Written for the Thousand Cats LiveJournal community, May 31, 2010.

They say that if your sorrows become too much to bear, there is a way to entreat the Queen of the Sea to take them from you. If your husband has left you, if you cannot have the one you love, if you are barren, if you have lost a loved one, your home, your youth, your beauty, or your reason for going on, come to Her, La Sirène,the Mother Whose Children Are Like Fish.

You must go to a certain spot along the shoreline, at a certain hour of the night, when the moon is full. You must be alone, and dressed in white. Bring no beast with you; the only sacrifice will be your own. Take with you just a single white rose.

Go to the water’s edge, where the moon is reflected along the water like a shimmering path stretching out before you. Step into the sea, letting the waves wash over your feet, and walk forward until the waters rise to the level of your pain-wracked heart. Slowly, tear the petals one by one from the rose, casting them upon the water, while meditating upon beauty destroyed. When the flower is bare, close your hands about the stem, letting its thorns pierce the palms of your hands until the blood drips from them into the bitter sea. Then raise your wounded hands to your face, and trace the paths of your tears with blood. Anoint your eyes with blood until your vision goes red, then fall forward into the sea, delivering yourself into Her hands.

Allow the sea to take you — do not resist. Feel yourself carried deeper, into the world below, until the air leaves your lungs and your mind fills with visions. There you will see, spread before you, endless and desolate, the ruins of an ancient city, vast and strange beyond imagining. Empty houses, once resplendent, now choked with seaweed, the decaying walls honeycombed by worms. Once-soaring towers lie shattered on the sea-floor, stained-glass cathedrals have fallen to fragments of sea-glass, or ground to coloured sand, and here and there lie the mossy bones of the city’s long-vanished inhabitants — an outstretched hand, a shattered skull, all that remains of men, women and children.

And this city is only one among many — beyond its depths lie stranger vistas still, the sundered remains of even more ancient civilizations, places of wonder and nightmare, graveyards of lost hopes and oubliettes of dreams, and buried somewhere deep within them, the still forms of dead or dreaming gods.

If you are very fortunate, these visions will fill your mind forever, or for as long as you have left, phantasms of wonder and terror filling your mind until the air is pressed from your lungs and you sink into this watery eternity, becoming one with all the other lost souls within, your own small sorrows left far behind by your shattered mind.

If you are not, you may awaken, cast back upon the beach, choking on salt water as you once again draw air into your burning lungs, and hear echoing in your inner ear the soft voice of the Queen, asking “And what do you have to be sad about?”

Based on a piece of random text drawn from a spam e-mail: “What do you have to be sad about?”