daniel-bernard-GPGPSfgdbbg-unsplash (1)

Lakeside Mermaid

It takes thirty years for my older sister to swim here from the Pacific coast. She no longer has vocal cords or letters on her mind. Instead, she blinks rapidly. Raises a pale webbed hand out of the breeze-ruffled water. I know exactly what she means. She doesn’t remember her life as a human, but she’ll never forget how to miss herself. She was three years old. We play catch for a while until she skips the smooth rust-colored stone to me and blinks twice: keep it. The fins on her arms wave a pale halo around her like a half-shell. She doesn’t remember if she chose the lavender color or was given it by chance, but she likes it. Her sweeping fins fan up the length of her soft body. She shows me how strong they are. Asks if I can teach her how to cry. Doesn’t remember where she was when our parents tossed her ashes in the Christmas-cold ocean, when our oldest sister, five at the time, walked away and watched the waves for several minutes, then walked back to them, her little red sandals crusted with wet sand.

Jessica Hudson is a graduate teaching assistant working on her Creative Writing MFA at Northern Michigan University. She is an associate editor for Passages North, and her work has been published or is forthcoming in Dovecote, Stoneboat, and The Pinch, among others.

Submit Your Stories

Always free. Always open. Professional rates.