I remember that summer. I remember it particularly well, actually. Not because the days had been especially hot, or because the sea was especially beautiful, but because for the first time, I had grown brave enough to trust.
As I pen these words, I remember things. The smell of the sand, the kiss of the waves, the way the summer heat felt on my skin. . . It all comes back to me as if it was yesterday. I remember things, fleeting notions of joy and happiness… things I had never felt before that summer. I pause, and run my fingers through my knotted hair, untangling my brown strands from my blue. I smile. The blue dye creates a lovely contrast with my natural brown locks. I bite my lip, contemplating my next thoughts, closing my eyes, hoping to see more flashbacks.
Oh, the joy. I had finally trusted, and it had felt wonderful.
But, enough of that.
I replay the events in my mind, scratching them into the paper as they occur to me. I stare at them, praying they will make sense to a soul besides mine. I tap my pen on the paper impatiently, staring out the window of my tiny, whitewashed room. The beach calls to me, but I can not leave- I must not. The boxes are piled high around me- I know time is running out. I can swim later- for now, I must record this. I can not allow myself to forget that summer.
I look back at my paper, then back at the beach. Blinking in the shaft of sunlight that is pouring through my window, I can almost see the memories unfold before my eyes.
We had met in the most un-romantic way. Yes, this is a story about a boy. I feel this one deserved my love, for he managed to change my life, and for that, he lives on in my heart long after our romance ended. I had met him while grocery shopping. We had an interaction based around the last half-gallon of mint chocolate chip ice cream. It is my favorite kind, therefore I was not willing to surrender the battle so easily. He smiled, and suggested we share it. I declined. He purchased it, and I went to search another store.
One week later, we met again at the cinema. He had his arm around some girl with a rose tattoo on her neck. He smiled and nodded at me, 'Mint-chocolate-chip, right?' I told him I did not know what he was talking about. He waved and left with the tattooed girl into their choice of movie. My friend smirked at me, asking why he called me that, and I just shook my head.
The third time I ran into him, he asked for my number. 'We see each other often enough,' he said. 'We may as well control it.' I smiled politely but refused, saying our sightings were coincidence and nothing more. I left, and he followed me out to my car. 'What do you want?' I asked him.
He said he wanted to spend time with me, that he believed we were meant to meet.
I laughed at him. 'Nothing is 'meant' to occur,'
'Fine,' he grinned with a cocky grin. 'A bet. If meet again, I win, and we go out on a date. If we don't you're right.' he held up his hands. 'And nothing is meant to happen.'
I shook his hand. 'You're on.' I did not give him a chance to reply. I simply turned and walked away.
Three months went by and I did not see him. I let him fade from my mind, even though at first I had avoided any place I had previously run into him. I began to breath easily again, unsure as to why I had taken such a strong dislike to him in the first place.
I was in the bookstore one day, combing through the old books. I have always loved the scent of old books… it is the scent of glorious tales come to life. I opened one, a well loved original edition of The Little Mermaid, and breathed in deeply. Before I could exhale, I heard an all-too-familiar voice say, 'I think you owe me your number.'
I slammed the book shut. Little particles of light danced in the air in front of me. 'You.'
I remember being infuriated. I remember being angry beyond belief. I remember being… oddly delighted. My lips curl into a smile. I remember it so fondly.
My anger had seemed to be a joke to him, which had only made me angrier. 'What is it about me that sets you off, Mint Chip?' I sucked in my breath and turned to walk away. 'Ah, ah ah. We had a deal.'
Grumbling, I pulled a worn piece of paper from my pocket and scribbled my number onto it, half hoping my scrawling was too illegible for him to decipher. He grinned and said, 'I'll call you tonight.' before leaving as soon as he had arrived.
My phone rang at six, and again at seven; he asked to meet me at eight, and despite my efforts to say no, he arrived at my home promptly at eight-ten. Agitated, I asked him how he knew where I lived. He told me had once known my brother and recognized me as the little sister all grown up. I did not reply. I had not heard from my brother for three or four years. He had met a girl in the city, and run away with her. Last I heard, they had married and moved to America. I did not recall this friend of his, however. I asked if he remembered my name. 'Yes,' he stated, 'But I prefer to call you Mint-Chip.'
'Please don't. I have a name.'
He smiled. 'Mint it is, then.'
