Part III

Michael crouched down at the edge of the Swimming Hole and flicked his fingers in the water. It had been two weeks since he had seen Shara, a mermaid, in that water. Or at least, that’s what he believed - but he was having his doubts. He stared into the water at his reflection, desperately wanting it to break and see Shara came to the surface.

Everyday he came to the pool directly after work. For hours he would sit by the shore and wait. Wait and remember was all he could do. The mermaid never showed, leaving him plenty of time to play back the events in his head. Everything from the cool breeze to her soft touch he could feel and see vividly in his mind.

And there was the kiss, he could never forget that. More importantly, he could remember what she told him it would do. He would find himself rubbing a flat rock in his hand and wondering if he should repeat her demonstration; wondering if he was really immortal. With his hand trembling he would press the stone against his flesh, but at the first sign of pain he would drop it and fall to his knees.

He was terrified at what had happened. Worried he was losing his mind, and that self inflicting wounds would only lead to a downward spiral of insanity. Everything from that day was so clear in his memory. He had spent the entire day with a creature that didn’t exist and he spoke with her and shared memories.

Before long, all he could think of was that day. Work at the saw mill, sitting by the pool and sleep all blended together. His days became blurs of doubt and fear and trying desperately to understand what was happening. Day after day he became more detached from reality and focused less on what he was doing.

He had been guiding unprocessed logs along a conveyor belt when blinding pain shot through his arm and slammed him violently back into reality. There was a loud cracking sound, along with the sound of his voice screaming before he became fully conscious of what was happening. Instinctively he tugged at his arm as the pain only increased. Looking down he realized his right forearm and hand had been smashed between two of the massive logs. Just as he made this realization, his legs suddenly fell behind him as the conveyor belt continued to move, carrying the logs and him with it. Every inch sent intense pain shooting through Michael’s arm, tearing it further apart as he screamed and flailed aimlessly with his other limbs.

One of the other workers heard the screams, and hit the kill switch on the conveyor belt. The foreman and a few others men came running to help. Two of them grabbed the logs and pulled them apart enough for Michael to get free. He fell, doubled-over to the ground holding his shattered hand under him and howling in pain. “I’ll go grab my car!” one of the men yelled, “he’ll need to get to the hospital!” He ran off quickly towards the nearest exit while the others knelt down to see if there was any way for them to help.

“W . . . Wait . . .” Michael muttered. His voice was low and he had stopped whimpering. “Wait,” his voice became stronger, “its okay. I’m not hurt.” He slowly pulled his arm from beneath his chest and rolled back to his feet, crouching on his haunches. Stretched out fully for all to see, his arm and hand were perfectly fine. There was some dirt and a little minor blood that could have been caused from scratches, but Michael could manipulate his fingers and wrist just as he could before the incident.

It was quiet for a moment, as all the men stared at Michael rolling his hand over and curling it into a fist then spreading his fingers wide again. “What?” one man muttered with his voice still and quivering slightly. “That should have broke every bone in your hand.”

“I know.” Michael’s voice had the same timidity. He continued to stare in awe when his eyes suddenly shot open with a look of both amazement and realization. Glancing up, he looked at the faces of all the men who stood waiting to see what he was going to do; hoping for some kind of explanation. “I have to go. I have to go now.” Michael sprang up and sprinted for the exit.

“Hey! You better get that checked out by a doctor, Mike,” the foreman yelled after him.