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Maria’s long brown hair was blown across her face by the wind. By the cool sea breeze.
She didn’t bother brushing it aside.
No, she had far too much on her mind. Too much, and so she had thought the beach would be a quiet, calming place to be. But if the shouting, screaming, laughing voices of the beach-goers were any indication, she was wrong. She thought the voices were as irritating as the cold gale. Why are there people here at all, on a day as windy as this? Just because summer was on its way didn’t mean people had to be down on the beach, rain or shine.
She walked across the sand, tugging her orange jacket tight around her. She didn’t plan to go swimming. Not today.
I wonder how I did. The last of her exams were done, and she would receive her results soon. Why can’t I stop thinking about them? It’s a good thing I’ll get them soon – the suspense would kill me over summer – but . . . what if I failed? What if I messed up? The wind hit her as hard as the questions on the paper had. It made her feel as cold as they did, too. I wonder whether I studied enough.
Shells and sand brushed by her blue jeans, and beneath her red converse. The jacket didn’t seem to be keeping her warm, but maybe her nerves were what chilled her.

Maria sat upon the rocks, and the spray from the crashing waves just missed her. It was funny how dull the sea looked when there wasn’t any sun to light it. She had hoped the sight of sparkling blue would remedy her mood a little. Squirming, she tried to get comfortable. Sitting down to think hadn’t been easy – she felt like she was resting on a scouring pad, thanks to all the seaweed and barnacles.
The bustle upon the beach had started to quieten, and beady stars glimmered in the pale evening sky. Finally, a little peace, she thought. At least, she did have some peace to herself, until she heard a voice from the water, right next to the rocks.
‘So that’s what those are for,’ came the voice. A boy’s. ‘And there I thought they were novelty plant-pots, or something.’ He was muttering to himself, and Maria nearly fell forward in shock.
‘Who’s there?’ She turned to look at him. His legs were hidden behind the rocks, but maybe that was a good thing – he wasn’t wearing any shirt, or top, or anything! His hair was blonde, and was styled to stick up slickly at the front. His eyes were blue, and the colour reminded her how the sea looked in the sunlight.
‘I meant those,’ he said, pointing to her shoes. ‘I suppose that also answers my question about those fabric tubes you’re wearing.’
‘You mean pants.’
‘That’s their name? I thought you called them “trousers”, or something.’
Maria opened her mouth to respond, then closed it again. What sort of thing was that to say?
‘What do you mean? You’re trying to tell me you don’t wear them?’
‘Well, I’m not exactly equipped to.’
‘Why? Are your legs hurt? I don’t think you should be swimming out here if...’
‘Hurt? Oh, no, that’s not it.’
‘Then what ...?’ She leaned over to see beyond the rock that hid his legs, and she felt her breath catch in her throat. There weren’t any legs. Rather, something long, scaly, and glistening green. The tailfins flicking upon its end reflected what little sunlight there was today.
Maria knew what she was seeing, but it was impossible – it must have been a costume, or something. This boy was just joking with her, right? That couldn’t have been a real, honest-to-goodness... fish tail!
‘You come here often, don’t you?’ he said, as if trying to distract her from his tail, with just a little awkwardness. Staring was rude, sure, but didn’t he expect her to be surprised? ‘I’ve noticed you, making your way up and down the beach, day in, day out. Only, you turn paler and paler every time I see you.’
‘Y-You’ve been watching me?’ she asked. She still refused to believe what she was seeing was... real.
‘Well, your sort always seem to visit the beach in groups. In flocks. They’ll hurry down, dress into those strange clothes that just barely cover their legs and... ah...’
‘Swimsuits.’
‘Right. Swimsuits. And they’ll sometimes bring along food and drinks and those funny, sphere-shaped, bouncy things...’
‘Beach-balls.’
‘Beach-balls, sure. Anyway, they always seem to have fun. But whenever I see you walking across the sand, you always look... well, upset. And you’re always alone here, too. You stand out.’
Maria blinked. She didn’t think her nervousness had been that obvious, but if someone watching from the ocean could notice...! Those exams really had stressed her out. Suddenly, she noticed the way his tail twitched. It flexed, only for a moment, and it bent in a way no human’s legs could in a costume. She felt herself grow paler yet. He really was a...
