A/N: We had to write alternate beginnings--one opening with description and the other with dialogue. This aren't really necessary for the story, but I had them so here they are.
"Say what?" If it wasn't for the sound of my own voice echoing in my head, I would have thought that something was wrong with the connection between my brain and ears. She doesn't joke much, but when she does her jokes are either little-kid-simple or impossible-to-understand type jokes. While this seemed like something a little kid might say, and it was definitely something I wasn't understanding, she didn't have that smiling tugging at her lips.
"I'm a mermaid."
Her slowly spoken words snapped me out of my reverie. Rolling my eyes, I let my voice drip with ice, "I heard you the first time." Yet, somehow, I couldn't bring my dirt brown eyes to meet her cerulean eyes, and my chin met my neck instead. With the moonlight shinning, I could just barely make out her face, and probably only because Sera was about 6 inches away from my face. Wait… 6 inches… our rock was only so big… she must be sitting on the other edge—the farthest away from me she can get without being away from me. I let this though run over me like the water from a shower. It started out hot, and relaxed me away from other thoughts with its single-mind repetition, and slowly became cold, making me have to remember there was a reason she was putting distance between us and she was probably thinking a lot more than I was.
I don't know how much time passed before I managed to raise my head, but not my eyes. I know I started off looking down due to embarrassment at my outburst, but I don't know if that was what kept my head down or if it was, perhaps, fear. Harsh words, whether meant or not, can hurt feelings. But now I could see her legs in her black jeans shivering. No. Shaking. Quivering.
I remembered when I first met her. For three months, she wore nothing but skirts. Said she couldn't bear to separate her legs in those two leg holes. That seemed to make sense now; a mermaid wouldn't be used to two legs that didn't move as one. I felt maniacal laughter bubbling in my throat. I tried to hold it in, for fear of hurting her feelings, but ended up choking on it.
I could hear her stiffen; well not her, but her clothes move as she stiffened. And that was when my eyes met hers again.
Seeing those eyes, glimmering, was water to my flame and I became somber again. "Well, that was straight to the point," I rambled, trying to fill the silence. My voice sounded strained to me and must have to her as well.
"So it was." Her tone sounded so cautious. It was as though her voice was walking over glass and trying to find the best path. It hurt me to think that I could cause her to feel this way.
I let my gaze fall to the grass that was way too green for winter. Looking at that grass, I felt rejuvenated. So much so, that my voice didn't waver with uncertainty. "No 'do you like mermaids?' or 'what would you do if your girlfriend was a mermaid' type questions to lessen the blow?" To her, my lack of uncertainty must have sounded cold and calculating. I heard a slight sniffling noise and realized her eyes were glimmering due to tears. But she must have gotten over them fast because a strong hand grabbed my chin and turned it to face her own. But my eyes stayed focused on that hand. I teased her about sunbathing on the beach and that's why she is so tan. Maybe she did get her tan from sunbathing, but on a rock in the middle of… some… water-thing…
Oh, I think my brain was starting to shut itself off. Impatient hands jerked my head, quickly left and the back to the center, and I was startled into staring into her eyes.
"Do you want me to explain the details, or do you want me to leave and never talk to you again?"
I wondered if she really was waiting for me to look at her, or for her to be able to speak those words. Of course, I know, even with my confused mental state, that only one answer would satisfy me. "Explanation please." Although, I don't really know what she'll be explaining. Is she only a mermaid on Mondays, or something? It's not that hard to follow.
She stood up and began to pace as she talked
Apparently when she said explain the details, she didn't mean about the fact that she was a mermaid. She meant about merfolk and their culture and so on. I was listening intently, watching her every move, as if she was a teacher lecturing and I was the over-eager student in the first row. "—and so I will return home in the summer—"
"Wooooh. Return home?" I found myself interrupting before I had made a conscious decision to do so. She did give me a glare for interrupting, but the smoldering-like look of her eyes was something I could not place just as I could not see what I did to deserve it. For probably the millionth time today, I found myself looking away from her eyes.
"Yes. I just explained where I came from. I will return there in the summer. As in, I will leave this town and venture to the general area of where I was born." She was clearly vexed, so I backtracked, apologized, and asked her to continue. And continue she did. I listened to what she said, but I realized I was merely hearing and remembering, not truly comprehending. I managed to place the reason for her glare—after looking back at what she said, I now know she had just explained about home and the sentence I caught was merely a closing sentence. But as much as I would try, and not matter how many times she moved my chin so my eyes met hers, I could not get past "return home." Soon she was done. A fact I only realized because she stopped pacing. She stood still.
Too still. Can you die standing up and rigor mortis set in before you fall? Well that's a possible negative realistic thought—in other words, a worry. But I've gotten so used to worrying I knew what it looked like, and it worrying looked exactly how Sera is looking. So the tables turn, and the realistic comforts the positive.
I went to stand, but my legs after being unused for so long have different ideas. I fell on my knees with a soft thump. She swerved her head to me and I saw no glistening of tears. Good; one thing at a time.
