Once upon a time, there was a fisherman living by the sea. He went to sea fishing every morning and came back in the evening.
One day he went fishing and stayed out very late. The sky was deep and dark. The bright moonlight shone on the ripples and broke into little pieces of silver. The sea was calm and murmured a lullaby into the night.
Just as he was about to turn the boat around and row back home, he heard ethereal music coming from the water. He looked around for its source. Right there, in the moonlight, slowly out of the sea surface, rose a beautiful lady! Her hair, rich and dark, poured down her shoulders like the waves of the ocean. Her fine skin, shining like stars, was covered with a long robe of running water. When she raised her arms, crystal droplets decorated her voluminous sleeves. He couldn’t believe his eyes. He was so captivated by what he saw that he forgot where he was and what he was doing. She waved her arms and began to dance. Fish of all colors leapt and danced around her. She opened her mouth, and out came the most enthralling song that was beyond human language….
When he woke up, he was still in the boat. The sea was quiet again. Only the bright moon was shining in the sky. He recalled everything he had seen, but couldn’t tell if it was real or just a dream.
In the following days, he thought about her all the time. He thought about her hair, her skin, and her voice. He knew that he had fallen in love with her. Every evening, he rowed the boat to the same place, hoping to see her again. But she never appeared.
One night, after waiting for a long time on the sea, he turned to go home. Suddenly, he heard the music again. He looked around eagerly. It was her, rising slowly out of the water, shining like a star. He rowed his boat towards her, closer, and closer, and closer…
She turned around, and noticed him and his boat.
He bowed to her. Humbly, he spoke. “I’m a fisherman living in the village by the sea. May I know who I’m talking to?”
“I am the Goddess of this Sea.” She replied, in fluid tones, with a smile. “What is it that you want to tell me?”
He knelt down in his boat and expressed his admiration for her.
After he finished, she responded, “I appreciate your feelings for me. Unfortunately, I cannot accept them, for you are a human and I am a sea goddess. We can never share a life. Go home, Fisherman, and forget that you have ever seen me.” She closed her eyes, and disappeared into the sea.
In the following days, the fisherman was very very sad, but he couldn’t forget her for a single moment.
One afternoon, the fisherman came back early and went into town to sell his fish. After the sale, he stayed to stroll around, because he hadn’t visited the place for a long while. By chance, he walked past a square that had been newly built. There was a pond at the center, and right in the middle of it stood a statue of the Sea Goddess.
The fisherman sat down by the pond and looked at the statue. It was made of a fine, pale colored stone with a smooth surface. The artist must be very skilled and had put much detail into her. He could see the threads of her hair drifting around her head as if they were blown by the wind. The water from the fountain behind flew down over her body like a watery robe, and even formed transparent sleeves beneath her open arms. She was spinning her body as if in dance, and little sculptures of colorful fish surrounded her. Every detail reminded him of the Sea Goddess. He could almost hear her voice, singing an unworldly song. In that song, he fell asleep on the side of the pond….
In the following days, the fisherman came to the fountain every night and slept by its side. The sight of the statue comforted his sad heart.
One night, during his sleep, he felt something cold on his arm and he woke up. Right before him was the face of the Sea Goddess. In surprise, he pulled back and opened his eyes wide. It was the statue, sitting in front of him and caressing his arms. It had come alive!
“Who are you?” asked the fisherman, puzzled.
“I am the Sea Goddess,” replied the statue quietly. “My spirit comes to this stone at night, so I can talk to you. During the day, my spirit goes back to the sea and the stone returns to a statue.”
The fisherman looked at her, her face, her hair, and her body. She had every appearance of the Sea Goddess, even though every bit of her was of stone.
“I love you.” he said.
She nodded and smiled. “That’s why I came.”
She took him in her arms and very gently stroked his face. Her fingers were hard and cold, but her touch was gentle and caring. He felt tears filling his eyes.
They talked all night. He told her about his life, his childhood, his family, and his passion for the sea. She listened attentively. In return, she described to him the life in town, the various people passing by on the street and their stories. He listened with joy and amusement.
They chatted and chatted, until the dawn arrived. She had to leave. They hugged each other goodbye and promised to meet again the next night. She went up to the fountain, and posed as if in dance. She looked back at him and gave him a last smile.
The sun came above the horizon. The red sunshine lit the top of her hair. She turned still. The sun moved on to light her face, her shoulders, her chest, and her entire body.
A new day had begun, and the streets were slowly getting louder and louder….
The fisherman went fishing. It was a bright sunny day with blue sky and white clouds. The boundless sea was friendly and peaceful. Yet the fisherman didn’t notice any of these. The only thing in his mind was the statue of the Sea Goddess.
