It’s Saturday, yes, and I almost forgot to post a Short! I don’t even feel guilty (too much, anyway), because I had a chance to see the Unicorn Tapestries today and am still far too excited. They were gorgeous, and sad, and awe-inspiring, and make me want to write a story about unicorns.
Unfortunately, I’ve never actually written one about unicorns, at least not one I could find. Otherwise I would have shared it with you today. Instead, I am sharing a story about another mythical creature, a mermaid.
I wrote this untitled story a while ago, during a period of time when I was writing many short stories. It’s brief, and is most likely more telling than showing, but in the manner of an old tale, the same old tale we’ve all heard before, of a mermaid to ventures onto land…
A Mermaid Tale
“You’re sure this is what you want to do?” The man looked at the gold in his hand, then at the mermaid. “Changing your mind after won’t be possible, you realize that, right?”
The mermaid nodded. “I’ll pay you back as soon as possible, but I really, really want this. Please. I swear I’ll pay you back, with interest.”
“If it fails, you won’t be able to pay anyone back, ever. You understand that?”
The mermaid nodded fervently. “I’m willing to go that far.”
“You must love him very much.” The man handed her the gold. “Take this, with my compliments. I hope you survive the procedure.”
“I will,” the mermaid said firmly.
Several days later, under the knife of the surgeon, the mermaid began to have second thoughts, but she fixed her mind on an image of her love’s face, and gritted her teeth against the pain. Painkillers weren’t available for mermaids yet, those that existed for humans either worked too well or not at all, so she didn’t take any.
Besides, there was something scary about a small round object that could take pain away so easily. Magic was such a better thing, but she as giving that up with her tail. It was for a good reason, though. She just had to keep telling herself that.
She eventually passed out, waking up in a hospital bed with her tail feeling as though it had been lit on fire. No, not her tail, her legs. The surgery was over, and now she just had to wait for it to heal before she could venture out and find him again.
Looking out the window, she could see the snow falling. So beautiful. She had never imagined it would be so beautiful, out of the water. Cities looked so dirty and ugly from a distance, but so colorful when you were inside them, looking at all the different lights and people and vehicles. Terrifying, it was. But also happy. She smiled. Soon, soon she would be with him.
The gold she had given the hospital paid for her surgery, and for the care she received until she had healed. When she left she gave the nurse who had taken care of her a small bit of gold as a thank you, and the surgeon as well. Then she used the rest to buy a place to live, and start a small shop of sea treasures that she collected herself.
Once she had some money, it was time to search. It had taken a few years, but she wanted everything to be perfect when she found him.
And she did find him. In another house, on the other side of the city, living happily with his wife and newborn son. She almost knocked, introduced herself, but what if he didn’t remember her? Better to just walk away, and try to hide the tears that poured when she was sitting on the beach again. She should have looked for him sooner. No, he should have looked for her. Or at least waited. She should have stayed in the sea, like her family had begged her to.
“What happened?” It was the man who gave out the gold again, looking the same as he had when they had first met on this beach, and she had been crying because she wanted to be with a man who could not stay in the sea.
She explained it all, in short, choking sentences.
There was a long pause of silence that grew heavier as the man took in the story. “Well,” he said at last. “Sometimes that’s how the story ends. But that doesn’t mean another story can’t begin.” He reached out and took her hand. “Come along, lass, and let’s see if we can’t find you another prince charming.”
The mermaid looked up, teary-eyed. “But I haven’t even paid you back yet.”
“You never needed to pay me back, silly girl. Just stop crying and come along.”
The mermaid sniffled back her tears and went.
Not long after that, she realized her prince charming had been waiting there, all along. And when she finally told him how she felt, he simply smiled in response.