[Fiction] Homeward Bound


Deborah sunk her toes into the wet sand where the edge of the water lapped in enticement. Fifteen-odd years since she had smelled the brine of the Sound, the suffusion of salt like a fine powder tickling her nose and down into her lungs. The pulse at her neck fluttered and something else she had not felt in a long time.

Two warm hands cupped her bare shoulders where the sun had tanned them brown.

“Come over,” George whispered and kissed her behind her right ear. “The kids have a birthday surprise in the bungalow.”

Deborah laughed and turned, kissed him fondly on the cheek where there was stubble. He’d been clumsy that morning shaving, all sleepy-eyed and lazy and adoring. Tropical paradise could dull even the sharpest of men.

“In a minute,” she promised.

She watched her husband lope back to their rental house, until even the speck of him was gone. Then with shaking hands, she opened up her canvas bag and dug beneath the sunblock and extra towels for an old ratty sealskin. She took a deep breath, felt the gills around her neck open fully, threw the skin like a shawl around her, and ran for the ocean.

Di-Ah was going home.


Pretty Bow

If I tied a string to my wrist
Weighed down by a silver charm
And cast off the other end into the ocean
Would I be robbed by a dolphin’s nosy poke
Or tango with the eight arms of a great octopus?
Would I be nibbled at by the lionfish
Or find myself wedged between the pink polyps of coral?
I throw my lure and three vibration afterwards, pull.
Out of the ocean rises a clam’s shell, knotted in a pretty bow:

The mermaids have good taste.