Fantasy Fiction posted February 16, 2016

This work has reached the exceptional level
Short Story

Of Sea Shells and Shanty Tales

by michaelcahill

It is within the shells on the beach I seek to live, always moving, always keenly cognizant of the approaching tide. A moment's lapse in my resolve and I’m swept out to sea. True, an adventure could await me there. I’ve heard rumors of creatures whose manners are astonishing. Creatures who see without eyes ... hear without ears ... and even speak when there is no one with which to share a moment's regard.
Am I a fearful soul as you all allege? Does the thought of immersion tickle some amniotic dread and subliminal message of a crack addicted mother? Perhaps … perhaps. But, who is not somewhat fearful of the genetic clock ticking with its mysterious chimes always at the ready? No, you’ll never hear them, but they will nevertheless mourn your passing.
Perhaps if I remain here and move from a conch to a still attached and pliable clam abode, my father will return from the never was, or will be, and fashion a snowman in the blistering heat. Such is hope for the dreamer when reality just won’t do.
And now, I contemplate my mermaid rendezvous. She seems so perfect and talks the talk in a high-pitched squeal, primordial in origin, and vibrating within me at just the right frequency. Yes, I’m still quite young enough to respond, a little surprised and more than pleased to report.
But she observes the source of my pride, and declares in the voice of my third-grade teacher, “I was just talking. Are you not familiar with the gift of gab? Are you not clear about spinning a tale of titillating tittering jibber jabber? What did you expect when I’m all fish from the waist down?”
I eye the treacherous ocean. I realize she came straight from its depths. Yet, I’m drawn to the notion of some half-forgotten cliché. There are others, as I recall. Such was the wisdom imparted in those heady days of scholarship. There are others in the sea. But are they not just as she?
I recall the words to an old sea shanty. My mermaid blushes as she hears the jaunty tale.

“Now please pay attention and listen to me
… la, la, la, la, … blow the man down!”

Ah, yes. That was the gist of it.
The water is warm. I steady my rudder, and head for adventure.


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