The Mermaid’s Dare

The lake looked empty, but it wasn’t. It had one mermaid, and surely, tons of other aquatic life, but to Lorelai, the one mermaid, it sure felt empty.

Lorelai had swam up the St. Lawrence river on a dare, leaving the cold waters of the north Atlantic and the burbling bubbling songs of her friends for the yet colder waters of Canada and the strange reverberations of the lake barges. She had gotten lost, and she did not know how to get back to the ocean, and she had swum faster and faster until she reached Lake Ontario, where she sat, in beatific sadness, feeling scared and lonely and missing her friends so badly.

She might have stayed there forever, giving up on the larger aquatic world to waste away in helpless misery, but Lorelai was stronger than that, and after an appropriate period of self pity she looked for the stars and the familiar constellations, and, centering herself on the brightest of them, swam downriver, to her friends and their song.

Lorelai won that dare, and that night when the mermaids sang and burbled in the cold waters, luring sailors to untimely ends and ships to sharp rocks, she sang and lured loudest of all of them, and she was so glad to be back.

Written on February 4th at the Memorial Art Gallery during the Valentine #Schmalentine event for a couple who thought it reasonable that a mermaid would be happy in the Atlantic.