The Last Harbour
Light from hulking harbour-boats lit the dark waters as they rumbled past on their night journeys, oblivious to our faces in the choppy sea waves. Wind whipped at the water surface, playing mosaics, as if there was a moment to spare at playing.
The salt-water didn’t trouble Triton like it did me, salt stinging my senses: the sea was his home. He rolled his golden shoulders, eyes fixed on the walkways round Stockholm harbour, littered with people blind to us, our plight, blind to all of our ruin. This was the last harbour.
Triton set his jaw and raised his father’s Trident, pointing it towards the harbour and the city hidden in its light, and the blindfolds of modernity.
“Not yet, another moment,” I pleaded, resting a hand on his.
He lowered the Trident, settling again, looking as I was for that thing that we had not seen the world over, for just a moment more. Mist swirled at the edges of the wide harbour. Water lapped at wood-posts and cement, whispering eternal lullabies.
“Coventina,” Triton said.
Hearing my name again was a jolt. In our long journey we had now almost lost our names, our identities, calling each other by name less and less until we simply stopped, lost in the eternal lullaby of the sea.
“We have no more time,” he said.
I felt my heart sink into the dark waters at his words, down into the plastic-strewn mud, where it seemed to sit and wait for the rest of me to descend. I raised my chin, fixed on my quest to find what we sought still.
“Just another moment.”
We settled again to watching the dark edges of the harbour walls.
Coventina, I thought. My name through all my life. It rolled around my head like shifting light, glittering the shadows that had settled there in our long journey: In New York we had stared at the ‘great lady’, but her torch was dwindling. We had entered the English Channel and swam up the Thames River, but London had not smiled back at us. The Gateway of India we saw from the water in Mumbai harbour had been firmly closed, at least to us, and our ways, and our world.
Coventina… yes, I still had my name. I blinked, coming alive, a sliver of hope in the dark water. My skin hurt, raw to the salt-water. Triton saw me shiver and rested a hand on my neck, calming me. I smiled inside, feeling more like the queen I once was, the queen of spring-water that had begun this quest with him in his salty kingdom.
We had been around the world, the seven seas our glistening companions, feeling our changing world all around us, sensing the rising storms but keeping them at bay as best we could, while we searched for the thing we sought…just one person, any person, who could see us still - the prince and the queen that we were.
People walked around Stockholm harbour, half-shrouded in evening mist that the street lights fought with yellowed fatigue. Their faces looked the same as I’d seen the world over, lost in themselves, lost in the moment, lost.
My eyes settled on a stone bollard sat next to the water. I’d almost missed her, a girl, small and thin as folded fishing-rods, sat contemplating the water. Her eyes were glistening, maybe by tears, blending her with the light shards dancing on the water. With everyone rushing around on the harbour walk-ways, she stood out as she sat, engaging the sea with her stare.
“There,” I said, brushing Triton’s arm. He followed my eyes and we watched her. It was dark, and we were a distance off, floating amongst harbour-boats and choppy waves. I followed Triton in a little closer, marvelling at his easy stealth, a glide through the water that seemed to require no effort at all. We stopped again, perhaps thirty metres out to sea, near the edge of dim light thrown off by harbour lamps, comfortably hidden.
The girl’s jaw worked against a ball of emotion. Yes, I could see it now; she was upset, seeking answers in the dark sea before her. A simple honesty pulled my attention towards the girl, her eyes open wells to her soul, and the fresh spring-water there. I half smiled, feeling good to see her despite her obvious upset. We watched, the sea lullaby washing over all three of us.
She lifted her eyes, seeing the whole sea she faced, and all I saw in her was spring-water, a small fresh beginning. Spring-water: my home.
I clutched at my heart, smiling at what we had not seen for so long in our journeying. I closed my eyes hoping there’d be more soon, but one would do, for today.
When I looked up, she was looking right at us – at Triton the Sea-Prince, son of Poseidon, and Coventina, Queen of Spring-water, his companion in this adventure - and by the girl’s lullaby eyes, I saw she could really see us.
Triton still held the Trident, ready to lift and begin the war, to loose our storms with fury, with our blessing and Poseidon’s, on these unyielding people.
…But if there was one that could see us, remember us, then perhaps others...
It was what we had been looking for. I smiled at the girl, and thought she smiled back. She looked like a young reindeer about to fight wolves.
I put my hand on Triton’s as he wavered, Trident ready to lift in war.
“Not today,” I pleaded, watching the girl as she rose to stand.
He followed my eyes, as she turned away towards the city, a single braid of hair curling down her back like a question-mark to the world.
Triton nodded, and we dipped under the last harbour waves patiently.