Saturday, 12 April 2014

Drowning Mermaids

art by Robert Fyfe
Drowning Mermaids
by Rebecca Fyfe

It was time for the children to come out of the pool. They'd been playing and splashing in the pool, wearing floating devices for their safety, with all of us parents watching them carefully. We made sure they were safe.

But now it was the parents' turn to swim. Everyone made sure their kids came out of the pool and went off to play. I pulled my daughter out of the pool too. She was only three years old and she didn't know how to swim. The whole time she played in the pool, I made sure that she kept the inflatable ring around her waist and remained in the shallow end, and I didn't take my eyes off of her even once. Now, I set her on her feet outside the pool.

Becca pleaded with me, using her big, sad eyes to soften me towards her cause. "P'ease," she asked, "let me 'tay in de wadder!

I stayed firm with her, but she continued to make her plea. She told me she would keep her ring on and she would just sit on the steps in the shallow end. She wouldn't go any further. She promised.

And I gave in. I never should have given in.

Her father was lying on a lounge chair near the pool, enjoying the sun. He assured me he would keep an eye on her. So I agreed.

I joined my friends at the other end of the pool. I missed swimming. Swimming had always been natural for me, although I preferred the salty ocean water to chlorinated pool water. I chatted with my friends and let myself get lost in the feeling of floating as I remained under water for long minutes at a time.

I still blame myself. I should have been the one to keep an eye on her. Or I should have told her "no." If I had, it never would have happened.

I had just finished swimming to the bottom of the deep end and back up again, my face just breaking the surface of the pool water when I heard my friend Janice scream. I immediately turned towards Becca's location, my heart beating so fast I felt as if it was going to burst from my chest.

She was no longer on the steps, but within seconds, my searching brought me to her location. The tips of her pudgy little fingers were just breaking the surface of the water. She wasn't tall enough to come up for air. She was just standing there, helpless.

"She's drowning!" Donald, Janice's husband, yelled and we all started swimming towards her as fast as we were able. I was much faster than any of the others. I'd always been a fast swimmer.

But I was too late.

After that day, I left my husband. His eyes accused me every time they were turned my way. This life had ended, and I had no choice but to leave everything behind.

Everything but her.

He hadn't known, before that day. No one did. No one knew what I was. No one had any idea where I really came from. I had settled into that life so easily. I loved my husband passionately. He's the reason I left my previous life. But I never confessed to him where I was from. He didn't know.

What happened to Becca changed everything. When she emerged from the water, moments before I reached her, with her beautiful scales reflecting multi-faceted colors from the sunlight, when she realized that she could swim with ease and even breathe under water, I knew we couldn't stay.

So she and I have returned to the sea now. She misses her dad, but he would never be able to survive in the ocean, and I can't risk us living above ground. If the human world found out about us, neither of us would be safe. None of merkind would be.

She loves her grandparents though, and that's the one good thing that has come from this. Well, that and the fact that I'm back in the ocean again. I hadn't realized, until I returned, how much I missed it. This might not be ideal, but we're happy.

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