The sun shone bright that Saturday. It was the warmest day of the year so far.
I drove to Hampton Beach that morning. In the summer the beach is bustling with people. Sometimes I found it difficult to find an empty square of beach close enough to the ocean to sit on. Of course that was before my grandfather sold his house. I hadn’t been back here since then. It had been years.
But why did I go there that day? Well to be quite candid I was stuck. It was time to make a decision I was not prepared to make. I woke up that morning at 9:00 and knew today was the day I’d decide.
I got in my car and headed for Hampton and after a quick stop at the mini-mart and another stop at my friend Tyler’s house I was on my way.
Two-hours later I pulled onto the beach and parked in the empty parking lot that would cost $20 to park there in the summer.
I sat far enough from the waves that I wouldn’t be wet but close enough that the fresh smell of the ocean still hit me.
Now what? I’m here. Just think…
“Ahem.” A squeaky voice said. “Ahheemmmm”.
“Hello?” I looked around and saw no one. “Is anyone there?”
“Please miss, move your foot.”
I hesitated for a moment. Who was that? I kept my foot in its same position, too scared to move it.
Suddenly I felt a pinch under my foot and moved it immediately.
“Ahh well that’s better.”
I looked down and saw a crab looking up at me.
“I’m sorry miss, that I had to pinch your foot. I thought I was going to suffocate down there.”
“Uhmm its ok.” I said unsure if this was a dream.
But it couldn’t be a dream could it? I felt the pinch. I felt the pain. Isn’t a pinch supposed to wake you up?
“No this is not a dream… That’s the first question everyone asks me.”
“It’s not?” I asked as the crab clicked his claws together.
“No. There are a lot of us under the sand; talking crabs I mean. We’re not supposed to talk to humans but when one of them is going to kill you its hard to stay quiet.” He began to crawl away but turned around before he got very far. “Are you ok miss? You look kind of shocked.”
“A little bit. I don’t think I ever expected to hear a crab talk. I think I’m going crazy after the week I’ve had.”
“Aren’t you all a little crazy though?”
“Do you need help? I’m a great listener.”
“Sure. What could it hurt right? My boyfriend is moving to California and he wants me to go with him. I’d be leaving my whole life here. Not that there’s much to leave. But I don’t know if he’s the one and if I leave with him I think I’ll be stuck.”
“So stay” the crab said while trying to leave again as if this resolved everything.
“But I just told you, staying could be just as bad. There’s nothing for me here. What should I do?”
“What do you want to do?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well then, does it really matter? If you don’t know what you want, neither one seems too important to you.”
“Yeah, I guess they’re not.”
That’s when the realization hit me. I wasn’t in love with him and I wasn’t in love with here. I’m sitting on a beach that used to be my home. But it’s not my home anymore and maybe it’s time for me to move on. I needed something new to be excited about.
For the third time the crab turned around to leave.
“Where are you going?” I asked.
“I’m going nowhere miss. Nowhere except where I want to be.”
“Well where is that?”
“Nowhere you or I need to know. Not yet anyways.”
I watched the crab slowly crawl across the sand trying to make it to the ocean. Right before he hit the edge he turned around to me again.
“You can come with me you know.”
“Anywhere. Everywhere. Wherever the ocean takes us.”
“But I’m a human, I can’t breathe underwater.”
“Oh but you can learn miss. How do you think mermaids get their tails?”
“They’re born with them.”
“Such a misconception,” he said shaking his tiny headshaking his left claw.
“The crabs of the ocean give it to them.”
Should I go with him? What do I have to lose?
I just said that there’s nothing for me here. Maybe there’s something for me there. This could be my new start.
I stood up and looked back at the boardwalk, expecting to see someone protesting my departure. But no one was there.
I took ten steps forward and dived into the ocean.
The crab, whose real name was Cadeeder turned me into a mermaid right when we got into the sea. The transformation was simple really. He crawled along the bottom of the ocean and pulled a rock from the floor. Under that rock sat a pile of gold shavings. He held a small bag in his claw and was able to scoop up enough shavings to fill the bag.
“Eat this,” he told me when he reached the top of the water again.
I looked at him confused. It didn’t look appetizing or easy to eat. I looked at Cadeeder again and decided to trust him. I put the shavings in my mouth and they immediately melted. They tasted like a thick chocolate milkshake.
My legs clamped together while a purple scaly tail descended down my legs until suddenly I didn’t have legs at all. I couldn’t stop touching my new tail. It felt rough but soft at the same time. I kept examining the new bottom of my body until I realized I was breathing under water.
“Oh my God!,” I exclaimed to Cadeeder. “I’m breathing! And talking! And I’m underwater!”