He drove me to the beach- this was before I lived on the shore- and we got out to a calm starlit night. Something in me eased; I was always more relaxed around the sea. It calmed me and I began to lose my steely shell. 'If I am Mint, what does that make you?'
'You'll find out,' he answered.
That was June. We continued to meet many times over the course of the coming weeks, and each time, I softened a little more. I smiled more often, and began to let him in. I had never had many friends, and since my brother had vanished, I had an even less desire to meet new people. I always assumed I would get hurt. So, I remained with my closest friends: the sea, old books, and a hot cup of tea, sweetened with two and a half spoonfulls of sugar. Slowly, he made his way onto that exclusive list.
Late August, he took me on the pier in the moonlight and kissed me for the first time. I felt my cheeks flush red at the sensation of his lips against mine, his bright blue eyes fired up with pleasure. He pulled me closer and kissed me again, one hand tangled in my hair and the other wrapped around my waist, his body pressed against mine. I squeaked awkwardly and moved back. His eyes, those beautiful blue eyes, questioned me. 'I am sorry,' I explained. 'This is quite new to me.' He carefully cradled me, pulling me back into him and tenderly kissed me again. This time, I leaned into it, allowing my lips to dance the sensual dance his had begun. My hand traveled down to his at my waist, and I laced my fingers with his. I breathed out softly, letting our breaths mingle. I will never forget the way his eyes smiled at me that night, nor the little nervous laugh he let out when I had let my fingers brush his cheek with the slightest of touches.
Mid-November, he told me he loved me. I did not return his feelings quite yet, but I told him I thought I could love him in time. He remained patient.
Fall turned to winter. I remember spending many snowy nights with him. Some we spent watching movies. Others were spent with him listening to me read from my favorite books. He said he had never had a thirst for words before me.
As I write this, I pause to wipe away a tear. Those nights are my most precious memories.
I remember one such night, my favorite memory. He had taken the book from me, lowering it without breaking eye contact, a soft smile playing on his lips. 'You love me,' he had said, the light from te fire dancing on his face. My heart beat increased; I asked him to repeat what he had said. 'You. Love. Me.' I blushed, something I had never been prone to before nights like these. 'I'm right, aren't I?' he said, laying back against me, snuggling against my warm body.
I was not sure of when it had happened. But at some point, my heart had broken its barriers and I managed to lose my heart to him. 'Yes,' I whispered, 'You are.'
Winter warmed into spring. We had gotten closer, almost inseparable. He told me his secrets, and I began to reveal mine. It was a slow process- he trusted me more than I trusted him. Little by little, he earned my trust. I told him silly secrets, like childhood dreams and of my fascination with the sea. 'It just… calls to me,' I had said. I told him of my fears, and once I felt he had earned it, my more serious ones. 'I'm deathly afraid of cats.'
'Cats?' he chuckled, lightly running his fingertips across my arms as I lay cuddling with him on the dock.
'Yes.' I sat up. 'Look at my arms.' I showed him a scar on my upper right arm, a deep gash that had made an ugly scar. 'My neighbor's cat attacked me when I was seven. I can't go near the creatures!'
He kissed it. 'It's beautiful, Mint.' I smiled and placed my fingers over it as if to seal in the kiss. It sent a small thrill through my body.
'What are you afraid of?' I asked.
'At this point, I feel I could give the cliché 'losing you', and while that is true' -he kissed me again- 'I am really only afraid of, well, nothing.'
'Nothing?' I found that hard to believe. 'Not heights, or wolves, or death?'
'I love wolves,' he answered. 'And while I am not particularly fond of falling from said heights, I consider death to be an adventure.'
'Some adventure.' I stopped playing with his hair to cross my arms. 'I wouldn't want that one.'
He smiled at me and guided my hand to his, leaving it on his bare chest. 'May you never have to find it.'
'I hope not!' I took a moment to savor the feeling of his heartbeat, and then had a spark of an idea. I twisted suddenly, and he fell into the water. He rose, spurting water from his mouth, the rest pouring off of his hair and over his torso. His jeans were soaked to the skin. I laughed, I laughed harder than I ever had. He looked angry, but ran his fingers through his hair, pulling the long locks out of his eyes and I could see that they were smiling. He smirked at me and I gave a playful shriek. He drove his hand into the water attempting to splash me. The cold drops hit my skin but I remained dry enough. I said his name in a mock angry tone, laughing all the while. He came closer to the dock, ready to wrap his muscled arms around me and pull me in with him. I stood just out of arms reach, teasing him. He grinned and lunged towards me. I took off running. He chased me, but did not make it to shore fast enough. I continued to tease him, playfully locking myself in his car while he stood outside until he stopped dripping. His jeans clung to his body. He knocked on the windshield. I deemed him dry enough, and unlocked the doors. He entered the car, still smirking. 'That was not very nice,' were the last words he said before he kissed me hard, right on my mouth. I wrapped my hands around his neck and kissed him right back, smiling all the while.
