Spawn

 

Sherry L. Lind

 

 

The mermaid flicked her tail in defiance. "I don't want to grow up. Not if -"

"In matters of nature you have no choice. When the urge to spawn comes, you must answer." Briny waved her front flippers as a human would shrug its shoulders.

Opal turned her cobalt gaze on the ancient sea turtle. "But I like what I am, and if I spawn I will no longer be a mermaid. I don't want to loose what little humanity I have. I'm half human too. Why can't I become human instead of becoming a fish?" She wrapped her lithe arms about her developing chest and stuck her dainty chin out.

The huge turtle slowly swished her flippers to float up to the mermaid so they were nose to nose. "You are what you are because you are the daughter of Poseidon. Man and fish cannot mate. Fish lay eggs while women give live birth and feed their offspring the milk of the mammals.

Your bottom half, the half that reproduces, is fish. It is an impossibility."

Opal flicked her tail and set her jaw. "Nothing is impossible for the daughter of a god." She swam off in a cloud of bubbles. Up, up, she pushed, reaching for the pure light of the sun where she could be alone with her thoughts and touch the world of men. The ocean surface broke and she sucked in the sweet, salty air. She shook out her kinky, white locks and surveyed her surroundings. All about her alabaster light played with azure water and the vast blue of the sky stretched out further than her imagination. Opal hugged herself and shivered despite the warm air and water. I am such a small thing in the scheme of the world. Who am I to think that I can change what has always been?

In the distance she saw the spray of a whale and then its fluke disappear beneath the waves. Ah, but even the enormous whale would not be here if not for the tiny plankton-and all of the ocean's subjects, great and small, pay heed to one. Yes, if anybody would know what to do, it would be Father. She breathed deep and dove deeper than she had ever before dared, calling for her father telepathically.

Just when her lungs began to burn for the surface air, Poseidon materialized before his daughter, placing his touch upon her so she could readily breath below the surface. Opal relaxed as her lungs filled. "Thank you, Father. I'll never understand why I can't stay under as long as my sisters."

The sea god stroked his daughter's cheek with his big hand. "You are a daughter of Poseidon just as your sisters are, but you are also as individual as they are. Do not worry about what you can not change. What is it that troubles you, Opal."

"The time for spawning is coming and I fear it."

Poseidon looked upon the mermaid with his lucid gaze, his long white hair billowing about his strong, bearded visage. "I see. You are afraid of becoming a fish."

Opal looked down at her hands as she wrung them. "Yes."

"But, why? What is there to fear?"

The mermaid hugged herself. "Losing who I am. Losing my intelligence and my hands. Losing my ability to surface and lay in the sun. I don't want to be trapped in a sunless world for the rest of my life or have the fate of dying soon after I spawn."

The sea god looked at Opal as if measuring her. After a moment his eyes softened and he reached out to his daughter, engulfing her shoulder in his hand. "You are not like your sisters. You have another choice."

Opal blinked her watery, cobalt eyes up at her father. "What choice?"

"You only need to find your mother to know the answer."

The mermaid shook her head. "My mother? But she couldn't possibly still be alive."

Poseidon gave her a gentle smile. "She lives. Find her and you will find your answer." The god shimmered. "Be well, my daughter." Undulating sea water cast shadows where he had been.

"I will, Father." Opal swam to her thinking rock. She flopped on the slanted, black surface, smoothed by decades of caressing waves. The sun dipped into the ocean for its nightly swim as she contemplated her father's words. Find my mother, but how? I don't even know what kind of fish she is. She turned onto her back, flexing her tail fin.

The surface of the water broke to reveal a familiar face. "Can I share your rock, Opal?"

Opal sighed. "Sure, Aquarius." She scooted over to make room for her sister.

"I love this time of day, don't you?" Aquarius ran her fingers through her lavender, frizzy hair.

"It's nice." I've got to find my mother, but where do I start looking?

"I especially like how the setting sun glints off my scales, making them sparkle."

Opal glanced at her sister's tail. The angled sunlight made her blue and purple scales look like polished sapphires and amethysts, while Opal's tail didn't sparkle at all. It glistened from the water, but there were no scales to reflect the sunlight. Why have I never noticed it before?

"Aquarius, do you know who your mother is?"

Her sister laughed. "Of course I don't know my mother, she died years ago. Parrot fish don't live nearly as long as we do."

Opal sat up straighter. "But you know that your mother was a parrot fish? How?"

"By my scales, silly. Only parrot fish have scales like the ones on my tail."

Suddenly, father's words made perfect sense. Opal flung her arms about Aquarius. "Oh, thank you. Now I know where to look." She plunged into the sea, leaving her sister's questions to fall upon no ears.

* * *

For weeks she went from one school to another, slowly working her way south. Many of the fish she spoke with didn't know who her mother was, but then she found one that heard of one of his species mating with Poseidon and that meeting lead to more who heard of her and then others who met her and finally one who knew where she could be found.

The sun was once again blazing its radiance over the crystal blue waters when the mermaid reached her destination, waters she remembered from her childhood. She swam through the schools of large fish, seeking out the leader. She asked several of the fish for assistance, which led her to a large, vibrant male named Current. "Current, I need your help, please," Opal whistled and clicked in the fish's language.

The male gazed upon the mermaid with intelligent black eyes. "Help?" he whistled. "What assistance do you seek?"

