The Procession: the whole story

Here is the entire story—my glimpse of it anyway. I’ve added a final 100 words to make it a round 500.


Bejewelled and bedecked they trooped through the deep green light of the sea caves as if they were at court, accepting the homage of bass and flounder with blind arrogance, dead souls streaming from the wreck. Barnacles studded satins and silks; needlefish threaded through torn lace, bloodied and scorched.
“Where are you going?” the wanderer asked.
“To see the new queen crowned.”
The voices trailed away into a gargle of bubbles as a chasm opened beneath their dead, mincing feet. The wanderer turned his face into the glittering morning sunlight, brilliant as a shoal of minnows, and continued his journey.

She looked with scorn at the cortege that tripped and strutted on jewelled feet into the utter darkness. The ship emptied, poured out its cargo of dead souls, following where the merfolk led, oblivious to the dancing sharks, the laughing monkfish. Not one noticed her where she stood behind the rail. What did a servant girl mean to them? No more than they with their painted faces and stones for hearts meant to her.
“Come with me,” the traveller called to the dark-eyed girl, the dark-haired girl as she turned her head. He would show her the wonders of the deep, he said. He would take her with him as he travelled the oceans. But what she would, he would not, so she turned her face from his reproachful look. He was for the light, the warm, shallow seas full of the glitter of miniature fish, bright-painted enamel among the corals. She was for the dark.
Her love was dead days before, fallen from the rigging and swallowed by the waves. She would go back, following the shoals, over the black rocks and through the green caves until she found his lost soul and they would walk into eternity together.

When the last of the ill-fated courtiers disappeared into the gloom, and the laughter of the merfolk had faded into a mirthless gurgle, she picked her way carefully across the deck. Broken spars and tangled traps of rigging barred her way but she leapt, floated, glided following the dogfish, along the ocean’s uncharted paths. Mile upon mile of phantom fish and shimmering shoals, she passed, cliffs of green rock, forests of gently waving fronds, and piles of monumental coral, before she heard the song of his wandering soul, and the dark ocean leapt with the brilliant light of lovers reunited.

* * *

She follows the bright streamers of fish-glitter into the golden light. He is there, so close now; she feels his presence throbbing in every salty droplet, hears his voice calling with a lover’s song. Dogfish, sea bass and ray stir the water electric, as she rushes towards the heart of the whirlpool of notes. There, in the mouth of the deepest, the most sacred and mysterious cave, he stands, no longer broken, waiting with outstretched arms. She darts, faster than any jewelfish, and enters his aura of peace. Entwined, never more to part, they cross together to the other side.

Published by

Jane Dougherty

I used to do lots of things I didn't much enjoy. Now I am officially a writer. It's what I always wanted to be.

10 thoughts on “The Procession: the whole story”

  1. Jane! Awesome!
    You nailed the ending like a rush to perfect happiness. Love it. Reblogging this to gardenlilie but I think it really belongs on my water blog. Smiles for you.

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