June 30, 2015

Mermaid 49

“She’s telling the truth. She’s definitely not from a lake. She didn’t know they freeze over.”
“Not all of them do,” Neville pointed out. “Looking at her though, she is rather green, isn’t she?”
Cordelia looked down at herself. Was there something wrong with her color?”
“Not terribly, but yet. Chara was green.” Now they were really eyeing her up.
“Look. I just want to find my mother. May I stay the night, to rest, and then I’ll go.”
Levi swam over to her, making circles around her neck the way she had done with her father when she was tiny. “I like her, Mom. Don’t make her go. She’s… salty.”
“She is,” Dylan agreed. “Especially when she gets upset like this.”
“I’m not upset,” she snapped back, but there were tears in her eyes.
The two merfolk came closer, sniffing the water. “That is so strange,” Vera murmured.
“Dylan, can you promise she doesn’t bring a sickness?” Neville asked.
“I haven’t gotten sick,” he told them.
“Very well, then you can rest here."

June 26, 2015

Mermaid 48

“Hello. Are your parents here?” Cordelia asked.
“A baby? We almost never have them, he told Cordelia. “It’s hard to find a place large enough for a family. I’m one of the youngest… well, I was.”
“Mom! Dad! Over here.” The tiny merman was very excited and kept circling to be sure they were following.
“Levi, what are you getting into?” a mermaid asked, swimming toward them. “Oh, visitors.” She turned and called down the lake. “Neville, we have guests.” She came closer and touched her tail to Dylan’s and Cordelia’s. “I’m Vera. Who are you?”
“I’m Dylan. I’m in the lake downstream from Chara.”
The merman who approached frowned. “Chara is gone.”
Vera clarified. “Her lake has corrupted her.”
“We know,” Cordelia said. “I put her into the river so she didn’t stay any longer in her lake.”
“And who are you to kill one of us?” Neville asked.
“I’m from the saltwater. I’m looking for my mother, Lita.”
“No one lives in the saltwater,” Vera said.
“I do,” she said in defiance. No one believed her. “My father lives in the ocean and my mother in the mountain water. I can swim in both.”

June 23, 2015

Mermaid 47

Cordelia tried very hard to understand what Dylan was telling her. The ice would cover the surface and stop it from mixing with the rest of the lake.
She twitched as realization struck. “The ice covers the entire surface?” Nothing like that happened in the ocean. There was too much surface. A lake was smaller, so maybe that was possible. And she thought the banks were closing in on her before. Imagine if there was no surface either.
“Yep. Sometimes it gets so hard to breathe that we kill some of our fish.”
Cordelia didn’t say anything else, just kept pace with Dylan, heading to the reeds. She didn’t know she was hungry until she saw him munching. She grabbed the first plant at hand, chewing mechanically.
“Who’s there? Who’s there?” A tiny figure came darting toward them. Cordelia thought it was a fish until he got close enough for her to make out his tiny arms and face.

June 19, 2015

Mermaid 46

Cordelia grabbed his hands, swinging him in a circle. “So you’ll come with me? My mother will be at this gathering, right?”
“Yeah, probably. We’ll have to be careful though.”
“Some of the lakes are still frozen. We can’t stop at those ones.”
“Why not?”
“What do you mean, why not? We’ll run out of oxygen.”
Cordelia’s brow furrowed. She didn’t understand that word, but it was like the word for breathing. “Oxygen,” she echoed.
“Yeah, from the surface. The ice means the water doesn’t mix.”
“Ice.” She knew that word though she’d only seen it once when her father took her with him up the coast. That was where she had first seen walruses. The whitish substance was hard, but melted away.

June 16, 2015

Mermaid 45

“No wonder we stick to our own lakes.”
Cordelia floated above him, laughing. “That was nothing. I swam a lot longer to find your lake, and I didn’t have… whatever it was that we ate.”
“Arum,” he told her. “Well, I guess you’re a better swimmer than me. Maybe you don’t need my help.”
Cordelia immediately regretted teasing him. “No! I need you. You’re the first merman I’ve seen in days.”
He shrugged. “It’s been months since I saw Chara last. What’s wrong with that?”
Cordelia gaped. She knew they kept to their own lakes but, “You’re always alone?”
“Unless you have a mate and a big enough lake.” He stirred from the bottom. “This one might have a pair.”
“But how do you find mates if you never see one another?”
“It’s not that we never meet. Every spring we follow the salmon and meet in the mountains to celebrate the thaw.” He turned thoughtful. “I actually won’t be long now until folk start making their way. The river is high and the bears are awake. You might be saving me a trip.”
Cordelia didn’t understand, watching Dylan swim in slow circles. “Well, I’m going upriver soon anyway. Why not go now?”

