Sarah takes care of tomorrow’s lunches, lovingly cutting the crusts off four different kinds of sandwiches. Sarah disinfects the kitchen surfaces and sweeps the crumbs from the lino floor. She puts everything back where it belongs. Sarah works quietly and tirelessly for her family, without thanks, recognition or uttered comment. She is a shadow in her own life. She suspects that her family have forgotten that she’s here.
Her husband watches the television and clips his toenails. Sarah informs him that she’s going outside to bring in the last load of washing from the line, but he doesn’t seem to hear. The football’s on.
She closes the door and walks straight past the billowing line of clothes. She strides through the garden gate and skips down the dusty path. It is dark now, the moon reigns over the blackness and stars pepper the sky. She begins to run as she approaches the pier, she can’t get to the end fast enough. She throws off her clothes and her shoes and races along until her heart beats faster and the blood pounds in her ears, reminding her that she’s alive. She’s out of breath and sinks to the ground, listening to the soothing lapping waves. Her hands feel for the handle, she finds the door; the cold steel on her fingers makes her smile. She taps, just once, and it slowly opens.
A wet scaly hand brings her down the hatch. A salty moist kiss lands on her hand. She is carried down, deep into the depths. She hears a murmur, which becomes a hum, which becomes a song. It is a song of worship, of gratitude, love and celebration, lyrics of the sea, second chances and transformation, a tune of beauty, passion and old magic.
Sarah is placed upon a glassy throne; a garland of cockle shells is presented to her. Her slippery tail emerges and her hair is brushed and decorated with an oyster’s pearl crown. The mermen bow as Sarah surveys them. Her eyes halt at the sight of one so young, strong and handsome that she is blind to the others. She observes his long blonde hair, his sultry lips and chiselled torso, she has found this evening’s mate. She points in his direction and his green eyes shine in agreement. The chamber is hushed as she leads him away by the hand.
Their tales flip and swim, further and further down into the sea. It’s a love like no other, each kiss is exquisitely electric. Tiny touches, lips against lips, ripple the water and become crashing gigantic waves overhead, a beautiful storm of overturned boats, a beloved and ancient tradition, a perfect freak of nature, a passionate collision, ocean versus ocean.
Sarah is adored and stroked, revered and desired, wanted and yearned for, the mysterious mythical princess from the shore. Her hands run up and down his spine and as they became one being, the sea whispers secrets, spills treasures and devours the sand. She spends the night in his arms, reading and caressing his soul.
She bids farewell and returns to the pier with her human legs. A rich salty aroma is thick in her nostrils and deep in her heart. She scoops up her clothes and shoes and walks back to the garden. She slowly pulls the washing from the line.
As she enters the house, not a moment passed, the football cheers blare from the television and startle her. Still her husband clips his toenails; still he does not notice her.
She tells preoccupied ears that she is going to wash the pots. She submerges her hands into the bowl of bubbled water, swirling them around, satisfied and at peace.