a clutch of mermaid eggs


It took years of searching under kelp and seaweeds, of slipping past barnacles at low tide, and hunting through the flotsam of a storm surge. At last I’ve found a clutch of mermaid eggs. With care and a stroke of luck, I might be able to hatch them. I’ve studied the manuscripts, the old legends scraped in stone. If I succeed – well, I’ll have a pair of mermaids to raise as my own, won’t I? Shh. Tell no one and I’ll introduce you to them one day.

the little diveman

Eldin glimpsed his mermaid in the water, the one who stole his heart when he rescued her from the beach. He’d given up everything to find her.

He rushed across The Sea Witch and struggled into scuba gear.

“You sure know what you’re doin’?” asked the Captain.

“Of course.” Eldin flashed his forged dive ticket again.

The Captain cursed as the boy splashed into the water. “No deeper than 30m or the decompression’ll kill ya.”

Eldin found his mermaid waiting for him, smiling and holding out her hands.

She led him to an underwater village built of kelp and coral.

The regulator he needed for breath wouldn’t let him speak his promises of love, but he rejoiced at the warmth of her hand against his glove.

His depth gauge read 120m when his mask cracked. Eldin paid it little mind, his mind too full with the magic of first love.

She let go of Eldin’s hand as a school of merchildren swam to greet her. When she gestured to Eldin they rushed to hug him. He tried to smile but his stomach knotted up with doubts. A smiling merman shook his hand. Her family, Eldin realized, her children. Her husband.

Eldin turned, hoping they wouldn’t see the agony of his shattered heart. He needed to get away. To find somewhere alone to howl with this awful pain.

He released his dive weights, rushing to the surface, heedless of the Captain’s warning.

They never found his body. Some say he turned to sea foam, his sorrow clinging to the surface of her world and to his.



the mermaid’s return

I slip inside the waves, the sea kissing my skin. We’ve been so long apart. She soothes my aching senses, dulling the sharp sounds and smells of the open air.

My tattered feet merge into my tailfin. Out of habit my eyes hunt for the notch I earned from a run-in with a nurse shark when I was seven. I take comfort that my true form remains the same after so many years hidden away.

Everything turns inward. I am aware of my self in the water, my breath, my heartbeat. I swim deeper, reaching for the distant clicks and whale song of the sea, leaving the land and all its ghosts behind forever.


Making Beaches Great Again

I believe artists have a social responsibility not just to provide escape, but to stand up for what’s right. To show a mirror to society, to speak up. While there is some movement on this issue, I encourage everyone to keep fighting for these families and children. We are all one natural disaster away from becoming refugees ourselves.

Making Beaches Great Again

“My Mom and I came to this beach a month ago. It’s something mermaids like to do, you know? We tell each other these heart-breaking stories of mermaids who fall in love with human men and everything goes wrong.” The mermaid gazes across the sea, her smile fading, her lips trembling.

Her mermaid name is not allowed in the camp. The pronunciation is too difficult for the guards. She’s been temporarily assigned ‘Zoe’ until her processing is complete.

“The immigration officers were hiding behind a sand dune. They called us ‘illegals’ and told me I’d never see my mom again.” Her chin quivers. “I haven’t.” Zoe brushes a smooth, turquoise glass from her cheek. It’s true, that old legend of sea glass being mermaid tears.

Immigration Affairs refuses to back down, despite the lack of infrastructure to handle the sudden influx of underage merfolk. “These aren’t international waters. These mermaids broke the law. Nobody wants to see our beaches overrun with mermaids. We take their kids, they’ll get the hint and stay in the water.”

On Tuesday the leader of the dry world tweeted We could solve a lot of our problems by having a fish fry. #mermaidsushi #gettingmesometail. The House of White quickly issued a statement that their leader is not a cannibal and only intends to eat the fish half.

Zoe isn’t on twitter. I don’t bring it up.

She digs her fingers into the wet sand and fights back a sob. Her lap fills with sea glass. “Do you know where my mom is?”

Photo courtesy of Ian Espinosa on Unsplash

the winning entry

Late last July, I entered a contest at Writer Unboxed. The task was this: write 200 words of a story’s beginning  in 24 hours. The judges chose finalists, and then readers voted on the final stories: yes, they would keep reading; or no, they wouldn’t turn the page. Well, my entry won! The prize? A Freewrite, touted as a “distraction free writing tool”.


My Freewrite arrived the other day and I’m busily learning the ins and outs of it so I can tell you all about it … and that’s what made me realize I never shared my contest entry. I admit I feel shy about it, because I’d like to polish it up more than 24 hours’ worth. Usually I’m a 20 or so drafts writer, but no. It won, after all, posted publicly for all to see. The Freewrite folks also asked permission to reprint it (no news on that one yet), so it’s time I accept it, warts and all.

So here it is folks, for your reading pleasure (I hope!):

Little Kira sucked at her thumb, unable to look away from a few grains of sand clinging to the mermaid’s eye. Confusion pooled within her six-year-old mind, flowing back and forth between delight that mermaids were real and horror that this one was dead.

