The Mermaid of Zennor

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9.

Matthew was not dead nor unencumbered; he breathed saltwater as easily as air. The brine stung his eyes a tad but altogether his vision remained unclouded. He grabbed hold of her fins and she diminished her pace. Jagged rocks funneled into an underwater grotto. He wavered at the threshold. Llyr was a massive thing with hair like tendrils of seaweed. At first he thought they spoke oddly, but their lips didn’t move at all; it was communication through the mind. Morveren received many apologies from the king. She pronounced she couldn’t forgive him yet and he’d made a giant mess of things.

She was right. They all had. The thought of friends and parents and Jaimie plundered Matthew’s psyche. Morveren intertwined her hand in his and cut through the water in an upward motion.

Zennor mourned limitlessly. Eli, stunned but ever rational, made arrangements. He lit up a cigarette with quaking hands and strode to Matthew’s home to fetch his dog. Inside, he steadied himself with the wall. When Jaimie padded over, he dried his tears in her amber coat, making sure not to burn her. Later, he’d place white sheets over the furniture and notify authorities and funeral homes.

He embarked back to Pendour where the Trewellas had collapsed. He wrapped his coat around Mrs. Trewella, for a snap of winter whipped the air; she wouldn’t get up. After puffing rapidly, he passed it on to a paralyzed Charlie, who just left it in his calloused fingers. The storm ceased but rain pursued.

Matthew, more buoyant, surfaced first. Morveren considered him with a poignant expression. His fingers were icicles. She guided him to a boulder where he rested in the precipitation. Close up, her tail was highlighted powdery blue, but he didn’t dare goggle at it. He looked as if he was about to speak but she beat him to it.

“You’re not meant to live in the sea anymore than I am on land. You don’t have fins and can’t swim all day.”

“I’m sorry,” he breathed. “You’re right. We should go back.”

“I can’t go back. You can.”

“Why not!”

“They’ll hate me. They think I took you away from them or drowned and ate you. They probably think you’re dead. You have to go back.”

Not immune to Cupid’s red arrow or golden buddings of friendship, he sat muted. She tuned in to his subterranean thoughts that were suddenly dawning; he loved her and didn’t want to leave.

“Do it for your family. I’m asking you to.”

Gentle waves pushed him to shore in its unhurried way. Morveren with a churning stomach sunk to the seafloor. He floated on his back, letting fear consume him. He didn’t want to leave Zennor like this. A biscuit jar replete with saved money was nestled in the back of his closet so he could leave with a plan and proper goodbye.

The ocean was so laid back he landed in St. Ives, just six and a half miles from home. When his soles could reach the bottom, he trudged to the pale ribbed beach. By then, the mermaid realized her mistake and followed his anxiety ridden thoughts.

He looked back at the breathing Atlantic. A skimming shadow emerged, but wasn’t seen. Morveren lurked a few miles off the coast, completely dumbstruck at where he docked. She should’ve taken him back to Pendour herself.

Right away, he knew his friends would adore St. Ives. Sunsoaked and elongated, it looked so out of place compared to home. Although famished, Matthew was invigorated by the almost tropical warmth of the metropolis. He stumbled on The Sloop Inn in less than five minutes. The picturesque two story building invited him in. Fishermen and artistic teenyboppers dwelled any and all parts like it was their own. Spotting a chipper little terrier, he remembered his own dog and mission. He dripped in the chilly pub without even a shilling on him.

Eli was sharing some of his lunch with Jaimie and setting out a bowl of water. He couldn’t taste anything so he eventually pushed his plate away. Somehow, he’d torn Matthew’s parents away from the beach and back home. Charlie joined, looking blanched and gaunt. The reverend had stopped by with warmed leftovers. With permission, he put on the kettle.

The preacher had gotten a hold of a funeral director who was on his way from St. Ives. The minister inquired gently if St. Senara was what they had in mind. Mr. Trewella sighed. “I suppose,” he sniffed.

Eli wanted to get Charlie alone to discuss the lady. He kicked him out of his stupor. He nodded towards the bathroom.

“That girl Matthew ran around with-”

“Morveren,” Charlie offered.

“Yeah. I mean she couldn’t have been. Those are just myths. For tourists,” Eli stammered. “Charlie, tell me I’m not mental.”

“I saw it, too.”

They stood in melancholic silence.

Matthew, realizing this ordeal, took to the streets. With a mug stolen from an outdoor table, he belted out his own tunes right on the pavement. People launched tuppence and pounds as they strode by. Gulls flapped by to steal from innocent bystanders. He made just enough to buy a bowl of soup. Afterwards, he asked the barman for directions and began wayfaring out of town.

When preacher John entered the town and saw a sopping choirboy, he about had a heart attack. He hopped out of the buggie and galloped towards Matthew, who yelled out his name. They embraced and John helped him into the vehicle. While he thanked the Lord aloud, Matthew sped through his brief adventure.

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