Skeleton Woman

Everybody knew that the Coral Sea was haunted by the ghost of the heartbroken. And the ghost who rattled the loudest among the pulsing of the whales and the sharks and the sea dragons, was named Viola. Viola’s story is a sad story. It begins once upon a time on the far side of yesterday, back when the sun and the earth and the sea were still young. Back when dreams dissolved into day. Back when all men where ruled by mad kings. La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da.

And it was way back then, when Viola was ripe and wild and free, that came the dawning of a great chaos. For she had fallen in love with forbidden fruit and was tragically murdered at the hands of her own father. He threw her like a stone from the edge of a jagged cliff and straight into the teeth of the hungry waves that rose like wolves to greet her. They say that as she fell she screamed “But father, I love you” and that though the words crawled out of her mouth like lizards dragging their bodies slowly across the tip of her tongue, her voice was still loud and strong and it echoed from wave to wave, from shore to shore, from coast to coast.  They say that she was wearing a long dress of gold and that she floated down like an iridescent feather beneath the pale light of a new moon. La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da.

They say that when she landed the sea was sharp like glass and it was filled with her tears and blood and regrets. And that you could hear her choking on salt water as it rushed into her lips, her nose, her throat, her lungs. Coughing, powerless, crying. Help! The seagulls were squealing, she was gagging, ships were colliding and above it all was the fog and the waves and the wind and the fear. La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da.

And though they tried, not even the sirens could save her. Her spirit was too shattered to survive. Sliced at its very center by the deception of her own father. Oh his lies, the lies, the burning, the lies, the hate, the flames, the fire that blazed from his mouth like some darkened demon.

Viola wished now that she was riding on the wings of a phoenix towards a silver cloud. She wished that she was a sea monster so big that she could drink every drop of the ocean and swallow her father like a slug. She wished that she was a wizard, a witch, a warlock, who could freeze time and and turn the waves into aquamarine mountains. But alas, Viola remained imprisoned by the spiraling tides- falling, rising, falling, floating, trapped, choking.

Seaweed tangled around her legs and piece by piece her body was devoured by the creatures of the sea– jellyfish stung scars across her breasts, sea urchins stabbed her face, fish pecked away at her eyes, sharks ripped the meat of her flesh, her fingers and toes were stolen by squid and an octopus sucked out what was left of her heart. Until finally she was nothing but a skeleton of bones with long white hair.  

The sea swallowed what was left of her and she sank and sank and sank and sank and sank and sank and sank, like an empty shell of abalone into that forest of the weird that rests within the darkest depths of the deep. And there she lies among eels, vampire squid, and fangtooth fish. And there she lies where only the teardrops of true love can save her. And there she lies restless and weeping. La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da.

They say that you can hear her desperate cries, her moans, her sighs, woven throughout the night– louder and brighter than the swollen waves that crash on the rocky shore. They say she is the darkness of the storms when the rain begins to pour. They say fisherman beware, for she will throw chunks of sea at every man until they are lost and adrift with no anchor, no oar.  La-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da, da-da-da.

* Based on a traditional Inuit Tale*

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