Skiátheá is psychological novella set in a seaside village in Cornwall, England. It is based on a Cornish folk tale; The Mermaid of Zennor. The original story is of a fisherman who falls in love with a mermaid. Neither lover can live for long in the world of the other. The man dies in the end, although it is a beautiful tale, and often retold.
There is a deeper background to mermaid stories. Robert Graves claims in The White Goddess that the tales are folk-memories of the cult of the sea goddess, Aphrodite. Amongst Aphrodites’ many names is Venus – she who is both the evening star and the dark goddess of the sea.
Skiátheá is about love, immortality and myth, and the long shadows these themes still cast upon our modern world. The content of the story is from both the narrator's youth and from adulthood; there are early memories of sun and sand and swimming trunks, and also of later encounters with the sea goddess in her ever-changing forms.
In Skiátheá the sea goddess has become the Shadow Girl, she who will not speak her name, not openly, for she has many. The narrator can name her if he wishes - after which he must follow her into the sea, as all men do, one day.
The Shadow Girl is a charming conversationalist and above all else a storyteller. She will not talk of her past or future, save in stories, for neither truly exist. She has sad eyes.
She has beautiful hair, and she likes to swim alone.
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