The change started slowly, one scale at a time. The gleaming curves of the small silver scales had the same consistency as her fingernails. Their appearance was accompanied by itching and burning, and a strong fishy smell. For the high school senior, self conscious Lena, it was a special kind of hell. A swimmer since her toddler years, now she spent nearly every waking hour in the pool or river. The scales were scary, but kind of cool too. So far, she’d been able to hide them under old t-shirts, but lately she’d taken to wearing long tight skirts as well – they made her feel better. Her legs had begun to ache unbearably – “just a growth spurt!” her mother cheerfully told her, but she couldn’t help but worry.
Late the next May, when the weather was warming up and everything was bursting into bloom, she woke up in the middle of the night. Cotton sheets soaked in sweat, entire body seized with pain. She convulsively reached for a cramping leg, and shuddered in shock at the feel of her own scale-covered limb. The remnants of her dream remained in her head – visions of deserts, heat, dry, and without even thinking about it she bolted out of bed, yanked open the door, and ran down the hall, down the stairs, and out the frontdoor. Her parents, jolted awake, sat up in alarm at the sound of running footsteps and a slamming front door. Larry looked out the window to see his young daughter running down the street in her white nightgown. He shook his head, certain he was still asleep, because Lena seemed to be – gleaming in the moonlight?
The river called, and Lena didn’t feel the rocks, pavement, grass, and finally sand underneath her feet as she ran. The pain was too great in her legs, and she could only focus on imagining what a relief it was going to be to get in the water. By the time she made it to the nearest dock a half mile away, she was completely winded, her parents were calling the police, and the entire neighborhood heard her screams – although no one was exactly sure if they were victorious or painful. When it stopped, people flooded the streets of the tiny town, stopping in shock at the sight under the lights of the beach. Lena had been born again, flesh and bone bonding, changing, and turning into a long tail. Scales of blue and silver reflected the sparkle on her skin, and her long silver hair blew gently in the breeze off the lake. She was clearly enjoying the spectacle she made, sitting in the shallow water, a real life mermaid.
Mayor Hadley was the first to realize the possibilities, and he let out a whoop of joy and started clapping. After a hesitant pause, everyone joined in and crowded forward to marvel and exclaim – was it science, magic, and where were her parents? Larry and Grace burst through the crowd and didn’t even stop in their headlong plunge into the water to embrace the new, startlingly fishy form of their child.
That was fun; I had that story idea stuck in my head for a while. Not sure about the ending though.
Into The Ocean – Blue October