The Mermaid

You, who are approaching the end of your fertile years, hear the call of the sea.

You ache for the cool water to ease the hot blush on your face, to soften your dry elbows and erase the lines around your eyes.

The others, the ones who dwell in the air and scuff their boots along the earth, don’t seem to understand. They talk of endings, of fading away, of loss and lack and languishing. They expect you to dehydrate like leaves in autumn.

But you feel the prickle of scales beneath the veins on your thighs and an inexplicable urge to grow your hair long and wild.

You emerge from a layer of sensible clothes in only a bikini. On lazy summer afternoons, you expose your breasts to the heat of the sun.

‘You’re too old for that,’ says the man you’ve spent half your life with. You pierce your navel and ink the shape of a fish on your left ankle. ‘It’s not tasteful,’ he says with a frown.

The only taste you crave is the sting of salt. At night you wake from a dream of another man in your mouth, the salty taste of his desire leading you back to the sea. You lay shells around your throat and forget to wear shoes. Your right ankle tinkles with small silver bells.

And in the end, there is no choice. The new home you choose looks out over the water, the sound of waves your only night-time companion.

When you swim, the soft scales on your legs become a tail — blue and purple and azure and turquoise, shot through with the shimmer of pearl.

The full moon draws a path from the horizon to the shore. You follow it until the voices in your head grow silent. When you return to the beach your skin is plump and juicy, your hair in soft tangles against your shoulders.

The dry women scowl and shake their heads, their words parching their lips. And when they see your new lover, they snicker behind their arthritic hands.

‘Love is more than sex,’ they say. And they seem to find it hard to remember the last time they lost themselves in ecstasy.

You lose yourself every day in the water and every night tangled in your lover’s arms. Your body responds to intimacy in ways that please and surprise you. You drench yourself and your lover in an ocean of exquisite release.

You, who are approaching the end of your fertile years, have become a creature of the sea.


If you swim effortlessly in the deep oceans, ride the waves to and from the shore, if you can breathe under water and dine on the deep treasures of the seas; mark my words, those who dwell on the rocks carrying nets will try to reel you into their catch. The last thing they want is for you to thrive in your habitat because they stand in their atmosphere where they beg and gasp for some air.
― C. JoyBell C.

{Art by Sonia Verdu}

About KatieP

Embracing my midlife sexy while exploring modern love & relationships • Devoted to all things beautiful • Master of Arts in creative writing & non-fiction writing

13 thoughts on “The Mermaid

    1. It kind of came to me as such … I wrote it on the bus on the way to a meeting yesterday without much thought … just words spilling onto the page of my notebook. I wish all writing was as painless.

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