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Passing Through Cervantes

This story contains sexual content and isn’t appropriate for those under 18.
It also has content warnings for mind breaking and drowning, and is set during the COVID-19 pandemic.

The night air was as cool as it gets, but it wasn’t cool enough. I walked across the beach keeping my feet in the water. I’ve done this nightly for weeks. I don’t know how else to cool off, in multiple senses of the word. Work was so stressful that it’s the only way I can feel rested, even though I stay up late for this.

Ordinarily, the beach was quiet. I didn’t go for walks when the water was too choppy, so I was used to barely hearing whatever tiny waves there are and feeling the wet sand crunch beneath my feet. I’d been going for 15 minutes, so I was just about to turn around and head back. That night, however, was the first time I heard someone else’s voice. A woman’s voice, singing something I hadn’t heard before, in the opposite direction of my car. I squinted but I could barely see anything in that direction. Looking all around, there was nothing, save for sand and water. But someone had to be singing, right? And tomorrow was Saturday, I thought, so it didn’t matter if I didn’t sleep properly…

I took off in that direction, walking slowly toward the source of that song. The further I walked, the clearer the singing got, until at the end of the beach I saw a woman, sitting in the tide. It was strange; I hadn’t seen her before, even when I was looking at that exact spot, and yet here she was. She hadn’t seen me, and was still singing, so I didn’t change my method of approach. It was a nice song, after all, so why would I want to interrupt it?

Eventually I got close enough for her to spot me, and for me to realise something: she didn’t have legs. She had a tail. She was a mermaid. She looked into my eyes like a deer in headlights for a second, then looked away. I couldn’t tell whether she was being slightly bashful or just pretending to.

“Well, I didn’t expect anyone to see me out here,” she admitted.

Her voice… well, I won’t mince words: it was one of the most beautiful voices I’d ever heard. Hearing women with deep voices was one of the ways that I knew I was attracted to women in the first place, and hers was divine. Now I was like the deer in headlights, momentarily blinded by this fact, before realising that I don’t want to come off as weird and had to say something.

“I like to take night walks,” I said, “I need them to clear my head.”

“On the beach?”

“I like the feeling of water on my feet.”

“Well, I know the feeling of water, but I wouldn’t know much about that last bit,” she replied. She giggled. It sounded magical.

It wasn’t just her voice: all of her was beautiful. The way her brown hair gently curled and fell past her shoulders, her beautiful blue eyes… and yes, her breasts, which she didn’t have covered. Realising I might not ever get to flirt with another mermaid ever again, a part of me figured I may as well. “If I knew that there were gorgeous mermaids like you here I would have started doing beach walks sooner.”

Her smile became ever so slightly wider. “Well, if I knew there were gorgeous humans like you doing beach walks here I would have visited a lot sooner.”

With that, she gave me a wink. “I don’t want anyone else to spot me,” she continued, “so I’m going to head back now. I’d like to see you again, whatever your name is.”

“Charlotte!” I yelled after her as she dove back into the ocean.

I waited a little longer, before realising she wouldn’t come back tonight, and turned around and walked back.

There wasn’t much for me to do in Cervantes. There were only about 500 people living there, in a town that was slowly bleeding residents, whose main industry was fishing, bolstered by tourists from Perth who wanted to know whether there really was anything worthwhile anywhere more northern within Western Australia but didn’t want to go too far. I was only here because I worked remotely and wanted to own a house, and luckily I got in there just under a year before the pandemic even started. My house was nice enough: 3 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, decent garage, nice backyard. Couldn’t have a lawn, of course, because it was so fucking hot that it would die every day even when watering it, but it was still mine.

I had just wanted to get out of Perth. There was nothing for me there. No friends, no family, no nothing. Hence, a move to somewhere remote enough that anyone I’d talked to before would never find me, and a remote programming job at a company in New Zealand so that I could guarantee that I would be a fresh face to them. Since they were 5 hours ahead of me, I got to start just after lunch and finish a little after 8. Then, when it was cooler (25 degrees Celcius is cooler, though it could be better), I walked on the beach. The people on my team were nice enough, and I talked with one of them outside of work once or twice, but they weren’t my friends.

