The cold wind whipped my long blonde hair away from my face, shivering, I pulled my denim jacket closer to my body. Waves lapped up against the side of small fishing boat as I gazed out into the dark water. Eeriness enveloped me. I didn't know how to swim…so why was I out in the middle of the ocean,a boy of course.
I turned away from the water, to my rowdy 'friends'. Gavin was doing an elaborate dance, moving is arms around like an orangutan. I smiled at my crush's ridiculous moves and sat down next to Brian, Gavin's best friend. Rebecca, a girl from school I barely knew, sat down on Brian's lap and took another swig from her beer bottle. Instead of going to Senior Prom like normal teenagers, we ditched it to drink on Gavin's father's boat. Well Gavin ditched it, and me being his date. I ditched prom, too.
"Come dance with me Nicole" Before I could refuse Gavin pulls me up, spinning me into his arms. We sway back and forth to the music blasting from a small boom-box.
"Sorry about missing prom." He chuckled leaning into me.
"No, it's fine. This is fun. I'm glad you asked me." I leaned my head onto his chest as we slowed down our dancing, ignoring the rhythmic beats in the background.
"What made you ask me…?"I stopped talking as he rubbed his hands on my hips and then slowly crossed his arm behind my back pulling me even closer to him.
"Why did I ask you to prom? I always see you reading books during lunch; I thought I could show you that there is life outside of them…" He chuckled and then stared at my lips. "Or maybe it was because I think you're cute."
"You think I'm cute?" I said stunned that those words came out of his mouth. He nodded his head then slowly mended his lips with mine. This night was getting better and better. Gavin's lips were warm against my cold ones. I could taste beer on his tongue, the taste of it made me cringe a little, but I didn't care. I was finally kissing Gavin. Something I've dreamed of doing since freshmen year.
Rebecca's scream broke us apart, "There…There's something in the water."
Brian chuckled continuing to drink apparently ignoring his date's panic state.
"Maybe you should lay off the beers Rebecca" Gavin said sitting down next to Brian, grabbing another beer for himself. "Want one Nicole?" He asked shoving a beer at me. I glanced at Rebecca still leaning over the boat.
"Um… No, I'm fine." I was worried about Rebecca, in her state I didn't want her falling in. And judging by the lack of soberness on this boat, I would have to save her. That would be impossible.
Gavin grabbed my arm, "What I tell you about living a little?" He put the beer in my hand. Not wanting to argue about 'what living a little is and what it's not' I gladly took the beer and then leaned over the railing next to the still panicky Rebecca. I wrapped my arm through hers, in case she tried any funny business.
"So… Rebecca." I gently cooed at her, "What did you see?"
"You actually believe her?" I ignored Brian's laughter and his patronizing words. I kept looking at her, trying to convey that I would believe her.
"I don't know what I saw… it was a creature but too… fast." Her brow creased in frustration, and then she put her head in her hands. At her description of the 'creature' and looked out into the water but didn't see anything but darkness.
I gently rubbed her back, "Well… were safe on the boat. So let's stay on it. Okay?" I smiled at her then lead her back to sit next to Brian. She slumped against him. I would have thought she was passed out if I didn't see her smiling slightly.
"How come you haven't drinkin' the beer I gave you?" Gavin's accusing words startled me, his words slurring.
"I'm not thirsty" I said simply, putting the drink down on the makeshift table. Gavin stood up slowly, anger written on his face. He fiercely grabbed on to the bottle.
I backed up away from him, and didn't stop until my backside was up against the railing.
"But… I gave it… to you." He suddenly threw the bottle to ground, shattering it. My head was spinning. I've never seen Gavin like this. He was always happy and smiling at school but this intoxicated Gavin was scary.
Suddenly, I regretted following him on this boat. I should have stayed at prom and refused ditching it. Right now I could be jumping around to some lousy R&B songs instead of being stuck between what looked like two impending dooms.
Brian cheered when the bottle exploded and I fuel Gavin up more. Gavin started to walk towards me, his arms stretched out to grab me. Hopefully, he doesn't treat me like he did that beer bottle.
I tried to diffuse the situation, "I…I'll drink another one…whichever one you pick. I'll drink it." Gavin paused, contemplating what I said. I sighed, grateful for his change in demeanor. Just as I thought that it was over, he went into a fit of laughter.
