Now that THE WOLVES OF PORT NOVO is out in the world, I’m working on a companion book of short stories. I think they’ve all been published before, in OTHER EARTH, OTHER STARS or on the blog, so I need to do a couple of new ones, too.
This one was one of my Story A Day May stories one year, though I’ve cleaned it up since knocking it out for the challenge. Now it’s called:
Age of Honor
Loach curled his long, heavy tail with ostentatiously practiced ease, showing off for the young mermayd who was aground for the first time. He looked across the dockside eatery at Muriel, the owner, and cocked his head at the tad struggling to find a place for his flukes.
Muriel crooked a smile, unlike her usual brilliant flash, and sent one of her employees over to take their order.
Loach forgot about impressing his young nurture mate – sibling was the closest translation in human language. He used his constantly improving human to ask, “What’s wrong with Muriel?”
“Just feeling her age, I guess. She’s got a birthday coming up. Now what can I get you?”
Loach ordered two of the special – raw oysters with spiced lemon sauce, and stewed calamari. While they waited for their order, he explained the use of tables, supplied human and mermayd equivalents for every object in sight, and instructed the tad – youngster – in the rudiments of land-side dining etiquette.
“Muriel,” the tad said, wrapping his mouth with difficulty around the mushy formations of human language, “you know him how long?”
“Longer than you’ve been alive. Two – maybe three years. And Muriel isn’t a him. There are two kinds of humans – well, there are many kinds of humans, just like mermayds, but they can only spawn one way or another way. The hers always only produce eggs and the hims always only produce sperm. Muriel is a her. They call us all him because they think we look more like their hims. Well, truthfully, most of them call us it.”
When the server returned with their food, Loach asked, “How many years has Muriel?”
“She’ll be twenty-eight in two days.”
The mermayds were left stunned. Twenty-eight wasn’t an unknown age, but it was a considerable one. A mermayd that old would either be a paranoid recluse or a battle-scarred ruffian. Muriel was neither, which impressed them deeply.
Meanwhile, THE WOLVES OF PORT NOVO is available through Amazon in print and for Kindle and Kindle apps. It doesn’t show up yet in Indiebound.org, but it can be ordered with the ISBN #1942166605.
A WRITING PROMPT FROM ME TO YOU: What does a very young person buy as a birthday present for someone he believes is very old?