The day after, I was still thinking about her. I wondered whether I’d dreamed or hallucinated the whole thing. This kind of thing obviously doesn’t just happen. Every so often, maybe every couple of hours or so, I would catch myself thinking about her song. It wasn’t enough to change my behaviour, but it was there. Was she was a siren? I knew I should do my research and be prepared for that possibility. If it got too bad, I’d just stop seeing her.

I spent some time tending to the garden. It was here when I bought the house, but I enjoyed looking after it. Lots of native plants, because what else was gonna withstand the heat? Lots of gravel and fake lawn too. It was low maintenance, it didn’t look terrible, it absorbed less heat than concrete, and it allowed me to pace around somewhere outside, so it was nice. I was planning on installing a pool, but COVID put a spanner in the works.

I caught myself wishing that I could show her the garden, that the pool had been installed so that I could swim in it with her. I didn’t even know her name and I was thinking like this. Was it a sign of my mind being changed by her, or was it just that I was talking to someone new for the first time in ages?

I went back that night. I had to walk a few more minutes in the same direction to get her, but there she was.

Her face twisted a little more into a smile. “Charlotte!” She didn’t yell, but she emoted enough that I knew she was happy to see me.

I realised: “I never caught your name…”

“Oh, I’m sorry… it’s Alexandra.”

“That’s a gorgeous name for-” I began to flirt with her with a lot less hesitation than before, but she cut me off.

“For a gorgeous woman?” She giggled. “You’re really set on flirting with me, aren’t you? Would you believe that I’d heard that one before?”

I nodded. Clearly I wasn’t as smooth as I thought I was. “Probably a lot, huh.” I let out a giggle of my own, but a much more nervous one.

“More than you think,” she replied. “I’ve met a lot of people. I’ve lived for quite a long time. For centuries.”

“Wow. I wouldn’t have guessed.” I didn’t really know what else to say to that.

“Eternal youth. That is the merfolk’s curse. I never get to know the beauty of growing old. And in having to travel the world’s oceans to eat, I never get to know the beauty of others growing old either.”

“No one follows you around?”

“I don’t let them. When people are around me for too long, they lose their mind to obsession.”

I started to piece things together in my head. “Is that why you were at this beach, all the way out here? You didn’t want that to happen again?”

“People never walk this far at night. But then you did, more than once.” She said it in a completely neutral tone of voice, yet there was something there I couldn’t parse. Disappointment that I had showed up again? Or hope that it might not turn out the same way? She seemed to be pretty good at obscuring her emotions and how genuine they were. I was ok at reading emotions and intention in general, but I had a hard time reading hers.

“I didn’t know…”

“Now you do. So, you can make the decision. Everyone who stays around me… they change, through no fault of my own. They betray who they were before.”

I thought about how my parents and friends reacted to me coming out as trans. “It’s not the same, but… I’ve had people who said they loved me go back on that over time. ‘Betrayed’ who they were before.” I paused. She just told me that I’d lose myself, but she seemed so lonely. “I… would like to keep you company.”

She looked a little surprised. “So will I see you again?”

“Will you let me?”

She paused in thought for a second. “In a week,” she decided. “Come back here in a week.”

With that, she dived back into the water, and I began my trip home.

Over the next week, I did some research. I did want to see Alexandra again, and wanted to make sure that I was prepared, to not succumb to the same fate that she mentioned.

The day after I met her, the song in my head was stronger. I caught myself thinking about it more than the day before. I even caught myself humming it without thinking once or twice. I understood what was happening: despite only seeing her for a grand total of 10 minutes in the last few days, the change she described was starting to affect me too.

So my research intensified. I looked into mermaid myths, attempting to figure out what to do in order to stay in contact with her without going insane. I had no idea where to even begin, though. I couldn’t even use any stories from anywhere in Australia as a starting point: she said she travelled around a lot, she was white, and had a slight European accent that I couldn’t quite place.

So I began to look into other mermaid myths from Europe, and realised my problem very quickly. I knew that mermaids were real, obviously, and found plenty of stories from there that matched her well enough, but certain details weren’t consistent. I had no idea how to tell whether a story was written by someone who had run into an actual mermaid or someone who had just made up a story about them. They talked about the merfolk’s beauty, but did they talk about her beauty? There were also other kinds of mermaid stories I bookmarked, for other reasons.

