Cleveland School of the Arts
Instructor: Cari Thornton
The Siren in the Grotto
The Siren in the Grotto
"Jude, it's time," Adriel says. Jude looks up at him and then looks back at the cave. After checking his surroundings in front of him, he stands up and glances at Adriel. "Why do I have to go down there?" Jude almost whines. Adriel rolls his eyes. Adriel and Jude have been trying to open this cave for a month. It was boarded off for centuries by a man named Andrew Hall. Nobody knows why he boarded it up. They say he hasn't said a word ever since he explored the cave. But there is also a legend that inside that cave there are diamonds and gold. "Do you want to make this money or not?" Adriel inquires. Adriel dragged Jude into this plan to get rich. Adriel knows Jude needs the money because of family problems. He's taking care of his little sister after the loss of their parents. For Jude, it's not a want he needs money. But Adriel, he wants it all; he would go in there himself but just from sitting outside his heart races like he's been running five laps.
Adriel hands the flashlight to Jude, waiting for him to take it. Adriel sways it around in his face, teasing him. Jude huffs and snatches the flashlight from Adriel's hand. Jude hesitates before going inside the historical cave. It doesn't sit right with Jude. There's just something in his head telling him to turn back but if there are diamonds in this cave he can't. So, he turns on the flashlight and begins to walk. As he walks down the cave, his footsteps begin to get sloshy like he's stepping in puddles of water. Water was the least of his concerns.
Jude suddenly stops once he sees a light at the end of the cave. "You see something down there?!" Adriel calls out from outside. Jude looks back and yells, "No not ye—" but Jude stops his sentence when he's interrupted by an angelic tune. It sounds like a woman singing. He slowly turns around and points the flashlight to the end of the cave. "Hello?!" Jude calls out. The singing doesn't stop. Jude's body begins to slowly relax to the point where all the feeling in his body is gone. He drops the flashlight and his feet lead him toward the singing as if he is in a trance. Jude gets closer to the light, stuck in a daze. All he can think about is the elegant singing.
Jude makes his way to the end of the cave and stops to gaze at what he sees. He blinks and snaps out of his trance. Crystals, gold, and diamonds are scattered everywhere. It was more than everything the legend had said. Big or small, the diamonds are there; he can tell they're real even with no personal expertise.
He walks towards the jewels and picks them up. A smile forms on his lips as he feels the rough diamonds rubbing against his skin. Pulling out his phone, he begins to call Adriel but it doesn't go through. He looks at the top of his phone, zero bars. Jude sucks his teeth and pockets his phone.
"Hello," a woman's voice says from afar. Startled, Jude whips his head towards the voice and sees a woman sitting down on a rock across the river. There's an opening at the top of the grotto. The sunlight shines down on her as she sits down on the rock. But the first thing Jude notices is that she's nude. Jude's eyes trail down the woman's exquisite figure. Her dark-brown skin glimmers in the light with beads of water dripping off her skin. Her long curly hair drips in front of her breasts, covering them. Once Jude realizes he's been staring for too long, he immediately covers his eyes with his hand. "Sorry lady I didn't know anyone was down here," Jude says, bashfully. The woman giggles, making Jude raise an eyebrow.
"Why must you cover your eyes?"
Shocked, Jude says, "You're naked." She is so nonchalant about it. Not only did it freak Jude out, but he's fascinated. "My sisters and I are always like this. Does it bother you?" she asks, looking at him innocently.
Jude nods his head with his hand still covering his eyes. He has never run into a woman that's so free with her body. "Uncover your eyes," the woman orders. Jude slowly puts his hand down and the woman smiles. It finally hits Jude that the cave has been boarded for centuries, so how is this woman sitting inside the cave?
"You have a name?" Jude asks.
"Kalliope," she says with a bright smile.
"Kalliope," Jude repeats, making sure he has every syllable right, "how are you down here? I had to break down the door just to get through here."
Kalliope smiles at the curious man and says, "The water is connected to the ocean out there." Jude looks down at the river glistening in the sunlight. "It's been a while since I've seen a man down here," Kalliope says, pulling her knees up to her chest.
