The beach has black sands, most of it is composed of a metal called magnetite. Chinese merchants have been mining the black sands for close to 15 years now. As a result, there are areas in the water that would immediately dip and deepen which is very dangerous for an unsuspecting swimmer.
“Every year, the sea would claim a life. The townspeople believe that, like it’s an obligatory sacrifice. Last year, a group of students from the provincial capitol went on a picnic on this beach. Two of them drowned.”
“You don’t really believe in that baloney, do you?” Alice asked him.
“I’m a scientist, Alice. But there are many stories and I think we should listen to them so that we can understand the people who have to make them up.”
She nodded. “Where I grew up, our neighbors believe that the forest beside our town was haunted. With black or red dwarves, or something.” Jonas started touching her neck and she was momentarily distracted. She gave him a warning look. He grinned at her, but stopped anyway. Alice continued, “So they believe that when you step into the forest for the first time, you should give the dwarf, the nuno, a sign of your respect. Like you can bow and ask for it to let you pass. You can also wear your shirt inside out, otherwise it may make fun of you and make you get lost in its forest.”
“It’s forest? So you really believe in this folktale, huh?” Jonas teased.
“My grandfather used to tell it to me all the time. I think he was just trying to scare me, to keep me from wandering off and getting lost. What’s so funny?”
“I am just thinking that your grandfather was telling you myths and folktales, while my father used to read me A History of the Manhattan Project as bedtime story.”
“So that is the reason why you are such a nerd!” Alice exclaims, shamelessly lying with a straight face.
Jonas is the farthest thing from a nerd one can imagine. As far as physical attributes go, Alice may appear nerdier than he is: with her glasses (gone now; since she started going out with him she had preferred contacts) and her books and her perpetual ponytails (which have disappeared with her glasses; he always managed to unbind her hair whenever he’s around). Jonas looks like a basketball player, though he’s not that tall. A lot of great players in the PBA are not very tall.
Jonas kissed her nose and stretched out on the blanket, his head on her lap.
Now what? Alice thought. They were alone on the beach, save for a few sand crabs scurrying around them. The nearest fisherman was a kilometer away.
Jonas closed his eyes. “There is another story about this sea. Once upon a time, a mermaid used to live here. Every year, at Lent or Christmas, she would take on the body of a beautiful woman and mingle with the local people. She would encourage the males to drink the local wine which she had spiked with her magic potion, and eat some enchanted food from the ocean. She would do this so that they will forget who they are and follow her.”
“And where are the women in this story, I wonder?”
He opened one eye. “They are tending to their kids.”
“What happens when the guys follow the mermaid?”
“They fall on the ocean and they drown.”
Alice laughed. Guffawed and chuckled like a madwoman. She laid down on the blanket beside Jonas, took his hand and started playing with it. “I like your story.”
Jonas turned and embraced her; her legs, arms and torso in a tangle with his. He was smiling, looking into her eyes.
“I knew you would. I like it too. It got you lying down here with me while my other attempts have failed.”
So then … one of them proceeded to go where (as the Star Trek saying goes) no man has gone before. It was not an entirely boring morning.
Reading Lists and Interesting Pictures: