A girl lives on a sailboat. She is a bit like a prisoner even though the boat is large, and she can go anywhere on it. And yet, she is trapped there, though she doesn’t know why.
On this day, she stands with the wind in her blonde hair, tanned hands clutching the railing as she waits for the group to return. They’d taken a small dinghy and rowed away. She thinks days have passed since she last saw them, but she cannot be sure. In fact, the more she thinks about it, the more she realizes she doesn’t know how many of them there were. Perhaps four, she decides. No, five.
Mermaids begin singing to her from a cove at a nearby island. The girl has seen them every day since the group left. They are supposed to be invisible, but they show themselves to her. If the island were closer, she would swim out to meet them, but it is too far, and she knows she would not make it. The mermaids sing, sweet and low, and she hears them call her name. They laugh and wave. She waves back.
The group returns as the sun streaks pinks and oranges. She hears the scrape of the dinghy, but by the time she arrives, only the man remains. The rest of the crew must have gone inside to eat dinner. She wishes they’d said hello first, but they are like that — stand-offish.
The man is lightly tan — no, golden — with graying hair. He asks her what she’s been doing while he was away. She doesn’t tell him about the mermaids because she is superstitious. Instead, she says that she’s been watching an old movie. There is suddenly a VHS cassette in her hand, and she holds it up as proof. It’s a comedy. The jacket is salt-worn. She explains that she would play the movie, then pause it and recite the next lines of dialogue, before they were spoken. She remembers the film. She has seen it many times before, although she doesn’t know when. The man asks why she’d do something so silly. She feels embarrassed.
“I was bored,” she says.
He looks at her doubtfully. He doesn’t believe her.
“It helps me remember,” she says, starting again. She wants to tell the truth. The man can see this, so he nods approvingly. He seems proud that she remembers something.
She leans towards him. His skin smells like kelp. “But I still don’t have all my memories back.”
He gazes into her eyes, and she thinks for a moment he might kiss her, but instead he only says, “Then you should watch it again.”