It happened at the dark of morning, when the sky turned from black to pewter to soft tangerine.
She rose from the surf, waterlogged, the seaweed and starfish whispering her name.
Sassas ignored their entreaties to return.
Once a sea creature, she’d long ago left that life, not of her own choosing at first, but now Sassas was comfortable on two feet connected to two tall long legs.
Those legs sent her past the dunes now, up toward the old man’s house. She squinted as the sun climbed higher, offering rosier pinks and a hint of the blue sky that would surround the town in a few more minutes.
Sassas scrabbled up the stone steps. Uncle Josh worried about her when she left for a splash in her old place. The ancient place. He’d hooked her when he was a 24-year-old fisherman and she just a 600-year-old sea nymph.
She had changed little. Her fins disappeared within two years, her long green hair turned blonde in the sunlight, and her smile glistened with the newness of Earth living.
But Uncle Josh, who renamed her Sarah on that long ago fateful morning, was approaching his 90th year of Earth life.
She fingered the gold band that encircled her thumb. Uncle Josh gave it to her years ago, intoning reverently:
“A reminder of all that grounds you to Earth now: sky, sand, friendship, me.”
Sassass enjoyed the rhythm of life out of water. She followed the lunar patterns of the full moon to the new moon, racing outside every evening to catch a glimpse of the golden orb. To her, that’s what Uncle Josh’s golden band represented.
On sand and mud and concrete, time didn’t swirl like the tides of her old home.
Time disappeared and then slowly reappeared as a crescent shape, partly in this world, and partly in the other dark mysterious universe above.
Sassass raced into the house at Josh’s strangled cry. She found him kneeling on the floor, clutching his chest.
“Uncle Josh?” she whispered. His eyes, once bright with hope and promise, faded. Suddenly his face became bright with joy, beaming like the full moon.
And then he collapsed.
No words. But they seldom spoke verbally to each other.
Sassass stood over Uncle Josh’s prone form, not alarmed. Just waiting.
Then she saw it.
His silvery shiny spirt slowly weaved out of his body, shimmering in front of her for a few seconds, and then lifted away and dissolved into the invisible air.
Oh!” Sassass exclaimed, and the air absorbed her realization.
She’d never be alone. Uncle Josh would always be nearby.
When the sun fell into the sea later that day and the moon rose cheerfully above her, Sassass rolled Uncle Josh’s body into his bed blanket, pulled it past the house and the dunes and toward the surf.
His human form would join her spiritual friends in the sea.
Perhaps, it was time for her to join them again too.