|art by Rebecca Fyfe|
A Mermaid Forgets
by Rebecca Fyfe
The kids were already dropped off at school and my husband had left earlier that morning for work. I had a rare few hours to myself before I had to be at work, and I could feel the pull of the ocean calling to me.
I hadn't been to the beach in months. When I was younger, I spent every weekend at the beach, driving up in my beat up Honda Civic, sometimes with friends, sometimes alone. I loved breathing in the salty air and feeling the waves lap at my feet. I never went far into the murky water; some inborn fear had always kept me on land, but today, the urge was strong to swim out into the breaking waves.
I was a strong swimmer; years on the high school swim team had insured that I could swim better than most. The sundress I was wearing would get wet, but so what? There was no one here on the beach with me. Who would see me?
I tread slowly out into the water, the sea rising against my legs and then up to my stomach. I could feel the current gently pulling me deeper and I let it. Soon I was swimming, fast, strong strokes taking me further out into the cool water.
I dove down under the surface. As the water washed over me, I felt all of my cares washing away with it. Why had I never swum in the ocean before now? It felt exhilarating.
As I swam further out, a carefree sensation consumed me. My mind fogged for a moment, and when it cleared, I could no longer remember why I was supposed to swim back to the shore. A niggling thought that there was something important I was forgetting stayed with me, but slowly and gently, even that thought drifted away on the waves.
My legs started to change. I didn't even notice the scales at first. They were an iridescent blue-green color. Fins grew from my feet and eventually, my scaly legs merged into one large tail. For a brief moment, I remembered that my legs weren't supposed to look like that, but, again, the waves carried the thought away from me and all I knew was how natural it was to see fins and scales.
I swam far into the ocean, a changed creature, carefree, knowing nothing of love or family, my thoughts at one with the sea before me.
I might have continued on this way forever if not for the dolphins, specifically a mother dolphin with her baby. As they swam near me, the memory of my children flashed through my mind. My love for them returned along with my memories and I turned back to shore. When I reached the sand of the beach, my legs slowly returned to me.
I grabbed the towel that I had left waiting on the beach and dried off fully. As I walked back to my car, I couldn't help gazing back out to the ocean. I had been a part of it once. I could feel its pull at me even from a distance. Maybe someday, the memories from my life under the sea would return to me, but for now, as I drove to pick my children up from school, the day's events in the ocean were already fading from my memories.