I hold my breath and the world turns silent. Most people shut their eyes when they dive but I like to see the water accelerate toward me. A body breaking lake water sounds shrill with treble readers on the dock, but it is deep gurgling bass for the ears of the diver.
My scalp contracts instantly as the water envelops me and I feel more alone than I have all winter. Phosphorescence burst into tiny blue-white stars.
“Where have you been?” ask the mermaids, their voices a lolling chorus. Except the youngest one, she mostly just giggles.
“I’ve been busy. I had a baby.”
“You already had babies.”
“I know. But it’s been… busier this time. I love them so much. I barely even read anymore.”
“You have to make time.”
“You’re right,” my lungs burning at the edges, wondering how far I am from the surface, from the light. I’ve never been great at holding my breath for long.
“You’re right,” I repeat, “I will.”