 10:21-24 (ASV)
-Question to Ponder: Is there anything that scares you about God?
-Song Recommendation: How You Forgive Me by Enter the Worship Circle
Written by Heidi Sadler, Inspired by Psalm 119 & Luke 10. Copyright © 2016 by Heidi Sadler, All Rights Reserved.
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