Mermaid on Strike

I woke up in the dark, but I was dreaming. Memories of salt and scales. Turbulent clouds and cloying air that choked me. I searched for the ocean rhythm and found only a syncopated beat interrupted by static. A voice on the radio: “Mobile homes in Mountain Home Trailer Park in West Brattleboro, VT, are surrounded by water”( What is happening to the world? 

I started my life in Atlantis and from there as I matured I moved on to other parts of the sea, depending on where the economy seemed best. I’ve seen it all. Icecaps, polar bears, underwater volcanoes, scum-filled bays beside cities, the Gulf of Mexico where the water surface is like a mutant, the blue-green algae that kills the fish. I decided the pay wasn’t worth the health effects of living there. I don't understand how some folks do it. My department revolves mostly around water quality management, clearing the nasty bacteria and stuff like that, but I know some folks who focus more on waterway obstructions: islands of plastic, any shipwreck that uglifies the scenery, the occasional dead whale. Those guys are bruisers. They’ll work anywhere. I prefer to stick with mild jobs, but they’re getting harder and harder to find.

After the gulf, I was called over to the Potomac River. That was unexpected because my kind does not belong in rivers. Salt is like a fresh scent in the air. Times are changing though and we have become accustomed to worse living conditions and harder labor. This is my limit though. My boss is so dead when I go to make my report. I started out in the Winooski. There was greenery and I thought “in some places, the world is not so bad.” But then the rain increased. And it never ended. When the rivers spilled over the banks I was unprepared and found myself scraped across pavement. A man waded past me with a dog in his arms. I could taste the fertilizer rising from the fields as the flood pulled me out of safety into the human world. A truck underwater with a half-finished McDonald’s turning soggy, a dollhouse, a hairdryer, two wooden puzzle-pieces. What is wrong here? 

If it happened once, it’s no problem. We can clean it up. Bodies unearthed will be properly buried. We will clean the water. We will take lost items, bad memories, and the mud that swells the river, and bring it back to the sea. But it takes hard work, and why do it if, next year, I have to come again? We will fix it year after year, rebuilding the same things, but never getting it back to how it should be. What sort of a life is this for a mermaid? Mobile homes in Mountain Home Trailer Park are surrounded by water. 

Posted in response to the challenge Flood.



14 years old