A boat capsized, tumbling a slim raven-haired girl into the sea. She hovered near the surface, surrounded by a hazy cloud of skirts like some sort of exotic jellyfish. Her legs thrashed against the currents that tried to draw her down. Her hands stroked futilely against the waves that tried to bury her. But the ocean was tireless, and she was not. In the end, it would swallow her whole.
Below her, the mermaid's heart stirred with sympathy. With a flick of golden fins, she swam toward the place where the wind roared and the sky wept. Her strong white arms encircled the girl’s waist. Very gently, she pulled her down into the depths.
Bubbles erupted from between the girl’s lips in a silent scream. Her hands clawed toward the surface as if she could pull herself up on her fingertips, like climbing a cliff face. But the mermaid was much stronger than any human girl. Crooning in her musical language, she drew the girl down among the colorful coral formations and held her until her struggles ceased. When the girl lay wilted like a crushed flower in the mermaid’s arms, the mermaid let her go.
Up, she floated, like an angel rising to heaven. Indeed, she glowed in the flash and flare of lightning. Only, the light did not subside as the rumble of thunder faded into silence. It intensified until the mermaid was forced to look away.
When she looked back, the girl’s eyes were open, studying the rainbow iridescence of her new tail. Shrugging out of the cumbersome cloud of her dress, she swam in experimental circles.
"Now isn't that better?" the mermaid asked in her singsong tongue.
"Yes," the girl burbled, her dark hair an inky halo around her pale face. “Much better. I’m not afraid anymore.”
Together, they swam along the ocean floor, the mermaid keen to show her new friend the wreck where she, herself, was born.
Amanda Kespohl is a fantasy writer, attorney, and folklore enthusiast from Jacksonville Beach, Florida. Her short stories have been featured in anthologies such as Sirens (World Weaver Press 2016) and The Death of All Things (Zombies Need Brains, LLC 2017). She currently resides in Tallahassee with her beagle, Bailey.
Check out her WEBSITE
or find her on Twitter at @amandakespohl
Cover: Amanda Bergloff @AmandaBergloff