As a kid, I’d been enamored by mermaids so much (thanks, in part to the movie Splash starring Tom Hanks, and in part due to my love of swimming) that I’d used every birthday wish to become one. It’s only fitting, having just celebrated another birthday earlier this week that I let M stand for Mermaid! Incidentally, I have yet to sprout fins but if I do, you can bet I’ll be blogging about it!
“I thought I might find you here.” Adam handed his brother a cup so hot that steamed poured into the chilly morning air. Mark took it and mumbled his thanks. He held the cup close for warmth. He couldn’t remember how long he’d been sitting on the pier overlooking the ocean but the fact that the sun had broken into the sky was a pretty good indication that it was longer than he’d intended.
“I was hoping maybe you’d snuck off with that blond you were talking to last night,” Adam continued as he settled in next to his brother, “But I guess I should have known better.”
“What are you doing here, Adam?”
“I thought you could use something to warm you up.”
Mark shifted, feeling the stiffness in his back and legs from sitting so long. He was getting too old for this but he refused to admit it, least of all to Adam.
“We came to the beach to have a good time,” Adam said.
“You seemed to accomplish that last night.”
Mark could feel the tension from his brother. There was silence while Adam searched for an explanation but they both knew there was no point. Mark had liked Renee. She’d been good for Adam. Seeing him with someone else broke him in inexplicable ways.
“Renee and I broke up a week ago,” Adam said softly.
“Anyway, that isn’t what I came out here for.”
“I know why you’re here and you can save your breath. I’m still going through with it.”
“Mark, it was fun when we were kids but we’re too old for that shit now. Come on. One of these days you’re going to get yourself hurt. Stop playing pretend and join the rest of us. Have a good time for once.”
“It isn’t pretend. You remember the stories Dad told us when we were kids?”
“Stories,” Adam said, “That’s all they were, told by a drunk.”
“I saw it. And so did you. Why do you waste so much energy denying it?”
Adam let out a slow breath and looked out over the rolling waves. Mark studied his brother’s face, looking for some sign of the boy who used to believe as passionately as he did. Where did that boy go? What happened to summers by the beach when they’d devise plans and expeditions to track down the creatures of the sea?
“Doing this isn’t going to bring back Mom,” Adam said finally. He pushed up to stand a moment longer, teetering at the edge of the pier as if he might jump in.
“Go back to your new girlfriend or play thing, whatever she is,” Mark said, “and go back to your parties and your drinks. Become the man you hated for so long.”
“Save it, Adam. It’s done.”
“The others are asking about you. What am I supposed to tell them?”
“Tell them whatever you want.”
“And the blond?”
Mark said nothing because they both already knew the answer. As far as Mark was concerned, the blond didn’t exist.
Adam shook his head as he shoved his hands deep in the pockets of his leather jacket and walked away, leaving Mark alone with the coffee he’d never drink, and the fantasies about what lay beneath the water’s surface. In the distance Mark watched dolphins jumping and playing and envied their freedom.
Maybe Adam was right? Maybe he was getting too old to hang on to stories told by a drunken old fisherman about alluring creatures who were half human and half fish?
Except he couldn’t shake the image from his mind of the girl in the water who had once saved his life when he wasn’t more than five. Adam had seen it too even if he refused to admit it. And ever since that day, Mark had been plagued by dreams of her calling to him, begging him to return. It made sense to no one, not even himself, but he couldn’t escape the pull of the tide as he sat on the pier and waited.
Too many years had passed. He wasn’t a boy any longer. Slowly, he stretched his legs and placed the coffee cup to one side before getting up and splashing down into the calf deep water and wading over to the small boat.
His hands shook with anticipation as he made his way out into the depths of the ocean. If things went as planned, he would not return.
As he squinted toward the shoreline he thought he saw Adam waving but he brushed it off as imagination. There were some rifts that could never be repaired, even between brothers. The coffee cup sat abandoned on the edge of the pier and for a moment, he wished he’d taken it with him as a reminder of the life he couldn’t live.
He cut the engine and dove into the ocean before second thoughts took over. The icy cold water cut through his flesh and stole his breath away. He dove down again, forcing his limbs to carry him deeper, ignoring the burning in his chest when he ran out of air. His ears threatened to explode and his body resisted his movements.
But finally, he saw her. She smiled and waved to him, beckoning him closer, long dark hair swirling around her head.
Her arms pulled him into an embrace and dreams blurred into reality.
They were together, at last.
I can’t tell you what this year’s birthday wish was because if I did, it might not come true… Yes, I still believe in wishes! Rest assured it has more to do with getting my stories into the hands of readers who will love them than condemning myself to an aquatic life. More realistic? Maybe. 😉
Thank you for reading and please feel free to share your thoughts. Each day I am posting a ‘snippet’ based on a paranormal creature that begins with the corresponding letter of the alphabet. I am using this as a fun writing exercise which I am hoping will also be enjoyable to read, but keep in mind that due to the fact that I must post a new snippet each day in April except Sundays, the posts may be a bit rough. I’ll do my best, however, in the limited time I have available to me. 🙂 Let me know your favorites or the posts you find most intriguing because I plan to develop those into a full story later in the year!
Check out the other participants in the A to Z Challenge.