Crack the Spine - Issue 156

Page 19

Abbie Stoner Mermaid Lake

I was never scared of the dark when I was young. In fact, I loved the dark; I thrived in it. I never imagined monsters or murderers lurking in the shadows, because I could hear mermaids’ voices lulling me from the lake in my backyard. And I knew, knew without a shadow of a doubt, that nothing could hurt me with the mermaids around. In the summer, I would sneak out of the house in only my white cotton panties stained yellow near the crotch, and feel the grass tickling the soles of my feet and stones digging into the space between my toes, and I would run toward the lake, smiling like a wind goddess. I could feel my hair whipping behind me as I ran, as wild as the mermaids’ hair in the water where they waited for me every night. And when I got to the edge of the lake I would stop. I would stop just close enough to send a shiver up my spine when the water lapped gently at the tips of my big toes, little waves from the mermaids’ aquatic gymnastics. Crouched down so that the breasts beginning to bloom on my chest were pressed against the downy fuzz of my thighs and my knuckles were pressed in the mud like an ape, I stared into the water. It was like an inkwell in the nighttime, with a rippling bowl of milk in the center, growing and shrinking as the mermaids got hungry and the moon hid away. Because the mermaids were not always kind. One day, I crouched next to the lake and heard them giggling from where I couldn’t see them in the dark. I saw their tails flash from the surface at the corner of my eye, but when I turned my head all I saw was a ripple fading away.