So this was that thing that I was talking about that I needed to edit and stuff. I am pretty sure that it is all in one tense now (it’s a problem sometimes) and now here it is. It is loosely based on The Little Mermaid (which yes, makes this the third thing semi-inspired by a Disney film but ho hey (and also I obviously don’t own it, the story belongs to Hans Christian Anderson and Disney I guess)), but the main reason for that is because of this picture (‘Mermaid’, Sergey Kolesov). When I saw it I instantly started thinking of this and then just went with it.
There is certain kind of stillness that comes with being in the middle of the ocean. The waves don’t crash but ripple and create a soothing, rocking motion around the boat. The sun glistens off the water and illuminates it in a variety of blues and greens that distract you from the depths below. The light at certain times of the day allows a shallow view at all the different fish that move through the water with a uniformity that you can’t help but admire.
Sometimes it is easy to forget that you are on a boat. There is a routine formed and as long as there are no storms you are relatively stationary once you anchor down but you can always see land on the horizon so never feel like you’re in any real danger out in the ocean. Land looks distant, but in actual fact it’s mere hours away, it’s just the expanse of sea that you have made your temporary home that makes it seem further. That’s the thing about water, it’s a deceptive thing.
That’s why when you notice a vivid green fishtail break the surface you dismiss it as just a trick of the light.
That is until you see it again.
Enough is known about the inhabitants of the sea to know that none of them have tails that look like that. A bold shade of emerald, wide and scaly and strikingly beautiful. The splash it was creating as it moved through the waves suggested it was sizeable, on a par with a blue whale. But that seems implausible. You know enough about the ocean to know that there is nothing bigger than the blue whale swimming in it, all that’s humanly possible to identify has been as such. So if whatever this tail is from deep in the Mariana’s Trench, why is it at surface level?
Then you notice another pushing against the water into the sunlight. It isn’t green this time, it’s pink. Not a subtle pink either but an almost neon one with purple hues that were highlighted by its brief stint in the sun. Behind the pink there is another, this time purple. More muted than the pink, but still not something you’ve encountered before in all your years at sea. Then there is a fourth pair, green again, but a similar sort of green to the one you find reflected in the very sea that you are currently staring at with a new kind of awe, not like the other ones. The ones that first captivated you.
Before you are really conscious of your actions you find your hands are tightly clutching the rail of the boat. That’s when you see the emerald fishtails that caught your attention flick up again. It was closer this time and you can see that the very ends of the tail allow light to bleed through and cast a rainbow onto the rest of the tail. The scales that make it up are small and tightly layered against one another. In the area that is visible to you, you can see the scales create diamond shapes and if they catch the sun right they shimmer in pinks, blues and purples against the green.
As you watch the tail force its way back underwater you frantically try to find the body to which this tail belongs to. You lean over the edge further and scramble down the boat to follow it, and then you see it. A flair of an unnatural red in a stark contrast to the blue of the sea. And something that looked an awful lot like hair.
Looking closer you can see that the red glides down something distinctly familiar. A back. Human to be specific. Too long to actually be human though, by a good three or four feet. You don’t want to believe it, but there are prominent vertebrae moving with every undulation of this creature’s tail. Long, long arms are held loosely at the sides and push water away with every second flick of the tail. Hands, bigger than anyone’s you’ve ever seen, move with a fluidity unknown to you as the propel this thing forward.
Everything looks effortless.
Moving past the hair and the upper body you finally notice where fish seems to meet mammal. It’s seamless. Where hips should be there are scales. These scales welded perfectly onto the flesh and are slightly darker than the ones exposed to you when the tail breaks the water.
Taking another look at the tail it seems to go on and on and the end is peeking out again, only this time it’s twisting it’s way around the water’s surface. Following the movement along what is easily 10 feet of creature you notice. It’s turning over.
Suddenly you are confronted with a face framed by the red hair and everything seems suspended, almost frozen in time. The mouth is open on a smile directed at something, and then it hits you properly that this isn’t the only one of them around you. There are at least four. The one you’re looking at looks happy in the same way any actual human would. Then you finally notice the eyes. A piercing blue that shine with the joy and then shift quickly to panic when the gaze moves marginally. It’s seen you. In your sole focus on this creature you don’t register the more aggressive rocking of the boat until just before you’re plunged into darkness.
You wake up when you hear something that faintly resembles singing. Your body registers the grainy, yet soft, texture of the sand underneath your body and behind the melodic voice vibrating through your eardrums you can hear the sea crashing onto the shore. When you open your eyes fully you notice you are surrounded by rocks more than you are sand. The cliff edge looms over you menacingly and you gradually register that there is a rock sticking into your back.
You think you might be in a fair amount of pain but none of that matters because you can still hear that soothing melody coming from somewhere. You try to look around but your body is heavy and doesn’t move the way you want it to. You try opening your eyes wider to see more but the sun burns and the salt water stings your eyes too much so they stay half closed and droopy.
With your bleary vision you look out onto the horizon and slowly a large, emerald green fishtail comes into focus. It arches down and disappears under the water’s surface. It moves slightly with the sea breeze and the light is making the tail so much more than just emerald green. The same could be said for the hair as well. You weren’t even aware that many shades of red existed in the world. It cascaded over shoulders in loose waves, parted to the left and partly shielding wide blue eyes now full of concern. Her wide blue eyes.
You feel your eyes slipping shut again. Feel the scratch of the lingering salt against your eyeballs. But you can still hear that noise. That beautiful, beautiful melody that you need to find an origin to. It lulls you back into unconsciousness almost unwillingly. More than your need to find the source of that voice, you need to know what she is, with her red hair and green tail and a size that parallels that of a blue whale.
But your eyes feel heavy and you can’t form proper, coherent thoughts. And then there is nothing again.
When you wake up again there is a stillness in the sea, a melodic voice in your head and a dog licking your face.
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