by John P Lennon
Skiathea is psychological/supernatural story set in a seaside village in Cornwall, England. It is based on a Cornish folk tale, called The Mermaid of Zennor. The original tale is of a fisherman who falls in love with a mermaid. Neither lover can live for long in the world of the other. The man dies in the end, although it is a beautiful tale, and often retold.
There is a deeper background to mermaid stories. Robert Graves claims in The White Goddess that the tales are folk-memories of the cult of the sea goddess, Aphrodite. Amongst Aphrodites’ many other names is Venus – she who is both the evening star and the dark goddess of the sea.
Skiathea is about brief love, but also the transformation of the mundane into the mythical. Compress a love story into a few days, and a woman becomes a siren and the siren is secretly a goddess. The man is a lost fisherman, a king on a quest, a mariner doomed to die. To join with the girl he encounters by the sea is impossible; he cannot follow her to her home, but he cannot leave her on the beach either. The call of the Siren is still destructive to all men.
The story follows that of the Mermaid of Zennor, but loosely, for it is a contemporary tale. The content is from both the narrator’s youth and from adulthood; there are early memories of sun and sand and swimming trunks, and also of later encounters with the Siren in her ever-changing forms.
In Skiathea the Siren has become the Shadow Girl, she who is and is not, of the sea – and she who is, and is not, a goddess. The Siren will not speak her name, not openly, for she has many. He can name her if he wishes – after which he must follow her into the sea, as all men do, one day.
The Siren is a charming conversationalist and above all else a storyteller. She will not talk of her past or future, save in stories, for neither truly exist. She has sad eyes.
The Siren has beautiful hair, and she likes to swim alone.
by Antony Bennett
‘The pale boy is too stricken to speak. He watches me as if he is watching an incarnation of the grim reaper himself.’
The wrecked house on the edge of town holds a secret that has been waiting for countless years to be discovered. And one unsuspecting boy holds the key to unleashing the fear within.
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