In the beginning
I was oblivious and happy to play in the water, in it, out of it, surfacing now and then, but mostly deep below the surface, slithering around the seaweed, teasing the abalones and pulling the tails on otters, or I’d flash my tail and race with sharks and dolphins. We’re not afraid of them. They don’t eat mermaids. We taste bad.
Someone made up a story about us, that we lose our voice if we get our legs. Not true. But human-speak is not our natural language, and some women and a lot of men especially don’t like the language that we use, or the things we talk about, so we keep most things to ourselves.
Then there are the men who fantasize about us, and some of them will try to make us something else so they can put us in a box. They dress it up. They call it a “house” and a “home” and try to make it sound enticing but most of the time we die to our mermaid selves if they put us in there.
Our language is the language of the undersea – sub-c – the sub-conscious. We notice things in the depths, the ninety-three percent of communication that happens without words… it’s kind of hard to talk when you live in an ocean, so we see the things people don’t want to have noticed…
The wedding ring that suddenly comes out of the jewelry box because your husband shows a friend your gardens, the plant your wife gave you (because your office girlfriend had one) that died in your care, the tie that’s suddenly choking you when you are lying to me, the illnesses that bespeak your aching heart, your intolerance for change, your fear of moving forward,
the teeth you lose in resentment of the family expectations, the sudden aches and pains after your child heads to college or your spouse goes away for work, the body language between you and your girlfriend, the way she walks away from you… and then there was a love story – told in three acts in a window box –
the first year, daffodils and yellow pansies, explosive and fun, the next, only yellow pansies – which eventually overgrew and got messy – and the third year – purple and white pansies showed up – and bespoke the conflict. Within a month they were simply gone. And so was she.
Humans tell us we think too much. So we keep it to ourselves, or write it in poetry. In stories. We pretend it’s just symbolic. And that it was accidental. Coincidence. Nah. We get it from real life.
What mermaids never understand is why these things aren’t simply obvious to everyone.