Sunday, November 11, 2007

Mermaid

By Matt Mitchell

You were that girl, the one I met that night down by the water. You asked me what I was thinking of, but I couldn’t answer right away. Intimidated, I tried to slow my heart rate, but it just ran on faster and faster. I remember looking away and swallowing hard; I was shaking, just by your nearness. The black water calmed me some, its steady surge, its salty banter. But I was still faint, wondering if you were a mermaid.

You told me you wanted to dance, but you would only dance on the water, and with a sideways smile you were off. I looked around for guidance, for support, but everyone else was involved with their own drama. With another difficult swallow and wrenching guts, I followed…

The black water was tight around us and warm and you laughed out loud. I wanted to reach out to you, but I just idled there, letting the swell of the waves pass me by as I watched you frolic, listened to you laugh. Everywhere you splashed was alive with phosphorescence. It glowed green and reflected in your hair, on your skin…

Finally, I found the words: “Is there more to life than this?” I called, just loud enough so you could hear me.

You stopped and spun, facing me, coming closer. I imagined your feet rapidly paddling, kicking up sand clouds on the ocean floor. The water was still, the green sparkles gone with your dance.
“There’s only tonight, and whatever it is it’s all we’ve got,” you said.

I swallowed again, mad at this injustice done to us, but you just kept on smiling.

A lighthouse swung its glow our way and passed over us without pause. A buoy’s ringing bell chimed in the black distance. The bobbing red light of a shrimper trolled our way, a hundred miles away it seemed. You touched my hand.

“Chill out,” you said, still smiling. “It’s good enough for now, isn’t it?”

For the first time in days, I smiled. And I remembered. And I loved you.

Matt Mitchell, author of The Last Man, is a working writer in Montevallo, Alabama. In addition to being one of the authors featured in the print anthology, Southern Fried Weirdness 2007: An Annual Anthology of Southern Speculative Fiction, he is a father of two boys, a southerner, technophile, naturalist, and part time adventurer.

7 comments:

Christopher Woods said...

Dear Matt Mitchell,

This is a very dreamy story. I liked the images, especially the lighthouse and the buoy. I also think there might be alonger version of this story. What happens later? There is this short-short version, but you have also set the stage for a longer, and one would think, surprising narrative.

Best,
Chris Woods

Christopher Woods said...

Dear Matt Mitchell,

This is a very dreamy story. I liked the images, especially the lighthouse and the buoy. I also think there might be alonger version of this story. What happens later? There is this short-short version, but you have also set the stage for a longer, and one would think, surprising narrative.

Best,
Chris Woods

Anonymous said...

Nice story, Matt. Nice piece of flash. I like a story that makes me start to fall for the girl.

J. Michael Shell

Matt Mitchell said...

Christopher: Actually, that's all of it so far. I'm not ruling out attacking it once again, though :-)

Matt Mitchell said...

J. Michael,

Thanks for the compliment. I'm glad you liked it.

Allyn Paul said...

Matt--I like it, Very well painted. "Black water" always makes the imagination run wild.
We've all got those mermaids in our past...at lease I do.

Anonymous said...

Well Done, I actually had an experience that closely resembles this story. In 1996 I swam out to a ball shaped buoy about a 100 yds off shore in the darkness and clung to it for a while before swimming back to shore. Im pretty sure that what I felt swimming around me were fish and not a mermaid.
Dallas