‘A merman?’ she whispered, unable to stop herself.
‘I prefer John,’ he said, chuckling through a smile. When Maria nearly toppled forward from her rocky seat, he quickly caught her. Helping her get steady, he treated her hand to a gentle, flirtatious kiss before letting go. Quite a charmer, was he? ‘And yourself?’
‘I’m... I’m just a... Y’know, I’m –’
‘I meant your name.’ He chuckled again.
‘Oh.’ If she hadn’t blushed when she fell forward, she was surely blushing now. ‘Maria. My name’s Maria.’
‘Well, Maria, I don’t suppose you’d like to stay and talk awhile?’ Maria blinked again. This was sudden. ‘I wouldn’t like to see you walk away so glum again.’ And that blushing of hers turned downright fiery.

Maria didn’t think she’d know what to say to a merman, and on a day like today, she wasn’t sure she was in the mood for a conversation at all. And yet, the longer she and John spoke, the lighter and keener her own voice sounded to her. The more she felt a smile cross her face. Funnily enough, her questions came spilling out in a jumble: What’s the ocean like? Do you live in shell-shaped castles and jewel-dotted palaces, like stories say? Can mermaids really sing so beautifully? She found herself giggling after asking whether he could sing. It was his turn to blush, then. All of a sudden, her worries and woes were pushed to the back of her mind. Maybe John couldn’t sing, but he could tell stories. The ocean is a paradise and pitfall both at once, he said. You’ll find colour and life and beauty in the undersea valleys, but turn and swim down one darkened corner, and who knows what you’ll find? As for the castles and palaces, he said, it really all depends. Some merfolk prefer the cosy confines of the cliff-face caves down there, or make homes and shelters by patching up ravines with the remains of sunken vessels. They always look interesting, he said. So mismatched and varied. Some even live in the wrecks themselves! And, of course, those lavish shell-shaped houses and decorated castles exist too, far out the sight and reach of those who just don’t know about them. At that, he gave a wink.
John had his own questions, too, of course. He wanted to know about things he’d found on the beach before. He kept exploring the words swimsuits and beach-ball. It was funny to meet somebody who really didn’t know about them! She was more than happy to teach him about things like buoys, boats, deckchairs and parasols. She wasn’t so proud to teach him about things like litter, though. Dropped cans and spilt ice-cream. Strangely, the thought of ice-cream puzzled him more than tossed cans and wrappers did. Maybe there wasn’t anything cream-like down in the ocean at all.
There was so much to talk about. And when John said he had to leave, she almost couldn’t bare to watch him go. There was still so much to ask! But, when she saw him smile at her warmly, then vanish beneath the waves with a kick of his tail, she was simply speechless. Did this really happen? Did she really meet a merman today? As she walked home, her legs felt almost numb. The smile on her face was there thanks to that curious conversation and thanks to her excitement.
A merman...

The next day, Maria sat down at her desk in History class. She scowled, and blew her hair from her face. She didn’t understand why they taught classes after the exams were done – she didn’t intend to remember this junk by the beginning of next semester.
The classroom was dark and dusty, with only a few grimy windows letting in the faintest light. It was one of the older rooms in the building, and the teacher matched it to a T. Gaunt-faced and dressed in grey, he asked the class to open their books right where they’d left off before exams began. Going by how drab he sounded, he’d read these old battle accounts a thousand times to a thousand classes. He didn’t even seem to notice no one paid attention today. The boys at the back were throwing spit-balls around and tossing paper planes (one of which landed right in Maria’s hair). Even the teacher’s volume lacked interest; the girls beside her whispered louder than he talked. They nattered about their exams, and that just stirred up Maria’s nerves again. Half-asleep, her thoughts drifted from the dull lecture, and to John. Now he could pour some feeling into a story. The way he spoke about sea urchins was more entertaining than this lecture! And about swimming with fins, sunken ocean treasure, the cities in the sea, the festivals they held...