After a few days of researching late into the night, I gave up and went to sleep. The next night, though, I noticed something: her song wasn’t stuck in my head anymore. It seemed like time between visits was the key.

Then I realised what that meant: she would never be able to be a huge part of my life.

Despite her influence going away, I couldn’t stop thinking about her. I hoped it was because she a beautiful woman who had left a strong impression, and not anything else. I figured the only way to get her off my mind was to keep busy, so I took a drive.

I drove around town. More than anything else, I was trying to see if there was anything on, if there were other people that I could talk to. There was a community centre, but it didn’t seem like anything was actively running there. I got out and decided to go for a walk, despite the heat. It was 31 degrees Celcius, which a lot cooler than it could have been, but still enough to get me sweating. Despite having only lived in Western Australia, I was not used to the dry heat.

I walked because the only other thing that occurred to me was just going for a walk and talking to people I saw on the street. Despite walking, I didn’t do this. Outside of it just being an insane thing for people to do, for the entire time I had lived here no one had said anything beyond a hello. It made sense. I had moved here and rarely did anything with anyone else. I didn’t contribute to their economy, or their social circles, or anything about the place: I just bought a cheap house somewhere and holed myself up in it while working from home, and I’d done it long before everyone else had started doing it due to COVID. They probably hated me.

I realised how aimless this had been. I didn’t really expect anyone to be around, for anyone to say hi. I just wanted to have done something, even if there wasn’t really any chance that it may have helped.

A week had passed, and I went for another walk on the beach. Again, Alexandra was further away this time, but once again she was there. She smiled when she saw me, and I couldn’t help but beam back at her.

“It’s good to see you again,” she said.

I opened my arms, motioning to hug her, but she shook her head. “That will only speed things up,” she said.

I nodded. It was upsetting. I wanted to hug her so badly, among other things, but the thought of losing myself… it was scary.

“So, tell me. How do you feel?”

“Well… the song isn’t stuck in my head anymore. It went away after a few days.”

“That’s good. Then we’ll only meet once a week.”

“Are you sure we can’t meet any quicker?”

She shook her head. “I want to meet with you as a person, not as a shell of one.”

“I don’t understand exactly what would happen if-”

She cut me off. “You will never understand it,” she said sternly. “Either you will trust me, or you won’t see me again.”

I hesitated for a second, then nodded. She was one of the few people interested in talking to me. I didn’t want to lose her.

“That means we need to take as many steps as possible, and I want to try something different. Most of the people I met who lost themselves only had me in my life, so you will talk to other people, and you will tell me about it. Are we clear?”

I remembered the drive. “That’s a lot for me to do… That’s really hard for me.”

“Let me guess: you’re going to tell me that it’s hard to meet new people in a small town and hope I don’t know about the internet?”

I honestly couldn’t say whether I would have. What she was asking of me, to socialise even on the internet, was a huge ordeal… but her song was creeping into my mind again, and the idea of talking to other people was seeming less and less appealing, so maybe I would have if she hadn’t mentioned it.

“No,” I said, truthfully, I thought.

“Then you’ll do your best either way. I won’t stop talking to you if you struggle, but I will if you don’t try. It will prevent you from self-destructing for my sake if there are others in your life. Understood?”

I nodded.

She breathed a sigh of relief, and a smile crept back onto her face. “Then you can finally tell me: why do you walk on the beach so much?”

“Because I like getting exercise when it’s cool.”

“But this is a recent thing.”

“How do you know that?”

“I’ve only seen you within the last few weeks.”

She’d been watching me from the water all this time.

I hesitated a tiny bit. “It’s personal.”

“I may have been harsh, but I do care about you. I want to hear it if you want to tell me.”

I sighed, but not out of relief. It was still a little raw, but I had no one else to tell.

“Well… About 2 months ago, someone on my team at work stopped showing up. Eventually they told us he’d passed away, but didn’t say more than that. I looked into it, and realise he’d…” I stopped. It was still a little raw.


“He… killed himself.”

“I’m sorry, Charlotte.”

I kept going. “I couldn’t find out how, though, obviously. It fucked me up. I’ve been doing this to try to cope. And grieve, I guess. I didn’t know him super well but I still feel like I need to.”

“Is it helping?”

