I wonder what it’s like out there? I thought to myself as I walked along the beach, staring out into the ocean. For years, I had wanted to just get away from everything. It was like no one at all understood me anymore. And I never had any real friends. Growing up, I fell in love with the ocean. I got such a rush from swimming for hours, or just simply floating on the surface of the water. It was like we had a form of connection. After a hard day of constantly getting criticized for every little thing I did “wrong”, the ocean was always there for me. It was my friend. It never judged me or anything. It just seemed to grab and envelop me in it’s watery arms. And I always accepted this. But I could never seem to get enough. Every day, when it was time to get out of the water, I felt like I could still use some more time. But I knew I should get out anyway.
In my late teens, my family owned a house on a cliff right next to a beach, and-you guessed it-the ocean. So it was always convenient to go for a swim. But on the down side, my parents could always find me. And were always telling me to get out when it started getting dark. So, naturally, my dream was to go swimming at night. It seemed as if that were a whole other rush than the day time. It seemed more risky and dangerous. I had to try it. But since my parents were always watching the water’s edge for me, I knew I could never get away with it. They already thought I spent way too much time swimming. They never could understand why I loved it so much. My mother once said she thought I could very well be a mermaid. I corrected her, saying they didn’t exist. While thinking to myself, I only wish they did. I told myself that if I ever found real live mermaids, that I knew what I was going to do: run away. Or I guess that should be, to swim away. I would be able to get away from everything that irritated me, day in and day out. And I could be with my love, the ocean. And, you know, maybe I could meet a handsome merman some time too. That wouldn’t be so bad. I guess.
I couldn’t help but admire her beauty from where I sat. Of course, there was no way she could see me from where she stood on the beach. I sat halfway perched on some rocks under the dock mere feet from where she was. I wished I were able to approach her. I had dreamt for so long for just one day where I could walk on the beach with her, hand in hand. Hearing her laugh from right beside her. Looking into those gorgeous brown eyes of hers from just inches away. And then finally, leaning in for the perfect-and yet completely forbidden-kiss.
But that would never happen. There was no way it would ever happen. Well…there was one way, but it was also forbidden. There are a lot of strict rules for us merfolk. Few of them are so serious. One of them being, you must never fall in love with a human. We were taught from a young age that humans were cruel, savage, unloving creatures. But that couldn’t possibly be true. It just couldn’t. I watched this young, fragile looking girl, and there was no possible way she could be like that. I could tell just by looking at her that she loved deeply-even though I didn’t entirely know what love meant. And she cared too. She wasn’t cruel, she was actually quite kind. And never savage. True, I had only actually seen her in person about 5 times, including today (once a year since I turned 15). But I already felt as though I had known her my whole life. And although I didn’t know what exactly love meant, I felt almost as if I really loved her. I took a shaky breath. So many thoughts running through my head. Is this what love felt like?
“Would you love me if you knew me?” I whispered as if she were standing right next to me. Suddenly she jerked her head up and looked around almost as if she actually heard me. I sank back down into the water, only my upper torso still above the surface, as I held onto the rocks. Did she hear me somehow? No, that’s not possible. But how…?
Without thinking, I rose up out of the water a little, to get a better view. My grip slipped, and I sank down into the water, making a little bit of a splash, and noticeable ripples on the surface. I paused below, watching for her reaction. She was definitely aware now. She looked a little scared, like she didn’t know what was out there, or what to expect. Before I was aware of what I was doing, I slowly rose back up to the surface, but just enough for the top half of my head to show. I watched her for a minute, waited for her to calm down just a bit, and rose out more so that my upper half was showing again. I shouldn’t be doing this, but I didn’t seem to have any control over what I was doing. I swam to under the edge of the dock, just enough so that I could be in view if she looked over in my direction. I reached up and held onto the side of the dock, staring longingly at her. I sighed. She was so beautiful. Did she know just how beautiful she was?
She sat down on the sand, holding her knees. She laid her head down on her knees for a moment, and then looked around her. She looked over to her left, nothing. Obviously nothing but the wide open sea in front of her. She began to turn my way, and instinctively, I recoiled a little, back under the dock. I made only a little noise. Maybe she wouldn’t see me and scream. But then...a part of me longed for her to finally see me. I peered out just enough. I watched as she scanned the area where the dock was. She turned to look behind her too, but something stopped her. She looked back where the dock was-where I was hiding. She leaned forward a little, to get a better view. I forced myself to stay put, and not hide anymore. I peeked out at that moment, and our eyes met. She saw me! She finally saw me!
She slowly got up from where she sat, and started my way. She wasn’t running away, and she most definitely wasn’t screaming. Could it be that she was actually curious, or maybe fascinated by me? She came closer, and I came out from my hiding place. The water was deep enough at this point where she couldn’t really see my tail. Could that be why she wasn’t running? Maybe she just thought I was a fellow human, and she was coming to find out my name. My heart sank at the idea. But then I saw her face, and her eyes, she could tell something was different about me.
