Midnight. Anyone else would believe that the whole town was tucked away, fast asleep in their beds. But what kind of story would this be if that were true? No, a group of forty or so men, women, and even children would be descending the natural staircases on the cliff sides and congregating on the beach. Once all were accounted for, they would move as one into the ocean.
Any onlooker would be amazed at what they beheld. As they were welcomes by the waves their legs melted together and became tails. They flashed and shimmered dozens of different colors in the moonlight. The merchildren would splash around in the shallows while their parents would move to deeper water and carry out The Creator’s noble work.
The One who made the sun, the moon, and the stars, the One who made the sea and the land, they would call him The Creator. He had a job for them. Just as men were commanded in the beginning to subdue the land, merfolk were commanded to rule the seas. So, every night, around the same time, and in beaches like this around the world, the merfolk would calm the waves, dissolve storms, lessen the rip currents.
At least, this is what my grandmother told me would happen when she was young.
Men tend to become envious and hate what they cannot have. Soon after my mother was born, merfolk began being hunted for sport. We were the ultimate prize. My mother and her pod put up a fight at first, but they were slowly picked off one by one. Soon, it was just me and her left.
I can all too vividly remember the net entangling her body as she screamed at me to flee. I swam far away and waited for sunrise. That was the worst thing I ever ha to tell my dad. He forbade me from entering the sea again and I obeyed him for a little while, but the call was too strong for me to resist and eventually I did return to the waves.
This was close to forty years ago now, and almost no one remembers our existence.