(Mark and Marina the mermaid part 1)
Loneliness is a strange companion. After many years of marriage I find I am drawn back to do those very same things my wife and I did when we were married. It is as though if I go to a concert or to the cinema she is with me and though I don’t talk out aloud, I am able to get her opinion on the film or the piece of music sotto voce as it were. It is sometimes embarrassing if the seat by my side is occupied and I start mumbling. I think I did that once unknowingly and the person by my side thought that another seat a little further away would suit her better.
So I spend my days on my own going for coffee in the same places we used to, even taking day trips to the coast where we had spent some happy holidays long ago.
Gradually I ventured a bit further afield. I rented a little holiday shack 200 kilometres or so from home close to a magic beach the two of us had found so many years ago. It was nearly always deserted as it was quickly cut off by the tide and those caught in the bay had better be prepared to wade through the rocky pools of uncertain depth or wait for a few hours until the tide called back by the moon bade the sand goodbye with a sloppy kiss.
So after a breakfast of muesli and some toasted raisin bread in my little beach shack, tidied up and neatly made my bed, I donned my Crocs and wandered down the beach for a walk. I avoided the popular beach of course, crowded now with at least five or six people labouring away in exercise before starting their working day and made my way under the cliffs into the cove of distant memory. It hadn’t changed.
Fish, crustaceans and the scavenging gulls screeching were my companions although they in the main ignored me as I waded through the rock pools and nodded at the inhabitants who surly at first tended to ignore me and went about their business. The distant voices from the main beach were stilled and I became at one with the ocean as it teased the shore with its gentle rhythm.
I continued to look down through the water to observe the weeds waving and the fish darting and the crustaceans crawling and could believe that humans loved the sea so much because their forebears so many billions of years ago had crawled their way to shore and found that survival there was possible after all.
I looked up and to my surprise I had wandered some distance from shore so I headed back to the beach to have a little reminisce of the last time I had been here with my wife.
There were some large rocks on the beach just where the water was lapping and I headed for those. As I approached I could see that the beach was not deserted as I had hoped but a girl with next to nothing on was sitting on one of the large rocks. I moaned inwardly and as I approached I looked up to see if I could avoid her. She wasn’t looking my way so I tried to skirt around the side of the rock.
“Don’t come any closer” she said.
“I am sorry. I didn’t see you at first. I am heading for the shore.”
I tried not to look at her thinking that she was skinny dipping.
“I am stuck” she said simply.
“Do you want me to help you down? I said, still averting my face.
“I am waiting for the tide to come in.”
“But isn’t it easier to get down when the tide is out?”
“No, I haven’t got legs like you.”
That was all I needed a disabled girl, abandoned on my beach with no clothes on.
“It’s alright I will help you down.”
“No you won’t human. I will wait for the tide. Now leave me alone.”
Human did she say? Was she disabled and nutty too? I had to look at her.
As I glanced up and looked at her I found a very beautiful but angry girl pouting at me with her tail dangling over the rock.
“What? Haven’t you seen a mermaid before?”
I shook my head slowly and looked at her again. Her tail wasn’t scaly like a fish but smooth like a dolphin’s. I didn’t count her fingers but I don’t think she had five. Her hair if you could call it that was coarse almost like strands of seagrass. She kept blinking her eyes which I gathered was because she was frightened they would dry out and her breasts were just tiny mounds on her body.
“Let me get you down, you are probably worried about drying out aren’t you?”
She started to look at me differently. Said nothing but just nodded. I reached up for her. She hesitated then resigned to her fate putting her arms out and held me round the neck while I grasped what should have been her bottom and lifted her down. I walked back into the sea and found a large rock pool to sit her in.
She immediately sighed in relief and dunked herself completely in the water.
“Can you breathe both in and out the water?”
“Questions, questions?” she responded
“Why are you so angry with me?”
“I am not angry with you, I am pleased with you. I am angry with myself for making a mistake and being at risk.”
“You’re not going back to sea straight away are you?”
She shook her head, “There are a few sharks out there at the moment.”
I looked puzzled “How can you tell”
“The sea is like one great big communication device for those that can interpret other creature’s languages. We can do this, which is why I can speak to you and to the shellfish and crabs in the pool here. It’s really is a jungle telegraph as you call it. So there are sharks off shore at the moment, OK?”
“What is your name? And how do you know that expression jungle telegraph?”
“Boy, do you need to learn telepathy. I can read your mind that’s why. Under the sea we don’t ask questions all the time, there is no need. That is why I know you are safe to be with, your wife is dead, you think I am beautiful, and that you think I have small breasts.”
I laughed and nodded in agreement. “All what you said is true, but how about my name?”
“Not sure. I am going to call you Shark because I was frightened of you at first.”
“That’s close, it’s Mark not Shark. Then I will call you Marina unless you have another name?”
“I do, but you humans couldn’t pronounce it, so Marina is fine.”
Marina stuck her head under the sea again and a few seconds later popped up again. “I’m off now, the sharks have gone. See you tomorrow?”
With that she swam off. I don’t know whether she saw me nod, but it didn’t matter she could read my mind couldn’t she?