Across the desert of time, in a desolate land of cold stone and decaying dreams, lived a man from the sea. Never had he lived away from the water until the day when the chainmen came to take him away. The chainmen were dark souls with lifeless eyes which bore no compassion, no pity, no emotion whatsoever. For many years they travelled, further and further inland, until they reached the land of scars where humanity had no place and the display of human emotion was punishable by death.
After years shackled to the darkest, heaviest rock that the chainmen could find, the man from the sea began to forget about all the things he had left behind and, before long, the only place that real human emotions could be seen was in his blue-green eyes amongst his memories of the sea. Few noticed all that his eyes kept safe, they saw only the cold and jagged façade he had learned to copy from the rocks that surrounded him, and for this the man was grateful since, in the land of scars, his own emotions could carry a harsh and heavy price.
However, after ten years enslaved by the dark eyed chainmen of the land of scars, the man from the sea had all but given up hope of returning home when he noticed a light amongst the shadows. Through the ranks of chainmen walked someone he had never seen before. She walked among them and perhaps, he thought, even with them. But he could tell at first sight, she was not one of their kind. She resembled the pixies of the land of dreams and her eyes burned brightly with the most beautiful flames ever known, illuminating the landscape all around her. This was the most spectacular being he had ever seen and, for a long time, the man was scared even to look at her too long lest his soul be burnt up by her brilliance. But, over time, the woman with eyes of fire grew closer to the man from the sea and showed him kindness the like of which he had never known before. He soon learnt that the woman’s beauty, though incomparable, was rivalled only by her vast intellect, her kind and generous nature, and her ability to make him laugh and smile, even in the darkness of the land of scars. Just being in the presence of her radiant healing glow made him remember how it felt to be free.
But, over the years, the chainmen grew intolerant of the woman with eyes of fire and they began to conspire to darken her soul forever. The man from the sea saw this and became scared that the chainmen’s darkness would prove too much for her pure soul to bear. For the first time in many years he felt a rage build up within and he resolved to protect her from any who would do her harm. He looked deep into her eyes of fire and knew that here was a woman he could learn something from every day for the rest of his life; here was a woman he could love forever; here was a woman he would protect through eternity; here was a woman he could live for.
But what could he do? Chained to his rock he was forbidden to feel emotion, let alone to show it or speak of it. The doubts began to flood his mind as he told himself that he was nothing more than a man from the sea with little to offer but his love and loyalty. What right had he to love one of such radiance? And, more importantly, how could he be so sure that she felt the same? She had never said so and, with such natural kindness, how could he know that she felt anything more for him than for all the lost souls in the land of scars. What if he told her and the chainmen found out? What would become of him then? Was he destined to spend the rest of his life denying what he knew was true? Was he fated to forever live with the regrets of all that he left unsaid? He didn’t know what was worse, execution for the honesty of his passion, or living forever in the darkness of obedience to the chainmen. He only wished that she would see the truth of what he felt in his eyes and give him a sign, just one clear sign, of whether she felt the same. It didn’t occur to him that she might have been just as scared as he.
So the man from the sea stayed silent and spent his days dreaming of a time when he would be free to take his beloved with her eyes of fire, and show her off to the sea. The waves would bow down before her grace, of that he had no doubt. And, just as the oceans reflect the rising sun, he knew he could reflect her brilliance too, her fire mirrored in his seas. Inspiring him to be the best he could be.
But that was just a dream and dreams had no place in the land of scars. The man from the sea knew this and, though his own silence screamed its tortuous shriek into his ears, he resolved to hold his feelings in, never to be seen.
For a time the man endured this well, laughing through the pain. But the only thing that hurt him more than being in her presence was not being in her presence at all. He would count down the days between her visits, barely recovering from her last by the time her next arrived. For days on end he couldn’t sleep or eat or think and, soon enough, the illuminating fire that he loved so much became the source of his demise.
The woman stayed with her light shining out for all to behold, but none seemed to appreciate it as much as the man from the sea and the longer he stayed silent the brighter her fire became. At first he couldn’t tell if the flames were truly growing or if he merely noticed more of them as time went on. But then, on a day just like any other, the man took a look around. The woman with eyes of fire was gone but from North to South, East to West, as far as his eyes could see, she had set the whole landscape ablaze and he was trapped in the middle, alone.
For a moment he felt scared, but soon this turned to relief. After living in the agony of silent darkness he could imagine no finer escape than to be burnt up by the flames of his beloved. Patiently he waited, resigned to the inevitability of his fate, and slowly the fiery leaves of red heat danced their way towards him until just beyond arms reach. But then they hurt him more than he ever thought they could. They stopped.
In the middle of the land of scars, with the whole landscape blazing with the brilliance of the woman with eyes of fire, sat a cold and lonely man, chained to a blackened rock. No matter how hard or fast that he tried to reach those flames, they would only part and move away, forever beyond his grasp.
There he was and, for eternity, there he will remain. Destined to live forever in the midst of memories and dreams that can never be attained. Tortured by regret for all he didn’t say. Alone forever and shackled to the dark. Doomed to wonder forever more if he should have spoken all that was on his mind. Wishing that she’d given him, that single one clear sign.