She imagined him, swimming down in the sea, scales glinting in the dapple light. His stories of the underwater world echoed in her head, and drowned out the sound of the teacher. The motes of dust in the dry air became bubbles in her mind, drifting playfully through the water. She imagined the light being faint for the way it shone through the sea, and not for the way it shone through a dirty window. It was hard to daydream about just the undersea cities and their festivals, of course. John was always there in those little daydreams. He was a merman, after all. How could she just put him out her mind like that? It didn’t have anything to do with his face, or physique, or the way he smiled at her... No, not at all. That was silly.
‘Maria, do you feel alright?’ asked one of the girls across from her.
‘I-I’m fine! Why?’
‘You’re beet red.’
Rousing herself from the daydream, Maria could feel the blush across her face. That probably made her blush even more. Nobody else had noticed, had they?
Though she tried to pay attention to the lecture, her thoughts just couldn’t stray from yesterday. She’d seen something impossible. Met someone impossible! It was hard to sit back in the same old class, listening to the same old histories, putting up with the same old teacher’s droning. He was less interested than even she was, surely.
What awoke her from her daydreams next was a member of the faculty, interrupting the class to pass out brown envelopes. Maria held her breath, and felt her nails scrape against her desk. This was it. The result letters – they had to be!
While some pushed the envelopes into their bags and satchels, pale-faced at the thought of ever opening them, others tore them open right away. The teacher’s voice was drowned out entirely by the mixed and motley sounds of cheering, sighing, laughing and groaning. Right after the initial reactions, everyone began asking how well everybody else did. At this point, the teacher shrugged, put down his book, and returned to the bottle of brandy on his desk.
Maria’s fingers trembled as she tore the envelope open.
Slowly, she slid her result letter from its confines.
Slower still, she let her gaze inch hesitantly across the page.
Her face felt hot while she was blushing, but now her whole body felt cold as ice.
Failing grades.
Failing grades, printed there in big black letters.
It isn’t my fault, she thought fearfully. I couldn’t concentrate – I was nervous! I...
She felt her fingers crumple the letter, and her heart sank like a stone.
The classes she wanted to take next semester... She couldn’t take them now, could she? She had finished the year’s coursework just fine, and yet...! The cheers and laughter of the others – the sounds of the successful – stung like ice to hear.
And for the rest of the day, she neither heard the teacher, her classmates, or even the bell. All she heard were her self-scolding thoughts, beating her up on the inside.

Maria didn’t head straight home that day. She wasn’t sure what she’d say to her parents, or even to her friends. Each step taken from school and down the street felt heavy and difficult, and she simply felt she needed space. She needed someplace to calm down, before she gripped that letter in her hands again and tore it. Shaking her head, giving a sigh, she decided to return to the beach.
Thankfully, the beach was quieter than yesterday. Climbing back up onto the rock, she stared out at the water, brushing her windswept hair from her eyes. Why is it always tests and exams? She wondered. I can do coursework fine. I know the material. But when the pressure starts to build, and people pile stress on me...! She wanted to just pick up a rock and hurl it into the water. She was about to, before a familiar face emerged from the surface, followed by the rest of his merman self.
‘John!’
‘Back so soon, Maria?’ he asked. He looked happy about it.
Maria tried to explain what happened today. She tried to explain the way human schools work, and why tests and exams were so important. He didn’t seem to follow it all – maybe merpeople schools worked differently. All he had to understand was that she’d worked hard at something, slipped up, and now it was eating away at her. She couldn’t even be sure whether to sound upset or angry.
‘There are more important things in life than just tests,’ said John.
‘So how do merfolk learn things? You have schools?’
‘They aren’t like yours, I wouldn’t think. We learn a lot more outside walls than within them. But maybe ocean life’s just tailored that way.’
And so another evening was spent just talking together. The talk of education turned to talk of work, home life, family life, and other domestic titbits. It was fascinating to hear how merpeople lived. John thought land-bound life sounded pretty interesting too, somehow. Above all, however, it was just... nice... to hear someone talk about something other than those exams today. Nice to talk to someone who wouldn’t scold or judge her for failing. For making mistakes. Again, her mind wandered blissfully at the sound of his stories, and he seemed just as captivated by her own. But strangely, she didn’t think she’d feel the same hearing these stories from just anyone... John poured passion into his words, and maybe there was something... endearing about him. Something that was interesting, in a very specific way. It wasn’t just for his incredible tail, either. Maria just couldn’t quite put her finger on it...
