This particular piece is a little different from the others, because I feel it isn’t stand-alone. I can feel that there is more of it inside of me, but it’s just about having the patience, time and interest to write more down. I see it developing into a chaptered extravaganza with an amazing ending, but I’ve been distracted by other projects and so this is just the beginning of what could one day develop into an amazing love story, or might just rot away in the black waters of Surreality for forever.
The lyric in the title should give an indication of what it was inspired by. I was having a massive Lady Gaga binge-session in the lead-up to the release of the jaw-dropping G.U.Y. video. It was mostly inspired by the incredible Monster art of Daniel Fernández, he is a truly talented artist who always blows my mind with his depictions of Lady Gaga. Every piece carries such beauty and originality. This piece got everything started, I am so in love with this drawing, I want to hang it on my wall and gape at it for the rest of my life. It took me away and this (unfinished) story is the location.
Summer Moon Comes Into Full Phase
Rylan wasn’t like the other sailors. Perhaps appearance-wise he could fit in with the crew. Beneath the flesh, closer to the bone, these similarities disappeared. Aside from the chosen occupation, he didn’t have anything in common with the men he worked alongside. They were strangers to the logic inside of his mind. They were task-orientated and rarely stopped to ask questions; meanwhile he never stopped asking questions. Their spare time was spent playing card games and discussing female sexuality, which could only hold his attention for a while before he started gazing out the window, daydreaming. Mostly he got along with everyone. But deep down he knew he was the weirdo and always would be.
He hadn’t become a sailor for the glory, or the fact that he couldn’t do anything else. It was the ocean that had attracted him. As a child he had invested all of his time in visiting the beach. The raw power of the sea had both frightened and fascinated him. The mysterious force was something he itched to explore more of, each day held new excitement. No matter how long he spent staring out at the never-ending blue he could never grow bored.
His day began at the beach, seemingly typical as he carried his surfboard back to the shore. He threw himself onto the sand, out of breath but satisfied. He stretched out, inviting the sun’s rays to his already olive skin. A great sense of contentment came over him as he watched the waves. He might go back in and he might not, there was no rush.
Something caught his eye, something breaking the surface that wasn’t a wave. At first he dismissed it as a fish, momentarily jumping out of the water. He continued considering the push and pull of the tide, listening to the gulls overhead. A little later he saw the flick of movement again, but this time he saw it clearer. A fin, quite a large one, much too big to be a fish. He sat up, watching carefully as it disappeared underwater again. It appeared to be the size of a dolphin, but the texture was wrong. Instead of smooth, it was rigged and rough. He couldn’t be sure what it was.
He reached for his knapsack, pulling out his snorkel and mask. He dove into the water, paddling out as quickly as he could. He kept his eyes wide, not wanting to miss a thing. He hoped he was moving in the right direction and that the creature couldn’t swim much faster than him. He prepared himself for what he might see. If this was indeed a scientific discovery, what would he call the new species?
He sped up when the tail came into sight. There were too many bubbles for him to yet know what he was following, but he was catching up. He was closer to gaining all of the answers.
Yet as he got closer he only came across even more questions. The situation was growing more-and-more confusing with each passing second. The long, scaly and darkly-coloured tail was waving furiously, this was normal. But the colour faded to white as the body stretched on. He came up alongside the being, which was neither fish nor dolphin. It looked like a human torso, a human head attached to the neck.
He couldn’t believe what he was seeing. But it wasn’t going away. It was swimming with him, forcing him to accept the bizarre truth. He was swimming with a mermaid. Sightings were rare nowadays; the majority of the species had been killed when humans had taken to hunting them for fun during the seventeenth century. The seriously depleted population had moved out of heavily-trafficked areas, seeking sanctuary in abandoned waters.
For as long as Rylan could remember he had been obsessed with the fantastical race. He had devoured all of the available information on the topic. He had dreamt of meeting one, never actually believing it would come true. His mind was lulled, in a state of illogical wonder. His body was running on auto-pilot, not consciously thinking about swimming at the moment.
Somehow he didn’t drown. He managed to stay in pace with the mermaid, his swimming remaining strong despite how much his mind was floundering. All he could do was stare at her. She was even more incredible than the millions of scientific diagrams and paintings had depicted of her race. Lazy artists capturing a human-like beauty when she was far more extraordinary than that.
The task of swimming seemed to be of no effort to her. She moved as smoothly as liquid, her arms relaxed by her sides and her tail dancing behind her. She was looking at him, mystery in her light eyes. She didn’t appear to be scared; in fact he could see a hint of a smile.
She tipped him a wink and sped up, initiating a race. This was fun for her. He brought both arms in front of him then forced them back at the same time to give himself a surge of speed. It wasn’t good enough, she had an unbeatable advantage. It didn’t matter how many swim teams he had captained. She had been born amongst the waves, she would always win. She made a show of beating him, rolling onto her back and feigning a yawn.
