Bubble Gum & Merfolk
Bubble gum melodies, melancholy ballads
The powdery white sand cushioned Miranda Charm’s calloused heels and dug in between the cracks between her gnarled toes as her jaw went lax in a long, audible sigh. The sticky salt air clung to her as if it was magnetized to her. No, as if the warm breeze only wanted to swirl around and whisper to her.
She was glad her hair was buzzed short so her scalp could feel the wind first hand, and not her hair.
A little needle crab scuttled out from a hole, snapping its dark gray pincers as if scolding her for not coming to the beach sooner. Then another one popped out, peeping its bulbous black eyestalks out, cleaning them.
They both watched her.
“I don’t remember the crabs being this brazen.” Miranda said to herself as she strode out towards the lapping sea.
The sand grabbed her feet, as if to hold her and never let her go, as she walked past pearlescent conch shells, strands of leafy green kelp, and rainbow-hued shedded mermaid tails from growing adolescent merfolk.
Miranda and the rest of the people she knew growing up respected the merfolk and left them to their own secretive devices. Merfolk would only sing when they felt relaxed and comfortable, knowing that they wouldn’t be hunted.
And oh, did Miranda miss their lolling, bubble-gum melodies and their deep, melancholy ballads.
However, she doubted she’d hear one sing again, due to the poachers capturing one after another nine years go, right as sonar tech leapt forward in development.
Even though most brazen marine poachers had been strung up as a warning long before the war started, the damage had already been done.
A stray thought darted through Miranda’s mind —would the merfolk return to sing near their shores now that the poachers had gone?
Did the human race even deserve such a blessing anymore? She’d like to think so.
Miranda scanned the horizon, a dark teal spreading endlessly beneath a darkening pink sky. Now that she really looked, the teal reflected brush strokes of magenta, like it wanted to put on accessories to match the outfit their date wore.
A perfectly round dollop of tangerine had nestled itself in a lavender cloud stretched over the sea to the woman’s right. Everyone tells you when you’re little, you’re never supposed to stare directly into the sun, but Miranda can’t help but take a peek at it from her good eye today.
It had been nearly a decade since she had laid her weary eye on a bloodless pink sunset, let alone one over the Pilera sea.
A smile finally tugged its way up Miranda’s scarred face.
She was home.
If anyone had asked Miranda a year ago, on the incendiary battlefront of Jaguron City, calling out orders behind a smoldering armored personnel carrier, if she would make it back home to the little seaside town of Sirensong, she would’ve been tempted to put a bullet in their foot.
But, against odds that casinos would love, she found her way home.
Sure, her jagged journey had cost her an eye, two fingers on her left hand, and her peace of mind, she had taken far worse.
However, those people were far worse as well, and if she could take their lives again she would.
Yet, now she’d bask in the sunset.
She’d dissociate, flinging out her arms, palms out, pretending she was soaring through the sky. She’d close her good eye, and just as the sun sank down to just a sliver of red into the dark pilera sea, she heard a note.
A long, mournful solo somewhere out in the endless, endless sea seeped deep into Miranda’s heart and squeezed it like a python would its prey.
Miranda waved when the deep note lilted up into a hopeful high.
Power in Numbers