Sirena looked like a mermaid – with her long red wavy hair like seaweed, and pale complexion – faintly turning rosy like the inside of a conch shell after prolonged exposure to sun’ s heat and stove fire. Her eyes were blue with greenish and bluish tints just like the ocean on clear days---and the thickest eyelashes ever! She smiled rarely, but when she did, she revealed a splendid set of pearly white teeth and a devastating pair of dimples! She was sixteen now, this lovely sea nymph. Taller than her peers, slender and exquisitely-shaped.
The hands of her companions were coarse and reddened by drudgery and Serena wondered why her own retained their smooth texture and delicate coloring though Heaven knows she worked as hard as the others, sometimes even harder. As she matured, she strove to lift the burden of household tasks from the shoulders of her aging grandmother, Marcella. She cherished the old woman who was the only other parent she had ever known, except for her grandfather, Jacob who departed from this world when she was ten. Once, Serena ventured to ask her Gran, Marcella, why her own eyes were bright blue while those of her friends’ were either brown or grey and a grim-faced Marcella pressed her lips firmly together and answered her curtly, “ We’ re just different, that’ s all! ” From then on, Serena retreated into a shell.
She asked no further questions, although she was dying to know why she and Gran were “ different” . The village elders knew, but they clammed up. The kindly sort, it was not of their nature to hurt the reputation of others, much less to ostracize.
For it was common knowledge that old hen Marcella was the love child of her mother and an Irish friar who, for a time was the parish priest in a town on the mainland. When it was time to sever ties with the old place, the young Marcella left to seek anonymity on the island, arrived and found acceptance among the natives. In due time, she met and married an honest fisherman named Jacob, Serena’ s grandfather.
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