Did she mean the walks, or talking to her about it? People always said how much talking to someone about your problems helped, but for me it was very hit or miss… Either way, my answer was the same. “Not really. But it’s something.”

“I’m glad it’s something instead of nothing.” She looked toward the ocean. “I should go.”

“So soon?”

“We can only meet briefly. Remember, you will try to talk to others, ok? I look forward to hearing about it, Charlotte.”

And with that, she returned to the ocean once again.

The weeks went by. I tried to meet new people, I really did. There was nothing happening in person since the town was so small. Or maybe there was. It was hard to know. There were a little under 500 people in Cervantes, and that’s a lot more than anyone could reasonably keep in their head. Each of them had lives and interiority, even if I didn’t see it. All those people and none of them wanted to talk to me, even thought of me, and I didn’t know how to change that. I became acutely aware of something: it’s not that there was nothing here, but if it had taken me this long and borne no fruit, maybe there was nothing here for me.

The point being, I didn’t even bother and just went to the internet. Here in Western Australia, and in most of the country in fact, our COVID-19 restrictions were starting to lift more and more. Now, in November 2020, we could have gatherings of up to 300 people outdoors, but there were barely that many people in this town to begin with, so I started online.

The only problem with that was I had no idea how. I had a Twitter account, I’d used it to follow people I thought were cool, and the same with Tumblr. To start off with, I just posted, but no one saw the posts let alone engaged with them. I got the impression that the way to make friends by doing this was to reply to others, but that was really daunting. I had seen enough people complain about overfamiliarity from strangers. It was hard to not believe that I was doing the same. I figured I could look into advice for making friends online, but it was too tough. I didn’t want to. Besides, I had her.

I went through my followers list. My dead coworker was there.

I went through his tweets, to try and get a better idea of him, now that it was all I had. I realised he had replied to me, more than anyone else.

And I stopped trying to make friends online.

I told Alexandra about this the first week after she issued those boundaries, though I neglected the fact that I hadn’t given it my all. I didn’t want to lose her.

She looked at me in confusion. “Why have you written off meeting people in person?”

“There’s nothing here,” I replied.

“You don’t live in a solitary cabin on a cliff, Charlotte. Everywhere I’ve met someone has had a great many things and wonderful people. Make sure you try, ok?”

“I tried before you even asked me and I have no idea what to do…”

“Then give it another shot when you’re ready.”

I waited for something, anything. All I could find were some guys playing footy at the park. They were young, maybe 16. Still in high school. There wasn’t even a high school in Cervantes: they must’ve lived here but attended the one in Jurien Bay. I saw them play every so often, but I was a 24-year-old trans woman who barely exercised and didn’t particularly want to be called slurs, so I didn’t join in. Again, a world I was locked out of.

Alexandra looked at me and understood what I was talking about, even though I didn’t mention the slurs part. “They don’t seem like they would appreciate you,” she said.

“Like you do?”

She smirked. “I do appreciate you, Charlotte.”

I appreciated her too. The part of me unaffected by her song (and I had started to conceptualise it as “parts”) appreciated someone taking time to talk to me. The part I understood to be her influence appreciated hearing the sound of her voice. Both appreciated that I got to see her chest but I was trying extremely hard to not make it obvious about what I wished I could do.

“I have one more idea to meet people in person,” I told her.

For my HRT, I got estradiol implants, which could only be put in by certain doctors. The ones in Perth were unusually gatekeepy to me, so I had to get them elsewhere. I was due for another two, so I resolved that when I flew to Sydney I would do my best to talk to people.

The trip arrived. I got the implants put in. Once I got there, I realised that there weren’t really any in person events that I wanted to go to. There were some events that used to be in person pre-pandemic, but they had all moved virtually and hadn’t moved back. There was one or two in person too, but the more I thought about it, the more I didn’t want to go. Why form in-person relationships with people that I wouldn’t see in person again for a while?

I joined the Discord with one of those groups that was just virtual. I played some games with them. I didn’t have that good of a time trying to navigate it virtually. I wondered why I had travelled here in the first place. I did message one person from there a little bit though. Their name was Spring, like the season. They told me they’d met so many people named Autumn and Summer and Winter that they wanted to complete the set of seasonal names. They joked to me about how there was nothing in Western Australia when I mentioned I had lived there, Perth specifically. They were wrong. Perth was full of suburbs that were more or less nothing, but it was also full of people. It was full of events, full of communities. Full of people I didn’t want to see, too. There was maybe too much for me in Perth. I had no idea how to tell them that, though. Our friendship wasn’t close, and our messages weren’t frequent, but it was something.

