I am a mermaid who delights in life underwater. Who collects pearls. Who stops to look at the coral. I lure fish from their anemones to play with them. I get lost in seaweed. I bask in sunshine at the surface. While lounging on a riverbank in the woods I chatter the day away with my friend the fairy elf. From the salt-splashed rocks I visit The Dragon Queen, with grand, powerful wings and scaly beasts at her command. Often we rendezvous on the shore to go adventuring. On the beach their flapping sends hot sand swirling in warm air. It dehydrates my skin. In a brief but excruciating moment my fin rips deeper and deeper. It divides into two separate limbs. Scales pull away from the fresh raw skin of pale, unsteady legs. Then I am ready.
Today a dragon also joined our party, for we were going by air. With help, I climbed atop the enormous beast, settling onto its back just as I was told to avoid the scathing heat and pinching joints of dragon scales. All at once he stood, his powerful legs pressing and lunging off the ground without ever returning. Long, blond tendrils whipped away from my face and shoulders and flowed behind me, almost dragging me backwards. Unpracticed legs desperately squeezed around the shoulders of the dragon mount. The land below shrunk, growing ever more distant as I cowered atop the huge creature, my fingers clutching to his scales like mollusks to a ship’s hull. Even my face, which must have been desperately pale, was pressed against its smoldering hide. This was no place for a mermaid.
I have no idea how I let them talk me into this. The merry laugh of the fairy elf cut through the constant rush of air past my ears. “Dragon got your gills?” my blithe companion teased, her iridescent wings easily keeping her alongside.
To the dragon, it must seem a leisurely pace. Scowling back at her I bit my lip, but had been shaken from the fear just enough to take a deep breath through my nose. Now to sit up. Convincing my limbs to obey was going to be more difficult than expected.
‘Just dive in and do it,’ I told myself.
But that was a poor choice of words and my eyes slammed closed faster than a clam’s shell. Rising to the same altitude the dragon queen herself offered words of confidence.
“No need to look back, is there? We will always have tea in the fairy elf’s tree house, take shortcuts in the woods, and hide from the giant worms that live in the mountains as we have done. But now we can visit the cloud cathedrals, look upon starlight from the valley of crystal flowers, and show you the waterfall of mist, without a pool, which no sea creature could ever behold. What have you to worry about? NOTHING. And you have everything to enjoy.”
She was right. If I were to slip, there was a dragon, fairy elf, and winged dragon queen all ready to catch me mid air. Death by falling was not my fate. But somehow my ragged breath convinced the rest of my being otherwise.
“Just think of it, the first mermaid to fly!” the fairy elf beamed. “You’re the only one to even consider the realm of air when you could be dominating the ocean or on land catching men. Why, you’re no longer bound to the adventures of your kin! What fun we shall have!”
“I can’t do this,” erupted the confession to my dearest of friends.
“You already are, just open your eyes!” her majesty insisted, not putting up with a moment of unnecessary selfish cowardice. They would help me beat this. I felt absolutely ridiculous. This was so simple for them, so natural, why couldn’t I just enjoy it with them? After longing for the same abilities, hanging on every word they spoke of flight, we had finally found a solution.
I could bravely face the pressures of bleak ocean depths, race whales and dolphins, outwit sharks, play amongst pounding waves and crawl from the surf to take human form and traverse forest and mountains. I opened my eyes. What danger was there here? In the wide open spaces with, not water, but air flowing over and around me and a dragon firm and true holding me up. Straightening my back, both arms stretched out to feel the wind. Now I am a mermaid who flies.