Wednesday, January 22, 2014


When the Tide Comes In
By Jessica Walker

They washed up on the shores of our little fishing town of Nur, population 102 (Jillian just had her baby). Experts say the hurricane’s abnormally Western path must have caught them up while they were migrating.
Three young brothers first found them when they went roaming the beach that morning (you know Laura’s kids, always getting into something). At first none of us believed them, but when the preacher came into town and said that he saw a miracle on the beach, the town knew. The media soon followed as word got out that mermaids were beached at Nur.
Aside from the occasional big fishing boats, we never got visitors. So when the TV crews came with their caravans and photographers showed up with their cameras, the people of Nur turned out as well. They served the newscasters homemade sweet rolls and provided umbrellas as the last of the hurricane’s rains fell. Meanwhile on the flotsam scattered sand, hundreds of mermaids screeched their unearthly howl and flopped around.
Their bruised and bloodied arms were too weak to pull them across the shore back into the water. They had never needed to hold their own weight before. This will change the world, people said, this is big. And they were right. It only took a day for the entire world to be plunged into mermaid madness.
The social rights advocates as well as the animal rights activists started marching the streets carrying signs like “Make our schools Mermaid friendly”, “Mermaids are people too”, and “Save the Merfolk”. The entertainment business jumped on the opportunity and advertisements for “Mermaid: the Musical” were aired. Mermaid dolls and sea monkeys were bought and sold in excess.
Several of the world’s largest zoos came down to the beach and took a male and a female away for their exhibits. They used ambulances and carried them away on stretchers, avoiding the gnashing of their pointed teeth and their flailing fingernails.
The residents of Nur watched on, uncertain of what to do. They weren’t our mermaids after all, but some residents still felt possessive of them saying, “They washed up here, we have the first rights to them.” The entire spectacle made me feel ill.
A couple of the world’s top secret labs took a pair as well. They said they wanted to observe them. Run tests on their DNA, analyze their dolphin like language, and examine that fin on top of their heads that ran down to the small of their backs, see if they were human at all. The environmental club from Nur High School staged a protest, but that lasted only as long as the break in the rainstorms.
The hub bub lasted for a week with every eatery in our small town running out of food for the tourists and reporters.
The mermaids that had not been carried off to captivity lay exhausted on the beach howling like an injured raccoon. Occasionally a light rain shower would wash the sand off of their drying, dark green tails.
When night would fall, the reporters and photographers rented out all of the rooms in the Bed and Breakfast. The rest set up camp in the park and slept in their vans. Giant flood lights lit up the beach to keep an eye on the washed up school.
I stepped out onto my back porch with my rain boots on and looked over the dunes to where the mermaids lay. Above the breaking of the waves and the driving pling of the raindrops, I could hear them cry.
My husband was busy watching the TV inside and every couple of minutes he would yell over the noise, “Hey, look! Nur is on the news again! Isn’t this wonderful?”

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Jessica Walker is a student majoring in English. She enjoys reading a good book on a cold, winter day as well as trying her hand at writing one. She loves history, music, and spending time with family and friends.


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