"The Mermaid Inside of the Girl"-- a story

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“Bedtime now.”


“But mother! Please!”


“Fine, fine. Go tuck yourself in. I’ll be right there.”


One night, when the girl was very young, and she had still feared things like monsters hiding under her bed, her mother told her a story. It was a story unlike any other. A story unimaginable. Soon, to her mother’s dismay, the girl was unable to fall asleep without hearing it.


“Deep, deep, beneath the ocean’s surface…” It would always start, “there lived a beautiful girl who looked very much like you. But, there was one tiny difference…”


The girl knew very well what came next, but every time she heard the story, it was like hearing it for the first time. “What was it mother?!”


“Well, you see, this girl had a large fin instead of legs and hair made of seaweed and she lived and breathed the ocean, the same ocean which sailors dare to brave and widows gaze at, bereft. The very same ocean that you fish at down by the cove.” (After hearing the story for the first time, the girl always made sure to wave hello as she cast her hook into the sea.)


“She was something unfathomable to the people of land. She was a mermaid.”


As the girl took in the story, between her mother’s gentle coughs and the sound of the wind pushing against the house, she slowly fell into a deep sleep. The perfect sleep, in fact, for a dream.


 


The dream always started the same. She’d bring her hands to her face and see her skin glow with the beautiful blue that filled the ocean. She’d looked down with excitement and anticipation to find a fin in place of her knobby knees. Her hair of seaweed would flow around her supple, round face, and she would know – without even seeing her own reflection – that she was beautiful.


Every night she begged her mother to tell her the story, but what she never told her mother was that every night, when she closed her eyes and drifted off, she became the girl who looked so very much like her. She became the girl who breathed the ocean. She became a mermaid.


It was unlike anything that she had ever experienced. The feeling of being submerged, of being swallowed whole. It was almost unreal. And all of her fears, all of her worries, were swept away with the tide, resurfacing back onto the shore where they belonged.


She would soar through the water, like a bird in the sky, making time to stop and greet the small fish. She’d explore sunken ships, careful not to come across any vengeful captains. She’d hide behind corals as whales passed by, coming out in time to run her fingers along the underside of their bellies.


Best of all was her mother, who – in the heart of the sea – sat and waited for her beautiful daughter. And when they embraced, the girl had no reason to be gentle. And when she spoke, her mother did not need to take lengthy breathes in between sentences. And when they danced together, her mother was very light on her feet. They were truly happy together.


But, all dreams end with the rising of the sun. This is when the girl is swept back into reality, reluctantly. She awoke to the painful coughing of her mother. This morning in particular was especially bad and when the coughing finally ceased for a brief moment, her mother asked the girl to go out fishing for breakfast. 


 


The water felt cold beneath her finger tips. She put the worm on the hook and cast the line. She almost forgot to wave to the girl in the ocean. She leaned over and glanced at her own reflection. Her heart panged with longing. She was so very jealous of the mermaid, almost angry with her. Her life was so beautiful. She was so beautiful.


Suddenly, the wind blew harshly against the water and the waves rose above her head. She squeezed her eyes closed, preparing to be tossed into the sea. Yet, she felt no pain, no surge of water. Instead, she felt cradled, lulled by the soft rocking of the currents.


Questions began to run through her mind. Where am I? What has happened? But the answers to these questions did not matter, because when she looked down, she saw that a large fin had replaced her knobby knees. And as her hair of seaweed flowed around her face, she knew she was beautiful. Without even having to look at her reflection, she knew life was beautiful. 


 


 

Created: Jan 02, 2012

Tags: fairy-tale, mermaid, story

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