After I flew back I told her about how the trip hadn’t really borne fruit. I lied to her and said nothing was open. I was embarrassed.

Alexandra looked confused. “You didn’t check whether anything was open in person beforehand?”

“No, it, uh… it was spur of the moment.”

“Well, at least you have that friend. Maybe you should make more? Don’t push yourself too hard, Charlotte,” she told me, “Just do what you can.”

I checked online for what events were happening. Turns out, basically nothing was listed as happening in Cervantes, obviously. It was all happening in Perth. I kept trying to talk to the people I would see in the town. The most friendly people happened to be tourists, driving north to go camping or glamping or whatever. The people I recognised from the town didn’t really want to talk to me. I understood why. Yet I didn’t understand how to talk to these people specifically.

Alexandra was also not that easy to talk with. Easy to talk to, but not to have a conversation with. She would always ask what I wanted to talk about and never bring things up on her own. I would mostly tell her about my attempts to meet other people, but some weeks I had no updates. I would talk to her about the shows I was watching, or about the plants I grew in my backyard. She never had anything to add. Obviously she hadn’t watched shows, but I expected something about the plants.

“It’s lovely to hear about the space you’re cultivating for yourself,” she said, encouragingly.

“What about you? What plants do you like? From your vantage point, of course…”

“It’s hard for me to decide…”

Again, so hard to tell what she wanted. I had no idea how to follow up from that, or whether she even wanted me to.

Spring was a little better. They did talk to me a little bit, but not much. Actually talk to me, that is, instead of just letting me speak. However, they did recommend that I get the fuck out of Cervantes.

“I should,” I sent them, “but it’s scary. What if I run into the people who made my life hell before?”

“You won’t,” they replied. “Perth is nothing, but its a BIG lot of nothing, and parts of that are probs gonna be less nothing than Carnarvon or wherever.”

“It’s Cervantes, and Perth isn’t *nothing*,” I said.

Perth wasn’t nothing. Cervantes wasn’t nothing, either. But I had no idea how to get the life I wanted while I was living here.

I continued my walks on the beach. If I moved back to Perth, there was no way I would find a beach like this. This little ritual had become nice, even if Alexandra didn’t show up most nights. The feeling of water on my feet had always been appealing, and getting to hear the gentle waves was genuinely relaxing. She’d started coming ashore further away, but even without that I had started going for longer walks. There was something here. This beach was the closest to home I had ever felt.

Spring was busy. They had a partner they lived with who was struggling with a newly diagnosed chronic illness, so their time was limited. It was ok, though. This was progress. I had an online friend. Before I had none. Sadly, when I asked for them to help me they didn’t know how, and they couldn’t be everything I wanted, but it was something.

I showed Alexandra what has bothered me, from a distance like she requested. I didn’t tell Alexandra I was thinking of leaving. I was doing what I had always done, and withheld information from her. Why? I couldn’t say.

The influence of her song had changed as time went on, and it brought more thoughts to the surface. Initially it amplified my desire to see her smile. Then it amplified my desire to hold her. Then it amplified my already existing desire for other kinds of intimacy with her.

While this was happening, I began looking into stories of mermaids again, except it was not to theorise about what kind of creature she was, but to theorise about what it could feel like to be pressed up against her body, to imagine it was her hand stroking me instead of my own. The voice wasn’t taking up more space in my brain, I simply allowed it to take me to different places, and even when the voice wasn’t actively singing this had… changed the way I see her, a bit.

Then, after I had finished, the clarity set in. The only thing tying me to this town was her.

Each time I went back to Alexandra she had more suggestions, but I could see the worry grow on her face. It made me nervous too. She believed in me, but how much was that belief fading? It hurt to see her suffer, especially when I was in front of her, when her smile was the most beautiful thing in the world. I wanted to see it again. I just wish I could see it elsewhere.