"Oh, Lucas," she choked out through a sob, but did not move a step closer. She peered at my face, but by now it was too dark for me to make out much. Apparently, I missed the part about mermaids having night vision. "I can see you need to think about this. Please call me with your decision."
Decision? What is there to decide? Decision? I lower my head to see if I can find a place to place my hands so that I can stand and move to her side. But when I look up again, she is already gone. Decision—break-up or make it work? Oh, great. Stuck in the forest with my thoughts I can't see much with the moonlight, and wish again that I had brought flashlights. The dark thoughts of what could happen dance across my mind; I can feel the fear rising within me. The fear that I dispel with a thought of her.
But no more of the negatives of reality. This spot in the forest is our special spot. The details I need to consider will be mostly of a sad nature or of a completely confusing nature. Neither of which are feelings or memories I want associated with this place, but I can't bring myself to leave. I can, however, bring myself to stand. I walk the five paces forward that bring me to the cliff's edge. It doesn't overlook anything special—just some hibernating trees that dwarf the roofs, but not the chimneys that jut four feet above the roofs, of the houses of the town's few residents. The dead-like brown looks so out of place with the black and sand colors of the roofs. Just as a mermaid must stand out from humans.
My girlfriend is a mermaid.
Let's look at the positive side of things: I won't drown if I go out with her…provided she isn't that type of being that likes to down others at sea—I'm not up on my fantasy/mythology. Now onto the negative: She has a TAIL!
Still, I don't think that would really put a damper on our relationship—although drowning me would hamper it—. I can see that I haven't thought about anything she said. I just sort of absorbed it. So, now I walk back over to the rock and sit facing the cliff's edge. The trees part just enough for whoever is sitting on the rock to have a clear view. We used to come up here and hang out.
Now she is leaving. Well, not yet. She isn't leaving until summer. A lot can happen between now and then. Winter to summer is a long time.; a long enough time for any couple to break-up normally; long enough for me to no longer feel this way for her; long enough for her to no longer feel this way for me; long enough for just about anything.
As a mermaid, she'll never be able to do many things with me. She needs to stay near water. We can't go to the desert and spend long periods of time there. I won't be able to go to Egypt exploring with my wife, without finding nearby pools on a daily basis. She'll always feel awkward on two legs. She won't enter dance competitions with me. She won't ride a horse with me—or any other animal for that matter. I could never get a pet fish, or anything that eats fish, with her.
I could never spend family dinners with her family. I could never introduce my parents to her parents. I couldn't go to her real house to take her on a date, unless I was wearing scuba gear. I couldn't hold a normal conversation with her family. Could I even meet her family if they weren't visiting me on land? I couldn't take kids to—would we even be able to have kids? How do you explain that to kids? How do you explain half-merfolk kids to others?
I could never talk about her openly and fully without being laughed at. I could never get real good advice, because no one could ever understand everything. What if there are things other merfolk can do that I can't? What if she decides she wants someone like her? What if she won't give up the sea to stay on land with me? This could be an elaborate break-up. What if she changes her mind about being a landlubber one day? She could resent me forever.
What if she doesn't come back after the summer?
Okay, deep breath. Look at the sky. Take comfort in it. The sky never appears to be the same color, but it always is the same thing. Sera is still the same person that she was before. Sera is still Sera. She still tells the jokes that make me laugh. She still knows when I need a hug and when to be left alone. She still knows all the buttons to press. She knows me.
The sky is a deep blue, dotted with stars tonight. Yesterday it was velvet black, sprinkled with stars. The next day—who knows? Still it is the sky. Sera is Sera. Yesterday, she was human—or at least so I thought. Today she is merfolk.
My feelings are still my feelings.
Well, you can't live life without taking risks.
I move then to find my phone, but the sudden slight observation of the darkness around me makes my hand pause but helps my thoughts continue.
Then again, there are some risks that are just too great to take. Heartaches can last a long time.
Okay, so here goes nothing. (That's a stupid phrase and I shouldn't have even thought that). Here goes everything. Riding on a single phone call.
So I look around, and now I can see that I am in a forest at about four something in the morning all alone. But "our spot" keeps me comforted as I pull out my cell phone and wait as it rings.
"Sera, I think that I've finished thinking for now. Please just let me say everything I have to, before you say anything. I didn't understand what you meant when you were talking. I'm not a fool to think that love conquers all—hey, stop laughing. I'm not done—I know that I think you know that I try to be realistic and I know a lot of negatives. We couldn't ever be normal. I know there are many things that we couldn't do; thing that I have grown-up imagining myself doing—are you crying?—. I'm drawing this out too much; I wish now I had read some more fantasy so I would know how to do this—please don't cry—. Just… Look, you've taught me how to see the good side of the realistic view, but I've learned (very recently) that I have to accept both—really, I'm not trying to make you cry—and that's what I'm going to do. So let's be realistic. I can't promise you anything—please, I can't stand to hear you sob like that—more than I could yesterday—oh, so you stop when I'm just about done not when I'm trying to talk—. But I know that I'm not ending this relationship over a revelation."