The human in the white jacket, white socks, blue Bermuda shorts and pale blue shirt threw golden twigs into the water. Puffer the mermaid peeked around the limestone rock poking up near the beach at Tobacco Bay and watched her friend William the parrotfish and Gillian the Wahoo snatch them from the surface. No blood, thank goodness but a ribbon of shiny stuff swirled like a swimming eel.
Gillian and William swam out to her, bubbles dancing from their tails, their eyes filmy. When they said “You should try it, Puffer. It’s delicious” their voices sounded dry like they’d been salted.
“You two need to dive deep and clean your gills with fresh brine. You’re loaded.”
“We can’t help it, Puffer. It’s tasty and different.”
“It’s killing you” Puffer said, pulling herself onto the rock and taking a deep breath, filling her lungs with air and swelling her chest. Her two friends burped in amazement. Under the waves she looked just like a fish but on land oxygen expanded her and she was like a puffer fish, only prettier. Short spiky hair kind of made her look like a lion fish but she said that was fine with her. Less time spent preening and untangling hair, like her two sisters.
“I think I’m going to puke” William said. And he did. It was pink and grainy and washed up on the beach where the tourists cooed “How beautiful the sand is.”
Puffer had enough. Every scale on her tail told her not to do it, to stay away from the shore. As she swam toward the man in the white jacket who had come back with more greasy gold twigs, her lateral line buzzed but she ignored it. The man stood above her holding the stuff Gillian and William craved. Puffer swam back and forth, waiting, her tail making the surface froth.
The man lifted his hand. Puffer broke the surface and bellowed “Can you please not DO that?”
The man didn’t hear her over the waves striking the beach so she shouted again “Can you please NOT do that?”
Still he didn’t stop. The twigs splattered on the water but this time no fish came. They were too afraid of Puffer. At first they floated but gradually thickened and when they were heavy with water they sank. William couldn’t resist and gulped as many as he could. But it was disgusting and soggy so he came to the surface and ptooeyed it in the air. Pieces landed on the man’s white jacket and turned as red and orange as a sunset. The man looked at his ketchup and mustard streaked jacket his face turning green, like Sargasso seaweed, and he ran to the big box that humans live in.
William and Gillian detoxed at Church Bay while Puffer patrolled Tobacco Bay, throwing food ashore anytime the man in the white coat tried again. Soon the parrotfish stopped barfing up pink bits, the beach turned beige, and tourists stopped visiting Bermuda.
The fish lived happily ever after.