Mermaid From The China Sea
I sat in a crouch for a moment after having dropped from my window, listening for sounds from the house that my parents heard me, and we’re coming to bring me back inside. All I heard was the wail of insects in the darkness.
I stayed low as I made my way in front of the windows, again making sure not to be seen or heard; it was well after ten o’clock at night and the last thing I wanted was to get grounded for taking a nocturnal adventure. Once I was clear of the house though, I began to relax and loosen up. I let the sounds of the night fill me, the calls and cries of animals and the thrum of distant traffic on the highway.
I made my way by the bone white shine of the moon, through familiar streets made strange by shadows, and houses haunted by their darkness. Everything strange, as if my hometown were merely a stage and at night the whole production was packed up and the town was left empty like a theatre after a show.
All this strangeness was why I risked getting grounded and a lecture from my mother, the feeling that I had my own secret world that no one else knew and where no one could follow.
I finally came to the old public pool house on the edge of the river. It had been abandoned before I was born, and was now a covered in a mass of kudzu tendrils. The roof was well on it’s way to caving in. The mosiac tiles that covered the facade were missing in chunks, and exposed weathered and graffittied concrete blocks.
I felt a stirring in my heart as I stood before it, something I couldn’t explain but that felt like being wrapped in an angel’s wings. Somehow I knew this is were I was meant to be tonight, that something, some piece of destiny waited for me inside this old broken down shell. I drew in a deep breath, then looked for a way inside.
Finally, after fighting the mass of vegation that tangled the building, and drawing scratches from various thorns, and basically fumbling in the darkness, I found an old door, long ago knocked loose from it’s hinges and sitting in a small heap on the old lobby floor.
Though I should have been blind once I went from the outside, which at least had the light of the moon, to inside the pool house, which would have nothing at all, I was in no way unsure of where I was. I stood in the old lobby, feeling in now way unsure or afraid in the darkness. That stirring in my heart began to quicken and my heart beat raced with anticipation.
Then I saw a light in the pool chamber. At first, nothing more than pinpricks in the shadows, slight tendrils of luminescience. But it grew, and it seemed to know I was there, indeed, seemed to search me out, to call out to me. I followed.
The light was white, hot and bright, shone with even more intesity than the noon day sun in the depths of sweltering August. Yet it didn’t sting my eyes; it was soft as satin. I stepped over the threshold into the main pool chamber.
The walls were painted with murals of laughing and playing children that were know faded almost to outlines, like they were cave art from some ancient tribe. Deck tables and chairs were casted about helter skelter. Yet the water, which I would have expected to be dark and fetid, was crystal clear and clean. I wondered for a moment, before, finally, I saw here.
She sat in the shallow end of the pool, combing her long obsidian hair, not a care in the world. Those dark tresses flowed down over her shoulders, covering her breasts, and shading her eyes. She had big, almond eyes the color of tropical seas. She looked like Liyin, the Chinese girl whose family had come to our town last school year. That wasn’t the biggest surprise though.
Under the water, and below her waist, she had a beautiful fish tail whose scales glittered in the lights like precious jewels. She absentmindedly flipped it’s fin in and out of the water while she continued to comb her silken hair. I could only stand there, enraptured by here, by the very miracle of what she was. I knew it was her who had brought me here.
Finally, she stopped combing her hair, and lay down he brush on the poolside. Then she smoothed back her hair from her face, and she fixed me with those beautiful eyes, and smiled at me. I felt fire and love and lust pour from my heart and fill my senses. I felt as if the heart of the universe were within her, as if the mind of all things were looking right into me. I wanted to tear my eyes away from her gaze, but I couldn’t bear to look away.
“Please, come to me.” She said.
I began to walk around the edge of the pool to her, my legs unsteady and shaking, my heart sore with emotion. She never looked away from me as I made my way to her. Her smile made me giddy, like a little boy around his first crush, whom he would always worship above all others that came after.
I dropped into the water, which was warm and soothing, not caring that I was getting my clothes wet and that sneaking back in I’d to explain how they’d gotten wet when they were found in the morning. Right then I didn’t give a damn about what would come after tonight, I cared only that I was here, now, with this amazing creature.
I sat down across from her, still mesmirized and awe struck. Under the water she took my hand in hers.
“Are you Liyin?” I asked.
“Yes.” She replied.
“You called me here?”
“Because you love me.”
It was true, I did love her. My heart ached just to look at her, whether stealing a glance at her during class, or watching her walk down the halls, or sitting by herself at lunch, as I tried to get my nerve up to go sit beside her.
I saw everyday her sweetness and kindness, the ways she would go out of her way to help someone or to say something to someone who was obviously struggling through something. I saw how she radiated love like a star radiated light, and how it reached all whom it shone upon.
And I knew as I sat before her that she knew all I was thinking, all that I felt, all that was in me. I felt as if I were naked before god.
“I love you.” I said.
She squeezed my hand tight in hers.
“That’s what I need. I need love to survive. I’m far from the home I was
driven from in the depths of the China Sea. I’m far now from any sea at all. I can
still be immortal if you freely give your heart to me.”
She moved in close to me. We closed our eyes. She kissed me softly, and I freely gave myself to her, gave her everything she could ever require of me. She embraced me tightly, and pulled me beneath the water.
I saw kingdoms on the bottom of the ocean, were no sunlight ever came. Kingdoms of tall crystaline spires that shone with that satin light. I saw the dreams of the depths and all that lived in the sea. I saw Liyin, a queen of her people, and I saw it all go wrong.
I felt all the nameless history of her immortal race flow through me and I saw every star named in the sky and I heard the secret of the moon. I felt Liyin’s arms around me carrying me through eternity.
And as she carried me back to the surface of the water I knew the price I
would pay would be that this night would become, in memory, a splinter in my heart, a perfect moment never found again. I would love other women, and I’d live others lives, but I would always belong to Liyin and eternity.
She gave me one last kiss, and then there was darkness.
I awoke in my bedroom, dry, my head spinning with visions already fading from my mind. I still felt the wild and giddy warmth in my chest. I still felt the love she had given me, and all that she had taken.
I stared into the darkness, knowing I would not sleep.