Mermaid

By
I know a girl who is a Mermaid. She spends her days under the deafening lines of water that crash, back and forth above her, just as she always has. She does not know the land, for she has never been there, only heard myths of creatures that stand, stilted, supported by the massive earth, pushing up against them. This girl is held by the sea, lets her thin body, clothed by seaweed and choral shells flow with the water that became her. Her skin is lit by the playful arcs of sunlight that bounce in angles off the waves ahead, creating a peach amber glow that Botticelli could only dream of. The scarlet meandering patters of her hair hover around her, seeming alive unto themselves, and her eyes sparkle from some source unknown, some intrinsic enlightenment of her self.
For such a long time, the Mermaid’s only friends were the sea creatures that skimmed the ocean floor beneath her. The fleeing fish, wrapped in their own minds and their own places. They are cold; clammy skin and scales. They do not like the Mermaid. The shellfish, oysters and clams, smell funny to her. And besides, they do not like to talk very much. And the dolphins wonder the bottom, with their sad and brooding countenances following the ground and streams before them. The Mermaid never knows the reason for their unhappiness, she thinks it must be because they are simply dolphins, and this thought makes her rather sad herself. Loneliness was her only company, until one day a cat named Darling fell off a dock and into the ocean. But instead of clawing his way back to the shore, he decided to grow gills and webbed feet. And now he and her are the best of friends.
This unlikely pair, Mermaid and cat, wander the seas, going where the currents take them. They notice that sometimes the water sounds different. There is the quiet water that is still and moving, quick and stopped. In this water the Mermaid thinks that she can hear the earth spinning and time expanding. But other waters are loud and violent and they throw the pair about, as if they don’t want them to be there, as if they have something to hide. And then there are the waters of the deep, the vaguest reaches of the sea. The Mermaid and Darling do not go there, they are afraid of the dark. And these waters seem to scream, scream until their lungs will rip and the universe will wilt around them, falling in on its own being.
One day, after fleeing this black water, they stumbled upon a boy. A human boy. With legs. His eyes were closed, his body floating softly down, down, down. The Mermaid stopped, letting the stream push her forward hesitantly. She stared, transfixed. The way his arms hung above him and the twist of his torso, his long legs, his two feet, his ten toes. And so Darling helped her carry him back to their home. And when he woke she was there, cautiously awaiting his awakening. And as his eyes, a worldly brownish green, took the Mermaid in, her cheeks felt hot and she put her hand to her face, not knowing what this was.

He said his name was Peter, and he couldn’t remember where he came from.

I come from the sea.
Then I think I want to be from the sea.

And the Mermaid was no longer one, herself. They were each other.
They were the water.
And the sand.
The light.
Skin.

But time passed. And Peter swam slower. And his lips turned blue. And he could not follow the cerulean paths with her. And when the Mermaid did not want to look too closely, Darling whispered to her.

He does not belong here.
But I want him here with me.
He will die.
But he is me.
He must break the water, he must go back to land. You must let him go.
…I know.

And the Mermaid let Darling’s soft paws stroke her once fiery hair, now dampened by the truth.

There was the day, not very long after that, when the Mermaid gave Peter a kiss. And she cried to touch his mouth that was colder than the most mysterious parts of the ocean, the parts the Mermaid never dared to go. But she let his arms slip around her, shaking weak. And he leaned his head in a way that would be forever imprinted in her mind, resting his face gently against her neck. And he smelled her skin; lavender and cinnamon and sand and sun. Early mornings and late nights. Tender smiles and waiting words.

You are my heart.

And he left her there, lying on the bottom of the ocean, staring at the brilliant rays of refracting light that he left in his wake.


Without him, the Mermaid felt that she would be okay. He had made her alive. And it didn’t matter that the fish swam by, and the shellfish smelled of rot, and the dolphins cried. She had been whole. Briefly, for only a time, but she had been. And she and Darling would continue to take the water avenues, to and fro, deep and shallow. And just once they ventured into the deepest and it was dark and she couldn’t see, but the Mermaid was not afraid. Every now and then she thought she felt him near, could hear his thoughts and see his dreams. And perhaps she did.
Years later they would come together. For when the Mermaid died, she became part of the sea. And when Peter became all but his body, his ashes were thrown into the same sea. And as they had always been one, separated by water and earth, they became each other again.





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hugawerewolf said...
Aug. 19, 2008 at 4:16 pm
Wow. That was so beautiful! It made me cry. The imagery was wonderful! Please write more.
 
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