Many, many moons ago and across countless oceans there was a tiny island left all alone. The land rose gently towards the center of the island, making the entire place look like a small anthill. A protective reef kept the water near shore calm and clear, a wonderfully serene blue. Many beautiful fish colored this area.
On this tiny island there was a small kingdom. The people were of a benevolent nature, used their land wisely, never experienced war, and never, ever tempted the Gods of the ocean by sailing past the reef. This was forbidden.
Their Gods were many and wise. They were musical people and named their children lyrical, poetic names. Everything on the island was at it should be, everybody thought, for there was plenty of food and nothing besides the sea a threat.
One day, the same day actually that a rainbow formed in the reef and arched towards the center of the island, so that it appeared to be a colorful handle from which the Great God of the Clouds could lift the island out of the sea, two children were born simultaneously. They were both beautiful children, with sea glass for eyes and skin so pure it shone radiantly.
The people of this island knew how to read the clouds, and the messages from the Gods, and so they decided the boy, whom they named Eternity, and the girl, thereafter known as Melody, should be joined in marriage when the time was right, and would assume rule of the kingdom. This was their fate from the very first day of their lives.
Although the children were unaware of their destiny, they immediately took a liking to each other. They could often be seen playing down by the waterwheel, making paper ships and sailing them down the stream, or running along the beach, holding their arms out and pretending to be a bird in the wind. They were imaginative, creative kids and all the adults delighted in the stories they concocted. For creativity is a quality that the Gods take special interest in.
Eternity would often go swimming down by the coral or rowing in his boat, paying close attention not to drift out past the reef and into open sea, for he was a good boy and followed the adults’ wishes. But, oh, would he stare off at the vastness and dream of what was out there. Although everybody knew that everything they could see with their eyes was all the Gods wanted them to know, and so not much, Eternity would still imagine that there was something else out there amid all that blue; maybe another island, maybe more kingdoms like theirs? His wanderlust was thick and tangible and he would often share these thoughts with Melody, laying on the hill and staring at the clouds.
One day while Eternity and Melody were helping baby turtles cross the hot sand into the water, Melody spotted something visible beyond the waves. It looked similar to their little canoes but much larger, with giant pieces of cloth sticking up from the base. They had been told that anything beyond the reef wasn’t real, was just a figment of their dreams, so Melody rubbed and rubbed her beautiful turquoise eyes, trying to erase the apparent apparition.
“It’s a ship!” Eternity shouted with glee. He jumped up from the sand and threw his hands high in the air. “It’s here. It’s real.”
“We should tell the adults,” Melody cautioned, not sure what to believe, even though she was the first to spot the ship. “They should come down here. They’ll know if it’s real.”
“Go tell them,” Eternity answered, “I’m going to see if I can make contact so whoever it is doesn’t leave. This is a historic day, Melody!” He was feverish with excitement, jumped in his canoe and had his paddle dancing through the water in no time. Heading quickly out towards the reef, he grew smaller and smaller in the distance.
Melody turned and made her way back to the adults quickly, not sure if the sighting was good news or bad news, and feeling troubled to leave Eternity in the water, especially now that the wind was starting to pick up. She got to the village at the base of the hill and shouted proudly that they spotted a ship at sea and for everyone to come and look.
The adults gathered around but didn’t follow her down to the beach to her chagrin. “No,” they told her. “It can’t be. You guys must be making things up again. There is nothing out there. Go get Eternity and tell him to come to dinner. Doesn’t it smell good?” Melody had to admit that it did smell good. It was her favorite: zucchini, squash, carrots, and peppers in coconut water, with onion and ginger mixed in for flavor.
As she approached the beach she realized that she was happy that there was nothing there afterall, as the adults all agreed. She felt it was best that Eternity was wrong and the Gods were right, this island home is all there is; but when she reached the shore something was tragically wrong. The clouds had darkened terribly. The sky was black as midnight and the wind was savagely whipping her hair in front of her face. It was as if a monster storm was raging in only this one location. She could even see blue sky behind her where the village lay.
She scanned the water and yelled for Eternity, pleading with him to get out of the canoe and come to dinner. “It’s your favorite: zucchini and squash and carrots. Please, Eternity! Where are you? Everybody is waiting! It’s so dark!”
Melody couldn’t see him, nor could she hear him. He was gone. All she could hear was the thunder of the waves crashing on the reef. Even inside the protected zone, the water sloshed around violently. She had never seen the ocean like this: black and churning.
She screamed for what seemed to be a lifetime and then she sat down on the sand and cried. Tears streamed out of her eyes and carved a channel to the sea. Eventually the skies cleared and it was possible to scan the water, flat as a stone now, and just as empty. Her eyes could not find him.
She felt achingly hollow inside without Eternity. Her stomach was tied into giant knots. What would she tell the adults? They weren’t supposed to go near the reef, and she had let him take the canoe all by himself, this was all her fault. How foolish of her!
The Gods must be upset, why else would they take Eternity away?
She was hopeless, her soul was crushed, and she had a yearning to be with Eternity at any cost. She never realized before how much a part of her being he was and how badly, she too, wanted off the island. Without turning around to say goodbye she slowly waded into the water and gracefully swam down deep, her body turning into a shimmering rainbow of colors as she made the coral her new home.
When the adults came and looked for the children they were nowhere to be seen. A great sadness inflicted itself upon every individual in the kingdom. “We should have believe Melody when she told us there was a ship!” They wailed. This was a bad sign for sure, they thought. Everybody was so distraught and mournful they, too, took to the water, becoming a pod of blue whales that would sing a lonely, baritone for centuries, homelessly drifting throughout the oceans.
The fated pair would be separated for eons, assuming different identities along the way, but always feeling like a piece of their soul was missing, that it was out there in the universe, in the shape of a person, waiting to join them again and be whole.
There was the time when Eternity was a pirate and noticed a glint in the Caribbean water, but shook it off because everybody knows mermaids don’t exist. When the Great War happened, and Melody was nursing the fallen, a soldier across the room raised his head and she thought she recognized him from somewhere, but told herself she was just being foolish and went back to bandaging the amputee.
And one time when Melody was a golden poppy and Eternity was a bee, he almost landed in her petal.
Their reunion finally occurred early in the 10th year of the second millenium. Melody, now a beautiful Mexican-American girl with stunning blue eyes, the color of the sacred shore they spent their youth on, recognized Eternity from a dream she had, even though he was wearing a lucha libre mask in it. When Eternity, eight years older now than her, with salt & pepper hair and stubble on his cheeks, saw Melody he knew in his heart that this was the girl he had dreamed about while under the sea, on the mountaintops, in those hot air balloons, and in the clattering trains for the last 999 years of his many lives.
They instantly fell into each others’ arms, holding each other for what seemed like infinity, making up for lost time, staring into their distant and vague memories, and now the future taking shape before them, the two intertwining together like strands of DNA.
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she confided.
“I’ve been looking for you,” he replied.