Mark and Marina the mermaid - Part 6 (Story so far: Recently widowed Mark has found a Mermaid on a deserted beach that needs help. In fact they both need the other for different reasons).
We agreed to meet again one more time before Marina moved on to a safer habitat to have her baby. Somehow we had to work out from our own perspectives exactly what part of the coast we were talking about. Marina knew where she wanted to go but I had to try to turn the road maps of the state into oceanographic maps for her by describing the coastline in detail and of the contours of the land, the islands even exposed rocks, river mouths and possible wildlife that existed close by. Luckily as I knew the State well from the land we just had to say snap when we were talking about the same stretch of coastline.
I thought at one point of asking my daughter who had an in ground salt water swimming pool in her back garden if we could use that for 9 months, but the regular cleaning of fish bones and other more dubious debris might have been a problem.
Luckily it was warmer again the next day and as Marina was itching to be on the move again I once again took a packed lunch of some filleted fish, Tommy Ruffs this time, bread rolls and some fruit for her to try. I was getting quite used to eating raw fish!
It didn’t start well as I tried to explain about the map I took to show her. I told her we were looking at it as though you were high in the sky facing down to recognise the shape of the coast and where rivers entered and where big harbours were with ships and so on. For all the brilliance at telepathy a person living in the sea doesn’t have a great concept of looking down from the clouds.
So we restarted our conversation by getting on mutually agreeable terms such as vegetation, river mouths, cliffs and water temperature. Eventually we homed in on a stretch of coast we both knew that was not near coastal towns, was a marine sanctuary, and where a conservation park on the land side had a little cove where we could meet that was close to where she felt safe. It was only about 60 miles from where I lived so it was fairly close but being a conservation park could be closed at any time in bush fire danger, and the cove was very difficult to access from land because of cliffs and with no pathways through the scrub. From Marina’s point of view it was fine although there were a few New Zealand Fur Seals in the area she said but not actually breeding but just day trippers as it were or youngsters who had lost their way. Nowhere else suited Marina who started to see the future with a bit more confidence as she pictured the location in her memory bank and decided that this was the place to have her baby.
I wasn’t so sure, as I was warmer blooded than she was and I knew the sea there was cold even in summer. There was nothing but the Southern Ocean between it and the South Pole!
“When will you know if you are pregnant?” I asked.
“Three or four weeks, but I feel sure now.”
“Is there anyone else that can help you; that you can contact?”
“I don’t think so, as there are so few of us now.”
“Will you need help with the birth?”
She shook her head, “I have done it before.”
What I didn’t say and tried not to think about when I was with her was how much happier I would be if she could be examined by a doctor or vet or whatever later on to check on the embryo to ensure it was viable.
I still had another few days at the shack and so I asked if she would make her way down to the birthing site straight away or go somewhere else.
She looked at me in my eyes and I knew she was reading my mind. So I clenched my teeth and tried to clear my mind completely and concentrated on the shape and colour of the pebbles on the beach.
I got a prod in the ribs for that. “Don’t!,” she said smiling. “I was just going to say I am not used to anyone else worrying about me so much. You do it all the time. I must manage on my own.”
“What if he or she is a human baby and not a merchild?” I asked “Or if he or she is mixed up; different from either of us?”
“Mark, stop worrying. Here is what we will do. Meet me in the cove at midday in exactly…” Here she paused and looked at her fingers, and then took hold of both of my hands and said “Three” holding her hand up, “Times all your fingers, Ten. That makes Thirty days.”
I nodded, but added “If it is a very hot day they might close access through the park so I will come every day from number 30 on until we meet. Do you agree?” and then went on, “Can we meet again here tomorrow? I have only just found you.”
“You would be a hopeless Merman, Mark. I am not used to being wanted all the time. Let us go for swim together then we will see what fish you have in your bag. You have brought some haven’t you?”
I nodded and so I picked her up and carried out into the sea and carefully put her in the water.
“Everything you do is so gentle Mark." Then she whispered faintly, "Touch me like you did the other day.”
So we played with each other in the water until the thought of that fish in my bag finally outweighed my caresses and she insisted I carry her back to shore to have our lunch.