She sucked in one last deep breath as she pressed her hands firmly against the side of the tank. The water, cold and rising slowly, filled in the last pocket of air. She swiftly scanned the faces of the onlookers, but couldn’t find any concern. Some even wore smiles. She pounded on the glass. A man nudged his wife and pointed. The wife laughed. A mother with two children handed out lollipops as they took their seats. It was as if they were watching a summer blockbuster instead of her death. Panic set in.
“Help! Please!” she shouted, water forcing its way into her open mouth. Adrenaline raced through her body. She pushed her way to the top of the tank searching desperately for a way out. Without oxygen, her limbs began to grow heavy. The instinct to draw in a breath burned hot in her chest. With one last burst of energy, she wildly clawed at the heavy metal roof which began to shrink and fall out of her field of vision. Darkness.
Thump. Her head struck the bottom of the tank and woke her. As she opened her eyes she saw children’s faces pressed up against the tank, plastered with a look of wonder and disbelief. Shocked, she drew in a quick breath, which felt heavy and awkward. I’m breathing, she thought, underwater. She bolted upright and sensed the ease at which she moved through the water. Her body was foreign. What were once legs, were now rows of brilliant, shiny scales. Her feet, a delicate, lacey fin.
“And there she is, ladies and gentleman. A real-life Mermaid!” barked a man with a megaphone. The audience stood and cheered. A wave of déjà vu struck her as the man continued, “Our next show is 3 o’clock.”