The day I have been waiting for has arrived.
A few minutes ago I intercepted a radio message from a fishing trawler, claiming to have found a mermaid off the coast.
The fisherman talked fast, his voice tinged with excitement. There was good reason for him to sound jubilant. He was going to show her off to the world. This discovery of his would bring him fame and fortune.
He believed she was either injured or dying as she was spotted struggling in the water. His crew were trying to catch her in their nets.
I had to go to her.
My boat is now heading out of the harbour at speed. The buyer for it will have to wait.
My heart is thudding loudly in my chest and my mouth is dry.
I know I am not the only one racing to reach the trawler. The world’s media will also soon be on their way. Word will have undoubtedly got out. Everyone will want to see her.
I know it’s my mermaid that they’ve caught. The one who saved my life when I was young and reckless all those years ago. When I had no respect for the sea and I thought I knew best.
She rescued me after I was swallowed by a huge wave and banished to the sea’s murky underwater kingdom. She convinced the sea that my lifeless body was worth saving. Leading me by the hand she took me up to the surface and gave me back my life.
As I staggered out of the sea coughing and spluttering I looked back. Her blue eyes sparkled in the early morning light.
I remember turning to face her feeling the weight of stupidity and embarrassment on my shoulders. She cocked her head and smiled at me. ‘Don’t be sad’ she said. ‘You will return the favour one day!’
Before I could say a word she flicked her gigantic fish tail and dived into the shimmering blue water.
Shame consumed me as I sank to my knees on the golden sand and wept. I could smell traces of alcohol on my breath and my body wasn’t in the best shape. She should have left me to die.
It was at that moment on the beach that I decided to set a new course for my life. There would be a time in the future when she would need me. I would be ready.
I gave up drinking and partying to become a free diver, taking part in big competitions. To my surprise I was quite good at it and became a diving celebrity in the area. Journalists kept asking me what drove me to dive so deep but I never told them the truth.
I bought myself a boat with the prize money and spent hours, days, months, years, decades searching and waiting.
My life drifted by. I never forgot her, the beautiful long-haired mermaid, with the powerful emerald fish tail and sparkling blue eyes. She appeared in my dreams night after night and her image kept me company on dark nights alone in my boat.
I have now reached the fishing trawler. The crew is hanging over the side looking into the dark water.
I drop my anchor and shout across ‘have you found her?’
It’s then I see her. Caught up in their huge green fishing net. The sight of her great fish tail squashed awkwardly against her trembling body makes a lump rise in my throat and tears prick my eyes. How can they do this to something so beautiful?
The fishermen are talking fast as they start to pull up the net. I can feel the pulsating throb and hum of a helicopter. The world is coming for her with its big lenses and prying eyes.
It’s now or never. I grab my knife and dive into the water.
‘Get out of the water old man!’ the fisherman shout, shaking their fists.
‘Get off our catch old man!’ they scream with desperation.
Ignoring their threats I swim to the net and start to hack away. She looks scared at first and huddles against the side of the trawler.
Her eyes search my face and she smiles.
‘I knew you would come’ she says.
I set her free and she slips into the water. A black helicopter is now above our heads making our ears hurt and the boats rock precariously.
I take her hand and we dive beneath the boat.
She moves slowly behind me. My body has been feeling old and tired lately but as we dive deeper I feel energised and young again. I become the stronger one.
This is what I have been training for; to hold her hand and guide her to safety. To be strong for her when she is weak. Just like she was to me all those years ago.
My lungs feel like they are going to explode, we are diving deeper than I have ever been before.
Sensing I am tiring she comes up close to me and presses her lips against mine.
The favour has been repaid. I don’t think I have ever been happier.
We both know we will never go back to the surface.
This is my entry into the blog battle contest. It’s organised by Rachael Ritchey.
To read other entries or enter this contest please head for Rachael’s blog and click here.
The word this week was dive.
photo credit: <a href=”http://www.flickr.com/photos/48622270@N00/2630466183″>Hassalien</a> via <a href=”http://photopin.com”>photopin</a> <a href=”https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/”>(license)</a>