Drama Romance

Iara swam with some speed through the warm ocean water. She was excited that they had agreed to go with her. The pod of merpeople were struggling behind her to keep pace. The Aqua High Counsel were following her to the location she wanted to present to them with her idea. She was unsure how they would react, but she felt strongly that the time was now. They were closer to the surface than most of the merpod liked to come, especially this early in the day. When they arrived, she circled the group. “This is it.” She swept her arm through the water at sizable section of enclosed reef.

Kallan’s powerful fin swept behind him lifting him higher in the water. The others were breathing heavily but Kallan was undeterred and breathing normally in the water. He was an athlete and the distance and speed had not fazed him. “This is what?”

“I would like to build a shelter at this location for the humans.” Iara stated without equivocation.

The AHC was made up of seven mermen and six merwomen elected from the pod and represented eight of the most powerful families on the continental shelf. The counsel members were elected, in part, for their outspoken nature. It was important that those who were voted into the position be able to speak their minds; they make decisions for the tens of thousands who called this area of the ocean home and represent their voices. Most counsel meetings consisted of raised voices and strong opinions. Meetings did not end until they were in full agreement, all thirteen members in total concert on how to move forward. Making this moment of Iara’s pronouncement and the following silence so significant.

“As you know, I have been spending a sizeable amount of time on the surface. Tensions are rising between the countries and the political climate of the humans is becoming disparate, balancing on the edge of warfare. We need to begin now to create an alternative. If a chemical battle begins again, they could join us beneath the surface and survive what would otherwise be an apocalyptic event. Whatever happens will most likely leave their atmosphere uninhabitable.”

“I think there are two questions that we need to ask ourselves.” Rialta was the first to speak after Iara finished her speech. “How will we save them and why would we save them?”

“I have found a scientist on the surface who is building a technology that will give the humans the ability to breathe under water. If we could buy them time for the danger to pass, they could return to the surface after time.” Iara looked around her at each face on the council. “I believe this would mend our relationship with them. There may come a time when the ocean will force us to the surface. We need them as allies.”

Kallan’s hands were in fists, “because they have polluted our waters with their refuse.”

Firth, who up to this point had been quiet “so we bury them out of spite?”

Morgan, Iara’s best friend, held up her arms. “We obviously need to spend some time on this issue. Let’s take this discussion to the deep. Let’s return to our chambers now that we have seen and heard what Iara has presented.”

Several counsel members nodded vigorously. The swim back was quiet and contemplative. Morgan tried to talk to Iara, but she was deep in thought. Iara was desperate to explain to them how she had come to love the people she had met. Her heart was in the depths and on the surface.


Iara broke the surface of the water and took in a deep breath. The cool breeze off the surface of the water blew her hair back from her face. The moon was full tonight and she felt like it was shining on her like a spotlight. She looked around to see there was anyone nearby on the beach or in the water. She swam to the pier that was a hundred yards to her left. She always held her breath until she found the black bag she had Velcro-ed under the wooden slats of the pier. She pulled the bag from its home and threw it up on top of the pier. She looked around her one last time and pulled herself up and over the wood slats.

Her fin landed on the pier with slap. She pulled the black bag toward her and emptied out its contents beside her: a black two-piece swimming suit, a towel robe, and a pair of tennis shoes with a key on a key ring inside the right shoe. She put the bottom piece of the swimsuit beside her, pulled the top piece around her and tied it; she put the towel robe against her chest to cover her mouth. Her fin was beginning to dry. The searing pain began as the fin split tightened around her like a second skin. Muscles were shaping into thighs and feet. She was biting the robe towel. She was panting and sweat had formed on her forehead. She bent over the pier’s edge and vomited into the dark water. As soon as her fin had divided into two legs, she slid the bottom of the swimsuit over the tender skin.

The breeze coming off the water was comforting her like the coolness of the water when she swam in its depths.

It never ceased to amaze her – this process. She was built to break the veil between the world of mermaid and human. And although it did not come without a price, this transition was a beautiful gift.

