sometimes the mermaids will watch the sailorboys, and green ocean eyes will take in the powerful shoulders and the instinctive sense of balance, and sometimes one will fall in love. and sometimes this love will fill up her chest so much it hurts, and sometimes it will make her reckless--make her swim silently up to the sides of the boats and reach up (carefully, with just the barest sound of water droplets tumbling back into the depths) and rest her arms on the wood that's long since been worn smooth from salt and sun. and sometimes the sailorboy will turn, but he'll see nothing--but when he hauls in his net it will be brimming, straining at the seams, and he will look out over the ocean for a moment, all the way to the blank horizon, and sometimes he will wonder.
and it's easy to love the girls that swim up from the bottom of the ocean with nets knotted up in their teeth, nets full of minnows and tuna and dolphins--but it's easy to ignore the dolphins--and to untangle them gently from those sea-salt mouths and haul the dripping cords up and in; and it's easy to wonder where the seafoam eyes have gone after he's stowed everything and turned around and they've disappeared, but it's even easier to stop wondering, and easier still to leave, and easy to trade the dead wet fish for drink--and it's so easy to drink, and the walk down to the docks is easy, too--and so he sits at the very fringes of the ocean and stares out at the glistening breakers and wonders, for a moment, about those seagirls; but drinking is easy, so he drinks; and he forgets.
most times, she will miss him. and sometimes she will wonder. sometimes, she will get angry--tempestuously angry--and the empathetic ocean will roil and snarl, and in the morning when the fishermen go down to the docks they will see the fragile bodies of squid and jellyfish washed up among the rocks like so many withered leaves. but sometimes she will cry, and that's when the albatrosses mourn in the dead of night, and most times the sleeping village will close up its windows because it is the saddest sound they've ever heard.
most times, the mermaids fall in love with the sailorboys with the bluest eyes; the ones who are all ocean and no heart--who are deep and steady and comfortable but so, so cold underneath. they love those boys and they will wish they never did--wish they never had hearts to begin with--because like the ocean, these sailorboys will always choose the swiftest way to shore, no matter how the wind howls.