How on earth are you supposed to greet a mermaid when you’re introduced? Come to that had my friend Don been completely honest with his story or had I just been set up for the pay off of an elaborate joke?
The stair lift supposedly bringing a mermaid to see me had come to a stop now and an electric wheel chair began to travel towards the sitting room.
I stood up politely just before the chair came into the room but Don waved me down again.
“She would rather meet you on the same level as herself,” he explained, “she still finds the human ability to stand upright a bit disconcerting.”
Well if it was a joke he was certainly keeping it up right to the very end. Then Sheila wheeled herself into the room and all my doubts evaporated in an instant.
Whatever else she may have been she certainly wasn’t a normal human. Don’t get me wrong, to a lonely fisherman she might well have appeared attractive, but the famous blonde hair was very coarse and short. Her eyes didn’t look quite right somehow, nor did they appear to blink. She was wearing a bright red covering over her top half that disappeared into a blanket spread over the lower half in approved ‘invalid in a wheelchair’ fashion.
“Please meet my old friend Geoff,” said Don, “Geoff this is Sheila!”
I made the appropriate reply as Sheila held out her hand. She felt rather cold and damp to the touch as I shook her hand gently.
“Plees meet you Sheff” she said.
That was a relief; at least the rest of the evening wouldn’t be spent in an embarrassing silence.
I repeated the story of how they’d met as I’d been told it, and she replied in her broken English.
“Grateful Don, save my life from net. Now we help him catch fish for business.”
We continued chatting amongst ourselves for half an hour or so, then I noticed Sheila was beginning to slow down as people do when they run out of small talk.
“Need swim,” she announced suddenly and went out through the open double doors from the sitting room rolling her chair to the edge of the large outdoor swimming pool. She removed the covering from her upper body and threw off the blanket hiding her lower half. Even with her back to us I could see a long muscular tail as she fell forward from the wheel chair and dived into the pool.
Don beckoned to me and we followed her over to the poolside and watched. I suspect he was familiar with her abilities but to me she was absolutely incredible. Any doubts as to her true origins were completely dispelled as she swam under water for a couple of lengths. I noticed her arms held tightly against her body as she came to the surface and did a couple more lengths in less time than it takes to describe it, leaving a foaming wash like a power boat as she sped through the water. All that thrust developed just from the power of her tail!
The pool was a little murky in the deeper water and it wasn’t possible to see details as one would in an ordinary out door pool, but Don reminded me that she’d stocked the salt water with fish. A moment later she reappeared with a large fish clutched in her hands, then she rolled over onto her back clutching the fish to her stomach and began eating it rather like an otter. Strangely I didn’t think of the fish at all, it was rather like watching a teenager eating one of those big Macdonald’s burgers.
Then as she swam off for a more leisurely circuit of the pool a most amazing thing happened. Well it surprised me although Don appeared to be used to her blowing like a whale. In Sheila’s case the jet of watery spray came from the area covered with yellow hair!
Don looked at me and laughed, “Sheila told me her ancestors descended from the dolphins thousands of years ago and now they form a separate race of intelligent sea creatures. The yellow hair developed at the same time and marks the species from the true dolphins.”
Sheila stopped swimming and one eye closed as she seemed to go to sleep after all that exercise. As we watched her tail moved slightly and she began to rotate in the pool keeping one eye open for dangers as she moved.
Don and I went back indoors while Sheila had a much needed rest. Everything he’d told me had been true and I’d been privileged to have had words with another intelligent life form besides our own. I didn’t say so in as many words of course for fear of giving offence, but I felt rather as if I’d just been discussing an engineering problem with an alien!
Life returned to normal, I went round to see Don once a week as usual and we discussed the more normal things in life as we’d always done. Sheila was often there listening, or contributing to our chat, occasionally going for a swim or a meal when she felt she needed one.
Then one day Don rang me before I was due to go round for our evening visit. He sounded quite upset!
“Sheila told me she was leaving me for a long holiday but would arrange for the fish to be supplied as usual and said she’d wait for your visit to say goodbye to us both before she went”
Well naturally I went round as soon as possible. Don opened the front door as usual and took me straight out to the pool in the garden at the back of the house.
She didn’t waste any time as we arrived she just came head and shoulders out of the water, “Bye Don, bye Sheff,” she waved to us as she dived, then there was a swirl in the water and she was gone.