The Mermaid of Zennor

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11.

Matthew led Jaimie home. Passing their paintings, now hung around the house, he became a puddle. The stillness of the house stabbed him. He changed into drier clothes and laid in bed. Jaimie nosedived next to him, causing him to crack a smile. He dozed off for a few hours without a single dream. Finally, he rose and stumbled into the kitchen to find jewels packaged nicely in seaweed.

Tying them up again, he carried them into the narrow closet to sit on the biscuit jar. He stared ahead blankly. This was his future, all bundled away in the dark, and he didn’t even have any plans. He hadn’t even bothered to mention it to his friends.

Addie strode along the shore despite the wind’s bite. Having been sick with a cold, she missed the chaotic sermon and tended to her equations and linguistics. Her granddad stayed with her, keeping her ample with cough syrup and honeyed blackcurrant tea. Regardless, he heard about the scene.

Addie, however, was clueless. She snuck out for a break after he nodded off, taking her sandwich with her. Since everyone was still shaken up, a jittery buzz lingered in the air. After she finished her dinner, she bulked up a damp castle, challenging herself to make it reach massive heights. Morveren raised her head slightly above the ebb, wanting one last glimpse of Matthew.

Again and again Llyr apologized. He, with the vision of a red eyed daughter before him, sat her down to converse that evening. Elusivity and frivolity went hand in hand when it came to her. She expressed her concerns about Matthew leaving, the novel that piqued her interest in astronomy, and how she couldn’t return. He munched on cockles, engrossed with her soliloquy. After she summarized almost everything on her mind, he inhaled deeply.

“Well, you certainly don’t need to run off to land again anytime soon. I expected you wanted to speed to Scilly tonight.”

“That isn’t true,” she declared. She leaned forward and batted the cockles out of the way. “What should I do?”

“What do you want?”

“It was difficult, but I liked seeing him every other week. I love Zennor, but trust Matthew when he says there’s more out there. Studying space in an established school seems impossible, but I’d take that opportunity in a heartbeat,” she specified.

“I really don’t know if that could be arranged. You’d have to be able to attend all the time.”

She drooped like a wilting flower.

“I saw him follow you. I know if he wanted to, he could live down here with you.”

“There’s no way. He’s got so much up there.”

“It’s his decision.”

“I wish I was a selkie or a merrow. I could misplace my coat or hat and always have legs. Then we-”

Llyr confronted, “I understand. But when you say things like that, it feels like you don’t want to be around me or any of your friends.”

“I don’t have any. Matthew’s my friend. I thought it was you who didn’t want to be around me. I just tried to stay out of your way.”

“You’re still mad.”

“Because you could’ve apologized privately,” she lamented. “But without warning I was publicly outed, and everyone thinks I’m the bad guy. Why did you let me go in the first place?”

“You’re flighty and restless, and I thought there was a small chance you’d be bored up there. But, you’re an adult and can make your own choices. And where did you ever get the idea I don’t want you around?”

She brought up a bouquet of memories, knowing she was regarded as something of a wild child when compared to his composed demeanor. Her voice wavered as she listed her faux pas, most of which were related to marine politics. Instead of being neutral, she had many immoderate opinions to share. She repeated some overheard unkind words her father had to say about her.

Matthew strode up with his guitar. Addie, who thought him a fine musician and beautiful, swept the sand residue off her skirt. Her sandcastle sagged on one side.

“Nice castle. I didn’t see you in church this morning,” he teased.

“I’m sick,” she coughed on command.

“So you’re out on the beach when it’s cold?”

“I’ve been stuffed up inside all day. Am I about to get a front seat in a private concert, Matthew?”

Just then, he froze. Out in the water, Morveren’s familiar stare was fixed on him. Addie sprung to her feet and waved.

“Morveren!”

She beamed and waved back. Without effort, she ricocheted miles towards the seashore.

“You’re a strong swimmer! It must be freezing in there. Where are your clothes?”

Morveren drew closer, revealing her lower body. Part of Addie wanted to scream, but it was so like a girlish dream come true. For a moment, her brain shortwired. Then, remembering herself, she extended her hand. “May I?”

She arched her fluke upwards.

Her body felt glacial. The scales were slick and flowed seamlessly to her navel. The fin, large and opaque, curved into a powerful crescent. Addie’s fingers danced down it. She giggled.

“It’s like an angelfish’s. I knew merry maids were real,” she turned to Matthew. “Did you know about her?”

He nodded. She faced Morveren.

“Did you become one with a spell? Can I become one?”

“Not unless you were born one. Do you mind if I talk to Matthew for a minute?”

She marched back with purpose to her sandcastle, sneezing. He set his guitar by her and suggested she go rest at home.

“Everybody’s mad at me. I don’t blame them,” he blurted.

“I’m just glad you’re home safe.”

He decided it would take some time, some planning and list making, and much discussion. St Ives was a breath of fresh air, balmy and bright. A never ending conversation with his parents provided him with lucid ideas. It was decided. Brighton shone like a lighthouse in his mind. Matthew scrawled out letters to his friends and flicked them under their doors.

Eli knocked an hour later. Although Matthew was worn out from talking, Eli wanted to chat with the two over dinner. Of course, he wouldn’t be the one hosting, but supplied the liquor.

Matthew declared them bums as he set down heaping plates of clam infested linguine. In feigned sophistication, they sipped white wine slowly instead of downing it. Eli was surprisingly hesitant to the idea of moving house. Charlie, knowing there had to be more fruitful gigs than Tinners, ruminated. He decided he was all for it.

“Get some more wine down him, he’ll say yes,” Charlie quipped, pouring more in his glass. “Tip it back, then.”

Eli persisted; he preferred his easy, small town life. Zennor had a placid charm. He twirled his noodles, still miffed by his friend’s disloyalty. Nevertheless, Matthew and Charlie had their thesis and claims ready. They forced wine and many good reasons in him until he was worn down. He declared,

“Alright, I’ll go. Just stop talking.”

By the end of the night, everyone was amiable with Matthew again.

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