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  • Writer's pictureMaree

Flash Fiction: Mermaid's Treasure

Updated: Nov 21, 2019

Snorkelling was the only activity which allowed Amy’s thoughts to completely remain in flow with the moment. She had tried mindfulness for months. To her dismay, aside from being in the water, her mind focused on everything else she could be doing.

It was unnatural to breathe underwater. The first time, Amy had no option but to let herself relax and let her body trust that she could breathe while wearing the snorkel. She breathed now, through her mouth, deep into her belly. Releasing her breath, Amy smiled. The zebra angelfish she was following, noticed her and darted away. The tall corals and seaweed swayed slowly in response to the weight of the water. It was comforting- those gentle pushes. And quiet: a silent city.

She remembered pretending to be a mermaid when she was younger and dared to give herself a few moments living her childhood fantasy of pastel coral suburbs and wriggling city dwellers, commuting without roads.

Hours above the surface transferred to minutes below. A few times, they had come to find her as the boat engine was running, ready to speed home. Amy was about to resurface when a rock drew her attention. It was wedged amongst a wall of musky pinks over a meter down. Taking a breath, she lunged. The wall was alive with minute snails inhabiting the area, eating away the algae. Studying the rock a quarter of the size of her small fingernail, she realized it was a gemstone- perhaps a sapphire. After gentle prodding, Amy released the brooch from its coral bonds.

Amy wiped up the mayonnaise leaked by her egg sandwich, from between her fingers. Even though seated, she battled against the lunges of the boat ploughing through the ocean.

She picked up her treasure. Cleaned, the brooch appeared to be of high quality. Six sapphires- each enveloped in a gold swirl- surrounded a central diamond. The crew had let her keep it. Amy’s grandfather- the former mayor- was an antique dealer and amateur historian. How old was it? There was a shipwreck nearby from the late nineteenth century, but it couldn’t survive that long, could it? Perhaps it was fifty, sixty years old. Had a heartbroken woman had tossed it away?

The birds were discussing the mayhem of their day when Amy climbed the leaf-littered steps of her grandparent’s house. An aura of comfort enveloped the house in the form of cooking aromas. She presented the brooch to her grandfather, who stared at it silently. He turned away. She followed. Her grandmother was setting the table, and her face brightened at the sight of her granddaughter. Amy grabbed a chair. The old oak grumbled beneath her, knowing how much she had grown since childhood.

He gave the brooch to her grandmother. Her eyebrows rose.

“Henry.” She grinned. “I told you the first time you handed me this, ‘Yes, I will marry you’. Are you asking me again, because we’ll have to get a divorce first?”

Written for The Australian Writers' Centre Furious Fiction, May 2019.

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