Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: SEA CHANGE or TREE CHANGE (07/13/17)
TITLE: Take a Breath
By Art Westefeld
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I have long suspected the real reason grandpa didn’t push to have dad hunted down like the shark in Jaws was the reason he didn’t want to sound crazy. Imagine the gossip around his job and the town if he started to claim his daughter gotten pregnant with a merman.
Anyway I had a chance to talk to dad last week while mom and I went to the beach. He said he was shocked that I wasn’t breathing water yet or that my legs hadn’t fused into a tail yet. He blamed it on evolution. Not something I accept as I had been raised in a strict Christian house where the Bible’s view of creation was deemed the only correct one.
What really threw him and me was the fact I started to grow scales on my legs. Hardly noticeable to my human relatives, but dad saw them right away with his superior eyesight. Dad started to wonder if I was growing up different from him and his family. Would I become a person with scales where a fish half should be?
In his gargly underwater voice he told me, “If you want to have human offspring, it will have to be soon...”
As he continued, I know other kids get ‘the Talk’ from their folks, but I never expected to get the ‘birds and the bees talk’ quite so bluntly. Especially from a dad I’ve spoken to maybe a dozen times in my life.
I sputtered, and not just from having my head in the water, “I don’t get it! You looked normal enough, and I’ll bet you could be another baby’s daddy.
He smiled at me and said, “No I cannot.” He beckoned to a female merperson who had a tail like dad’s tail. “This is my wife, Gwelly, when you begin to live under the sea she will be what air breathers call your stepmother.”
I swam to her and she hugged me and said in broken English “Hello, Lori daughter, I can’t waits to have more times with you.”
Either I was going to embark on a project to teach my family real English or spend my adult life translating what they said. My human mom’s voice resounded through the water. I surfaced and she exclaimed, “Baby, you were under for so long I was afraid you’d never come back to land and me!”
I knew I was soon facing a life change real soon, as I looked at my cellphone and saw I’d been under the whole afternoon talking with dad. I smiled at mom and asked before I do that (and though I didn’t want to tell her it was coming sooner than I had thought), “Could we have a pizza night before I have to live on a complete seafood diet?”
I was having a harder time transitioning from breathing water to breathing air so I was certain that the next time I went under I might not come back. That night I ate a whole medium sausage pie, half a container of fudge ripple ice cream, and a half gallon bottle of soda.
The next day I called the grandparents and my close friends at school, the one’s who knew my secret, to say my farewells. There were some tears and laughter as I said my goodbyes.. Then after a last burger with mom, I took off my shirt and shorts to reveal the teal swimsuit mom had given me at the end of school. Got a final hug from my real mom and swam off to join my new family as a black Merperson.
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