"Why would I waste another beer on you?" He leered at me like I was dirt. "Your nothing to me…Brian…bet thirty dollars…that I could take your virginity." My head hurt at this news, I looked down at the water. Maybe jumping in would be better than listening to this. "You're not worth the hassle, though." Gavin's voice was closer than I expected his disgusting breath blew on my face. Unexpectedly, his hand went around my throat. I choked gripping onto his arm, trying to pull him off.
And as if the gods didn't hate me enough already, the boat hit something hard… or something hit it? The leverage of the now rocking boat gave me enough strength to pull Gavin's death grip off of me. I pushed Gavin away from me, but in doing so, it sent me falling backwards.
The water was strikingly cold. The first thought I had when I hit the water was that I didn't get enough breath before I fell. The desperate need for oxygen burned my lungs immediately. The second thought I had was that I was sinking. I thrashed about trying the swim to the surface. I could see the lights from the boat, but I wasn't going up, I was still descending. I was getting further and further away from the light.
Panicking, I kicked and tried to fight the urge to breathe. But the fight in me was dying. I watched the water above me, from the boat beams of light cut through the darkness. A dark figure cut out the light for a second, startling me. The only thing I recognized was the dorsal fin. It dominated the creature's body. Was it a shark? I had no clue.
I felt my back hit the sandy bottom of the ocean. Everything was calm, other than my hurting chest and the painful pressure in my ears. I started to see dots in my vision and I realized I was going to pass out from suffocation.
I saw the creature again, my eyes following it as it zigzagged in and out of my line of vision. All I could do was pray that I died before this thing had a chance to eat me alive. I stared up into the darkness. The lights from the boat were gone, all hope of being saved completely gone.
An arm went across my body. A hand gripping the back of my head, holding me still and then lips were on mine. In my deranged dying mind I believed this to be the kiss of death, I kissed the lips back. Suddenly, air was being blown into me. My desperate-for-air lungs immediately breathed it in. I felt life coming back to me.
Another arm went around my back lifting me close to a naked chest. Quicker than any human could swim, we were gliding through the ocean. I raised my arms and tightly wounded them across their shoulders. Looking up at the stars, I felt like we were flying but through the water.
I glanced down my saviors back, wondering how quick his feet must be moving for us to cut through the water at this speed. There weren't legs, just one great big fin covering from waist down, the same fin that I saw from the bottom of the ocean. Realizing what must have just saved me, I pushed away from it. When its grip didn't falter, I bit down hard on its shoulder causing it to cry out and let go of me. The sudden change in speed sent me into flip after flips. The creature grabbed my arm and hauled me to, what must be the surface.
The thing kept me afloat with one arm and used the other to keep us above water. I quickly tried to kick away from it but it held tight to me.
I finally look at its face which I assumed would be as terrifying as its body.
Astonished, I stared into shockingly blue eyes on a beautifully shaped face, so… human like. He was handsome. His dark hair was plastered to his head from the water. Dazed, I gazed at him, as he looked at me incredulously.
"I've never met a human as daft as you." His shook me around for good measure, and I let him ragdoll me around.
"You're… You're…" I couldn't say it, I just couldn't. I stared at the fin flicking about below us. I started to think I was going to pass out.
"Mermaid…!" I started to panic, looking around desperate to catch sight of the shoreline, but in the darkness I couldn't tell if I was looking deeper into the ocean or toward civilization.
"Technically, I'm a Merman. I don't know why humans call all of us 'maids'?" He said looking at me.
"I… I want to go home! Take me home!" I grabbed onto his shoulders, hyperventilating. "I can't… I don't know… how to…swim."
He slipped his arm around my back pulling me close. "Whoa, calm down. Everything's going to be fine. I won't let anything happen to you." He rubbed my back soothingly. I gradually waned off the panic attack, which rarely happen to me.
He slowly was wading in the water backwards pulling me with him.
"My name's Jakob. What's yours?"
"What a beautiful name." Jakob smiled at me. "How old are you?"
"Seventeen… it's almost my birthday. Next month, actually" Putting all my trust in Jakob in leading me to safety, I calmed down. "How old are you?"
He paused, maybe not wanting to reveal the truth. "I believe I'm twenty in human years."