June 12, 2015

Mermaid 44

“What did you do? She’ll die in the salt water.”
“Isn’t that better than living in that?” She pointed to the poisoned lake. “I don’t know what the humans dumped, but no merfolk can live here anymore.”
Dylan’s blue eyes were still angry. “You killed her.”
“Maybe not,” Cordelia said, trying to find some hope. “Maybe she’ll recover before she gets that far.”
“Dylan shook his head. “I’m going back to my lake.”
“Wait!” she shouted, twisting to block the lake’s outlet. “I need to find my mother. Take me to the next lake? Please?” she begged, grabbing his shoulders.
“One more,” he said. “Let’s go. I don’t want to eat or sleep here.”
Cordelia agreed whole-heartedly. Together they continued upstream.
Dylan also found the next lake outlet. He darted in and she circled to follow. The lake was deep and dark blue. The only plants were found around the edges. Dylan dropped like a stone, stretching out on the lake bed.

June 9, 2015

Mermaid 43

Although the reeds were thick, their smooth tails didn’t catch in them. Cordelia’s hair got pulled, but that didn’t really slow her down. So when something grabbed her, she screamed.
He whipped around. “Get off her!” he shouted, swinging at the creature that held her. Dylan and the mermaid tumbled through the reeds.
Cordelia followed them and grabbed the mermaid by her waist, trying to pull her off Dylan.
“Food!” she shrieked, her voice painful to their ears. “Food!”
Cordelia wrestled her out of the reeds where they could see her properly. Her tail and skin were mottled blue, but green and black splotches marred both. Her hair wasn’t blue or brown but a sickly yellow-green.
“Pollution,” Cordelia said with scorn.
“Chara?” Dylan asked, approaching
Cordelia hadn’t let go, which was good when Chara tried to lunge at Dylan and bite.
Cordelia didn’t give her another chance. She pulled Chara into the river and let the current wash her away.

June 5, 2015

Mermaid 42

As soon as they were in the lake, both Dylan and Cordelia sand, resting after the hard push to get here. Cordelia didn’t rest long.
“Something’s wrong.”
Dylan continued to flick his tail, stretching it. “Salt?” he asked, fearful.
Cordelia took a big gulp of water. “No, not salt. Something else.”
“We should find Chara,” Dylan said, restless.
“You feel it too, don’t you?” she asked.
“Yeah, there’s something…” He swam toward the opposite side of the lake. In no time, they were winding through reeds.
“Her lake is a lot smaller than yours,” Cordelia said.
“No, it’s not,” Dylan argued. “At least, it wasn’t. There weren’t this many reeds the last time I was here.”

June 2, 2015

Mermaid 41

Cordelia swam in circles, waiting for Dylan. He was working through the reeds at this end of the lake.
“Here,” he said, passing her yellow-green leaves.
“Uh, thanks.” He hadn’t told her what he was doing.
He crammed on in his mouth, so she copied. The leaves tasted strange and were fleshier than she expected. It popped and squished in her mouth.

As soon as she swallowed, her whole body woke up. The lingering ache in her tail from fighting the current day after day melted away. She felt like she could swim forever.
“There,” Dylan said. “Let’s go.”
They swam the length of his lake in no time and the fish swimming upstream led her. “Up!”
“Stupid salmon,” Dylan complained as several bumped him on their way. “Chara’s lake isn’t far.” He swam straight into the current as she had in the beginning. It was still very strong and Cordelia used Drake’s style of navigating through dips and rises to avoid the worst of the rapids.
She shot past Dylan in no time and he followed her. She swam a little ways, but when Dylan didn’t pass, she ducked into one of the pockets on the bank to let him lead again.
He tried to stop with her, but there wasn’t enough room. He put his head into the current and pushed upstream. He had started dodging, though and Cordelia did as well, though she was better at it.
She passed Dylan twice more, letting herself be dragged back. When he darted to the right, Cordelia almost missed the turn.