What happened to the girls who dreamed of being mermaids?”
― Anita Johnston, Eating in the Light of the Moon: How Women Can Transform Their Relationship with Food Through Myths, Metaphors, and Storytelling
I had never loved someone as much as I loved Halie. I met her when we were 13 after she moved in next door, her cotton candy blue ponytail swishing around her head as she trekked in and out of the house with boxes and bags. One call from downstairs and I was out the door offering my help before my Mom could tell me to.
Her large eyes were a sparkling green and she had a silvery mermaid hanging from her neck, a very small aquamarine gem in the tail. At first, it was pure fascination that attracted me to the girl whose dream was to be a mermaid.
To me, she already was one. All she was missing was a tail.
For the next two years she and I mostly spent our time by the ocean and local pool, less so in the wintry months. In that same two years she became my world; fueling me to fulfill my own dreams and inspiring me to do well in school to accomplish those dreams.
Every time I saw her swim or flash her bright smile at me while saying my name, I grew more driven and fell further.
Everything I had, everything I was, and everything I felt was owed to her; my mermaid.
Somehow, I had to return the favor.
“My dream is to be a mermaid.”
Halie really was so close with her attention grabbing hair that she’d let grow out, tanned swimmers build, and cattish chartreuse eyes.
All she needed was a tail and there were many ways to give her one, but few within my budget. I’d require experience before beginning the fulfillment of her dream; couldn’t start it otherwise. The risk of ruining it was too great and I’d never be able to forgive myself if I destroyed her desires.
I spent the next year practicing the process and honing my skills for her, making sure all the subjects of my experiments were beautiful and anywhere between 20 and 25.
It took me a year and a strict set of rules that helped me not get caught. They were all so beautiful but nothing like my Halie; my mermaid. I never told her about it so that I could keep it as a surprise for her birthday.
Choose, create, clean up, and drop was the basic four step process. Thinking of Halie the whole time was key. Well, that and a lot of drugs to keep them quiet and so they felt no pain. After all the cutting and stitching I’d wait until night fell, tie them to cinder blocks, and take my boat out into the ocean to toss them into the deep whether or not they were dead.
Once I finally decided that I was finally ready to help Halie, I told her of my aches to help her become a mermaid.
She agreed but only after I explained that she’d feel no pain. I would never hurt Halie; couldn’t.
I led her to the spot I’d brought all the others only after cleaning it as meticulously as possible. She obeyed my instruction to lie on the table in her silvery bikini, and for a moment my heart swelled with love for the trusting woman before me.
With a caress of her face I warned her of the brief pain the shot would cause, only starting when she nodded.
I offered her advice at dealing with any extra pain she may feel but knew she would let me know if it got unbearable.
A sterilized wire thread and needle, water basin, disinfectant, and rag were already set up in the room nearby. I could feel as we both closed our eyes and took a deep breath.
Her for the pain and me for the anxiety and fear that I would mess up.
I could do this. I’d had a year of practice; at least a dozen girls worth. Not even the overwhelming smell of disinfectant could cloud my mind now.
I started the first stitch and moved up from her ankles to her thighs. Weaving and working it through her flesh like shoelaces being woven through the holes of a shoe.
Remembering to keep her on a steady supply of the anesthetic was difficult to do without making her overdose. The process was time consuming but we talked through it mostly so I knew she didn’t pass out and partly because hearing the sound of her assuring voice fueled me.
Eventually, I had to turn her over and did so while she mentioned how glad she was that she’d eaten before this and drank plenty of water.
“Should I call my parents and let them know I’m staying at a friend’s?” She asked, her voice slightly strained from the pain yet also blurry.
“Do you think you should?”
“It’ll buy us the rest of the night.” Halie smiled even though I could only hear her voice.
She found it easier to text them in her drugged state. This allowed me to begin on the stitching going up the back of her legs.
Up from the ankles on both sides, making the connection between her legs more and more sturdy. It was turning out better than I’d imagined and I wiped sweat from my brow with a hand, now trembling dangerously. A few more stitches and I’d be done.
Halie was so happy once we were finally done and she could no longer feel the pain in her wired together legs.
If that was true...then why was I now on the floor with a knife piercing my chest?
Marcus was a nice enough boy when we’d first met and I continued to think it after two years, but as the third year of us knowing one another came along I started to feel uneasy around him.
There was no way for me to say no to him, though, not when his eyes were so loving and trustworthy. Whether it was my face, body, or personality he seemed to love it all unconditionally. He’d even promised to one day help me as I’d helped him.
Every time he’d bring it up, I felt myself internally crumble at the sincere words until I gave into them.
Pretty soon I was convinced that I loved Marcus.
It wasn’t an exact emotion that I was sure of, but I’d never once felt it for anyone else I’d met and it wasn’t a negative feeling.
I grew unsure when I heard of all the girls disappearing in our area, questionable when he mentioned he could help me become a mermaid...and finally, fearful when I woke up with my back on a wooden table feeling lightheaded. The smell of a hospital hitting my nostrils at full force was enough to make me gag.
Marcus hovered over me with the same look as all the other times, but it didn’t make any sense at all.
If he loved me then why was I here? Why wasn’t he listening to me when I begged him continuously to stop?
He was muttering to himself and I couldn’t hear what he was saying and then I realized that I couldn’t speak. No sound was coming out of my mouth as though it was all a sick dream.
What was he doing? He had a thread and needle in his hands.
“I’m going to help you, Halie. You’ll be a mermaid in no time and I’ll make sure you won’t feel a thing.”
All my worst fears were proven. Marcus had killed all of those girls and I was next.
Had he looked at all of them like this? Had he told all of them that he loved them and that he’d help them fulfill their dreams?
Rage was focused on myself and him; him for tricking me and myself for believing it all.
Even now I could hear him mumble it as I wove in and out of consciousness.
He was threading my legs together. I wanted to cry but I have to get out of here, so I surveyed my surroundings and found the knife. Reaching for it might dislocate my shoulder, but it’d also say my life if I moved fast enough.
Then he flipped me over and the knife was within a more painless reach but I couldn’t move that quickly. Checking over my shoulder at him for a few seconds, I risked taking my eyes off him to concentrate on getting my hands on that knife. He’d seemed focused enough on his ‘task’.
I stabbed him almost as soon as he got me sitting upright, and then I fell out of consciousness again.
Hopes for me swimming ever again were slim, but at least I was able to kill the bastard.
Halie and her boyfriend, Marcus laid out in the scene before us. Halie on the table and Marcus on the floor; no blood on his hands, but there was a knife in his chest. Halie had all the blood on her hands, fingers, and legs.
She had told him to see her as she wove her legs together, her obsession for him was fanatical and had gone so far that it was fatal...probably only after he’d rejected her.
Halie coughed and choked, leading me to immediately call in the paramedics.
“He was going... to kill me...stitched my legs together...said he... loved me...” She’d lost a lot of blood and had shot up numerous drugs, so her passing out again hadn’t shocked us. Her survival had surprised me and everyone around me.
Her therapist had proven my theory.
“She was always an obsessive child. The swimming was proof of that and she’d also never quit talking about Marcus once they started dating either. He was the only one she believed accepted her, so once he showed her any sign of rejection, she snapped.”
“Why did she do this, though? She loved to swim.”
“Once he rejected her, she recreated the situation in her mind as if he was committing the crime on her rather than what we saw in there.”
“She loved swimming but she always wanted to be a mermaid. They found the bodies drifting around at the bottom of the ocean.”
“She needed practice.”