The pale moon shone sweetly upon them as evening turned to dusk. As day turned smoothly to night. The tears Maria wanted to shed today – the frustration that boiled inside her – were gone. John’s words and smile had managed that, somehow. But it was only when his fin brushed bashfully against her leg that she felt her heart skip a beat. That one fleeting little moment, when she became sure this fantasy was in fact reality. That touch – so cool yet so tender – made it so.
Maria found it difficult to leave the beach behind tonight. Even with the moon at its highest in the black, star-studded sky. She left her merman behind until another day, one she hoped would come soon. Walking home in the calm summer night-time, she thought about what John said. He was right – there was much, much more to life than just tests. Especially down in the world he knew.

The following weeks were hard. The summer vacation had begun, but Maria didn’t welcome it with open arms like everyone else did. Her parents had been talking about summer school to help her make up for her poor results, and her family agreed it was the best idea. She felt she should have agreed herself, but it was just hard. Hard watching all her friends laze about the beach, browse all her favourite shops, and get together and enjoy the summertime she had been looking forward to. It became even harder when she tried talking to her friends, and they starting getting all sympathetic. Every day held some reminder of those dreadful results, and she just couldn’t put them past her. She worried that if she did, she’d be just like those boys in class that didn’t care in the first place, and spent all summer hanging around corners and alleyways.
She nearly shivered at that.
And so, with the few unfortunate souls who’d suffered the same fate, she trudged into class that day. Trudged right in while the sun shone brilliantly upon the schoolyard and the surrounding meadows. The corridors were in darkness, though; apparently, the janitors didn’t think it was worth turning on the lights if only a few students and teachers would be in. Maria thought that sudden switch from light to darkness was very fitting...
The textbook lay open before her. The words and diagrams that smothered its pages were just that; words and diagrams. Nothing special or meaningful about them. A history textbook, and she just couldn’t look past those words to drink in the story they told. Whoever had written this thing clearly cared as little for the subject as the old teacher. Maria did, however, wish that teacher were taking the class today, instead of the hard-toned, stern-faced woman who approached her desk and slammed her ruler down upon it.
It gave a loud, frightening clack!, and Maria yelped as she sat up.
‘No wonder you’re back here, girl,’ she said, staring down at her past her hook-nose. ‘What will your parents think if you fail here, too, hm?’
‘S-Sorry, Ma’am,’ replied Maria.
‘I’m sure “sorry” didn’t dissuade them from packing your schoolbag and marching you right back here, did it? Sit up, pay attention, and if I find anything less than a perfect score on your worksheet today, I’ll see it to it you’re schooled here twice as long!’
‘I know I can pass those exams! Those worksheets and projects throughout the year, I dealt with them perfectly. I don’t need –’
The ruler came down on the desk again. ‘Can pass the exams, you say? Let us hope you’ll prove as much next year.’
Maria felt herself blush again, this time with frustration. It felt even worse as the teacher strode from her desk, and everyone started looking at her.
And that was probably the least bothersome day.
Maria all but lost contact with her friends over summer, who had all gone off on trips, or formed into other groups for the sunny month. They never looked any less thrilled or gleeful as she passed them on her way to school, nor did they ever seem to notice her. Her parents grew angry as they truly took in the fact their daughter had failed this year. They insisted that she work on extra homework every hour she had to herself, and the amassing guilt Maria felt inspired her to do just that. Not that it was fair; her parents didn’t know how much progress she was making at summer school! ...That was to say, very little. A dark mood had overcast her across these weeks, and it grew worse and worse, like a vicious cycle. Not that her loud, ever-impatient teacher showed her any sympathy.
