Swimming With Angels
Felipe Feldmar

On the East Bank of the Yellow Sea lived a family of tribesmen, happily harvesting coconuts and fishing off the clear turquoise waters.

Maido was the oldest daughter and prettiest girl of the tribe. Boys swarmed her, trying to get a glimpse. Tired of the attention, she would hide to avoid curious eyes. She lived in anxiety knowing that when her time to wed came, her father would not choose Yoshi, the love of her life.

Her father was delighted, knowing that his daughter's beauty would make him a wealthy man.

When there was a moon, she would sneak out to be with Yoshi. Those nights were surreal. She was in heaven when they swam together, dark bodies touching and writhing in the waves. After swimming, they would go to the cove and roll on the sand singing their croon of love.

The days after their encounters, she would weave baskets with a broad smile and tingling heart.

Yoshi coveted her smooth skin and wide brown eyes. Yet he came from the poorest family. He looked for the prettiest shells and made necklaces for her. However, not even the prettiest pearl would buy her from her father.

One night they met, every time she tried talking, she would sob uncontrollably.

"What's wrong," Yoshi said, hugging her.

"I am with child," Maido said with teary eyes.

Instead of getting scared, he couldn't have been happier. "That's great! Now your father will take me!"

"No!" Maido cried.

"What..." he said nonplussed.

"Don't you get it? My father loves me for my beauty. If he knows I am carrying child from you..." she trailed off.

"I don't care what your father or anyone says," he said.

"Yoshi? What are you..." but before she could finish, he brushed her aside and disappeared up the beach.

She ran after him. When she reached their hut, neighbors were gathered around the fire. She pushed through, and with heavy heart fainted at the sight of Yoshi lying next to the fire.

She woke up and looked out the door. The sky was a crisp, deep blue. She stepped out and things looked normal, women weaving baskets and men under palm trees telling stories.

Her father was coming back from fishing. He carried a tortoise, and dropped it on the doorstep. He stared at her for a long time. Her small toes curled in the sand, her eyes averting his impending eyes.

"To receive blood from an unwanted man is sacrilege. You will have child and we will keep it. Then you'll be ready to wed."

Tears of confusion, anger and despair welled up. "Where's Yoshi?" she asked.

"Swimming with angels," her father grinned.

First published: August 2000
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