Part II

From time to time, throughout the day, Michael would attempt to talk to Shara; to try and understand who she was and how she got there. But more often than not, his attempts were fruitless. Shara was absentminded and bubbly in general and would often fade from one part of her life to the next, with no warning of where she was beginning and ending from event to event.

“How did you get here?” Michael had asked. “Aren’t mermaids from the ocean?”

“Oh we usually are,” she had answered. “Mermaids can come from anywhere, but I am from the ocean. I like the ocean. There are fish and coral and I like to swim with sharks. But whales are fun too. Sailors would stare at me and my friends, I think they were lonely, but we all made friends. And . . .”

She would go on aimlessly at times while at others, she would simply stop, abruptly start splashing Michael and begin giggling and swimming again. But Michael wouldn’t give up, after a long time of silence he would ask another question. “Did someone bring you here?”

“Of course, I can’t live on land.”

“Who was it?”

“Harvey.”

“Who’s he and how did he . . .” She splashed him again and pushed him underwater playfully.

Again and again Michael would ask the same questions in different ways, in a different order, anything just to get a snippet of information from Shara. But it was frustratingly unsuccessful, as she would go on and on with one story branching mindlessly into another. He couldn’t, however, get upset with her, even if he wanted. She was so beautiful and fascinating, and her mindless transitions, as a story about a pirate ship in the sixteenth century led to her discovering a lawn mower at the bottom of a pond, simply added to her allure.

The day wore on and dusk started to fall. Michael decided it was time to go and crawled out of the pond. “I have to go, Shara,” he said, “I’m haven’t eaten all day, and I’m starving.”

“And you promise you won’t tell anyone about me, right?” Her voice whined a little.

He smiled at her and his eyes softened. “I promise. Ya know, you already have me wrapped around your little finger.” He put his clothes back on and she giggled a little.

“Wait,” she said suddenly. I want to show you something. Michael walked to the water’s edge and crouched down to be eye level with her. She smiled and began feeling around the ground with her right hand. After a moment she found a small, flat rock. “Watch,” she said and flashed an impish smile.

Shara held her left hand up in front of her and turned it over and back to show all sides to Michael. Michael leaned in to get a better look at what she was about to do. Suddenly she dug the stone into the flesh of her arm and drug it down to her elbow. In a moment a gelatinous stream of crimson liquid, so vivid it looked purple where the light hit it, streamed down her arm. Michael winced and fell back at the sight and Shara giggled. The blood ran down to her elbow where it dripped into the water, splashing and dispersing into a bright-red color, then slowly disappeared. She turned her arm in front of her and stretched it out toward Michael for him to get a good look.

Then she suddenly slammed her arm into the water and swashed it around. With a triumphant smile, she pulled it out and outstretched it towards Michael. “Look!” she said. His brows lowered and his jaw went slack as his facial contortions changed from shock to astonishment. Shara’s arm was exactly as it was before she lacerated it with the stone. With the water beading off her skin and shimmering in the fading rays of sunlight, it was as smooth and unblemished as it was before.

“Wow,” Michael said quietly because it was the only thing to leap to mind.

Shara leaned towards Michael and rested her head on her hands. “Do you know how mermaids are made?” she asked.

Michael was still staring at her arm but after a moment, he registered that she had asked him a question and looked up. “Uh . . . I don’t think I ever thought much of it.”

“With a kiss!” Shara lifted her head up and smiled cheerfully. “It’s our gift; the eternal gift of a mermaid’s kiss. If you are a woman and get kissed by a mermaid you become a mermaid; like I did almost seven hundred years ago. But if you’re a man, you remain a man but become immortal, like us!”

“Really?” Michael’s mind was still in the past, playing the recent event back, trying to make sense of it all.

“Now come here!” Shara’s voice was a little more authoritative than normal. Michael stared blankly at her for a moment, then he rolled to his feet and took a step to the water’s edge. He began to crouch when Shara suddenly sprang out of the water and wrapped her arms around his neck. She pressed her mouth against his and slid her tongue between his lips. He felt a shock run through his body as her arms tightened with a suffocating force around him.

Micheal’s hands rolled into fists and his toes curled. His veins bulged under his skin as every muscle tightened. Shara’s face pressed harder and harder against his and her tongue seemed to go deeper into his mouth. His vision blurred and his eyes began to roll back into his head as reality faded away.

He felt her tongue suddenly explode in his mouth and fly down his throat. The pressure her face was putting on his suddenly gave way as her head melded into his. Her hands wrapped around his fists and blurred into single limbs. Slowly she fused into him; only her hair remained outside and it twirled around him, prickling his flesh.

Under his skin, he felt her crawling and giggling. She seemed to dance around and play and touch. She touched more than his body, he felt her hands on his mind and then felt her mind in his. He could see into her eyes, unable to look away. But as he looked, he began to see the depth and at the end of the depth he saw darkness and in the darkness he heard screams. He could feel an innocence, but knew if he looked harder he would see a demon behind those eyes.

Then she blinked.

A sharp and sudden pain ran through his upper body. He was cold, and around him were rocks. He realized he had fallen to the ground. It was over. With a final giggle and a splash, Shara was gone and night fell. Michael lay there for a long while, his only movements made by his chest and the blinking of his eyes as he stared aimless into the night sky.