When you come home, you see scales everywhere. You panic, fearing for the mermaid’s safety.
Then you find her in the bathtub, listening to an opera.
“I had some trouble getting to the phone to answer it,’’ she explains. “And I’m shedding. Anyways, your dentist’s office said you have an appointment tomorrow.’’
You take note of this. You had forgotten about this dental cleaning, what with entertaining your mermaid guest and all.
“Thanks,’’ you say to her.
“Sure thing. It was nice to be out of the tub for a bit, even with the difficulties it posed. The living room has a nice view.’’
Her comment makes you all the more glad you bought the inflatable kiddie pool and humidifier on the way home.
You rush through the apartment looking for her.
She’s nowhere to be found.
Maybe she has been kidnapped, and the scattered scales are remnants of the struggle with her captors, from giving them (you hope) a good slapping with her tail before they could subdue her. You begin to despair that she may now be in a carnival tank and that you may never see her again.
Then she walks in carrying a bucket and broom.
“Hey, sorry about the mess,’’ she says. “I was going to clean it up before you got back, but you have hardly anything to clean with. I had to go out and buy this stuff.’’
All the relief and disbelief coursing through you is overwhelming, only allowing you to say, “A cleaning service comes on Thursdays. They bring all the necessary cleaning gear.’’
She nods, like they have cleaning services where she’s from too.
“So, you’re okay?’’ you manage to ask, more for your benefit than hers.
“Yeah, just a little sore from the metamorphosis into this terrestrial form. I wonder if arthritis feels something like this.’’
“You look good with legs,’’ you say, trying to sound normal.
“Aw, thanks,’’ she says quietly.
She lowers her head, casting her smile to the floor, and starts sweeping up the remnants of her marine self.
Fascinated by the ways in which fiction can serve as a means of metacognition, Soramimi Hanarejima crafts stories to explore the nature of thought. Soramimi is the author of the story collection Visits to the Confabulatorium (Montag Press Collective, 2017) and works on information design projects that seek to visually communicate aspects of subjective experiences.