In the evening, he rushed back to the square and waited by the pond. When the darkness covered the whole town and everyone went to sleep, the running fountain changed its tune. The statue came back to life. She stepped down the base of the fountain and gave the fisherman the most welcoming hug. They held each other all night, whispering their mutual feelings and care.
Thus, day after day, night after night, the fisherman and the statue shared their lives. They became part of one another.
One day, the fisherman was out on the sea fishing. Abruptly, black clouds gathered in the sky. The wind howled, stronger and stronger. The sea became restless. He collected his fishing net and started rowing back.
The clouds grew thicker and thicker. Big waves started chasing behind the boat. He rowed as fast as he could. When he reached where the shore had been, he discovered that all the familiar houses had disappeared. Only roofs remained above the water.
In haste, he rowed to the town. All the streets were gone but water was everywhere. He found the square. The statue was standing there, in water up to her knees. He rowed close to her, held her in his arms, lifted her up from the base, and carefully put her down in his boat. She was still asleep.
The fisherman rowed inland. But the storm had caught up. Enormous rain drops fell from the sky. The freezing wind was spinning the boat down to the sea. Very quickly, the boat was full of water. He put aside his oar, and started bailing the water out. But the water kept accumulating.
The night fell, and the statue awoke. She sat up and looked around. Immediately, she understood what was happening. She joined the fisherman in removing water from the boat. He resumed rowing, but the boat had already drifted out to sea.
A huge wave was approaching, roaring with anger. He steered the boat into the wave. The wave slammed the boat and flooded it. The statue hurried to bail it out while the fisherman recovered the boat’s heading. Another wave came, swinging the boat high in the air, and dropping it in the teeth of a third wave. Water like mountains poured towards them…
All of a sudden, the sea calmed. The waves disappeared. Only the raindrops remained, pounding the surface of the water. While the fisherman was yet bewildered, ethereal music sounded in the air. Out of the sea before the boat rose the Sea Goddess, surrounded by colorful fish, shining like a star.
The fisherman looked over his shoulder. The statue was clinging to his arm, staring at the Sea Goddess in awe and terror.
The Sea Goddess pointed to the statue. She opened her mouth and out came fluid-toned words.
“The weight of the stone is sinking your boat. If you want to survive the storm, you must abandon the stone.”
The fisherman looked at the statue again. The statue turned to him, her eyes full of sorrow and despair.
The fisherman turned back to the Sea Goddess. Firmly, he replied, “No! I will not abandon her!”
“But you should,” out spoke the statue. “I am not the Sea Goddess. I have been lying to you. I am just a statue made of stone. I am nobody.”
“But I love you, even if you were nobody,” answered the fisherman. “I will never give you up.”
Saying no more, the Sea Goddess disappeared. Giant waves reared to the sky. Mountains of water poured down on the boat. A whirlpool swallowed it deep into the sea. Striking a reef, the boat was smashed to pieces….
He opened his eyes. He was lying on sand. The sunshine warmed his body and a breeze was stroking his hair. He heard the tide gently washing up the shore. He sat up. The sky was blue. The sea was blue. It was quiet and peaceful.
He looked around for the statue. Not far away, he found her, half buried in sand and seaweed. The salt water had corroded the stone. Her body was covered in cracks. He lifted her. He cradled her. She lay still, without any sign of life. He pressed her face against his own and started weeping.
He wept and wept. Tears fell on the cracks in her body. A piece of stone fell from her. After a while, another piece. Then another, and another…. Slowly, the statue was crumbling. But to his amazement, beneath the peeling pieces of stone, he discovered human skin, soft and warm.
Gradually, all the pieces peeled away. In his arms lay the body of a beautiful woman. She had every appearance of the Sea Goddess, except that every bit of her was human. She opened her eyes. As soon as she saw him, she smiled. He hugged her, and hugged her again, and again, laughing and crying at the same time.
The statue sat up and was as amazed as the fisherman to discover her body in flesh and blood.
“I have dreamt of being human since the day I was carved, but I never dared hope that it would ever come true!”
Ethereal music rose above the sea. The Sea Goddess appeared near the shore. The fisherman and the statue knelt down and bowed to her. The Sea Goddess spoke to the statue.
“Only because of your willingness to sacrifice yourself have you been spared the punishment for impersonating a goddess.”
She then turned to the fisherman.
“Fisherman, you have proved your love to be true and strong. That is why the statue is given a life. Cherish your love and your life. Appreciate every day you have.”
The fisherman and the statue bowed again and thanked the Sea Goddess for what she did for them.
They returned to the village. The flood had subsided. People started rebuilding their homes. New houses were constructed and new boats were made. A new life had begun. The fisherman and the statue lived happily ever after.