I walked toward this stranger who had made me feel like I wasn’t alone. I could feel someone watching me, and now I knew who. I studied him as I got closer and closer. He looked almost like one of those big muscled beach dudes I’d seen before. And I wasn’t impressed in the slightest by them. But...something about this guy, he was different. I didn’t know exactly how, or why, he just was. I looked at his face; it was the most handsome face I had ever seen. It was a perfect face, no imperfection anywhere. Who was he? I stopped a mere four feet from him. Oh, gah, he was gorgeous. I had to work to get my brain to function again.
“Hi.” Wow. His voice alone made me wildly curious. It sounded so melodic. Like a thousand singing voices just like his, all combined in this one word. It was wonderful. I realized that I probably looked like an idiot, just standing there gawking at him. He was looking slightly away, over his broad, muscled shoulder, trying his best to smother a smile. But I wanted to see.
“Are, uh, you having problems there?”
“You’re, uh, trying not to smile. What’s so funny?”
“Oh, ha, nothing. Sorry.”
“No, what is it? Really, tell me.”
“Well, it’s uh, just the look on your face just then. When you were staring at me.”
“I was not staring!”
“Oh, no, sorry, I think your word for it would be, uhh.....gawking. Yes, that’s it. You were gawking at me.”
I couldn’t say anything, my jaw dropped. I didn’t have any defense against this argument. But I could still try.
“I wasn’t gawking.” I mumbled.
He leaned forward, “Yes...yes, you were.” He replied with a hint of an amused look on his face.
I waved off that comment; something he said was just registering with me. I think your word for it would be... What did he mean by “your word”? Why would it be any different from his word? After all, he was the one who said it. Unless...no. No, I told my own mother that...but then, he was oddly different...and he hadn’t come out of the water yet. Unless he was...no, ew, that’s not it at all. Never. I glanced at him. He was amused again. Could he tell that I was having a debate with myself in my head? Wait, what was that? Did he just nod? Was that a nod just then? I stopped a gasp from escaping my lips. Could he really be a...and read my mind too? Did they actually exist?
I realized then that I had forgotten to ask for his name.
“Umm...I forgot to ask....”
“Yes? What is it?”
“I, uh, what’s your name?”
He paused, seeming to debate his own answer for a second. Then he replied, “Errik. With two r’s.”
“Oh, really? So, E-r-r-i-c?”
“Actually, no. E-r-r-i-k.”
“Oh, ok. Well that’s uh...different.”
“Ha ha, yes it is.” Oh gosh.....his laugh. It was beautiful. He gave me this expecting look. Like I was forgetting something.
“Did you forget something?”
“Ha ha, your name, please?”
“OH, right. I knew that, ha...ha.”
He gave me that look again.
“Darn it!...It’s uh...Aria. My name’s Aria”
“Aria...that’s a beautiful name. It’s like music.” I gasped. My name rolling off his tongue sounded like music. I loved it.
“Uh, yeah. My dad has a love of music, so he named me Aria. I guess he expected me to be a singer or something. I dunno’. I don’t sing much anyway, so I guess it doesn’t matter.”
Aria. What a beautiful name. And it fit her so perfectly.
“Would you mind singing some for me? I mean, you said your dad has a love of music and all...maybe a gift of song runs in your family?”
“Oh, I don’t know about that. I like, never sing, and I barely know you.”
“Tell you what...come over here, and sit on the dock. Just humor me for a minute. Please?”
She hesitated. Then, “Oh...ok, fine.” She came over and sat on the edge of the dock, feet dangling over the side.
I reached for her hand, and held it gently, then pleaded with my eyes. “Please sing for me? Just a little?”
She was speechless. Even her thoughts were a blur, she couldn’t think straight. I smiled at this in my own mind. But I was thrilled to be holding her hand, and her not pull back. But then, I don’t think she ever had a choice. Words slowly started to form, and eventually, she could start to answer.
“Uh...um...well...I-I guess so...maybe...you know...just...a little.”
I grinned broadly, “I would like that.” She got up the courage after laughing at herself, and she started to sing this beautiful song about wanting to be a part of my world-although, she still didn’t know what I was. Then blended into a song that sounded a lot like advice from herself. So I thought I would take that advice. I tried to find something with my fin, so I could give myself a boost and reach Aria better. I found a pretty sizable rock, and tried to wrap my fin around it, but there was something slippery on it, and I went down into the water, accidentally taking Aria with me.
I have to be honest here. The look on her face was quite hilarious. She was surprised at being doused with water, and was soaking wet. So naturally, her shocked expression was really funny. She only lightly chuckled a couple of times, and so did I. I asked her in between laughs if she was alright. She said yes, she was. She was just surprised.
