My Little Mermaid

by Lorraine Schein

This story originally appeared in Hysteria #7, 1995

Content Note: This story contains references to and descriptions of sexual activity

My little mermaid lives at home in my apartment in a small goldfish bowl on the night table next to my bed.  I’ve decorated her bowl with a pink and green turreted and crenelated plastic castle and a pink and gray molded plastic 1950s toy TV set.

She likes to watch her TV while she combs her long pink hair with her little golden comb, her long pink hair with green streaks that reaches to the top of her ankles.  The TV has only three scenes in it, though — these can be changed by clicking a little white button on its side.  However, this does not bother her; she is content to look at the same static picture of a happy family of four for an hour, and then press the button for the next scene, which she looks at as attentively as if she had never seen it before.

I don’t feed her goldfish food.  I tried that once, but Aquanette (her name) became very sick, her tail thrashing about wildly, and the water around her turned a bilious green.  I feed her flakes of dismantled McDonald’s Fishwiches or goldfish crackers.  She especially likes goldfish crackers.

Aquanette likes music also.  She particularly likes listening to her albums.  Her favorite groups are Country Joe and the Fish and The Turtles; she’s very much still a 60s person.

She puts on their records and flicks her tail greenly and happily to the beat, creating tiny shell-shaped ripples of water around it.  “Let’s swim to the moon, baby,” she sings happily along with The Doors.

In the summer she wears green mirror shades and a polka-dot bandeau, when it’s not too hot; in the winter, she wears a long knitted tail warmer and mittens.  She sleeps in the nude, always.

I found her this July at Coney Island.  Some others had found her first apparently, because they had put her in one of those large glass boxes filled with stuffed animals you can win near the Ferris wheel in the amusement park.  I had put in my quarter to play and had beginner’s luck, for on my first try, the large metal pincers that overhung the box and were controlled by a push button swung forward, lowered and closed in on a small stuffed animal, but something else was clinging to its back, something I could not see, until the pincers released her and she fell through the opening along with the stuffed animal, rolling into my hands, surprised as I.

I thought she was a goldfish when I first saw her, or one of those hallucinatory shapes the sunlight makes behind your lids when you close your eyes tightly against its brightness.  She was bigger than a goldfish, and about as tall as a lipstick.

When I take her to the beach, she sits atop my transistor radio, with a tiny spot of white sunblock on her nose and a tiny silver sun reflector.  She puts on her sunglasses — mirror shades, of course.  Her hair is wet.  She chews bubble gum.  She blows out a tiny perfect bubble the size of a dime, then pops it and takes the pink mini-wad of gum out from her mouth and sticks it against my Coke can.

I give her a sip of my Coke by pouring some into a styrofoam cup I’d brought, and lowering her carefully by the tail over it, so she can lap it up easily.  She perches atop of my Coke can when she is done with her drink, the tip of her tail poking into the opening of the pop-top, surveying the beach from the can’s rim.

She swims far out when she goes in the water.  Once I called her for a long time and she didn’t come back.  Later, as I was leaving the beach, I saw her clinging to the edge of the beach blanket I was shaking out, holding up the treasures she had found for me to see — a penny and a used condom.  She didn’t know what the latter was, but suspected it might be a close relative.

When we get home, she watches her favorite TV shows on my big TV — The Love Boat and Gilligan’s Island.  Then it is time to get ready for bed, and I start to fill the tub.  She loves to take baths with me, and sits nestled between my legs, leaning against my pubic hair.  She rubs herself up and down on me — it’s like having a little vibrator down there.

We are waiting to be turned into each other — I, a mermaid, and she, a human.  But the surgery is costly and there is a long waiting list.

When I get my tail, I will swim far away into the ocean, away from my job, apartment, condo payments, and relationships.

When she gets her legs, Aquanette says the first thing she’ll do is buy pantyhose, a skirt, and high heels, walk back to Coney Island, and find a handsome, rich prince or princess to take her on a world cruise.

© Copyright Lorraine Schein

Lorraine Schein is a New York writer. Her work has appeared in VICE, Terraform, Strange Horizons, Enchanted Conversation, NewMyths, and Eye to the Telescope, and in the anthologies Tragedy Queens: Stories Inspired by Lana del Rey & Sylvia Plath and XVIII: Stories of Mischief & Mayhem. The Futurist’s Mistress, her poetry book, is available from Mayapple Press:

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