"Why did you say human years?" I looked at him curiously, "Is that like dog years…?"
"Let's not talk about that, yet." He smirked, "I don't want you to be scared of me…again."
"I swear I can handle it." I really wanted to know how old he was. I contemplated him being two hundred years old, like a sea turtle I once saw at the zoo, but before I could question his age again. He changed the subject.
"We're almost to the shore." I looked around, finally noticing street lights in the distance. The beach must be close. Waves were moving passed us to crash down on the shore. I felt the sand under me, and quickly stepped down but another wave lifted me up. I was at a loss on how to stay afloat.
Jakob quickly grabbed me keeping my head above the water.
"Since you can't swim, I'm going to have to literally put you on the shore, aren't I?" I looked at him anxiously. He said that with so much annoyance, that I wasn't too sure what was going to happen next.
"I don't want you to freak out but…" He lifted me up and cradling me in his arms. Jakob let the waves push us until he was up to his waist in the dark surf. Then he started to…what felt to be… walking towards dry land.
I looked down to see legs, shaking from holding our combined weight. Jumping out of his arms, I landed ankle deep in the water and then helped him walk to the shore. His unsteady legs looked ready to buckle every time he stepped.
Cussing he fell down on his knees in the sand, and then smirked up at me, "It feels weird trying to use these again."
He flipped over onto his back and I immediately flushed taking in his naked body. Quickly, I turned away. Shedding my wet denim jacket, I tossed it to him. I looked back to check if he covered himself with it, he did.
"You've used your legs before? I didn't even think mermaids had them! Uh, I mean mer…people?" I said blobbing down next to him in the sand.
"My…tribe can use this …magic. But they're too stuck up to walk amongst filthy humans." He said in distaste for this 'tribe'.
"There are more of you?" I said in disbelief.
"No, I'm the only one." He said sarcastically, ignored it.
"You've been on land before… why?"
"Humans…are wondrous, so… emotional. There was a beautiful woman that I met in Sicily. She showed me everything about human culture." I nodded in understanding.
"Men will do anything for a beautiful woman…even walk on land." I laughed at my own horrible joke, but when I noticed Jakob looked solemn, I sobered up. "Why aren't you with her now?"
"She died…thirty years ago from old age." He looked down at the sand and ran his hands through it. Thirty years ago, but that didn't make any sense… he said he was twenty. He looked up at me, "You remind me a lot of her."
"What?" Forget the age timeline, I was dumbfounded, it sounded like some cheap soap opera show.
"Your eyes are different, where she had green; you have this very light shade of brown." He leaned into me closely, gazing into my eyes. "But your hair is the same exact shade of blonde." Jakob pinched a lock of my hair and twisted it back a forth, looking at it from every angle.
"Great, I remind you of your dead ex-girlfriend."
"She was my wife, actually."
"Well, that's it. I've had it with all the craziness tonight. I'm going home." I stood up, and slapped the sand off of me the best I could. "Thanks for saving me!" I waved in goodbye. Trekking my way through the sand, I heard him get up, kicking sand as he chased after me.
"It isn't what it seems. Yes, when I saw you on that boat, I immediately thought of her. Seeing you, her, in the arms of that guy, it made me jealous. I let my guard down when he kissed you and that girl spotted me."
"Wait… that was you?" I turned to look up at him; he had a foot of height over me.
"And when I saw his hands on you, on your throat, I rammed the boat. I was trying to help…" He lightly ran his hand down my shoulders. "I didn't know you couldn't swim…I'm sorry."
"Geez, I nearly killed you trying to save you." He brushed his semi-dry hair away from his face.
I hugged him, to let him know it was okay, but he pushed me away making me look into his eyes. "I know I said you remind me of her, but only in the context of looks…your personalities are completely different… I really want to get to know you better, Nicole"
I looked deep into his eyes, they were pleading to me that he was telling to truth.
"How long are you staying…?" I gestured to his legs, trying to find the words. He pulled me tightly to his chest and rested his head on mine.
"I can't stay like this for long, it depletes my energy. I only have …maybe …two days."
"Let's go back to my house… and get you some… clothes." I observed his body, "You should fit perfectly into my brother's stuff"
I handed Jakob a cup of my mom's organic tea. We both sat, now warm and dry, on the couch.