"I am Opal, daughter of Poseidon. I wish to find my mother."

Current looked at her for a moment and then nodded. "Yes, it is time. I will take you to her."

Opal studied the school while she followed the large male. They were very graceful fish and beautiful in their way even if they didn't have glimmering scales or wispy fins-or gills. "Current, tell me where are your gills?"

He turned and chuckled. "Gills? We don't have gills. Only fish have gills."

"If you're not a fish than what are you?"

Current blinked at the mermaid. "Why we're mammals."

"But-"

"All dolphins are mammals just as whales and porpoises are mammals also."

"You mean you're mammals just as humans are mammals."

"We have our differences, but you are essentially correct. Your mother is the cow dolphin near that jutting piece of coral. She is called Spray."

After surfacing for air, Opal went to her mother.

Spray stared at the mermaid as she approached. "Mermaid, tell me, what is your name?"

"Opal, mother."

Spray swam up to her daughter and rubbed her snout against the mermaid's neck. "I feared I would never see you again, daughter."

Opal hugged her mother-a feeling she never expected to experience. "You no longer need to fear, for I am now here."

"Come. I know a little cove where we can talk leisurely." The dolphin flicked her fluke and was off in a curtain of whiteness, the mermaid close behind.

* * *

"Mother, this time with you has been wonderful, but there is another reason besides your company that I sought you. I sense that it will be time for me to spawn soon."

Spray laughed. "Fish spawn, dear. Dolphins mate."

Opal licked her lips. "Do you-ah-do you mate like humans do?"

"Of course. All mammals mate in a similar fashion." Spray gave her daughter a knowing smile. "So you want to mate with a man so you will become a woman."

"Oh, can I?"

"Or you can become a dolphin."

The mermaid stretched out on the sandbar. "Oh, mother. The sea is a wonderful place, but I find I'm happier when I'm at the surface. I want to live above the water, not beneath it."

"Are you sure this is what you want?"

Opal turned unto her side to face her mother, her brow furrowed. "I've considered this for some time and my heart tells me I should be part of the surface world, but my mind tells me I should be part of my dolphin family. I do not know which path to take."

"Which voice is stronger, my daughter?"

* * *

The mermaid enjoyed the next few months with her mother and getting acquainted with her dolphin siblings. She especially liked being with her sister, Sparkle. She was having so much fun, Opal had almost forgot she had an important decision to make until the urge to mate came. When she told her mother her choice, Spray knew just the male to introduce her daughter to.

After the mating, Opal felt warm all over. A warmth that collected in her belly and then burst into a hot surge which radiated through her entire body, blinding her, and rendering her numb. When her sight returned she felt sore all over. Her eyes focused to see her mate watching her with his dark eyes. He nuzzled her neck and urged her to rest; he would keep her safe. Opal smiled to herself as she drifted back to sleep. Yes, she had made the right decision.

* * *

Opal slid into the chest deep water, wrapping her arms about her mother. "I have something to show you."She went to the edge of the pool and took her infant daughter from her husband's arms and carried the babe to the dolphin. "This is Coral. She has your eyes."

Spray met her right eye to the baby's black orbs. "She is a beautiful human child." She clicked. "You are blessed."

Opal's eyes sparkled. "Yes, I am."

"Dad, can we swim with Spray now?" asked six year old Orman, running his hand through the same black hair his father possessed.

"Yes, Daddy, can we swim, please?" Little Pearl jumped up and down, clapping her hands.

Dr. Zale Kelton ruffled his daughter's whitish locks. "Sure, but let me get in first." The marine biologist slid into the water and helped his son into the water and then held out his arms for Pearl to jump into. The children lavished the dolphin with hugs and kisses and Spray returned the love with whistles and nudges.

Squawks, clicks, and whistles drew everyone's attention to the bay.

"That will be your siblings to escort me home," said Spray.

Opal's eyes misted over as she handed her baby daughter to her husband so she could wrap her arms about the dolphin. "Will I ever see you again?" she clicked in her mother's ear.

"I am old, daughter. I can't promise you." Spray nuzzled Opal's neck. "You have a fine family. You have made me proud."

Spray's dolphin children called to her again.

"I am blessed to have a mother such as you." The woman kissed the dolphin and swam with her to the gate, pulling it open to reunite Spray with her other children. Opal climbed out of the pool and up onto a low wall to watch her ocean family cavort in meeting. First one, then two, three, four-seven dolphins leaped into the air in salute to their land sister. Then an older, smaller dolphin leaped-not as high, but with as much devotion. They submerged and disappeared into the surf beyond the inlet-which momentarily took on the visage of Poseidon, smiling a proud smile.

"Goodbye, mother. Goodbye, father. Thank you for making me who I am." Opal wiped away a tear and breathed deep before turning to jump back into the pool to cavort with her human family.

 

 

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Author Bio

Sherry L. Lind lives in the middle of nowhere (namely the prairie of North Dakota) with her husband, John, two children, Opal and Orion, and a variety of pets. When she isn't writing she's taking care of life's necessities or burning the midnight oil at the local nursing home where she works the night shift as a CNA. She is a graduate of the Odyssey Writer's Workshop and has several publications to her credit, but this is her first fantasy sale.

 

 


 

 

"Spawn" Copyright © 2003 Sherry L. Lind. All rights reserved.
Published by permission of the author.

 

This page last updated 05-11-04.

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