Emeris was sinking through the cold, murky water. She landed with a jarring thump onto the rocky sea bed, her hopes smashed. She slumped over, her heavy tail tangled in the dense, black weeds, leaking lonely tears.
‘How do I live without my legs?’ she whispered to her pearly pink conch shell. ‘For I am broken and changed’.
She cried all day , feeling desolate and empty. Terrified by her silver-scabbed tail, dull as a foxed mirror. She was as weak as a puppet.
‘Please’, she begged to the sea gods. ‘Let me , please, go back to what I once was. Or let him live, instead of me’.
There was a dreadful, sickening silence. She felt her heart beat fast and hard in her throat. Her tail flopped lifelessly beneath her, dragged here and there by the dark waves. For days, then weeks, then months, she pined. Without her legs, she couldn’t run or skip or dance. Without him, she would feel alone, forever. All seemed pointless and the chilly waves swayed overhead, black as endless night. Her blonde hair floated limply over her face.
One morning, as she lay silently shivering against the sand, a tubby fish suddenly swam right up to her. He noticed her chattering teeth. ‘What’s the matter with you?’ he asked her, kindly. ‘You look cold and sad’.
‘My lover is dead’, she answered him, with a shuddering sigh. ‘Yet I live. And I’m stuck down here, all alone’. She half-gazed at him, suspiciously, wriggling her grey scales.
The tubby fish blinked rapidly and circled around her head, coming to a stop in front of her again, his bright orange tail bobbing. ‘We all feel guilt sometimes, Emeris’, he told her, kindly.
Emeris took a long, deep breathe, shocked that he knew her name. ‘What?…..’
‘We all feel guilt, but now, it’s time to move on. That which is changed is lost’. He tilted his head looking at her considerately, then nodding towards her tail. ‘But…..’, he started to dart in and out of the weed, making her feel a little dizzy. She had to sit up quickly, just to keep up with him, pulling her tail with her. ‘……..sometimes’, he continued, ‘change can be good, if you’re brave enough to trust it’.
Emeris looked forlorn. ‘I’m not brave’, she told him, sadly.
The little fish swam sideways, a little impatiently, then came back. ‘Every one that has loved is brave, Emeris’, he said solemnly. ‘For we all face loss and change when we give our hearts to another’. Her mouth fell open and the fin of her tail tingled. He looked at her gently. ‘You’re never alone, if you let others help you’. He nodded once more, before swimming away, deep into the gloomy water.
The next day, Emeris looked at her tail, curled loosely by her side. ‘Changing is painful’, she thought. ‘But I wonder what it’s like at the top of the sea’.
She looked up and thought that she could see the strange little fish rushing upwards, leaving a weak path of light in his wake. She wiped her eyes and tried to softly flap her tail. This time, the scales tightened swiftly and she felt a jerk upwards. She counted to ten, inhaled deeply, then swam up, up, her tail flexing strongly beneath her as the shadows of the cloudy sea bed fell away. Suddenly, she felt the day’s sunlight filtering through the green waves. Her scales shone brilliantly as she broke free to the surface, allowing the warm, gentle waves to lap around her shoulders.
‘That wasn’t so bad’, she thought, flicking back her glistening hair. ‘Maybe I will come again tomorrow’.
#mermaids #guilt #loss #change