July came. By then, he had earned my trust. How, exactly? To this day, I am not sure. I just know that the made me feel safe. He gave me something to trust, to believe in. I knew I could count on him, and that was more than I had ever had. I heavily considered telling him my secret, and in the end, I favored the choice. It was the only way for him to know he had me completely.
The third week of July, we met on the dock once again. He had prepared a picnic lunch, complete with a promise to not throw me in the water. Midway through the meal, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a thin silver ring with a sapphire embedded into it. I looked up in surprise. He smiled and nodded. I felt joy burst through me. I had never dreamed this would happen to me. 'Before you say anything,' he began, 'There is something you need to know.' He went on to tell me how he had been feeling lost lately. He had accepted an invitation to church with a friend, and found a joy he had never thought possible in Jesus. 'I've given him my life,' he said, 'You tell me you've heard a call from the sea. I've heard him calling my name. I just never knew it until now.'
I cupped his face in my hands. 'If it makes you happy, it makes me happy. I love you- all of you.'
His grin grew bigger. He was about to slip the delicate ring on my finger when I interrupted him. 'Wait.' He gave me a quizzical look. I began to tremble. He asked me what was bothering me; I could see the worry in his eyes. 'Wait,' I said. I stood. 'Close your eyes.'
He obliged, and I made sure he was not peeking. I stripped off my pants, then my shirt, then my bra and panties. I stood on the dock, rubbing my arms, hugging them to my chest, thankful it was a warm day. I took a deep breath and dove into the sea.
I heard him call my name just before I hit the water. Submerged, I looked up at him. He looked off of the dock , watching the water swirl around me with a curious expression. I pushed myself to the surface. 'Now you know.'
I can still feel every emotion as strongly as if I was trapped in that moment for eternity. I remember the way my heart stopped and my breathing did as well. I was almost afraid to exhale, for I knew if I did, then he might respond. It was silly, but I was terrified. I had never showed anyone before. I can see the moment as if it had burned itself into my mind's eye.
I had breathed very, very slowly, watching his eyes take in my scaly skin, my blue-green tail, my - me. My heartbeat roared in my ears. I trembled in the water, swishing my tail to stay at the surface.
His hand was pressed to his mouth. He was bewildered. 'I don't know what to say,' he mumbled. 'Um…'
'I'm sorry.' I said hurriedly. 'I'm sorry. I should not have told you. I should have kept it secret- I-'
He tore off his shirt and jumped off the dock into the water. He reached for me. He pushed my long hair behind me ears and touched my face gingerly. 'I knew there was something different about you, Mint.' he said, stealing another look at my shiny tail . His hands dropped to my bare waist, to my scaly hips, to all of the scales below. 'I did not think sirens existed.' I bit my lip. I loved the way his hands felt on me. 'Or mermaids- whichever you prefer.'
'Just tell me what you're really thinking.' I hissed.
He swallowed. 'I need to get used to it.'
I looked down. 'I understand.'
He left the water and climbed onto the dock. He began to pack up the picnic, placing things in the basket. I wanted to leave- I could feel my heart breaking. I refused to cry though, not in front of him. Before he picked up the basket, he stopped. He pulled the ring from his pocket and examined it. Staring at it with a half smile he jumped back into the water. My breath halted as he lowered himself so we were eye to eye, pressing against me. My heart leapt, catching in my throat. I had been so afraid he was going to leave- I had expected the worse.
He didn't let any space come between us as he reached for my right hand. He placed the ring on my finger, whispering 'If you'll still have me.'
Of course I would. He was it for me. I wrapped my tail around his legs, ensuring he couldn't get away as he drew me near for a kiss, a kiss to celebrate.
As I write, I must stop again to blot my tears. It is getting hard now. I almost do not want to continue. I break for a moment, walking to my kitchen, past towers and towers of boxes, to get a glass of water. Upon returning, I notice the sun was getting high in the sky. I fidget, yearning to get to the sea. But I know, if I do not pen this now, I never will.
