the change

Sunday, May 13, 2012

*Again, please pretend this is Saturday. There won't be a Thursday post this week, because I was sick Thursday and I'm not going to rush around to make up for one post I missed, so there's just this Saturday (Sunday) post, featuring a short story.*

The sun is setting on the other side of the window, its burning light calling out to me. I open the door carefully; my hand shivers against the new chill of the doorknob. Outside, there is a snap to the air—something crisp and real and grounding. A soft, cold breeze licks my cheeks and bites at my stinging, watering eyes. I take care to wipe all traces of tears away quickly, hoping no one sees the momentary Change.

Grinning almost in spite of myself, I close the door quietly, not wanting anyone to hear. I’d rather that Violet and May don’t come out here, rather that they not see me.

The wood beneath my feet is cool and damp; the porch’s overhang didn’t keep the rain from soaking the boards. I hesitate, biting my lip, but decide to sit. No one will see. I crouch down, the puddles soaking through my socks, and find a relatively dry spot. Once down, I draw my legs up to my chest and hug them, resting my chin on the tips of my knees and staring out into the pink sky, cloudy and gleaming. The sun seems to have left behind little parts of itself, little bits that it will collect later, after we’ve all gone to sleep and there’s no one to watch the moon throw each wisp of sunshine down, down, down, and sow the stars into the sky.

I smile wistfully, and begin to let the change overcome me. No one will see, I whisper to myself. No one.

It begins at my toes—it always has, no matter where I get wet. My socks become tight and uncomfortable as my feet stretch, widen, thin, begin to grow scales and turn a shimmering green. The scales travel up my legs, up and up and up. I will myself to keep changing, and all around me my clothes become rough and cumbersome. I stop the scales at my hands, open to the world, and my neck, only letting the little things through. The bluish tint to my skin, the shiny teal of my fingernails, the glimmering roughness on my palms, the back of my neck, the little creases of my face. Little scales pop up around my eyes, barely noticeable, and my irises’ dark brown color shimmies in and out of blue-gray as my eyelashes lengthen and turn the lightest shade of green. I even allow the tips of my hair to become slightly emerald.

I am Changing, and nobody knows.

Nobody knows.

Nobody knows. 


The Change is a right of passage. the Change is the Mer.  
It will come only to those whom art worthy. Worthy of the costs & the hardshippes.
Be careful. Do not flaunt thy scales, lest Humans know of the Mer. 
By Death, tell not a soul thy secret. 


The light of the sea is dark and light, hot and cold, welcoming and terrifying all at once. I don’t know what to make of it. I think I love it, but I’m not sure. I think so. I think not.

I don’t know what to think.

Maybe I love Nadia. Maybe that’s it. Is that why my brain is in a muddle? I think I love Nadia. I think so. I think not.
I can’t love her. I love Clare. I love Clare. But she’s gone. She’s missing.
Is loving Clare’s best friend so wrong? Can I still love her? Do I love Clare anymore?

I don’t know.

I dip my finger into the water and swirl it around, thinking about Nadia. Thinking about the way her eyes turned from dark brown to blue gray, the way her eyelashes lengthened and flickered into a silver-green.

I don’t know what to think.

She’s so beautiful, so perfect, so mysterious. I wonder if I know why.

Maybe she’s like you, a little part of me whispers. Maybe she—changes.

There’s no one like you, mumbles another. You’re all alone.

I don’t know.

I miss Clare with all my heart, but I don’t know.

When I pull my finger out of the water, it’s dark blue and scaly, shining like the stars. I used to think I changed into a fish when I touched water. I thought there was a kind of fish that was as big as a human, a kind that looked like a human but had a tail.

I thought I was called a mermaid.

Now I don’t know what to think.

I dry my finger off on my jeans, careful to not let the water soak through them and onto my leg. I hate the feel of the Change, hate the exhilaration, hate the soft tingling of my skin as it glows and twinkles into scales, hate the indigo color I become, hate the way my fingers are webbed and my legs are one stupid, scaly tail.

I hate it.

But now, I’m not so sure.

I don’t know what to think anymore.


