What Do Mermaids Do in Winter?
Short Story by Nicole des Bouvrie
Her tears froze half-way down her cheeks. Summer had left overnight while he had packed his bags. Why hadn’t she brought gloves?
Marika took up the ball that was laid down at her feet and threw it far away. Rayleigh ran after it, hairs flowing up and down, just a few seconds slower than her small body. A few moments later the dog was back again, ball pressed between teeth.
She bent down, quickly patting Rayleigh on her head before taking the ball from her. Slowly she looked back up, aware that the dog was closely following her every movements, and threw the ball once more, careful not to hit the water. There were some towels in the back of her car, but she didn’t feel like having the icicles melt in her living room later.
She stood still, closed eyes, facing the sun. Catching the light that was already on its way out, not strong enough to dry her tears. But she stood, defying laws of nature. If she could only stand here for a long time, her tears would be dry. Unless they kept on coming.
Even if it was summer and she stood at some tropical beach, her tears would win it from the sun. And despite her good intentions, she wasn’t surrounded by palmtrees, drinks from coconuts and sunburn without problems. She was at Singing Beach in Manchester-by-the-Sea, on the American North-East coast, a place where people held on to a past that was rapidly crumbling into the waves of the Atlantic Ocean.
As she opened her eyes again she saw Rayleigh running along the beach, chasing something invisible that was apparently more interesting than waiting for the ball to be thrown again. Seeing him running wild, she felt a pang of regret. Nothing would come of any of these tears.
Marika took out a handkerchief of her pocket and wiped her face dry. The wind was picking up, playing with her long brown curls. The curls he had always wrapped around his fingers.
She picked up the ball and started running after Rayleigh, chasing away her own illusions.
He used to tell her that mermaids simply waited for time to pass during winter. But she wasn’t sure anymore. What did he know?