When she finally saw that the tide was going out again, and the beach was drying, and I was crying, she flailed and splashed, trying to fight her way to the shore for me. But it was too late. I was abandoned.
The next time I saw the mermaid, I was a young man, standing in the sun, on the sand, waving my hands wildly across the sky, as if to write my epic tome, as only a young man can. And I saw her again, lost out there on the horizon, riding the waves, discoursing with dolphins, talking on her cell-phone, dining with canned ham. And, again, the waves came crashing in, messing up my plans and toppling whatever sort of office I had. My little desk. My watered plants and friends - all washed away like on that very first day. And the mermaid sang anon into the night, when the tide finally went out again.
She wailed a low and hollow wail, now swooshing her tail to get back to me on the beach.
But again she failed, and flailed with the tide back to the realm of the whales. Again - against her will, I'd like to think, she set sail backwards into obscurity, like mice or men, and I was left alone again, naturally.
Then, I was an older man, walking with a cane towards my bed, parked upon the sand. The mermaid showed herself again, distant, like some daughter of the past, drifting, like the thoughts of a faltering man. And the tide came in and washed away my bed, back into the forested land, where an abundance of mammals and jumping things ran - but my mind was only off on that horizon, on that one last visage of the mermaid, smiling, laughing, thrashing away as if time was all eternity was made of, until, one last time, the tide went out again, and her eyes locked mine in horror - and she swam towards me - and I said, "Oh, damn. Not again."
Just as before, she was pulled out by the Under Toad, and scattered as good as ashes into the sea. That is the last time I saw her, I am told.
If you ask me what I think of this, I cannot say. My eyes are burnt from staring too long in the sunlight. My heart is sore from running back and forth, trying to rescue this or that. And my mind is deceived as to whether any of this had been a dream because, for all it's worth, it might as well have been.
If you ask me now what the mermaid was for, I will simply say: I have no memory. Perhaps there was some drop of life upon the water, but what could that mean to me? Now that all the waters are cried away and I am laid out like a rock below the Sphinx, cut away, and cut away, like some monument amid the sea but, only me, I am disposed by sand, and sun's debris, and no longer the single tear in which she swam.
That great long tear across the sky.
Like a sunset always too early.
A sunrise always too late.