Thursday, 3 July 2008

The Mermaid

You may have noticed that I haven't written here for a little while. Feeling under the weather with some mysterious illness, I've focused all my energy on doing the basics, like cooking and ironing, etc. Jealous? I bet. Anyway, the cooking has been getting more and more elaborate (making pizzas from scratch and chelsea buns is elaborate for me, anyway)so I decided that my creativity was asking to be let out regardless of my aches and pains. So, having missed out on responding to Sarah's prompts, I've played a little game with them just to get me going again. It's probably the sort of writing I shouldn't really inflict on other but there you go. Why should I be the only one to suffer?

• Thursday 3rd - the footprints were tiny
• Wednesday 2nd - take me out tonight
• Tuesday 1st - I was a nice kid
• Monday 30th - the pillow's bare by my side
• Sunday 29th - the bouncer's in hospital

I was a nice kid. The hair of a mermaid and the neatest frame which gave the impression that I’d just jumped out of a delicate little bird’s egg to sip dew off a tulip.

‘Take me out tonight’ I’d said to the Water Fairy. And she did.

We went to the Ladybird Club. I had to sneak in around the back, being what they disparagingly referred to as ‘Water Fowl’. I’d heard them alright although I pretended not to and hid behind the fish tank. The lights were low; it was almost dark except for the colours darting around the walls like fireflies.

When there was a really loud number on, I slipped across to the middle of the dance floor, holding my hair twisted into a temporary pony tail so that it wouldn’t swish against the legs of those gyrating to the club beat. My movements were smoother than theirs, like silk slipping over a banana. I had no clumpy shoes, just my bare flesh.

It was a matter of bad luck, I suppose; the wrong night to turn up. They were giving out awards for Best Dancer and I didn’t know until the lights went up and there I was weaving in and out of their stilettos trying to escape. Of course it was useless and I was spotted. But following trails of perspiration across the exposed areas of the dance floor, I managed to get to the window in the Ladies’. The Water Fairy was waiting outside and hearing the ensuing commotion, whisked me back home.

The next day, I asked her if she’d heard whether I’d been seen.
‘Undoubtedly, my friend. The bouncer’s in hospital for having let you in. It seems very unlikely that there will be no repercussions.‘

And so it was. There was much whispering around the forest and the lakeside. I woke up the next day feeling totally washed up. I looked downwards and did something I had never done before. I wiggled my toes amongst the reeds and a frog burped out a stream of bubbles before legging it across the surface frightened at the spectacle of me.

I stood upright. The ground felt solid underneath me. I took a step forwards. Unable to believe what had happened, I looked behind me. The footprints were tiny but they were definitely there.

At the end of that first day, I was weary with the weight of the constant breathing of the forest air and having to lift one foot and then the other but I couldn’t go back home like this. I made a bed out of laurel leaves and grass, covered myself with some clumps of badger fur and fell asleep, exhausted.

That day was to change my life forever. When I awoke to the scent of the bruised laurel, I already knew that yet something else was different. The pillow was bare by my side. My hair had been hacked away.

So the moral of the story is: listen to what your mother tells you and you’ll never wake up after a night out knowing you were legless the night before and that now you are paying the consequences. And don’t forget that we’d all die without water.

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