Make effort to accept the Change. It will not be facile.
It will be painful, challenging & terrible.
At all costs, do not begin to hate thyself.
At all costs, never think Cruelly of the Change. Never. 
For is thou dost forget the Beauty of the Change, thou shalt have no Joy in life. 
Keep the Joy, & keep thy Change. 
Thou art one of the Mer. Thou art one of us. Thou hast found a place. 
Keep it. 

The fading autumn light pulses through me, sending waves of inspiration and feeling. I don’t know why, but I’m always incredibly inspired when the light hits me like that. I want to find a piano, want to sing, want to sing and sing and sing.

But I can’t. There are no pianos in the ocean, to room to sing or to breathe or to live. There is only room for beauty. It can be a little suffocating sometimes, but I have to love it, don’t I? I don’t have a choice.

It’s not the feeling of being enclosed, really, that hurts so much. It’s the missing, the wanting, the yearning. I can’t breathe above air anymore, can’t be who I was. I miss music the most; miss the way it flowed and glided from note to note in perfect harmony.

I miss the stars, too, miss their gleaming and twinkling. They don’t matter in the sea—just little pinpricks of light distorted through the undulating waves. Sometimes, I sneak above water and hold my breath, watch the stars and try to hear music in the distance. Or, like now, gaze at the sunset and try not to breathe for as long as possible. But I have to go under sometime, and then I am always found.

The Mer don’t like me going above water. I don’t know why. It’s not like I’m actually one of them—I mean, I am, I just haven’t always been. I used to be a human, and they can’t accept that. They think I’ll leave them. They know I can’t.

But I miss my life, miss being a girl and being in love. Adam. I miss Adam and the way he held me, I miss my best friend Nadia. Neither of them knew who I was. Neither of them even guessed. That’s reasonable, though, because it’s not like being a mermaid is a very smart guess.

I feel a tingle at the bottom of my tail and all my breath escapes. I have to dive down under, and my gills flap against my neck. I’ve always hated them. Lauren is there, beckoning me to swim down. I nod, and turn back one more time to watch. Far off, near the shore, I see a hand swirling in the water, a hand I think I know. But then Lauren pulls me downward, and I don’t know where the hand has gone. But I saw the color indigo it was. There is no mistaking that. Adam, I think, but my better judgment sweeps away that thought with a spear-tipped broom, and I swim away into the dark.

Sometimes I wonder if I left, would I turn back to normal when the water dried off, like I used to? Or would I shrivel up on the beach like the fish that I am, unable to breathe?


Only come if thou dost know the ways of the Coral and the blighte of the Stars.
Thou art one of us forever. Do not try to leave thy Home. 
Thy Home is thy place of safety. The Sea, thy house. 
Thou hast years to Live, years to swim with the Fishe, years. 
Do not waste them by leaving. 
But if thou dost leave, if thou darest, remember
Thou art alone. 
There is no help for the Deserted. 


I will never understand what she sees in the light of the stars. Do they speak to her, like the coral speaks to me? What was her life like above water? I cannot imagine it. Cannot even begin to comprehend. There is nothing of me that is not part of the water. I am the water, and the water is me.

But the way she smiles above the waves, the way she looks out onto shore like she has never seen anything more wonderful is the most bewitching thing I have ever seen. Her simple scales: so green and magical. Her hair: jade and glowing.

No other mermaid has ever been more beautiful.

I cannot think like this.

I cannot.

I must forget that I love her, for the sake of the Mer. For the sake of my family. For the sake of myself.

She will never love me. She will always love her human.

It kills me, the way she watches the stars. Because every time, I wish I were the stars.

But I cannot think that that.

I cannot.


It is the Change that binds thee. It is the Change that keeps thee whole. 
Without it, thou wouldst wither away into the Starts,
The dreams of life forging pathways on through thee
To destruction, to Love. 
Love is not the Change. The Change will tear Love apart. 
And thou art the Change, the Water, the Sea. 
Do not forget thy place. Do not forget, 
Remember, & forge on. 
Remember the Change, Remember the Change. 
Remember the Change. 


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