Mid-dive, she knew she’d misunderstood yet another joke, but she couldn’t reverse.
The pod had appeared small until their tails slashed down and the wet-gleaming bodies had risen to pose in monumental grandeur, then churn-throttled backwards. The wake swamped the trembling board, sang over her toes. The suction of water departing, a sole kiss.
She thought, fleetingly, that the trainer’s megaphoned shriek would be the last sound she heard. She expected silence below the crest of her world, expected the trainer’s fear to follow her down. It was not quiet, and wonderment left no room for terror.
Memory of the trainer’s cackling joke-charade of pushing her off the edge of the dive platform faded. A lifetime of unhappiness passed, as soon she, always desperately eager to please, shoved him aside and made the leap.
Her thick, unused body knifed through the water. Spiraling toward her, a thousand tiny bubbles popped against her water-heavy jeans, her sensible, double-tied oxfords, caught in and lifted her hair like a tender-handed brush. The bubbles nibbled her shoulders and sloughed away her clumsiness. Tickling her ears with clicks and whispers, they sang, “Come here, little fish. Down here, come, come.”
Gravity of the dive spent, she scissored her legs toward the circle-dance performed by the obsidian music-makers below her. The twin vessels of her lungs deflated, she deliriously discovers the fierce joy of surrender and descent.
Now, aiding the downward pull, she winnows her hands, spreads them fin-like, and rights herself. Her toes meet smooth-rough backs. A shimmer-net of bubbles swirls out and around her from the whales’ deep, black holes.
Sound shifts as she is enclosed in transparent pearls. Delicate wind-chimes enlarge, become harmonious, soothing into a full-blown marvel of melody as air-pockets, oxygen and plankton rich, mask her face, invade her mouth, penetrate her nostrils. Bitter on her tongue, the melancholy dress twists around her, head to feet. She breathes under water.
The whales’ eyes glow gentle, but they are above joking their intent. They sing an honest killing-song.
She is become a mermaid.
Lesley C Weston lives at the center of a sweet, wild meadow surrounded by beautiful, surly trees and is obsessively followed by a watchful, nervous dog. Her stories have or will appear in Narrative Magazine, the McGuffin, A Capella Zoo, Caketrain, Molotov Cocktail, Per Contra, Smokelong Quarterly, and EllipsisZine, among others.