I meet a merman. I am Joan of Arc. I try to fight him off with my sword but his laughter slips beneath my armour. The Halloween party is boring, of course. We break free from my circle of friends, sneak out of the party with a bottle of vodka to find the ocean. He smiles that we both have our own kind of scales. His voice is soft as the creep of a sea-snail. I tell him I dreamed I’d rescue a merman, convert him to my human ways. His words dissolve my chain-mail so I remove the rest of my protection; my leather tunic, the padded cotton covering my flesh, the silver tape binding my breasts. He removes nothing.
We drink for hours on the cliff wall, the rock cutting into my naked skin, the sound of the crashing Atlantic in our ears. My bare heels kicking the cliffside. When we dive in just before dawn, he pulls me down down down to an undersea cave, alive with fluorescent yellows and reds, coral scratching my belly and thighs till they bleed. I had not known how much I needed sea-skin rippling beneath my fingers. His whipping tail leaves me slick with scales. I believe I believe I believe, I tell him.
We marry of course the next day, but I cannot bring myself to kiss his oh-so human face. His boring face with its pale lips and dry hair, when what I crave is the salt of his nipples, the scratch of his coral fingernails, the way I can press my ear to his chest to hear the wet rhythm of waves. His eyes beg me to love all of him. At night he sobs into his pillow when I turn away to sleep; to dream of a husband made only of salt and silver scales and sea.
We go and have a baby of course. A slippery girl with seaweed hair and dry eyes. Her skin shimmers with the faint trace of scales. She leaps out from between my thighs and into my merman’s arms, hissing heretic to me in her baby breath. Then wiggles away out of our lives so fast it’s as if she had never existed.