It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife.
The man’s opinions are inconsequential, of course. What use are male opinions in social matters?
Target your avaricious intentions on his holdings, his estates, and the production of your grandchildren. The mothers pander and their daughters spin webs. Machiavellian intentions hidden behind gowns of silk and taffeta, diabolical snares constructed of garden promenades and high tea. Once attached, their lamprey teeth make them difficult to shake loose.
Exhausted by the epic struggle to maintain my freedom I resolved to flee at once. I abandoned my secure and lucrative career, only barely begun. I would find a more physical profession, and settle in a place where a man could earn his bread without the sustained shrieking of circling harpies.
Greece. The home of Zeus and Hercules, and surely the perfect spot for the ultimate consummation of confirmed bachelorhood, wasn’t it? I would get a little fishing boat and live in quiet solitude in a tiny shack. What harm if a few of the local bronzed specimens of godly manhood should stroll past on the beach? We could surely jest and contest while quaffing our wine and discussing platonic ideals. Belching, scratching, and defaming the female of the species, as real men should.
I settled on the isle Lefkada, a typical Greek island that was only unusual because of its land bridge connecting the island to the mainland. Setting sail on my tiny new boat, I learned quickly how little I knew of sailing and fishing. Fortunately, the island had several tanned and muscular youths available for hire, and I was smitten. I quite enjoyed my lessons, and soon learned both crafts. My Greek grew less insulting to the listener, as well. Adopted immigrant turned semi-native, the locals did not long fault me for my unfortunate English birth.
I was content at last.
My occasional fishing employee and local tanned god Dimitrios introduced me to his cousin, Leucosia, a dazzling Levantine beauty in uncomfortably brief swimwear. This was surely an innocent introduction, I was certain Dimitrios knew of my proclivities. How unhappy it would make me to have my peace ruined by a ‘hook-up’—at least, if the hook-up was with her.
We drank much wine and the three of us chatted. She seemed almost human, this one, smiling and interacting without immediately shifting to predatory mode. They needed a lift to the far side of the island, and Dimitrios’ boat was down for sail repair, could I take them?
Of course, I accepted—making it clear to Dimitrios that I intended collecting on the favor eventually.
Leucosia leaned against the mast in the moonlight and asked, “You have heard that sirens have always frequented Lefkada?”
“You mean classical, mythical sirens? How do you know if they’re there?”
From behind me Dimitrios answered, “By the screams,” and his serrated teeth ripped at my throat.
495 words. Inspired by this week’s Finish That Thought prompt (the first line, from Pride and Prejudice).
6 thoughts on “Back Off, Damned Sirens.”
Original quotation, in full, from the 1993 movie Sirens:
Sheela: [talking about an outhouse] I should have warned him about the redbacks.
Estella Campion: What are they?
Sheela: Small spiders with big teeth. They live under toilet seats usually.
Estella Campion: How do you know if they’re there?
Sheela: By the screams.
What an unexpected ending – though I suppose I shouldn’t be quite so surprised, considering the title. 🙂 Great story!
I suspected it was too abrupt. Could have used another hundred words, or a sharped pruning axe taken to the first 400.
I quite liked the abruptness. It was a shock, but a good one. 🙂
This is great! You drew me right in with the Austen quote and then I had to read on to see where you took that. And I love the end, great twist.
Well, thanks. I should save those ‘redback’ spiders for later use ::note::