Really, John was the only one that kept her spirits high. When they spoke, Maria was reminded that she wasn’t some idiot who couldn’t do well at school. No, she knew the material. The fact she could tell John so much about the human world was the proof. Of course, that wasn’t the only reason she enjoyed her visits with him... She felt drawn to the beach, these days. It felt right to be there. It felt right to talk to him, about anything at all. Together, they sat upon the rocks, and spoke well into the night. It was as her mood slowly blackened that he had taken to placing his arm around her. And it was after a truly awful day of school, as tears of humiliation ran down her cheeks, that he kissed her for the first time.
That was the moment everything changed, as far as she believed. That was when John became more than just a curious creature who proved fantasy was real. That was when they truly began to confide in each other.
As the days pressed on, Maria felt confliction. Her thoughts wandered from her schoolwork, more and more so, and the patience of her teachers and parents was only tested further for that. But she couldn’t help it. Learning of John’s world was so much more interesting than learning of her own. As John described bits and pieces of his underwater home, Maria found herself wanting to learn more. It was the next best thing to seeing it with her own eyes. One day, as she crossed the road to school, lost in her sea-faring thoughts, the sound of a horn met her ears. Not a foghorn, as she’d imagined in her daydreams, however. Gasps arose from the people on the sidewalk. A pain jolted through Maria’s legs, followed by her falling to the ground! The horn was a car’s, and its driver scrambled to come to her aid. She could barely believe her foolishness as her vision faded... She had been so lost in her daydreams – her obsessions – that she hadn’t even watched her surroundings! The simplest thing a school-goer could remember, but she’d been too busy fantasising! But that daydream, ill-timed though it was, remained vivid inside her head, even as her sight grew foggy and dark... The thought of John’s scales yet shimmered, no matter how dark everything grew all around her...

Time passed. Maria’s leg wound was healing. But, as she gazed out her bedroom window, she realised how little that mattered. Now she had been absent for so long, even her summer education was in shambles. Everything was back to square one, and her parents weren’t happy. Maria gripped her quilt as she lay upon her bed, and she tried – desperately – to decide what to do. She had left the house for the first time since her injury, yesterday, and she tried to find her friends. She wondered whether they had heard. Of course, everyone acted as distantly about her as they had all summer. They hardly talked to her, but they did grin a little once people started muttering... Maria couldn’t hear what they said to each other, but she did pick up the words “bad luck”, “mess”, and other words she didn’t even want to remember. And her friends had just grinned. “Nothing”, they said, when she asked what they were whispering. “Nothing at all, Maria.”
She sighed darkly, and stood up from her bed. Her friends had lost respect for her, she knew that. Why, they didn’t even want to be around her. Did “back luck” mean she was bad luck? She hadn’t returned to summer school yet; that would happen tomorrow. Except... she didn’t want to go back. She didn’t want to face the teacher’s scorn, and her classmates’ laughter. She didn’t want to realise just how far behind she was. All she really wanted was the beach, and the sea, and... well, John. John was the only one who had really helped her smile again after her disastrous exams. He was the only one who seemed to care about cheering her up, and not just about cramming her into a classroom again. And what’s more, he was the only one – the one person she had ever met – who could educate her in ways she found interesting.
She had made her decision. Maybe it wasn’t the best one, but it was a decision nonetheless, and if she were going to act on it, she would have to before her parents arrived home.

Maria walked – or hobbled, rather – down to the seaside. She gripped the crutches in her hands, but even they didn’t make walking on sand easy while your leg was sore. At last, however, she reached the outcrop she met John upon for the first time. And the second time, and third, and the many after that. It had become their place – secluded enough to be peaceful, but open enough to enjoy the sunshine. She clumsily climbed to the top, and stared out at the ocean... This was the time of day they always met. And when they did, she rarely left for home before the moon had fully risen. Before long, she heard the familiar splash. The graceful, dynamic sound of John the merman, rising from the surface. The town fair was on today. No one here to invade their privacy for now...
“Maria!’ said John. “It’s been a few weeks, I was worried you weren’t coming back.”
“Just had a little accident,” she said, hinting awkwardly to her leg. John blinked worriedly at the sight of her crutches. “John, I’ve been doing some thinking... All the things I’ve told you about, all the things that have been bothering me...” she couldn’t help but giggle. “I must sound really dull whenever I start complaining about land life, huh?”