"You said your parent's weren't here?" Jakob said scrutinizing the flat screen television.
"They leave every weekend, to go hiking, far away from any water." I rolled my eyes. If I had real parents I wouldn't have needed to be saved by a merman. Actually, scratch that, it was kind of cool to be saved by a merman. For the first time, I'm glad my parents are water phobic.
"And, my brother isn't here either…he's at college."
Jakob nodded accepting the news and then he gazed at me. "You must have some questions for me." He scooted closer to me, "At least…that's how the last time I was on land went."
"I honestly…can't think of anything, right now." I took another sip of my tea, Jakob's eyes searching mine. "Why do you keep looking at me like that?"
"I'm sorry, you're just… I had to do a lot of explaining before…" He tilted his head at me, maybe thinking I'm possibly insane to not be freaking out that there was a merman on my couch.
"Here let me think…" I placed the tea cup down on my coffee table. "Um, you said that your tribe hates humans…and since you've been on land before, does that make you a rebel?"
"That's your question? You ask nothing about how old I really am, what I eat or anything about my past relationship, history?" He chuckled at me, "You're really something."
"How about…you answer all of those questions, after you've answered mine?" I said simply smiling up at him, he nodded accepting my request.
He smirked at me, "You could say that I'm a rebel. I didn't listen to the elders stories about mankind; they say horrible things about you. " He took my hand in his, rubbing his thumb against mine. "I got curious, once I heard legends of merpeople roaming around on land…"
"How does your family feel about your…curiosity?"
"They… consider me a scientist of sorts." He chuckled, "They're too scared of humans. The elders are the ones I worry about, but I've been disobeying them for a while now and they haven't noticed…" He smiled at me, but I still leaned over knocking on my wooden coffee table for good measure.
"What was that all about?" he grabbed my hand, examining it. "You shouldn't hurt yourself so randomly."
"It doesn't hurt… It's a good luck charm for humans. You know 'knock on wood'?" He looked at me skeptically.
"I've never heard of it." He simply stated, putting my hand back in my lap. "Well, about the other questions… age. We, merpeople, have an exponential live span. It's almost like the ocean keeps us regenerated."
"I prune after being in the water for five minutes!" I analyzed my hands, then reached out and touch my fingers to his smooth skin. "How long have you been alive?"
"I'm not sure of the actually date, but it's around three centuries." Staring at him speechless, he continued. "The elders are rumored to be millenniums old."
"I don't know why I'm surprised; I am talking to a merman for crying out loud." I put my head in my hands, "Next question..."
"We eat fish of course." I looked at him, at his smirking face.
"Of…course." I said laughing.
"Actually, I'm able to eat all human food. Hotdogs are amazing by the way. Last time I was here, I couldn't stop eating them." He leaned into me, whispering in my ear, like it was ordinary gossip.
"I don't have any right now, but I'll get you some." I grinned at his playfulness. "And for the next question, you really don't have to tell me about your last relationship. But I was wondering what the elders said about us…maybe it's true."
"What they say is true… but they are close minded, believing that all of you are selfish oafs killing one another out of greed." He stared into my eyes, "Not all humans are as traitorous as the elders make you seem…"
"There's a story that the elders tried to coexist with humans, but the human's didn't want to share the land, killing many of us. Now the elders try to keep us away from mankind, to protect us." He brushed my hair behind my ears, "But that's such an outdated way of thinking, much has changed since Neanderthals walked these lands..."
"Human's coexist better with each other than they did a decade ago, things are changing. I believe we could all live together in peace, I'm tired of my kind hiding from the world, with ridiculous prospects of mankind."
"That's a very zealous way of thinking… I like the idea but I don't believe it will ever work out that way. From what I now about…my kind, they are scared of anything strange to them."
"I'm strange to you…?" He smiled.
"Very…" I laughed leaning into him, he kept his eyes on me.
Jakob placed his hands on the sides of my face, staring in my eyes, all teasing gone. "I wish I were human… I wish I could grow old with you, court you around like a normal human would and you could always rely on me to be there for you." Slowly Jakob kissed me, rubbing his lips against mine. His hands went into my hair, gently tilting my head to align better against his. Not knowing where to put my hands, I rested them on his waist.
Jakob deepened the kiss.