We had begun to make plans, slowly at first, then more quickly. I secretly looked at dresses, rows and rows of white on white, until I settled on a tea length blue green dress with a black ribbon to cinch the waist. I knew it was nontraditional, but I did not care. I settled on an updo with a few downward spirals for the big day, and a pair of soft blue heels. I purchased starfish earrings and a pearl necklace.
It was to be a small ceremony on a Saturday in the coming November, and I was very excited. I planned to write my vows inside the cover of an old book, reminiscent of the day it all had began. I found a tiny hair pin with a mint-chocolate-chip ice cream cone- I could not resist adding it to my outfit. I did not know much of what he did to prepare, but I imagine it was mush more manly.
Here, I pause once again to speak of my third love. My first was this man, second was the sea, and third was lightning. I love to watch the lighting in a storm. It strikes swiftly, igniting the inky blackness, landing in the ocean with a crash and a roar of thunder. It does not cause the ocean more than a heated ripple- but life is forever changed by those involved in the ripple. Those in the center- well, they are decimated.
Lightning struck exactly one month later.
I bite my pen. I do not know if I can do this-
When a mermaid fully gives her heart to a man, they are bonded. There is an unspoken connection between their hearts and it is something mortals can not fathom. It is rare and almost never a mermaid finds her other half in a mortal, and when she does, the bond can never be severed.
I had been coming home one evening when I felt a pain so intense I nearly blacked out. I fell flat on my face, knowing instinctively something was very wrong. I ran home and called him, but he was not there. I felt my body ache as it had never ached before, a pain that called my bones to smash and break, and knives to cut my skin and sever it from the broken bones. I cried out. For a long time after, I remember nothing.
I remember the hospital. I remember the doctors saying I appeared to be just fine. I remember feeling nothing- no pain, no ache- just a dead emptiness.
'Where is he?' I asked softly, afraid of the answer. I remember the doctor's anxious looks. Each exchanged one with another.
'He is gone.'
I felt pain like never before. I could see it then, as if I was there. In a way, I had been. He had stepped off of the curb, into what seemed to be an empty street. Half way across, a drunk driver sped into his path, swerved, and hit him full on. His last thoughts were of me, of where he wanted to take me that night. I can hear them, his thoughts. I can hear the broken 'Mint.' I can hear 'Love' and 'mine,' and 'don't forget me' as if he knew - that - that it would be the end. His broken body laid in a pool of blood. Sirens, screaming ambulance sirens, then nothing. My heart shattered and snapped, dying with him. 'No!' I begged no one in particular. 'No! No… no!'
In that one bolt of lightning, everything had changed. Most did not feel the ripple, but I knew I had been a victim of decimation. My world was gone, taken from me by a cruel mistake of fate.
Tears are flowing freely now. My paper is damp. The hard part is over. The rest of the story is not so difficult for me. I pen the rest of the memories: I did go into a depression when he passed not leaving the sea for days. Then, I remembered what he said about feeling lost, and wandered into a church one Sunday morning. The people there were kind. They did not press me into revealing my story, but simply prayed for me, that God would give me peace. I went more and more often, beginning to understand what he had meant about finding God. I still do not fully believe, but I am starting to. I know I am drawn there for a reason.
I still wear the ring, and on my neck I have a locket carved from pearl, sealed in a way only a mermaid knows how. One side has a photo of him. My favorite. His blue eyes smile in that photo, and his mouth is in his most attractive grin. The other half has my other favorite: we are on a beach, kissing. His shirt is blowing in the wind, and I am in my true form. It is a beautiful photograph and I cherish it. It is my way of keeping him, of keeping us, in water and on land.
I am selling my house, but I am not buying a new one. I am moving, though, Away from the beach and the memories. I have decided not to live among mortals any more. I am returning - returning to the sea.
Time passes. Things have changed. I stand at the shore. My house is sold. My clothes are donated. I am naked, save for my ring and pearl locket. I take one last look at my beach and once again see us, my love and his Mint Chocolate Chip- his Mint. I kiss the ring and wrap the necklace in my fingers. I have buried my tale in the sand, with the hopes someone will find it one day. I inhale deeply, thanking the God I am starting to believe in for the man who changed me, and in many ways, saved me. I walk towards the sea and plunge into the comforting cold waves, intending to never surface again.