Her taunting was short-lived, she collided with a barrier. He had the luxury of space to stop and survey the situation. She hadn’t been paying attention, hadn’t noticed the net. She let out an anguished shriek, which gave him a temporary headache. She thrashed around, attempting to free the arm that had gotten caught, but causing further entanglement. Soon she would be entirely trapped, stuck with the other unsuspecting fish. He envisioned the fishermen discovering her when they pulled the net in – they would probably kill her, or sell her to scientists who would keep her in a tank for the sake of ‘research’.
He couldn’t let that happen to her. She looked at him, fear and desperation shining in her eyes. This eliminated any questions of whether or not he should help her. He pushed himself back up to the surface, greedily sucking in air. He began back to the shore, pulling a heavy-duty knife out of his pack. He felt no fatigue, paying no attention to his aching muscles as he paddled to the net. He was too focused on his task to acknowledge anything else.
The mermaid had gotten herself wrapped even tighter in the trap. She was panicked and as she struggled she made it worse. She was hissing, helplessly clawing at the net. Her teeth had extended into sharp fangs and she was emitting a black ink, her defence mechanism.
She was making the situation far more complicated than it need be. But he didn’t let this intimidate him. He swam over to her and began hacking at the net. It began to break away. As he was getting closer he noticed barbs had dug into her skin, blood oozing from between her scales. These weren’t the only wounds he saw, she was covered in cuts, some barely healed. She had been injured numerous times; someone needed to tend to this.
When she got free she made to immediately flee, ungrateful. He caught her by the wrist, he wasn’t finished helping her. She attempted to remove him from her, an instinctual reaction. He placed the knife in its sheath, redoubling his effort. He didn’t want to be rough with her, but he knew he could help her if given the chance. He used his right hand to lock her wrists together, his left hand going to her chin, redirecting where she looked. He knew if she looked in his eyes she would be able to tell he didn’t mean her any harm. This was the only way he could communicate with her while they were underwater and he had a snorkel rammed into his mouth.
She was still distressed when she finally met his eye. An immeasurable moment passed as they stared at each other. She started to relax, her fangs withdrawing. Her arms went limp; she wasn’t going to fight him anymore. Perhaps she was as tired as all of the wounds implied. His guard was down, she could have hurt him, she could have killed him. It seemed mermaids weren’t as vicious as the textbooks said.
He gently took one of her hands and began to the surface. She went along with him, looking up to where the sun was breaking through the water. They emerged at the same time. He ejected the snorkel from his mouth and pushed his goggles back, keen to get a proper look at her. Droplets of water glistened on her sickly-white flesh as she stared up at the sky. The rows of gills on each cheek were still, she made use of her nostrils, able to switch between the two depending on her environment.
“Aren’t you something.” He admired.
She redirected her attention to him, smiling a little. “You’re not too bad yourself.”
“You can speak English?” He had been anticipating a never-ending game of charades.
“Yeah, I can speak a little German too and I’m fluent in French.” She bragged.
Her brain was literally filled with water, yet she was still smarter than him. He didn’t think it mattered how someone who lived underwater could learn the languages of land-dwellers. He was relieved that they would be able to communicate clearly with one another. There was no limit to the amount of secrets she could tell him now.
“I’m YuYi.” She provided and he returned his own name. “Thanks for saving me. You looked pretty worried down there, but I’m fine.”
“No you’re not, you’re covered in cuts, you look like you went a couple of rounds with a chainsaw.” He corrected.
She gazed at him uncertainly. “Chainsaw?”
“Let me fix you up, I can dress your new cuts and take care of the old ones.” He offered. “I’ll check for infections and make sure there’s nothing wrong.”
“I live in salt water, what do I have to worry about infections?” She asked of him.
“Please, just to satisfy my own concerns. Otherwise you’ll swim away and I’ll be left wondering what happened to you. I probably won’t be able to sleep, worried about all of your war wounds. That isn’t a very nice thing to do to the guy who just saved your life.” He wasn’t sure why he was making it sound like she was doing him a favour.
But it worked, after she rolled her eyes. “Okay, gosh humans are so dramatic.”
“Come on, I’ve got stuff to help you at my place.” He faced the shore and began to paddle.
“Rylan.” When he turned around she wasn’t directly behind him. “Nobody else can see me, please?”
“Definitely not.” He agreed.
“You seem nice and all, but your people and my people don’t have the best past. The less people who know about me, the less complicated we can keep it.” She elaborated. “Don’t you agree?”
“Yeah, totally. You’re safe with me.” He reassured her.
She hesitated before nodding and moved over to catch up with him. The beach was abandoned at this time of day – luckily for them. The rest of the community was at their jobs, dressed in their monochrome outfits. They had no idea what was happening in nature right now. These were the perfect conditions to smuggle a mermaid out of the water.