“It’s a bit more worrying than dull,” said John, half-kidding, half-serious.
Maria was about to speak on, before she found herself reaching forward to kiss him. Her arms wrapped around his chest, and the touch of his skin was like the ocean breeze; it blew all her woes away. Though his hair was wet, their came a soft comfort from touching it. As she kissed him, he seemed as surprised as she had been, when he first kissed her. Maria felt silly. She could feel emotion welling up inside her as John returned the impassioned gesture, and her emotions only grew as her hands trailed downward, and felt the subtle transition between the merman’s skin and scales. It was all real. Really real! And she was about to dive right into it...
“Do you remember you said merfolk could perform magic?” she asked.
“It isn’t really magic,” he replied. “More of a... reaction to things. Like one of those chemical reactions your scientists like to talk about. We can just change things, here and there.”
“Can you change people?” For a moment, John was silent. Maria spoke on. “Could you change a human? To become a... a mermaid?”
“Maria –“
“I’ve been thinking. You’ve taught me less about the ocean than my teachers have about the land, but you know something? I can remember what you say. I remember your stories, and I’ll remember your face far longer than I’ll remember theirs. But I don’t wont to stop seeing it, John. Not when you return to the seas, not ever.”
John still seemed surprised, and Maria understood. This was all coming out like it was instinctive, and she was surprised she held her words together so well.
This time, it was John’s turn to blush. “Just one moment...” he said softly, before diving into the sea. Maria watched his tail descend behind him, and she sighed with longing. For a while, she worried he might not return – that she had requested something impossible – but before long, he re-emerged, with a pendant in his hand.
“You’re sure, Maria?” he asked. He sounded serious indeed. “There’s... There’s no going back once it’s done, you know.”
Maria simply nodded. “Of course.”
“Then join me... Join me in the water, Maria.” John held out his hand, and Maria took it graciously as she climbed from the rock and into the ocean shallows, right after she slipped the pendant around her neck. John said little as he swam, leading her as he kept hold of her hand, until they were a fair distance from the coast. The water was chilly for summertime, but Maria was sure her choice was what made her shiver. The anticipation. The adventure. The fact she could stay with him, this way... Stay with John.
Soon after they dived beneath the surface, they reached an old tower, standing up solemnly from the ocean floor. It appeared abandoned; archaic. As her eyes swept over the eerie sight, Maria noticed other buildings too. Smaller ones, ancient and crumbled, dotting the silent seascape. It was strange; it didn’t look anything like the vibrant and brilliant ocean cities she’d heard about in stories. It was so curious, in fact, that she had barely realised she didn’t feel the urge to breathe, nor was her eyesight struggling to see beneath the blue. She could see so clearly, and so she easily detected the bright green light her pendant shone...
“We... We can’t do this where people will see,” said John. “But cities, towns, and villages are the best places for it. For anything enchanted, really.” Maria understood. She remembered John telling her about merfolk artefacts, and how they could only work in certain conditions.
“This is a quiet district. Most of the old houses and towers here have been abandoned, in fact. It should work just fine,” John continued. His eyes gleamed excitedly, but his voice sounded nervous. It was then that Maria truly realised that she could hear as clearly as she could see.
But those changes to her senses... They were only the slightest differences she was about to experience...
John swam towards her, and kissed her gently as he took her hands in his.
“The pendant will do the rest, Maria...” he said, as a sudden and ticklish sensation alighted in Maria’s legs.
It all began slowly. Beneath her jeans, the ticklish feeling spread and swept across her legs, as though countless gentle fingers were massaging them softly. Oh-so-ticklish, and yet so gentle... As she looked into John’s eyes, the feeling only grew, as if fuelled by her feelings for him. Then came an urging... An urging to hold those legs together – to bind them. Something told Maria the sensations just would not cease until she did so. And so she did as the urging demanded; she pressed her legs together as one, and strangely, it was the most natural feeling in the world! The sensations within them changed at that moment. No longer did the sensations tickle, as though they were scattered and disjointed, but now they pulsed – brimmed – as though they worked together in unison. In unison as her legs were. And such a feeling was overwhelming. With a voiceless gasp, she felt John’s hands take her, helping to steady her.
