Short Stories

The Mermaid

My first entry into a Furious Fiction competition. This was a photo prompt with some caveats.

  • Each story had to be INSPIRED by the picture above.
  • Each story’s first word had to begin with the letters SHO.
  • Each story had to include the following words: SCORE, SLICE, SPRINKLE, STAMP and SWITCH (past and plural variations were allowed)

Shocked, I stared into the water below. The Stitch Witch—my trusty home since I had sailed away from my lonely life—rocked in the waves, a fine mist of sea spray sprinkling against my face. Almost enough to convince me I was awake. Almost. Despite the bright sun and clear blue sky overhead, the sight from beneath the white tipped water was hard to reconcile with reality.

Fins as tall as I was sliced through the waves. Glittering kaleidoscopes reflecting off the smooth surface. A powerful tail churning up crashing whirlpools. Beneath the water, two huge, sparkling eyes looked curiously up at me.

I opened my mouth. Closed it again. Like a fish gaping uselessly at air I couldn’t breathe. The mermaid—an actual mermaid!?—giggled. Their voice like a wind chime, a xylophone. A score of tinkling musical notes that burst through the churning surface of the ocean to ring in my head. Stamping reality onto my brain.

When their hand broke the surface, webbed fingers extended and nails that looked a hell of a lot like claws gleamed in the sunlight. Their laughter continued. Surrounding me in a cloud of music. It was more a lullaby now, delicate and soothing. The stories of ancient sirens floated through my head, but they were vague and distant. The nonsensical mythology of a dead world. Not like this divine creature floating beneath me. This ephemeral vision. 

I took their hand. Without a moment of hesitation. Felt the fingers close around my wrist like a vice. A sharp tug. The rocking deck of the Stitch Witch falling away. The icy embrace of the water swallowing me whole. The sudden switch left me dizzy, reeling. Gasping for breath and finding only mouthfuls of liquid. 

The mermaid loomed over me, blocking out the sun. Gripped me tight against them. Skin that was cool and smooth and lined with delicate scales. They held me like I was a flickering match in a pitch black night. Their scales scraped against my cheek as they leaned closer to me. When they whispered in my ear, their voice was the susurration of the waves, the empty hum of the deep, the creaking wood of my little ship. They murmured stories of drowning. Of death. Of being tossed aside and finding rest in the deep dark water. 

Of loneliness.

Any thought I had of struggling waned. The memory of home, of the empty bed and the empty apartment and the empty life fell away. I opened my arms and wrapped them tight around this lonely, abandoned creature. Breathing the water deep. Feeling the panicked alarm for oxygen fade. Embracing death and loss and fear. 

When I opened my eyes, the ocean was clear and still. I rolled in the water. Luxuriating in the currents supporting my body. A flick of my tail. Reaching out my clawed hands. I caught the gaze of the mermaid who had drowned me. Who had brought me to life. 

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