When she felt like she had the strength to stand and felt like her new limbs had power to hold her, Iara slid the tennis shoes on her feet and she rose unsteadily to a standing position. She took a few test steps and made her way slowly to the end of the pier that was buried in the soft sand. Unsteady like a small child, she made her way across the beach.

It was a gift from Neptune that she was able to find an apartment near the water. She wrapped her towel robe tighter around her and held the key tightly in her right hand. She hoped that she could be taken for a midnight swimmer if anyone was watching.

She let herself in the back door on her porch and slid safely inside. She was distracted by what had happened at the counsel meeting. After they had gone back to the counsel chambers, the conversation had continued but not in a productive way. Kallan and Rialta refused to listen to any reasoning regarding saving any humans let alone any talk of building them a shelter in their world. Morgan and Firth were trying to keep an open mind, but they felt blindsided by the timing of Iara’s plan even though they weren’t surprised by it given her time on land. Almost all of the mermaid’s who had transitioned to legs had spent some time back in the water but ultimately abandoned their families and fins. Morgan wondered if, after time, their bodies lost the ability or memory of how to transform back.


Caledon ran along the water’s edge. The water was splashing up on his ankles. He was going to be late for work, but he wanted to finish this mile before heading back. He would turn around at the pier. As he neared his turnaround point, he saw a woman pull herself out of the water. He slowed his pace because he didn’t want to scare her. It was nearly eleven. What was she doing swimming at this hour? As he neared her, she got to her feet. She looked a little unsteady and he worried she might fall. She was walking quickly, and she clearly had not seen him. She made it to a nearby apartment and was gone before he was close enough to call to her. And he didn’t want to scare her.

He was intrigued by this brave woman. He turned to run home. He needed a quick shower before his shift at the hospital.


Iara sat across the desk from the researcher. She was so pleased he had agreed to meet with her. She had been waiting weeks for this appointment. Dr. Friedrich Schnieder was in the prototype version of human gills. He wiped his sweaty palms on his suit pants leaving wet streaks down the seam. He paced the room and could only glance at Iara randomly. But he was clearly eager to share with her what he was learning, and he couldn’t speak quickly enough.

“This mask piece fits securely over the mouth and nose similar to a SCUBA mask. It slides over the head and attachs in the back to stay snuggly on the face. This portion goes over the head like a life jacket and sinches tightly behind the back. It is superhydrophobic or extremely water repellant.”

“And how does it work?”

“The porous garment extracts oxygen from surrounding water and dissipates carbon dioxide.”

“Can it be completely submerged for long periods of time?”

“We are only beginning human trials. Ninety-six minutes is our longest successful dive at a depth of thirty-two square meters.”

“And can they be mass produced?”

The cost would be disparaging at this time, but I believe if we can isolate the most efficient technology, it is not without hope.”

Iara’s questions continued for another hour. Dr. Schnieder was nearly comfortable when she left. His hand was still a little damp with sweat when she shook it before leaving. She felt like there was hope.

She pushed the button on the elevator to go down. A young doctor was at her side looking at his watch. He looked over at her and smiled.

“You don’t look like the typical researcher on the 13th floor?” he laughed.

“I’m doing some research for a personal project and Dr. Schnieder was kind enough to answer about a thousand questions.” She smiled warmly in return. “What brings you to the 13th floor? Those scrubs look more like emergency room than prototype research.”

“Good catch. I’m just having a bite of dinner with a friend on a quieter floor.” He stepped into the elevator, and she stepped in beside him.

“Dinner at nine thirty in the morning?”

“Dinner for me, breakfast for my friend. I’m just getting off shift.”

“Was it a good shift?”

The elevator was slow but that seemed to suit them both as it made its way to the ground floor. “It is always a good night when it is quieter in the ER. And we saved a little girl. Which is always a good day.”

“I would love to be able to save lives like you do.”

“I imagine you do it in your own way. And I have the sneaking suspicion that the research you are pursuing would have something to do with saving lives as well.”