It was then that Maria realised she was breathing. But how? She hadn’t any gills! Thinking for a moment, she realised John didn’t, either. It was her lungs – something had happened to her lungs. She could breathe! And her breathing grew harsher... thicker... heavier...
“J-John...”
Maria felt her hair flow free in the water’s gentle currents. She felt the water caress against her skin, all in a way she hadn’t noticed before, like her sense of touch was growing as acute as her sight and hearing. And the touch of the water... Why, it beckoned her. Beckoned her hypnotically, as though it welcomed her into its embrace.
But beautiful though that embrace was, Maria couldn’t relax and enjoy the changes. The tight, gripping surge inside her legs kept welling, and she knew why... It was because she had legs. John’s affections, the pendant’s magics, the ocean’s embrace – they were quickly making a mermaid of her. But mermaids don’t have legs... No longer did they feel right to Maria. And so, her body began to change, just as her spirit had.
Fussing and flexing, Maria wriggled out of her jeans, allowing them fall down into the dark confines of the ocean floor. Down, where she’d never find them again. She gave another silent gasp, and heard John chuckle proudly, as brilliant green scales began to appear across her legs. Every scale’s appearance was announced by a delicate sensation akin to a kiss, and so Maria just couldn’t help but giggle in the arms of her merman as she watched herself transform...
As her scales grew in sweeping swathes, her legs finally began to blend the way they had to. She watched in awe as they grew longer, and longer; broader and broader! Size, length, and shape were added to them most graciously, before the skin between them blended seamlessly, like a zipper sealed shut. The way that felt was too much – too pleasurable – to bear. She bucked her transformed legs, and gaped to see her new limb flex and swish in a perfect arc! Her scales, now covering her entire lower-body, shimmered brilliantly in the sea-filtered light. She wanted to say something, as she watched her shoes fall away into the sea, but simply could not find the words...
Finally, as her legs blended entirely, her feet changed too. They flattened, losing their clumsy thickness, as they grew and fanned into spectacular fins! Fins that swished and flapped majestically, as if to fully announce her transformation into a mermaid. To announce that transformation was complete.
As the overwhelming sensations left her body, Maria could only stare in awe-struck silence as she gazed upon her brand new self. Her tail, her scales, her fins were all the perfect proof... She was a mermaid. A real mermaid! All her childhood fantasies, made real! The world she’d heard so much about, now hers to explore! Looking out into the ocean blue, the sights of the sea-life, the flora, and the landscapes beckoned her, and she was eager to obey their call. In a throe of wonder, she slid her way free of her top and jacket, and undid her bra as they drifted away into the ocean as her jeans and shoes had. She was naked beneath the sea, a fish-tailed mermaid! And it all felt so... natural. So right. And it was then she felt something brush against her emerald scales... The scales of John, his tail coiling sweetly about her own.
“How do you feel, Maria?” asked John, at last, eyes aglow with wonder.
“Better,” giggled Maria, squirming pleasantly in his embrace. “Much, much better...”
“You’re about to feel better yet,” he whispered softly. “Let’s swim. There’s so much I want to show you, and how to swim like only a mermaid can is the just first thing among them.” And with that, the two set out to explore the ocean just as Maria wanted. But not before one long, lasting kiss – desired and long-awaited – was shared between the two young merfolk. Maria’s legs were not all that would be joined in union...
A story written for :iconloyalty-of-the-dark: , featuring her characters John, a merman, and Maria, a human girl. A simple story detailing Maria's choice to undergo transformation into one of John's kind. :)

Header image created by :iconastral-dragon: , for :iconloyalty-of-the-dark:
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:iconthunderstudent:
thunderstudent Featured By Owner Aug 10, 2014
This was a charming little story, everything felt natural and fluid*no pun intended*.I know how stressful school can be, although I've never been in Maria's spot of having to go to summer school. Maybe one day I will write my own Mermaid tf story. :)
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:iconowlman57:
owlman57 Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2014
Thank you for sharing your work. There is a beautiful simplicity in this story. Transformation is always challenging until you just let it happen, so for Maria as she discovers her future is with John. Let go, crossover, be yourself. Blessed be the merfolk....
