The men had dropped anchor just off shore. I knew their kind. A quick visit to the mysterious island, maybe find a treasure or two. That’s what men always think. That they’ll be quick.
“See any you like, Rai?” my sister, Mollie, said.
I shook my head, even though it was a lie. The sailor with the auburn hair had caught my eye, his chest broader than the rest. Along with his smile. Carefree, like he didn’t suspect the danger that lurked. Which he didn’t. Not yet.
“You shouldn’t fight it. It’s natural,” Tel said. My other sister swam alongside us, the three of us hidden behind the outcrop of rocks.
“Death is natural?” I said. My stomach twisted and I flicked my tail in protest.
Tel laughed. “Life and death are natural. Yes, Rai.”
The head of a sailor turned in our direction. He’d heard her giggle, no doubt. An irresistible drug no man had the power against.
“Besides,” she went on. “I like the big one in the middle with red hair. The cute one with all the muscles.” Her eyes leered in his direction. My throat grew tight.
Why did it have to be this way? These men had families, children maybe. Lives. For once I wanted to know what it was like to be them, to know them.
To know love.
I watched the red-head that both Tel and I had taken to, with a tickle deep inside my chest. What would it be like for him to love me for who I was, instead of the mirage?
“It’s time, ladies.” Xio appeared out of nowhere, her presence commanding. She puffed her chest out and pulled her hair behind her shoulders, a display of the beauty of our kind.
No man could look away.
My three sisters climbed the largest rock, took the familiar position we’d taken for thousands of years.
Mollie tossed her head back, a grin on her face. “I call the dark-skinned one.”
“Red-head is mine,” Tel said.
A knot formed in my chest as it squeezed tight.
Xio looked down at me. “Come now, Raidne. It’s time to sing.”
I swallowed and slipped onto the rock, my eyes on the man with the copper hair. He didn’t deserve to face a monster. The least he could have is one who actually cared.
My jaw set, I hardened my heart against what would come next. “Sorry, Tel. He’s mine.”
And then, I sang.
©Laura L. Zimmerman 2016