(WP) By Land or By Sea
Mermaids being real, instead of fairy tales or folklore, was a fairly recent development.
Of course, this prompted droves of people to attempt to change themselves into the seafolk, and to have their powers. Occasionally, a merperson would meet someone on land and choose humanity, to live on as normal with their spouse and children.
But the process was mostly kept secret; it happened rarely, and it was not publicized. I suspected that that was part of the reason that people were so fascinated by it all: the mystery of it.
After all, what little girl did not dream of having fins, of living undisturbed, deep within the oceans?
That was true for me.
But I would be lying if I hadn’t been searching for an escape.
Every night, I went to the beach, clothed in a hoodie and shorts, searching the moonlit waves for the tell-tale signs of a mermaid dwelling there: a glimmer of sparkling fin, bright eyes peeking up at the star-studded sky.
This had been the seventh day of my nighttime vigil, and so far, my searches had been fruitless.
Nonetheless, I could not give up hope, not when it felt like this was the only avenue I had left.
I sat down in the sand, taking comfort in the feeling of the grains on my skin.
I took my bag off of my back and set it down beside me; it was full of snacks and bottles of iced coffee.
In the back of my mind, a pessimistic little voice spoke, not for the first time.
Even if you do find a mermaid, how do you propose you’re going to give up her fins and gills? And for you, of all people?
You can only fight the inevitable for so long, Calypso. Why not just make it easier for yourself and accept it?
But I tried to ignore it; I just couldn’t give up yet.
I must have fallen asleep, because when I awoke, the moon hovered just over the sea, the water cradling it in its grip, and the white sphere gleamed like a bright pearl.
Just below, there was a mermaid laying on the waves, letting the ocean carry her closer to shore; the only thing I could really make out was a long, thick mane of hair, the color of stone.
I didn’t dare breathe; surely my luck couldn’t have turned this quickly. Maybe she was a mirage, but I wasn’t in the desert.
A few moments later, the mermaid approached me, her powerful fin crushing the waves.
“Who are you, girl? What do you want? Why are you sitting out here by yourself, in the middle of the night?”
Her voice was soft and melodic, but up close, I could see that she was not young after all: Her dark skin was wrinkled, crows’ feet around her eyes and laugh lines around her full, lush mouth.
Who’d ever heard of an old mermaid?
“I’m here to ask for a favor, actually,” I replied, swallowing around a lump in my throat.
I felt like a character in a fairy tale, pleading for a boon she did not deserve.
“And what favor would you ask of me?” She rejoined, and I swallowed.
“I want to become a mermaid. I… I need to escape my life. And what better way than to give myself to the waves?”
There was a brief pause, and the mermaid stared at me; now that I could see her eyes, they looked more like a shark’s than a human’s.
“The process is painful. There are many who do not survive it. And if you were to become a mermaid, I would be human.”
“Please. Please help me.”
“Very well, girl. We’ll help each other out. My fins for your humanity. That seems an equal trade to me. Are you sure?”
“Then it will be done.”