“Sweet Sixteen” by Nicole Little | Short Story Winner

Bridget always felt a connection to her mother at the beach. Perhaps the rhythm of the waves caressing the shore reminded her of the rhythm of the womb; it was after all, the only memory she had of her.

Abandoned at the water’s edge, no more than a few hours old; her frantic newborn cries had attracted the attention of a pod of mermaids swimming nearby. She’d heard the story a million times: how their songs had soothed her and, how, wrapped in their gossamer tresses and lulled by the lap of the water, she’d fallen asleep in their arms. Enraptured with this tiny human, they’d persuaded Neptune to grant just one request. He had cupped the baby’s tiny feet and bestowed upon her a most precious gift.

And now she had returned to the threshold of the ocean that had nearly been her end but, in a peculiar twist of fate, turned out to be her beginning. On the cusp of her sixteenth birthday, she must choose, as so many have done before her, to walk upon the land or remain in the sea.

At midnight, breaking the surface softly, she’s surprised to see a solitary woman walking along the beach. She watches as she stops, places a single flower on the sand and walks away. Bridget’s breath catches but she knows now what she must do. Casting one last glance back at what might have been, she dives beneath the waves and returns to what has always been.

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Words © 2018 Nicole Little. Image © 2018 Kit Sora.

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