Mermaid in the City: Chapter 6

Another day on the beach, and the sun is brilliant, burning away fear and sadness, filling empty space with light. Another calm day at sea, and the lake stretches on and on, still.

“You’re very pretty,” says a fellow, looking slightly out of place, like a runaway surfer from a distant ocean. There is no surf here- he’s definitely lost.
“Thank you,” duh, I’m a Mermaid! Maybe you’re admiring my pearls? Or are you just observing yourself in my mirror?
“Let’s walk together for a while.”
Any kind of flattery feels like a cool drink of water on a day like this. Yes, I will walk with you…
And the two set off down the lake path, passing trees and bikers and joggers, stopping for a drink from a fountain, watching the parade of cute dogs and their owners, city life at the edge of the water.

The light is gray again that afternoon, and the day stretches on endlessly, without being tied to the sundial. They arrive at a party full of snakes, and slither around, trying to find their corner. The surfer is one of them, it turns out, and, because the Mermaid has scales, she can fit in for a while. They discuss school and work, art and literature, tattoos and meetings. It’s a sober party; snakes like it cool and calm, and in the stillness of that flat, in the moderate temperature and the moderate mood and the dull, still walls, the snakes feel temperate and smooth. No excitement for them. A tall sinuous couple, her head coming to a sharp point, wears a slinky black dress and glides around the room like smoke. Her husband’s arms are sinewy, tattooed muscle. The gathering runs its course, and the snakes hiss away. The Mermaid and the surfer say goodbye to each other outside, in the late summer dusk, and promise to meet again.

They do meet again, in the theater, among friends, and watch a play about war and brutality, rape, murder, and other impossibly painful cruelties inflicted by one person on another. It goes on forever, a suffering unto itself, and they crawl out of that story, exhausted. But not too tired to go home together and discover each other’s naked bodies. They drink each other’s blood, and it flows over them as over the parched desert earth and never soaks in, creating washes and gullies, well-worn by previous storms.

“I like your panties,” he says.
“Whatever,” they reply.

His rod is large and fills her emptiness with a new aching, a feeling of fullness and arching and slippery electricity. Her body is a network of stars, and her head floats away on a balloon string, still tenuously attached, looking down on the coupling bodies. He stares into her eyes vacuously, expressionless, and she clings to him regardless. When he comes inside her, the small chirp of fear is drowned out by the helium in her brain squeaking, “This is the happiest day of my life!”

Nothing matters but this moment, her head exploding, and his crooked eyes and mouth grimacing in their Cubist way. She’s got pop rocks inside her and is lying on a bed of hot coals. She can’t get quite comfortable. He gets up to go.