The tide completed its voyage out and was coming ‘round again when the search party found her there, her small form hidden amid the debris of the storm surge. Squawking gulls took to wing as they approached. The smell struck them hard, a stench of rotting fish and decayed seaweed. Their jaws fell agape at the mermaid, hands flying to their mouths.

Someone clasped their hands over Kira’s eyes as a sand crab scuttled from the mermaid’s open mouth. Kira pushed the hands away, thinking that it wasn’t fair the summer sun had bloated the mermaid so.

A woman wrapped her in a blanket, murmuring to her companion. “What becomes of a little girl who sees something like this?”

Kira wondered what they meant.

She suddenly wanted to touch the mermaid, just once, before she had to leave. Without hesitating, she reached for the mermaid’s tail. A smear of silver scales came off onto her hand.

Well, what about you? Would you keep reading?

a clutch of mermaid eggs

I’d heard the legends, though I didn’t believe them. Not until now. The eclipse passed us over somewhere in the afternoon, too far south for more than a bit of pretty light. This wasn’t why we went to the beach. We only sought an afternoon of fun, a cool breeze, and the reassuring smell of brine.

It wasn’t until I saw them I remembered the tales Grandma used to tell of the mermaids. “They only lay their eggs when the moon eclipses the sun. When the sea is strongest and the sun is busy fighting past the moon. They don’t like anyone watching, you see.”

I dismissed the idea. Even as a child I was convinced mermaids, if they were anything, must be mammals. Like us. Like dolphins.

Grandma shook her head. “Aye but a mermaid has the tail of a fish, not a dolphin. The bottom half is not a mammal, and that’s the end which lays the egg, after all.”

There was no winning with her, though I argued anyway. Most of my life this argument of ours carried, both of us convinced we knew more about the reproductive cycle of mythical creatures than the other. Neither of us acknowledging the futility of debating the science of fairy tales.

She died some years ago, before my child was born. So on this beach, after this eclipse, I tell my daughter Grandma’s mermaid egg story. She screws up her little face and giggles. “Mermaids don’t lay eggs!”

A moment later she looks doubtful, peering into nooks between the rocks, searching. “Just in case,” she tells me.

I smile, basking in her innocence, her sense of wonder. I remain in this smug, parental state until she finds them. A clutch of scaled eggs hidden in a swath of seaweed revealed by the ebbing tide.


We have just missed the mermaids, I realize, looking out over the endless sea. For once the water doesn’t strike me as empty; it is another world. All I know of it is but a false reflection of my own. I am not privy to the mermaid’s world. But Grandma, she was. Somehow.

My daughter leaps into the air with a whoop and rushes into a wave. No little girl will ever forget the day she found mermaid eggs. She’ll be the keeper of that story now, and I … I will be the person who never believed. Until today.

a pirate’s sole regret


The retired pirate stared out to sea, contemplating the events of his life. He mulled over his nefarious deeds, his terrible doings, and his piratical offenses with pride. They were the hallmark of a well-spent pirate’s life.

He’d escaped the plank more than once, battled with a sea monster and won, and stolen a baker’s dozen ships from the King’s armada.

Still, he’d also been far too bold to ever lose his heart, never had any children, and a lifetime of mistrust and paranoia made it hard to make friends. This made for a lonesome retirement, but everyone knows a pirate is not meant to live long enough to retire.

A splash in the water caught his attention. He watched the waves, his nerves on end and his fright real. They would never let him forget why he’d been cast from the sea. His one regret, the one thing he never could escape, was the day he tried mermaid sushi.


who are these dandies of the intertidal zone?


It is a little known fact that certain rocks of the intertidal zone can be something of a dandy. The moment the tide begins to withdraw finds them whipping out their combs – often the backbone of some unlucky minnow – and combing flat their wigs of algae.

I’ve heard them brag they got the idea from adolescent mermaids and preening ducks. Others say they have to do it or their wigs are plagued with sand fleas. Since I’ve asked all I see are flea-ridden, preening stones who wish to look like little girls. I’m not sure of the appeal, but then again I am not a lady rock.

moments of mermaid madness


The mermaid didn’t like to admit the moments that made her feel jealous. She lived a carefree, solitary life, swimming in an endless sea. Once or twice a year she might another of her kind, and often that was enough, but of late she found herself wishing for a friend.

The barnacles crusted together in their community upon the rock, dying together as the whelks feasted upon them. Mermaids tended to die alone, their hair matted with seaweed, their bodies adrift on the tide. Even the marauding whelks had companions in their feasting.

Ugh, these dark thoughts. She tried to shake them from her mind. Such things led to mermaid madness and falling in love with two-legged humans who lived in cities or villages, locked up in houses. She shuddered, grateful for the freedom of the sea once more.

secret messages


The sunlight winked upon the water’s surface, sending secret messages to the bottom of the sea. There the mermaids scooped them up in long lost buckets and relayed them to whom they belonged. Who that is, I cannot say, but I’ve always dreamt of hidden sea beasts, impossible and mythical, whose deep sea movements become the waves that greet us on the shore.