Forgetting about the jewels, Jude steps closer to the water, "Is that so?" Kalliope nods her head. She suddenly stands up and swan dives inside the river. Jude watches as Kalliope swims towards him. She rises up out of the water, moving her wet curls out of her face. Jude looks at Kalliope's fascinating grey eyes. Kalliope slowly raises her hand and brushes it against Jude's face. She smiles at the feel of his rough skin. Jude doesn't know why he's letting her touch him. It's like his feet are glued to the floor. Even when he tries to move, his feet won't budge. It feels like something magical is holding him down. "You never told me your name," Kalliope says.
She smiles and lets out a small chuckle. "Saint Jude," she says—almost in a whisper, "he represents faith for lost causes." She tilts her head and questions, "Are you a lost cause, or are you faith?" Jude furrows his eyebrows, confused by the question. But he thinks about it long and hard. He wants to say faith but he knows if he was faithful he wouldn't be inside this cave. He glances up at the mythical creature and puts his head down.
Kalliope's lips form into an evil smirk but she quickly makes it vanish. Kalliope can smell his despair. She smelt it when he entered the cave. She steps up to Jude and cups his chin with her hand. "Even though we just met, I think you're wonderful. I can see right through you," she coos.
Jude raises his head and eyes the beautiful woman. Kalliope nods and brushes Jude's hair out of his face. From the touch of Kalliope, a sense of serenity washes over Jude. He dazes at Kalliope. Her lips are full and juicy and suddenly something inside of him yearns to kiss her. Jude leans in ready to kiss her but Kalliope leans back. She grabs Jude by the hand and says, "Let's go into the water." Jude complies with Kalliope and lets her lead him into the water. Inside something screams at him not to go, but it's like his feet have a mind of their own as he glares at the beautiful woman.
As the tides of the water flow between them, Kalliope brushes her hand against Jude's skin. "Tell me I'm beautiful," she whispers in his ear.
"You're beautiful," Jude obeys. Kalliope smiles widely, satisfied. She presses her lips against his and they share a kiss. Kalliope tastes bitter and salty like the water they're in, but Jude doesn't mind. Their tongues intertwine, dancing with each other. Then Kalliope sucks on Jude's bottom lip and bites it. Jude winces in pain and Kalliope sucks his bottom lip as blood oozes out. Jude's mind begins to snap back and he begins to pull away.
His eyes shoot open and see Kalliope's brown skin fading to a sparkly silver and pieces of her hair falling from her scalp. Jude tries to pull away, but Kalliope's hold is strong. She lets go of his bottom lip and smiles. Her teeth are now sharp fangs and she's completely bald. And as Jude's eyes travel down her body, he notices her legs are gone and are replaced with a long silver tail.
Adriel—who was still outside waiting—hears a bloodcurdling scream that sounds like his partner Jude. Adriel jumps up and runs to the cave. He sticks his head inside and yells, "Jude?! What did you find?!" He is only met with silence and he lets out an exasperated sigh. Grabbing his flashlight, he clicks it on and begins to explore the grotto.
Light as a Feather
Light as a Feather
Light as a Feather
Inspired by Point Judith, Rhode Island, 1867-68 Martin Johnson Heade
The waves creep
steadily toward her.
She listens to the ocean,
saying hello with her eyes.
Her hands dig deep in the sand
as her vision gets blurry.
The girl's eyes burn
and when she blinks,
salty tears fall down
her warm cheeks.
She's tired of her mind talking over her.
Tired of her yearning heart,
which seems to be stuck in the past.
The girl takes off her shirt.
The bags under her eyes become heavy,
a chest full of tears.
She slips off her shoes.
She feels stuck.
Her life keeps moving,
but she remains still.
And lastly, she takes off her jeans.
She takes a step inside the water,
letting the sand flow in between her toes.
When she becomes one with the sea,
she leaves everything behind
that was holding her down.
This time she won't let her life
be an anchor.
This time she'll float.