Last night I dreamt of mermaids.
Again. Like I do most nights. Or some nights, at least. Frequently. Let’s just say frequently.
I dreamt I was sitting here, right where I am now, by my bedroom window. Staring out at the sea. The sea that appears so choppy, so gloomy. So grey. The near-sand-less, pebble beach that lines the coast adding to the moribund demeanour of the town. A once-renowned seaside town, or resort, that has long since seen its glory days pass by. Signs swing from side to side in the breeze to a squeaking soundtrack of rusty hinges. Eyes stare down at the rain-spattered pavements as the backdrop of boarded-up shops and graffiti-strewn walls drift by. The pier, once so fabled and so full of life, of colour, stands broken at the edge of the water. Rotting wooden posts thrust out of the water like fingers, reaching out for any kind of salvation as they gradually sink beneath the waves.
But when I dream I see so much more. The sea itself becomes a backdrop. The waves become the bit-part player. The rocks that occasionally make an appearance during lower tides become a stage. The stage. The stage for the mermaids as they glide so gracefully out of the water, resting on the rocks with poise and finesse. Two, three, five, nine; more and more cut through the water, revealing themselves amid the ethereal glow of the dreamlike surroundings.
I stare at them, from this seat, by the window. I am transfixed. Their beauty surrounds me, invades me, illuminates me. Their hair strands of perfection, flowing down past their bare shoulders, coquettishly concealing their supple breasts. Their eyes, beams of kaleidoscopic perfection, burrow into my trembling soul. Feasting. Devouring. Their smiles, warm and disarming, siren calls with power enough to ensnare any man, women or child who dare look upon it. And their tails, flicking gently, calmly. Almost demurely. Their scaly lower halves shimmer in the evening’s twilight, mesmerising my eyes as the grey becomes imbued with the slightest, most transient dashes of reds, greens, purples. I stare at them. I wish I were them. Amongst them.
And then they beckon me. All as one gently curling their hands into ‘come hither’ gestures, calling out to me, inviting me into their world. I look down and I am transformed. My legs replaced by a shimmering, smooth, scaly, majestic, stunning tail. And when I look up once more I am with them. Gracefully laying on my own rock. Within the ocean. Within the group. Surrounded by my fellow mermaids. My tail flicks confidently, breezily, bringing the slightest of tears to my eyes. The others whisper to me, sing to me, call to me. Praising my beauty, my poise, my everything. I am at one with myself. At peace.
And we slink beneath the waves. As one. All slipping from our rocks, from our stages. We curve and pirouette through the water, laughing and singing, allowing the waves to gently carry us towards the deepest, darkest realms of the ocean. Before we slip into the depths I look down, transfixed with my own beauty. By the smooth grey scales that delicately and intricately protrude from my torso.
And then they fade.
Transforming into the cold, grey, metallic sterility of my wheelchair. The grey of the steel, the wheels, the footrests infusing me with that familiar feeling of resentment. At the chair. At my legs. At my useless, lifeless legs. And sleep takes me, chewing me up and spitting me back out into the dreary morning’s banality. The struggle. The arm-aching struggle with this contraption that I despise so.
And so I stare out at the sea once more. Grey. Sitting by my bedroom window. In my chair. Willing, wishing, hoping for it to change. For mermaids to decorate every rock, every wave, every inch of the horizon. And yet, it never does. Only as I sleep. Only when I dream. Each time the same dream. Each time the same pull from my mind, the same existential plain of fantasy carved into my imagination.
Each day I watch the dreariness, the bitterness. Letting the minutes tick by.
Ushering me to the realm of sleep once more.
So I can dream yet again.
So I can dream of mermaids.