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:iconjloves-pp:
jloves-pp Featured By Owner Jun 13, 2014
i couldn't help but have 'let it go' in the head when reading it
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:iconjloves-pp:
jloves-pp Featured By Owner Jun 12, 2014
i really it :)
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:iconbetakatana:
BetaKatana Featured By Owner May 20, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Right now, I needed to read this more than ever. I can't explain why, but I connect with Maria. This feeling of not belonging, of not being good enough, it eats away at you, it hurts. At first when I read this I thought her going away with John was her giving up, but upon further thinking about it, I realized it wasn't so much giving up on reality as it was giving into what she was truly passionate about. She found herself through being with a merman that gave her a chance at happiness.
I feel like I can take away from her happy ending to create my own. I've been tearing up for the past hour and a half, questioning why I'm an artist if I'll never able to do what my friends do. But upon reading this I realized, the key towards finding happiness isn't to be the best among my friends and catch up to them in their field, it's to create things and do my best in my own field, sketching. I've always been jealous of my spriter friends, but maybe it's time to focus on what's been my love since the beginning.

Thank you for writing such a beautiful piece. This was truly inspiring and has changed the way I see the world. Words cannot express what has happened after reading such a phenomenal work. To think, Maria made a decision and found a teacher in John, it's a beautiful solution for a lovely ending.
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:iconslitherfin:
SlitherFin Featured By Owner May 22, 2014
I'm glad to hear this struck such a pleasant chord. It means a lot to any storyteller to hear their story hit home. :)
There was meant to be a degree of meaningfulness behind this, and so again, I'm glad that came across! You're right: it would have been easy to depict Maria as just "running away", but it wouldn't really mean anything. Nothing good, at least. So I wanted to have her accept her new life as a new opportunity; a means to press onward when one route simply wasn't working out.
For yourself, you shouldn't feel so bad. I took a look at your drawings, and I think they're really pretty good. =P
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:iconbetakatana:
BetaKatana Featured By Owner May 23, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You're welcome SlitherFin, you did a really fantastic job. ^^ I know what you mean, I used to do a bit of writing when I was younger and felt that same thing when sharing it. Stories are the gateways painted on the walls of life, small portals into other worlds. They have such amazing power, when someone truly excellent writes them, they really become a reality of the mindscape.
Your way of giving her a background and multiple conflicts really fleshed out her character. She was relateable, and it was easy to feel sorry for her when things went wrong. She was 3 dimensional, you can understand her, and she's really appealing given how she recognizes her issues and intelligibly finds help in talking to John. She doesn't just find an opportunity through changing her path in life, but she ultilizes her opportunity to be with a friend and makes something more out of it. It really touches the heart.
Thank you, I'm flattered that someone like you likes my art. ^///^ I just feel as though I'm the only one who likes it sometimes. It's just fan art to most people, but to me, it's a way of expressing a sense of adventure, a world that's been within me for a long time, a thought that makes me happy. I feel as though I cannot share the same happiness I get from creating things with those who see those creations, because they do not seek it, and my portrayals are clumsily done. But hey, what matters is that I enjoy what I do and keep improving, and if someone wants to join the bandwagon, we'll have ourselves a party.
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:iconslitherfin:
SlitherFin Featured By Owner May 29, 2014
Well, I'm very touched to hear that -- it's great to have a story's highs pointed out, and to be shown that they worked. :)
Don't worry, everyone feels doubtful about their work at some point or another. The important thing is to enjoy it, and try to build things a little better each time, putting to use whatever comments, praises, and criticisms you might receive. A continuous learning-curve, really. =P
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:iconphae9716:
Phae9716 Featured By Owner Apr 27, 2014
Thank you for writing this. It's my favourite mermaid transformation I've read so far, I love the evolution of their relationship.
But please write more of this story :D (Big Grin) 
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