He was large, in a white human shell. A clear dome covered his face, yet, I saw his eyes in amazement. Because of that large suit, he was unable to move. So was his matching friend. I remember how their white, metal ship crashed into the ocean, making a tsunami that frightened everyone on the ocean floor. Afterwards, they popped up like ice fragments. At that moment, I was given choices. Either go up to him and save them, but risk exposure, or, let them float there as the days go by until others like them find the two. Humans were dangerous, but I was not uncaring. I swam over to them, not caring if either one saw my fin. I grabbed his arm, then his friend, then swam to the nearest island.
After leaving the two on a beach, I prepared myself to leave. Until one of them called out. It was in the bizarre human language, but I certainly understood he wanted to, or at least, was trying to talk to me. I looked back at him, not swimming any closer to the shallow end where he stood. He removed his dome and a beautiful face appeared. There was no appearance of hair, just small stubs on his scalp. He was tan with a thick neck. Handsome, I thought to myself. He babbled on in his language, leaving me to read his expressions. Surprise, worry, awe, gratitude. He then began to repeat this one phrase, then pointed to himself while still repeating the phrase. He then repeated the word, “Jupiter.” Then he pointed to me, looking at me, questioning me with his eyes. He repeated this for a while, then I came to realize he was probably saying his name. I could only open my mouth and let the only sound I knew, “Ahn.”
He smiled, then held out his hand. He wanted to take me. Though it was fully tempting, I hesitated to accept. Thankfully, the other human began to stir and called out for Jupiter. I couldn’t risk any more exposure and swam away. Though only up to a rock where I looked on and saw Jupiter shout with excitement his human words. This was intriguing. And I knew that this was not going to be the last time I would see him.
At 1400 hours, a ship fell out of orbit, crashing somewhere in the Pacific. There were three astronauts on board. One of the astronauts had been dragged down into the depths by a large chunk of the ship. Another had panicked and soon lost consciousness after his oxygen ran out. The third astronaut, Jupiter Callisto, had held in his breath out of habit. He tried to swim in the dense liquid, but his spacesuit didn’t allow it. He only waited for a short while as he and his friend, Kevin Garnett, floated to the surface. Suddenly, at the corner of his eye, he saw a girl. She stared at him, then shifted her gaze on Kevin. She backed up a bit, then lunged forward. That’s when he saw it, a fin. It wasn’t “Little Mermaid” fin status. It was a bright orange color. Like a goldfish, with splotches of black and white. Once she got closer to him, he noticed something else. She definitely wasn’t Ariel-clam-bra status. However, she had a bounty of pearl and cameo necklaces that covered part of her cleavage. She grabbed hold of his arm, then his friend’s and swam off.
At first, Jupiter thought, and hoped, that they would be taken to an underwater mermaid kingdom. Instead, she pulled them onto a beach. The mermaid stayed for a while, watching Jupiter pull Kevin up next to a rock. She continued to look at them, until it was confirmed that they were both fine. The astronaut panicked and called to her.
“Wait!” he walked closer, coming into the water. She turned and looked at him with a questionable look. He removed his helmet, to try and seem less intimidating.
“Thank you for helping us.” he hesitated to say. Her expression didn’t change, yet he continued on, “You don’t have to worry, I won’t tell anyone about you. It’ll be like you’re my own little treasure.” Still no response, or change of expression.
“Can you understand me?” he asked while taking a step forward. She noticed his movement and backed up herself. Once again, he panicked and began babbling whatever he could to keep her around.
“Uh, I’m not gonna do anything!” he ran a gloved hand over his buzzcut.
“My name is Jupiter Callisto.” he stuck out his hand before realizing she probably didn’t understand this gesture.
“What about you?” He asked, but she continued with her blank stare.
He decided the best thing to do was the greeting Tarzan and Jane had done. He pointed to himself and spoke his name. Then pointed to her with a look of question. She possibly did get it, as she now gave him a look of uncertainty. He repeated the gesture a couple of times until she finally pointed to herself. After a moment of silence, she said a strange word in an odd accent.
He smiled. He wanted to get closer, and impulsively did. This time, though, she didn’t move or flinch. She accepted his company. Finally, though, the sound of Kevin stirring alerted her, and she swam off. He called for her again. Though, this time, he came to understand that she wasn’t going to comeback. He heard Kevin call him again, so he ran to his friend’s side. However, unable to keep in his excitement from the chance meeting, he went on to tell his story.
“The craziest thing just happened, man!” He exclaimed while helping his friend take off his helmet, “She was gorgeous! You should’ve seen her! She seemed a little scared, but she understood me somehow.” He began taking his gloves off as his partner coughed and slowly inhaled the old air.