This was the tug of war happening in my head. My future seemed brighter if I moved away from here, but to move would be to deprive myself of the one person who had the time to talk to me, who cared for my wellbeing. There was no chance I was moving to Sydney for my one other friend, either, given how expensive it was, and even then I doubt Spring would have had any time for me. Back to Perth wasn’t my only option, but it was the best.

Spring’s replies to my messages became more and more separated. They apologised for it, for being stressed, yet the gaps between messages grew. Eventually, they stopped. I understood why, but it still hurt.

This conflict in my head made me miserable. I told Alexandra my struggles about Spring. When I explained it, her rules didn’t feel like what she was asking helped me become less dependant on her and reliant on her song. They made me feel like a failure. They made me feel as though becoming reliant on it was the only option.

“What am I meant to do? Do I just stand outside the entrance to the Pinnacles and ask everyone who goes through there to be my friend?”

Alexandra clearly didn’t follow. “The Pinnacles?”

I put my hands in my head and groaned. “It’s just a fucking patch of desert that has a lot of fucking limestone rocks in it. And they make you pay 15 bucks to enter! Argh!” I wanted to hit something. “The last thing I need to think about is those fucking rocks right now.”


“Because they’re why I moved to Cervantes! I didn’t care where I moved, I just had to get out, and I knew about the Pinnacles, so I picked the nearest town and went there. Fucking stupid fucking decision fucking dumb stupid idiot.”

Alexandra realised I was spiralling, and tried to break me out of it. “That takes a lot of courage, moving here on a whim.”

“It didn’t take anything! I just made a stupid decision. Always stupid decisions. I ran away. I didn’t try at all. It feels like I’m never trying.”

“But you are trying,” she reassured me, “and that’s more than I can say for a lot of the other people I talked to.”

I started crying. “Am I? Everyone is doing so much better at this than I am. I fucking suck. I’m such a fucking failure. I made such a huge mistake moving here…”

“What do you mean?”

“I can actually vaguely talk to people in person, but online? I don’t fucking understand it. I don’t fucking understand it at all. Why did I move to a town where no one fucking lives? Why did I isolate myself so badly?!” I sobbed into my hands. She sat on the beach a meter away. I wanted nothing more than a hug from her, but I knew she couldn’t give me one.

“Then, if I can ask, why did you move here?”

“I came out as trans and everyone hated me for it. All my friends and family. The woman I loved! She hated me for it! I didn’t want to be there anymore, anywhere near them.”


Oh, I thought. She doesn’t know.

So I explained what that meant to her, and she nodded. I don’t know if she completely understood, but it seemed like she got the basic gist.

“Isn’t Perth a big town, though?”

“It’s like 2 million people. It’s bigger than Montréal, if you know that.” There was a good chance she had been there.

“I’ve been to many places.” Again, not telling me anything.

“I don’t know why I moved. I can actually talk to people in person. Why am I here? Why am I somewhere where I can’t fucking talk to anyone?!”

I cried and cried and cried. I was hurt. Here I was, hundreds of kilometers from anyone I could feasibly make friends with, and the only I knew was a mermaid who could only talk to me for about 15 minutes every week, who couldn’t hug me because she was socially distancing for reasons completely unrelated to COVID-19, who could never be a major part of my life. I had cried the entire time I’d seen her during that night. She looked concerned, but there was only so much that either of us could do.

I had already been thinking about it, but I made up my mind, then and there. “I’m gonna move back.”


“I… I can’t meet people online. I should…” I stopped. My brain was fried. I wanted to run away again, back to Perth, but live north of the river instead of the south, far away from my parents and my ex and my former friends. Yet that part of me, that voice, was still there; I wanted to hold Alexandra, to do so many things with her.

She looked at me. I think she could tell what I was going through. Then, she did something I didn’t expect. She slipped into the ocean, and held out her hand.

I wiped the tears away for a second, and stared at her in disbelief, waiting for an explanation.

“I want to show you something. Take my hand.”

“Isn’t that going to make me go insane or whatever?”

“You’re upset, and you’re my friend. I want to help you.”

“Are you sure?”

“You know how insistent I am on this. I wouldn’t be offering if I didn’t think it was necessary.”