We laughed just a bit more while I placed my hands just above her elbows. We paused for just a moment. And something happened. I’m not sure what, but it was like we both instantly knew what the other was thinking in that moment. Slowly, we got closer and closer, and I just knew I was fixing to get my kiss I had waited so long for. Just inches away from each other, something else happened. My fin accidentally brushed by her leg. And that was it. She freaked out, screaming out her lungs, everything. She raced the few feet to the shore, and finished out her oh-my-gosh-what-was-that and ew-that-was-so-gross dances. I just sat where I was. I couldn’t believe myself. I was this close to finally having my kiss. Now I knew I would never get it. And I would never love again (if that’s what I was feeling now).
Did I forget to mention one little catch to this whole situation? I think I must have. This is another merfolk thing. If a human girl, and a merman kiss, and they’re both in the water, the human becomes a mermaid, and they go off to live happily ever, yadda, yadda, yadda. But now all my dreams and hopes came crashing down. There was no way she’d ever love me now. There was no way I could ever come up with an excuse of what that was, and why I still hadn’t come out of the water-and why I never could. It was just best if I said my goodbye now. Before my heart crumbled any more than it already had.
I looked up to see what Aria was doing. She was just finishing up wiping off her legs. She saw me and asked again, “What was that?” I couldn’t answer. I just looked down. There wasn’t a thing I could say that would explain anything. I gave up hope right then. I just listened to the silence between us, the crashing of the waves, and the occasional breeze blowing. I slowly started to turn around, so I could just swim away, and be forever forgotten. But something told me that she would never forget me. She might even look for me. But still, she would only be disgusted if she knew what I was. Especially now.
“Errik? What’s wrong? Where are you going?”
I looked over my shoulder. “Nothing and nowhere. Just forget I ever existed.”
“But, Errik, I can’t do that. I mean, I know we just met…but I can just tell that…something-s-something’s different about you. You’re not like other guy’s.”
Ha. If only you knew. “Aria-”
“Errik, please. Don’t try to make my decisions for me like everyone else in my life.” My heartbeat quickened as she came back into the water. Not even hesitating once to see if there was something scaly still in the water. Her eyes were locked on mine. I could see her smiling, dancing eyes get closer, and closer. Until, finally, she was standing right in front of me. Inches away. She was fearless in this near-perfect moment. I felt like I might burst from happiness, but didn’t want to get my hopes up. She may still hate me and scream when she finds out what I am.
She finally allowed herself to smile, and when I smiled back, she held the gaze for a few seconds, then blushed and looked down. That’s when she saw, and put together all the pieces. This was it. She could very well hate me now. I could see it happening: she’d get grossed out by me, yell and scream at me, call me a freak, and run back up the hill to her house, and never look at the sea again because that’s where I was. Yep…she hated me. It was a done deal. No way she could forgive me now.
She slowly formed words, “Oh…my gosh. It was you! You were that thing that touched my leg. You’re a-a-a…”
“Yes, I accidentally touched your leg with my creepy fin. Go on, scream, call me a freak, and run off.”
She gave me some form of amused and annoyed look. “Now, what did I say about telling me what to do?”
“You said not to do it, but-”
“So don’t. Try it, it’s not that hard.” She paused while I stared at her somewhat adoringly. “Errik, you’re a…a Merman. And all my life I have dreamt of a way to escape from this world and everything that irritates me about it. I mean…I’ve kind of hoped that there might be a way I could escape, and I fell in love with the sea a long time ago, so if there was a way…” She trailed off.
“You’d take it?” I finished for her.
I waited a few seconds, debating on if I really wanted to do this. Yes, of course I wanted to. But was it best for her? Could she live with it? She kind of sounded like she could. And after all, she had said that she dreamed of leaving her world. And she loved the sea. Maybe she could handle it…it was worth the risk…wasn’t it?
“I, uh…I think I might know a way.”
“Are you kidding me? Really? You’re serious? Well…what is it? C’mon, tell me!-”
I didn’t give her much chance to finish her excitement. As she was talking, I moved closer and closer to her, to where finally, I was close enough to kiss her.
I felt her stiffen up slightly when our lips met. After a second or two of shock, she loosened up, wrapping her arms around my neck. It was a lingering kiss, and after it ended, I looked her straight in her beautiful eyes. I held her hands.
“Are you sure you want to do this? Become a Mermaid, and leave your world? There aren’t any take-backs.”
She giggled at my take-back comment. But she hesitated, looking back up the hill, where her family was. She looked back at me. We held a gaze for a minute, not talking. Just being silent. Finally, “I...well....” She sighed. “Errik, my family...they haven’t exactly been the best. And I’ve never had any real close friends where I could have spontaneous sleepovers or anything. Nothing. I mean, I had a house by the sea, which was great. But I was missing one thing. One thing that would really make me happy. And that was you.”
She giggled again, “So...” She took a deep breath. “Yes...Yes I will go with you, and become part of the sea.” She finished off over-dramatically, which made me laugh.
“Ok then...here we go.” I led her down into the water, where she began her transformation. I wouldn’t think she could be any more beautiful than she already was, but I would have been wrong. She was by far the most beautiful girl in the entire world-human or Mermaid.