Iara blushed. “I’m hoping with all my heart it will.”

“I would love to hear more about it. Can I take you to the cafeteria for a bagel?”

Iara blushed again. “Are you sure you aren’t too tired? I can go on and on.”

“I am used to twenty-four-hour shifts. I have several good hours in me.”

“Then I’d better know your name. Dr?”

“Caledon Stone. And you?”

“Iara. Iara Loch.”


Iara spent several more days on land than she intended. She and Cal spent several hours talking in the cafeteria, and he asked her out for the next day. And the next. She was worried about how quickly she was falling for the young attending and she needed to get home. She went out with him two more times and then told him she needed to go out of town for a few days. She was leaving for home tonight. It was her sister Ariana’s birthday and there was a celebration in the depths tomorrow.

She waited until dark and made her way to the pier with her black bag filled with the same items as before. She sat at the edge of the pier wrapped in her towel robe. She dropped her feet into the salty water and the magic began to happen. She could feel the skin of her legs soften and then begin to wrap around her limbs. As she moved her feet in the water, they elongated into the muscular fin. The process of transforming back was comfortable like sliding into a pair of sweatpants after being in a tight pencil skirt all day. When the process was complete, she slid fully into the water and secured the bag in its place under the pier.

She did not see Caledon as he appeared as he had the night, she had arrived on his evening run. He knew from the profile now that it was Iara on the pier lowering herself into the water. He ran closer but her head had already submerged under the water. And it did not come up.

He waited for a long while. She did not come back to the surface. He took off his shoes and shirt and dove into where he had last seen her. He was frantically checking the depths for her.

It was like she had disappeared.

He was about to call for the police when he found her bag under the pier. He couldn’t explain it, but he knew that even if he called for the professional divers, they would never find her.


He walked the beach for the next three nights for hours hoping that he would see her again like he did that first time. The moonlight was his only companion.

He was about to give up with the surface of the water was disturbed from underneath.

Suddenly her face was there before him.

Her eyes were on him. She looked frightened. He said her name softly as a question. She fought the urge to dive below and not resurface.

He stepped into the water but did not get any closer. He sat in the shallow water and looked at her.

Iara kept her body beneath the water. “There’s something I need to tell you.” She said.

“I’m listening.” He replied.

“You aren’t living in the world you think you are living in.”

“Tell me more.”

“You are right that my research is about saving lives. You are one of the humans that I would like to save.”


“Yes. There is magic and there are creatures that you never imagined existed in real life.”

“Can I take you to the cafeteria for a bagel and hear all about it?” he smiled.

She couldn’t believe he had waited and watched for her for three days. She knew she was not only risking herself and but she was risking her people but this felt like the link and the beginning she needed to bring both worlds together. And time was running out. She needed someone to tell her story to. Someone who would fight to save the world above water.

She met him on the pier and pulled herself out of the water. He didn’t say anything as her fin landed on the wooden planks with a snap. He held her as her as the fin transitioned into legs.

And she knew, somehow, they would find a way to save each other. And then their people. 

March 09, 2024 04:57

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Rebecca Detti
19:11 Mar 09, 2024

Loved this Lara. It really felt like a modern day version of The Little Mermaid. I really enjoyed and would love to know what happens next.


Lara Deppe
02:05 Mar 10, 2024

Thank you Rebecca. I'm so glad you loved it! I ran out of time and was running out of words. I really want to expand this one. I'll be sure to post a follow up if I do. Thank you for reading and commenting!


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Z. E. Manley
14:24 Mar 09, 2024

I’m intrigued for what happens next! Nice world building. I like the mix of magic, myth and science. It feels like a modern fairy tale, complete with the unexpected romance. Good job. :)


Lara Deppe
18:49 Mar 09, 2024

This felt the same way to me - the beginning of a story rather than the entire story. I may need to expand it. Thank you! I was hoping for that balance. I'm grateful you are still reading! ♥️


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