A breeze sent waves of ocean air up the path. The night was quiet, and the sky was clear. The further they walked from the small resort they were staying at, the more stars were visible, freed from the noise of the lights.
The path they walked was not the one to the beach usually used by guests of the resort. Indeed, the overgrowth and generally poor condition suggested no one much at all used it. But it’s out-of-the-way location made it that much more appealing. Perhaps it led to a secluded cove that had been relatively untouched.
It was the hope, and a general sense of mystery, that led them through the trees in the dark. Enough of the path remained that the light from the stars let them proceed without losing their way. It was their first night on the island and the beginning of their honeymoon. The thought of adventure was enticing.
Five years they had been married. Five years saving and planning this perfect trip. Without saying anything, they both agreed it had been worth it. They squeezed one another’s hand as they walked.
After nearly half an hour, the trees gave way to the sea, and the winding path ended. Sand stretched the entire length of the tree line, more than a hundred feet in either direction, ending at rocks that marked both ends of the beach. The ocean, itself nearly a hundred feet in front of them, gently washed the shore in the warm summer evening. No one else was present.
For a moment, both just stood there, drinking in the beauty that surrounded them. Then she let go of his hand and ran to the edge of the water. She laughed as her feet sunk a little into the wet sand. He joined her, and they dragged each other into the water, not very far, but far enough that the water was well over her knees when they tipped over. Then they sat on the shallow ocean floor, the water brushing against her chin, and enjoyed each other’s presence.
Later, as they were walking back to the path, he stopped.
“Do you hear that?” he asked.
She cocked her head slightly, but heard nothing except the ocean behind them. “No,” she said finally. “What is it?”
“Music.” The song was faint but familiar. He couldn’t name it, but he knew it from somewhere. Had always known it. It came from the trees.
Without saying another word, he charged into the forest to look for the source of the melody.
She yelped in surprise and called after him, but he had already disappeared. Following the sound of his mad dash, she entered the forest as well. No music guided her, only the fading echoes of her husband’s movements. Moving as quickly as caution allowed, she made her way to where she thought he was.
After a time, the noise disappeared completely. She continued heading toward where she had last heard it, but every time she turned to move around a tree, she became less certain of her direction. Her calls to her husband went unanswered. A sudden flash of orange light appeared and vanished in an instant. It had come from ahead of her, a little off to the left.
She began walking in that direction, even while she was apprehensive about what had caused it. Soon, a small clearing appeared. A statue stood in the middle of it, and smoke hung in the air, but nothing else was present. The smoke suggested this was where she had seen the flash, but there was no apparent source. The statue itself was made of stone. Its gender indeterminate, it had five arms that seemed to be frozen in the middle of some intricate dance. In the moonlight, it was both wonderful and terrifying.
But her husband was not here. And she had no idea where he might be. To make matters worse, she had no idea where she was, either. She wanted to go back to the resort; surely he would find his way back there. But her sense of direction had failed her walking amongst the trees. She could head back to the ocean, find the path they had taken. But the sounds of water were absent, and the salt air came from everywhere.
She decided it would be better to stay put, at least until morning, when she could use the sun to guide her way. The statue, upon further consideration, did not seem menacing. Perhaps it would even keep watch over her. She sat down on its base and leaned her head against its legs. The stone was surprisingly warm, which was welcome in the sudden chill of the night. In the warmth and safety of the statue, she drifted off.
When the sun rose, the statue faced it, soaking up the light and heat. It was alone in its little clearing; its six arms still caught up in the dance it forever performed while it hummed a song it had been taught long ago.