Monday 15 December 2014

Day 15: ‘Mer’-ry Christmas by Helen Shay

Out there, where you are – sitting round a table, pulling your crackers - all this must seem strange.  Murky, perhaps?  Indistinct?  Too ….wavy? But here, for us, it’s so normal.  Not “murky” but ‘mer-ky’, I suppose. At least, I used to think so – before I met the boy. 
He was just one of your many random boys out there. Only for me, he was ‘the boy’.  Now it’s good that water surrounds me, comforts me and makes it all indistinct and wavy.  It submerges me back here, in my world of Mer, where things are not always so mer-ry at Christmas, when memory rises like a blade of pain to pierce the surface and turn the water red. Good job, underwater no-one can see the tears.
All I want for Christmas is you!”
Well, why not? What’s wrong with a bit of seasonal romance? Why shouldn’t I try out what the mistletoe might have to offer? I was fourteen at last, and sick of swirling around with my sisters – sick of being told, ‘No, you can’t sing pop songs instead of arias!  No you can’t cut your hair short! No, you can’t have a Wonderbra!’ I mean, at fourteen it’s different. That’s when you’re on the cusp. I could feel the power flow into me like the sea into a harbour. Fourteen is not an age for ‘can’t!’
And of course, Mark was so fit. I spotted him first running on along the Ayrshire coast that raw December morning, whilst I was surfing the waves during my morning swim. I didn’t mean to splash him really. It was totally by accident, honest.
“Hey, didn’t see you there,” he said.
Then he looked at me long and deep, as if to make up for not seeing me before.
“Baby, don’t worry ‘bout a thing…,” I sang.
(I’ve always liked Reggie, ever since the family wintered that time in the Caribbean and I picked up so much of it listening to the beach parties.)  Mark just smiled.
    Cos every little thing, is gonna be alright,’ I sang to myself.
Of course, for the first few meetings I couldn’t tell him.  About ‘Mer’ I mean, the world I’m from. Or the tail. Well, especially the tail. That would be guaranteed to freak him out on the first date. But then, I didn’t have to tell him. Like I said, at fourteen you’re on the cusp and that’s when you get the power. You get to decide who – and what – you are.
    The sisters didn’t like me seeing Mark.  Jealous or what?  They threatened to tell Mum and Dad.
    “Meranda’s going crazy.  Running around town after everything with legs, and even wearing legs herself!”
    Well, that flipping tail (and how it does flip) gets in the way, especially when you’re out for a snog. So I told them to go ahead and tell if they liked.  Why should I care?  
    “Let’s leave it for now. Give her time to come to her senses. Realise that a boyfriend is not just for Christmas,” Marina said.
Just because she’s the eldest, she always likes to think she’s oh so sensible and knows it all. But I thought I was the one who knew it all.  When you’re fourteen, you’re on the cusp and you get to choose. Pure power.

About the author:
Helen Shay has won several writing competitions and had some work published.
She has an MA in Creative Writing and teaches creative writing with York University CLL. She also writes poetry and has been a guest spoken word performer at Glastonbury Poets Tent – with mud-stains to prove it.  She loves fantasy, admiring Philip Pullman in particular, and is currently writing a young adult fantasy novel.
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