“Man, it smells like rotten meat.” His friend said in disgust. However, Jupiter was too entranced to pay attention.
“I don’t ever want to leave, not if it means I won’t get to see her again!” He said, not knowing that Kevin was giving him a confused look.
“Who are you talking about?”
“The-” he stopped his words, remembering the promise he had made, “the woman who got us out of the water. She was in a boat, but she couldn’t understand us, plus, uh, I don’t think she was from this island.” He said, keeping the important details out. Sure, the mermaid had no idea he had made a promise, but it would still eat him up if he knew he was the cause for any harm that the mermaid would go through.
The Astronaut walked around the island to see if there were any other inhabitants. However, he found that the island was small, and even the animal habitation was small. Even ripe fruit and other vegetation, that hadn’t been touched by some kind of radioactive chemicals, were hard to find. He came to the conclusion that this was one of the many islands that had been lost in time due to the spontaneous explosions that had consumed most of the Pacific Islands during the war. With what he was able to gather, an abundance of coconuts, he returned to the shore. He waited for help, at least, that’s what he decided was his excuse for lying on the beach.
After some time, a helicopter from his team came along. The helicopter landed on the grass, seeing as one of the astronauts was immobilized, but didn’t cut the engine.
“You have no idea how long it took us to find you!” The helicopter pilot, Margaret Young, exclaimed over the noise. Another man, the co-pilot, with his face covered by a helmet, got out and helped Kevin up into the helicopter. He laid on one side of the two double seats. The co-pilot returned to his place and gave the okay.
“You were on one of the uncharted islands!” she continuously looked back and forth from them to the front, “The ones that were said to disappear after the war! How did you even get on that island?!” Jupiter looked away, daydreaming of the mermaid. He was snapped out of his trance as the pilot called for his attention.
“Hey! Are you even listening?!” She yelled angrily. Jupiter finally gave her his attention and responded, “Yeah! But it’s too loud to explain now! I’ll tell you more once we land!” He yelled above the noise. The flight would take a while and that gave him enough time to think of something better than just a story of a foreign girl with a boat that happened to be sailing in the middle of the ocean. Ah yes, it would be so believable.
“So, could you please explain to me who found you?” She asked. Kevin began laughing on his bed. They weren’t in a hospital, it was more of a large gym of an old high school. Beds had been placed out, not specifically for them, but from years before. The astronaut himself sat in one, his body fatigued from all the work he had to do by himself. Jupiter brushed off his friend’s mockery and began his story.
“While we were floating on the water, I saw from the horizon a boat. At first I thought it was just an illusion, since I was in the space suit having eaten nothing and losing air. Then I see it come closer, and even begin hearing the engine. At this point, I think I must be close to death. Then I see her,” he turned towards his friend, avoiding Margaret’s eyes, “She was beautiful. I’d never seen a girl who was that gorgeous, even for a foreign girl. I thought I had really died, and she was my guiding angel.
“She surveyed us, helped us up onto her boat and took us to the island and left us there. I tried communicating with her, but she couldn’t understand, so she left.” He finally finishes his story, looking over to Margaret. The pilot frowned with crossed arms.
“What? You didn’t give her your number too?” She asked spitefully.
“She was from a poor village, at least I think she was. She wasn’t going to be able to call me even if she did have my number. ”
“Then how did she have that boat. What if she was a thief?” She countered and Jupiter sighed out of exhaustion. She was different today. Usually she wouldn’t care much, possibly because she would eventually find some secret about the women he dated. She was like an older sister, but an overbearing type. Jupiter believed that she was possibly harboring some sort of feelings for him.
“I honestly don’t think that she was a thief, even if she was, the worst she could steal is probably jewelry. I don’t think she could keep a boat in her pockets.” Or lack thereof ,the astronaut thought to himself. He smiled and came close to chuckling, though, he hid it behind his hand as he pretended to cough. After a while of more chatting of pointless things, Margaret left to make her report. Kevin drowned himself in the cotton blankets and began snoring right when he closed his eyes. Jupiter only laid down to rest his muscles, feeling the tension finally ease. He felt a little ashamed for knowing exactly why Margaret had been acting the way she did. She had never said a word about it, but he could tell from the way she always looked at him. In the early years she had tried every possible way to be in the same unit as him. Even her constant criticism of his recent girlfriends were dead giveaways. Jupiter could say nothing of it until she would find the guts to say how she feels. Then, and only then, would he come to consider what she meant to him.