Once they reached the shallows he turned to her. He picked her up, out of the waves, unable to balance the unfamiliar weight of her tail straight away. She grabbed hold of his shoulders, not wanting to slam back down onto the sand. It was an awkward few moments of configuration, his hands slipping on her wet skin.
He managed to find a comfortable hold, beneath the crook where human knees would have been and the small of her back. Her chest was flush against his, which he hadn’t noticed before. Her skin was cold and the scales rough, but he didn’t shrink away from the sensation. Their eyes locked in this moment and he could feel heat rising in his cheeks. She was very close to him, her hands firm on his shoulders. She stared at him with incredibly wide eyes, as intimidated by the proximity as him. He smiled, trying to act casual. He blamed the pounding of his heart on the adrenaline to come from swimming so far.
“You’re really strong.” She admired.
“Thanks.” He cleared his throat and dropped his eyes, beginning to walk.
This was the strangest thing to happen to him. The sun was at his back, creating a very odd shadow for him to follow. It would be a lie to say he had never fantasized about something like this. Especially as a child, he had dreamt of befriending a mermaid. It was hard to believe this was actually happening, but the awkward weight in his arms confirmed it was all real.
The mermaid stretched out in the bath, her wounds cleaned and a random piece of fishing line untangled from her teal hair. She didn’t fit very well, the end of her tail draped over the edge of the tub. Nevertheless she looked happy, her eyes shut and a slight smile on her face. She was content in the enclosed space.
Rylan was using the shut toilet lid as a seat, unable to stop staring at YuYi. It had been thirteen hours since he had brought her back to his house and his fascination was yet to fade. She was a marvel of the supernatural and he felt so lucky to be able to study her in this intimate fashion.
They had been talking, getting to know each other. She had a lot to say and the time passed easily. She was telling him about the places she had been. He listened, imagining what a life of limitless travel could be like. She’d had incredible adventures. She had seen more of the world than he could ever hope to experience. She didn’t have any responsibilities, she could go wherever her heart desired.
She had been quiet for a while now and he suspected she had fallen asleep. If not, he was eager to hear another story. “What happened after Europe?”
No flicker of movement behind the shut eyelids and no change to her pattern of deep breathing met his question. He decided he didn’t need to hear any more tales from her exciting life. He would gladly settle for merely being in her presence.
Now he didn’t have to steal glances, he could stare openly at her without fear of being perceived as a creep. All of the reports concentrated on the differences between mermaid and human, to incite fear undoubtedly. The scientists painted mermaids as alien as possible, weird and scary. But, as Rylan dragged his eyes across YuYi’s figure, he was struck by the similarities. While marvelling over the aquatic qualities, he couldn’t ignore the human qualities. She was a natural habitant of this world the same as him.
They were the same. They were different.
He considered her to be a human unleashed from the chains of reality. She wasn’t weighed down by doubts of cynicism. He looked at her and saw unrestrained possibilities. She was everything that could be if magic was believed. She was the reason to dream.
Partially he had concealed and stomped down the dreamer inside of him. Relentless bullying had led him to the conclusion that it was easier to act normal. There were days when he got too busy keeping up appearances by discussing politics that he forgot to acknowledge the colours in the sunset.
Now he studied every scale on her torso and remembered how fantastical the world was. Colours he hadn’t thought about in a long time danced into his mind. His fingers itched to experience the texture. The webbing on her tail brought this unbelievable circumstance continually back into reality. There was a beautiful mermaid in his bathtub and all of the air particles were alive, vibrating around him with a million yet-to-be-unlocked possibilities.
Suddenly her breathing hitched, her doze interrupted for an unknowable reason. Her eyes opened, prompting his own breathing to temporarily freeze – had he forgotten how brilliantly green her eyes were?
“Oops.” She muttered, sitting up a little straighter. “I didn’t mean to fall asleep in the middle of our conversation. I suppose I’m more tired than I first thought and this enclosed space is so comforting, it reminds me of the caves I sometimes find to sleep in.”
“I’m glad you’re so comfortable.” He said. “Why don’t you stay for the rest of the night? You should give yourself enough time to rest up properly then first thing tomorrow morning I’ll take you back to the ocean. How does that sound?”
“I don’t want to test your hospitality.” She said.
“I guess it’s a good thing that I invited you to stay longer then.” He stated and she smiled. He stood up from his makeshift seat. “I’ll let you get some sleep.”
“Thank you Rylan, for everything.” She said after he had turned the light out.
Standing under the archway he turned back. The moonlight shone clearly through the window mounted next to the bathtub, casting a magical light upon her. He admired her in this way for a few moments, absorbing as much of the moment as possible. A photo would never do this spectacular sight justice. He pulled the door shut and returned to his bedroom, far preferring the idea of staying with YuYi.