Listen to The Seashell soundtrack while you read: https://www.gayauthors.org/blogs/entry/16338-the-seashell-soundtrack/
My name is Alexis the son of Aristedies, my father, and Zephyra, my mother. We are visiting Chania on the Island of Crete, my family’s ancient home. We are visiting our ancient land from America where we moved when I was very young. I am mostly American although I can speak Greek very well and know the ways of Crete. My family here likes to tease me about my American accent in Greek. They tell me it has a ‘twang’. I laugh with them, though I do not really get the joke very well. I so very much love my family. They are everything to me, or, at least they were everything….until this day.
I am only 18 years old, but I discovered something today which has made me older than anyone I know. Even my great-grandfather Odysseus named after the great hero of the Odyssey. He is 103 years of age.
Today I went out to the sea side. There is a cove there that is a beautiful place. The white sand of the Great Mediterranean deposits there and makes of the waters a turquoise blue that reminds me of the stones I used to collect near our home in New Mexico when I was but 7 years old. The cove is surrounded by ragged rock outcroppings undermined by mysteriously beautiful caves that form archways into other worlds.
The beach is white sand, like I have said. Exposed to the sun it gleams like snow. I do not know the name of the cove. I am sure it has one very beautiful and meaningful in Greek…like Calypso’s Cave or Perseus’s Rest. But I know not the name of this cove…though I would give it a name later.
A very special name.
There is only a narrow path down to the cove. It can be treacherous for those not sure of foot as it is steep and slippery. Sand coats the old path and one must learn to ‘ride’ the sand down if one is to keep from slipping and falling. Most people who come to the cove do so by sea in a yacht or pleasure boat. They do not attempt the narrow passages down. I am ok with taking the landed way. I am an accomplished climber of rock walls and cliffs. A sandy slope is a trifle to me. I also do not have access to great ships and boats to cruise to the cove from a less secluded beach-way. We are not rich people even with the works of my father in America. Our family’s boats are for work, not pleasure.
This path, though, was destined to be taken by me. It was the only way I could have found what I found there on the beach in the cove by the wine dark sea!
I climbed down, slid down, ‘skied’ down the sandy path to the beach below. I had stripped all of my clothes away for I loved the feel of the sun and the surf on my bare skin and there are no laws or provisions against nudity in such pristine places on Crete.
I had a mind to bathe in the clear sea and coat myself entirely with the salts of Poseidon. But, there, upon my way across the sand to the shore I came upon something unknown.
A seashell of prodigious proportions! It sat just beyond the reach of the lapping tide as if cast up onto the land to share the sun with me.
The seashell was of exquisite beauty! I had never seen anything so beautiful! It shown with every color of the rainbow and that was glossed all over with a rosy sheen. It’s ridges sparkled in the morning light and the sea seemed to play on its rainbow rose raising sparkles and flares like those of a well cut diamond.
Entranced, I found myself plopping down right next to it heedless of sand or water or scurrying crabs, which were in unusual abundance about the great shell.
The shell, as I have said, was of prodigious size! I would say it was as large as the cedar chest my grandmother keeps in her bedroom. The one that contains all of her beautiful works in Cretan lace and linen. Perhaps five feet in length and four wide, by far it was the largest shell I had ever seen. I would bet money that it was the biggest my father would have seen too even though his experience fishing and potting lobsters has shown him many great shelled wonders of the deep.
Naturally…I had to touch the shell. I wanted to feel its textures figuring they would feel as beautiful to my hands as it looked to my eyes. I also have an avid love of shell collecting so this find for me was like finding the Hope Diamond in my back yard. I was almost afraid of touching the beautiful thing for fear I’d damage it somehow with my clumsiness.
Almost…I am a sensual being after all. I have always found my sense of touch the strongest of my five senses. This is why I learned to be a masseuse rather young. It is a gift to be able to feel just where another person is tense and hurting and then know just the right pressure to release that tension. So, of course, I could not stand not to touch the seashell.
Oh it was warm! Warm like a body is warm! I marvelled at how the sun had warmed the shell so it was almost exactly the warmth of a person! It was also unexpectedly smooth! The outside was more like the inside of a normal giant clam shell where the Mother of Pearl is. All of what I thought were rough bumps and textures that let off glints of light were actually patterns far below a layer of naturally smooth enamel. I had never seen a shell like this in my life. It was the most beautiful thing on the earth in my estimation! I could not help but rub the thing all over as if it were the curved flesh of a man’s back. The hard enamel was like glassy skin and it invited my smoothing hands!
Remarkably the shell gave the illusion that it actually could respond to my loving caresses. I’d seem to see like a faint ripple in the shell’s fabric beneath the glassy skin that would seem to follow my hand like little waves in water. I felt an odd sort of adoration for the shell. I was falling in love with it and I wondered, if by some chance, I could manage to rescue it from this cove and take it with me to keep it safe and to love it like it deserved!
I groped under the shell trying to find its mouth so that I might get a grip upon its rim. I wanted to test its weight. Alas, it was far too heavy for me to lift and I dared not drag it for fear of scratching it! That would have been a mortal sin to mar this treasure in that way. I figured nothing short of a crane and a tug boat could safely remove the shell from this beach unscathed. Interestingly, as I groped around finding the shell’s opening my fingers I frightened a little octopus who had been trapped under the shell in a little water. He squirmed away from my hand and managed to ‘walk’ himself into the surf and return to the sea. As I looked around the shell I saw many little things that had taken shelter under it. Little shrimp, the crabs from before, snails, all manner of shellfish of every kind!
