The Cool Waters

It’s been a long walk up here, six miles into the mountains, but I have to make sure I am alone and will not be disturbed. I am so vulnerable when I am like this, so easily found out. The whole way I’ve kept looking back over my shoulder, so certain someone was following me, whether because they knew my secret, or they just thought I was a normal human woman who they wanted to hurt for other reasons.
At some point, I was able to relax as I came closer and closer to the little grotto pool I was walking all this way for. I became sure I was alone, and no one would hurt me or find out what I truly was.
Salty tears began to glisten in my eyes, and I wiped them away. How long had it been since I was innocent of the world of man, unafraid and free in the cold waters of the mountains, frolic with my friends and exploring all of my world without fear? It seemed almost as if it had been part of another life, another me altogether. Sometimes the memory was only the thinnest gossamer of dream, that melted away with the morning sun.
I needed to get to the pool. I needed to feel the chill and pure waters of my mountain home again. Back in the city were we had fled too, when the mining operation had come, fouling our home forever, all I had where the public swimming pool during summer, and our apartments bathtub in winter. The public pool was heavily cholorined and it stung my skin and eyes, and the bathtub was confining and made me ache for freedom. But you do what you must when you have a need.
Finally, I had come to where the long walk was taking me. A slope onto a rock shore to the river, which was deep and still and dark. There was a grotto the river had carved out, with high walls that made me feel protected somehow. I felt so much weight and tension melt away from me then.
I put down my back pack, and then stripped out of my clothes, and walked into the water. I felt pure and whole again, as my human legs dissolved again into my natural tail, and the energy of the world I was born into welcomed me in again. I swam and frolicked like I hadn’t since I’d been a child, all those years ago. And then I floated on my back, swirling with the slow current, as I looked up at the clear blue June sky, a gentle stream of tears flowing from my eyes.
I stayed there in my secret grotto, in my holy place, until late afternoon. Then I turned my lovely tail once more into human legs, got dressed and headed back to the world of men, which was, and never would be my home, but where I had to survive now.

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