A while later, the two were called in to H.Q for a quick debriefing. After that, they were driven back to the city. The H.Q was located in the mountains, near the California state line. During the war, the place was hidden from anyone outside of the organization. Many things happened there, plans for secret operations that not even the President knew about. After a quick status update, the two were dismissed and were told when the funeral for their companion would be. Jupiter was unsure if he would make it since the two never really got along while on the space station. But for out of respect for the guy’s family he considered going. He left the mountains by taxi and headed back into the city. He lived in a regular apartment near the beaches, though he rarely went for a swim. San Francisco wasn’t much for nice, happy weather, even if it was summer.
Once home, Jupiter considered the things he had to do. He knew he needed groceries, and to turn on most of the things like water and power. Otherwise he would spent the night cold and filthy. He went outside to where the power boxes were, and manually turned on his water. After that was done, he went back to sleep some more. Having no groceries, he knew he would have to settle all that the next day. But for the moment, he only thought about his mermaid. He took a deep breath as he pretended she was there with him.
Nothing came to change for him. Before his trip, Jupiter had high hopes of big stories of space once he came back. In the end, however, it was a repeating story of a terrible time. The only thing that kept him at the station was the human history he would be a part of someday. Today the moon, tomorrow the planet Jupiter. Though, first he would have to travel the ocean. He thought again about the mermaid, mainly the wonder if her feet would hurt if she turned human. Heck, it would be a far off miracle if she could even learn to speak English. Then he wondered. Why stop at English. Why not teach her everything the human race had to offer, just so she could remain by his side, forever. Teaching her something new so she would never get bored of the surface.
After experiencing the beauty of a mermaid, he wondered why there could have never been a girl like that before. Or if she was especially made as pretty as she was to best suit him, and only him. He found it hard to believe he liked the same models on the posters that made him sick now. He tried to ignore what they didn’t have and looked for what they did, but he found himself comparing the shape of the eyes to that of the mermaid. He thought about what her name was. She had only said a simple “An” an nothing more. He smiled, but lost it once he realized that she was probably precautious of humans. After all, they’ve been able to hide from humans for a very long time.
Mermaid by the Seashore
I neared the beach of my father island and noticed a small figure. As I got closer, I used my arms to move into the shallow nursery. The small figure ahead was my younger half-sister Nori. She jumped at seeing me, splashing the water at her feet. Nori was still too young to have her fins.
She does not speak and points to the cave. I take a look and notice the gathering of the other women. I nod to her and leave, crawling backward into deeper water. As I near the cave where the others are gathering, I start to hear a voice. It was ominous and unfamiliar. None of the other women in this cove sang, or at the very least sang this well. I went around and got closer to the voice but ended up hearing nothing when I was right above it. I gave up and went back to the entrance. Far away, through the chattering of the mermaids, I saw my father standing above them all. Really, he sat on a large bedrock, where one of his women, Singh, fed him. I continued to look around, finding my mother relaxing and combing her hair. I crawl up to her, giving her a hug. She pats my arm and signals for me to sit next to her. She mentions to me that there was a white human ship that fell from the sky. I knew I should hold in what I did, it would be no good to frighten the others. She warned not to get near, I pushed the hand that held my chin away. She didn’t like that. She then pinched my nose as punishment, feeling uncomfortable, I pushed her away. Shocked by her daughter, she pushed me off her rock and into the water. A loud splash that echoed in the hollow cave. I looked up to her, she did not look back, showing me that she was not going to forgive me. For what, I do not know.
I did not bother with anything more and dove to the bottom of my favorite place.
In the late-night, I swam up to the surface, poking my head up. Noticing two people on the beach, probably my dad and his wife. I went back down and swam to Jupiter island.
I thought about many things before coming to a desolate place. Since humans had practically taken over most of the islands that we used to use, it became harder and harder to live nearby. Especially when it came to their brutal fighting. When the first human was able to make a metal machine and dive into the ocean, it became a chore to have to hide every second. Much worse if you were caught between two. They did not eat you, not like the rumors, instead, they threw other metals that were hot to the touch and pushed everything in sight away with great force. The ocean was once happy, now it was frightened. It began to refuse the humans, so it hid. And yet, the humans continued to look for the very depth, the very bottom.
I wondered, though, if he was the same. If he was violent as the others. A part of me hoped for the best. That he was kind and was not obsessed with finding the depths of the ocean. Maybe, if I was around, he would agree to let me show him the beauty. I followed him in his flying ship It came close to a large beach with a towering red structure that connected the two drylands. It was hard to hide when so many humans passed by. But that was as far as I was able to reach him. It is hard staying here without having a good reason to give to the resident Oceanids. I couldn’t care what happened, what home did I have but a cave full of women that had no other reason to stay if they were not loved. I looked up to the large homes the humans built, I wondered which one was his.