I thought this unusual because such things do not normally wash up with shells and flotsam and jetsam from the surf. It was almost like I was in the presence of the King of all shelled things. The one true shell that was the father of all shelled creatures! My mind went wild with fantasies! Maybe this was a magic shell? Perhaps this was the seashell Aphrodite had been born from in the myth! I of course figured such a thing pure silliness. A last spasm of childlike wonder and imagination before I put away such things to replace them with sober adulthood. That is what prompted me to do something quite boyish. Having had to lean against the shell to feel underneath I found my face come close to the shell and I gave in to the urge to press my cheek against its unusually smooth warmth.
I suddenly felt a strange sense of contentment and joy with the sensation of it against my skin. I felt an unexplainable ache squeeze in my chest and butterflies begin to flutter in my stomach. I felt a lump in my throat and this incredible feeling of…love…spread through me from my heart out. As I opened my eyes, after having closed them as I pressed my cheek to the shell’s surface, I saw the strange waves inside the shell radiate out from where my face was touching it.
It wasn’t an illusion! The waves were there! The shell did respond to me!
It was then that I had an overwhelming desire to do something that seemed so childish and silly for an 18 year old man. Something I should think I’d never do to such a thing! I turned my face and I KISSED the shell!
As soon as my lips made that connection…my life changed forever!
The waves inside the shell turned to light! The heat from the shell became fevered hot! Passionate! My lips couldn’t let go! The shell held them fast to its surface by some suction as if it was returning my kiss! The loving regard I had for the beautiful object seemed to expand a million fold!
Unconsciously my tongue reached out to lick the shell in my kiss! I was literally French kissing the thing! Any normal man would think I’d become reprobate, kissing an inanimate object like this! But…I didn’t care!
The sudden passion I felt…unreasoned and unrestrained…fell into the depths of the beautiful shell and the whole thing began to hum and shimmer with every color of the sea and the sky! It became a piece of sunset made solid on the beach before me! Rose and pink and blue and red and fire and ice and life and death! It was Divine!
I felt an ecstasy thrill through me and I was pushed back off the shell nearly unconscious from the overwhelming sensation! It was orgasmic! I felt myself literally squirm in delight on the sand as the glow of pleasure caressed me inside and out!
After a time insensate, I found myself lifting up off the sand onto my elbows. Time had passed. The sun was setting and the rosy fingered evening was reaching into the encroaching night! The sound of the surf had somehow heightened in its intensity. I could hear every crash and splash of the waves. The tide would be coming in and the cove would soon be inundated! I would be swept out to sea!
A fear gripped my heart and I felt the sudden anxiety of my mortality. Beautiful and great was the Mediterranean, but it was also treacherous. An old adage came back to me from my father’s teachings: ‘Never turn your back to the sea! Never find sleep on a beached shore before the moon rises!’
But the sea did not come to claim me. It did not dare. Not for my sake, but for the sake of the one I saw asleep on the beach not feet from me.
Looking between my sprawled feet I saw a sight of beauty I still have a hard time describing accurately with my limited ability to form poetry either in English or Greek.
He…was beauty incarnate. He lay upon the sand in the place of the great Seashell which had gone. Still as if in death he lay…but somehow I knew this one knew not death.
To my eyes I saw a man built of muscles taught and strong. The firmness of his form was clothed by a skin so smooth and radiant as to seem to be made of pearls baked into pie. Tan and yet delicately smooth and tender.
His wet hair was spun gold sprayed out about his head upon the sand. Shells of every kind clung to his hair like the burettes of my sisters. His body was as unclothed as mine…but I could only hope in a dozen lifetimes, even with my youthful bloom, to ever attain such a body as his.
Every masculine curve and hollow invited my hand to touch and yet I feared. I feared suddenly, because I didn’t grasp why this man lay before me. I also feared that he was dead, so still did he lay upon the darkening sands despite my seeming instinctive knowledge that this being knew not death!
With fear ghastly and cold I took courage and reached for this man. As soon as my hand touched him I felt the familiar warmth of the shell he had replaced. A bizarre thought entered into my logic…this man had either been inside the shell or he had BEEN the shell! I felt mad thinking it…but it was logical. Frighteningly strange in its logic. He WAS the shell!
My touch confirmed to me his life for he stirred at my touch. He let go a long shuddering sigh. I drew back in fear not expecting him to revive! He looked like he could rip me arm from socket if he was so disposed in anger!
But when he gained consciousness and found that he could look up and see with his eyes, his eyes first captured me in their first sight.
My heart stopped for I had never seen eyes that blue-green! They shone! They looked like sunlight through waves! I felt I should die seeing him look at me with such eyes! I felt my heart squeezing and my breath becoming short!
“You have freed me. Forever…I am in your debt! I…haven’t words to tell you…how much thanks I have for you, my beloved Mortal child!” The voice spoke from a deep resonance within both my ears and head. He spoke a fluid Greek that seemed so much more beautiful than what I was accustomed to hearing. He used words and phrasings I did not recognize, but still, somehow, I understood him perfectly.
It was all too much. I am only 18. I am only an American child of Greek heritage. I didn’t know how to deal with what I was seeing and hearing! How does one address a living breathing god?
So I fainted dead away just as I felt strong hands take me to breast.