Elaine waded deeper into the loch when she cocked her head and heard a lyrical sound, almost too beautiful to be singing. She turned and looked to locate the source of the music, but she couldn’t find it. It seemed to come from nowhere and everywhere. Her imagination conjured up images of mermaids crooning as they combed out their hair with combs made of seashells.
She shook her head. It was silly nonsense. Her mind told her that there was some logical explanation while her heart begged for it to be magic of some kind. Reality wasn’t something she wanted to think about at the moment. She was alone, a widow at the age of twenty five. Her white knighted husband had been killed in the war a month ago. Going on vacation to Ireland was supposed to be a distraction, but her heart wasn’t distracted. A lump formed in her throat.
Then she took a deep breath and looked around. The lilting sound still filled the air. It would drive her nuts until she found it. She became more determined to find the source. Somehow she felt that the music would haunt her if she didn’t find it.
As she crawled around a large outcropped rock, her hands dug into the stone, trying to hold her balance. When she spied the source of the song, she gasped and her heart fluttered. There in a cave just above the water’s edge, a dragon sat singing. Her eyes went wide and she gasped. The orange dragon stopped in the midst of the tune and stared back at her, his emerald eyes fixing on her with a strange intensity.
Elaine took a step back, intending to flee, but the dragon’s expression softened and he beckoned her in, leaning his head down in a gesture of calmness. Transfixed, she climbed inside, bound by her curiosity to see what was going on.
“Are you a mermaid,” the dragon asked her.
“N-n-no,” Elaine stammered. “I’m just me.”
“I knew that witch was lying to me,” he growled, sitting back as a puff of smoke escaped his dignified-looking nose.
“What witch,” she asked, completely bewildered.
“The one who told me if I sang in this cave a mermaid would appear to ease my loneliness,” he sighed.
“Sorry, I can’t help much with loneliness,” Elaine told him sympathetically. “I’m pretty lonely myself. What’s your name?”
“Egan,” he told her. “What is your name, fair damsel?”
“Elaine,” she answered. “How odd – my husband’s name was Egan!”
“He exists no more,” Egan asked.
“No, he died last month,” she replied sadly.
“I am most sorry,” the dragon said.
She smiled at him weakly. She had heard “sorry” a lot in the past month. She was tired of hearing it.
“I wish the last month was all just a bad dream,” she admitted.
She sat down. The dragon moved over and sat beside her, resting his arm about her possessively. He leaned down and whispered in her ear.
“I felt that I was here in a bad dream myself until now. What if we were both meant to find each other to lead the way out of our own bad dreams? What if my mermaid princess was named Elaine?”
She turned to him with wide eyes. Perhaps there was magic in the world. “I’d be happy to be your mermaid if you’d like to become my knight!”
With that, a puff of smoke appeared around them and suddenly she stood gazing back at her husband and reflecting back from the water, a dragon embraced a mermaid.