Devastating Beauty, fiction by Melanie Barrow at

Devastating Beauty

Devastating Beauty

written by: Melanie Barrow



Lazily floating amongst the iridescent fragile corals I watch as a shoal of sequinned fish dart in and out of their technicolour paradise. Yellowfin goatfish mimic the cyan blue-stripe snappers, joining in the hunt for planktonic crustaceans. Reeling around I clap my hands in delight as I’m entertained by orange and white clownfish performing an intricate dance with an anemone, immune from its lethal sting. I laugh at their antics, a tinkling sound bouncing off the reef crest.
The sun’s filtered light exposes an oyster and with outstretched fingers, I greedily prise its pearl, nearly disturbing a seahorse curling her tail around the vivid-hued coral, her neck arching with pleasure.
Diving expertly into the turquoise depths, I pass a vast colourful forest of sea sponges with fluorescent potato-shaped sea squirts. Just in time, I duck out of the way as a smack of giant crimson lion’s mane jellyfish glide gently past, their long flowing hair-like tentacles primed with ferocious stinging cells. My golden hair streams behind me as I swim safely past their deadly beauty and onto a parallel course with an ethereal host of translucent sea angels, flying gracefully with wing-like fins through their sea heaven.
I swim deeper into the pulsing heart of the ocean, where less light penetrates this still, silent world. The dense, dark water becomes colder now and I breathe in, relishing the unfathomable. Swimming more cautiously now I pick my way over the ocean floor, my emerald eyes gleaming like lanterns lighting the way. There on the seabed rose a galleon, fashioned from ancient oak, its sails torn like cumulous clouds drifting, a carrier of destruction, a cradle for lost souls in this salty brine.
There is the sailor I sang my siren song to, my voice sending crystal shards into his heart, my beauty blinding him. Now, he resides in this magical sea home alongside others I have brought to their underwater grave. I am the protector of this exotic world, where life began and so I wreak revenge on those who would destroy it and cause its ending. Gathering seaweed I cloak this stately treasure, concealing it from the fortune hunters who would ravage it.
The temperature is warming, a ray of light bathes the surface in a silvery moonlight shimmer, bringing danger. Being careful to avoid the untreated wastewater I start my journey upwards, collecting the plastic pollution from the tourist playgrounds which threaten our existence. Soon the water will be filled with snorkelers thieving the corals, fishing boats trawling their large nets along the seabed and heavy anchors dropped unconsidered onto the reef, the barbed flukes piercing the poor corals. My world is under threat. It’s time to act.
Riding the white horses to my limpet-encased rock I once more keep vigil, for I am the guardian of all this beauty.

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