The rational part of my brain knew to not take her hand, that it would make it harder to move back. But in my head I saw rows and rows of houses in rows and rows of suburbs. I saw Perth, and it seemed like Cervantes. A town, a big one, but still a town. I thought of how hard it was to talk to people here, and I thought about how much worse it would feel in a place with 4000 times the population. Here, I had the beach. Perth wasn’t nothing, but it felt like nothing. The rational part of my brain was not the part that won.

I started crying a happier kind of tears, and took her hand. In an instant, emotions flooded my body, emotions that weren’t mine. Sympathy for what I was going through. Hope that others would see what she saw in me. Alexandra never talked about herself, she just let me talk instead, but in this moment I could understand what she had wanted to say all along.

I slid into the tide alongside her.

“Whatever you do, don’t let go of my hand.”

And with that, we dived into the ocean together.

I held her hand tightly. I could see much farther than I otherwise could. I could breathe just fine. I felt alive, not just because this was the only touch I’d felt in over a year, but diving in the water with her made me feel more free than anything else in my life had. I didn’t feel like I was holding her back; it felt like we were something together.

I don’t know how long we swam for. Eventually we emerged at a much rockier beach, farther than I thought we could travel. I assumed she could just travel quickly underwater via some mermaid magic. Either way, it was nice. The wind was cool and whistled gently and pleasantly above me. The tide was mild, and meekly washed over the rocks and my feet. She motioned to a spot where I could sit with her, and we sat together. I looked up at the stars. Cervantes was far enough away from Perth that you could see most of the stars that light pollution otherwise hid, but tonight the stars were even more beautiful in a way that I couldn’t describe. It was already enough to cheer me up.

Then she hugged me.

She pulled my head into her chest and stroked my hair. “There, there, darling,” she said, sung, into my ear. “Everything is gonna be ok.”

I started crying again. I thought I was out of tears before, but it seems like I had no end to them. We sat there, not talking about anything, just her comforting me. She sung for me. It was a new song that I hadn’t heard before. Like everything about her, it was beautiful.

We stayed there for what felt like hours. Then she gently pushed me away and held out her hand again. I spent a second taking in everything, watching every part of her illuminated by the moonlight and cast against the backdrop of the endless ocean and endless stars, and dived back into the water with her.

The next days were painful. Alexandra wasn’t there. It was just me, only me. Her song was stuck in my head and it felt like it would never leave, like it was invading my mind. I’d been focused before, hyperfocused even, but this felt less like my brain doing its own thing and more like an external force deciding what direction my attention should point in. Like I said, I conceptualised it in “parts”. One part was a lot louder now.

The scariest thing about it is the way that it drew conclusions for me. I was still upset over people not taking to me, but I knew deep down that she was right: I needed to involve other people in my life. I knew she would agree with me moving back, to be able to actually form relationships with others. That wasn’t the direction my brain was moving, though: it took the very real feelings of loneliness and was pushing me as hard as it could towards GO AND SEE ALEXANDRA RIGHT NOW. There was still a part of my brain, the part untouched by her song, that understood what was happening, that knew these weren’t my thoughts, that they were planted by something else. Yet that part of my brain had slowly started slipping from actor to observer, and the tainted part could not stop running with the small amount of control it had been given. I got antsy, eager to jump in my car and drive down to the beach and run to the end and hope she was there.

I could still work, somehow. I did what I had to do, in order to keep seeing her. In meetings I wasn’t present, because I was thinking about her. The way she held my hand, or held my head to her chest. My brain was screaming LET HER HOLD YOU AGAIN and the smaller rational part that knew I had to work and knew I couldn’t just find her was working as hard as it could to stop me from becoming a complete mess. When I was finished it was all I could do to pace around in my backyard in the heat, to try and get rid of the nervous energy. I had to stay vigilant to not immediately jump back there. When I inevitably got dehydrated and went to my kitchen to get some water, the instant the water hit my lips my mind couldn’t stop saying GO TO THE BEACH NOW. One time I stopped being vigilant and before I knew it I had spent 2 hours trying to dig a hole in my backyard, in the place where I wanted to put the pool, and filled it with water so that I could bring her. It was intolerable.

That night I couldn’t help myself. The instant the sun set I raced to the beach and ran across, hoping to find her. I ran longer than I had before, all the way to Nambung Bay. I waited at the edge of the beach for hours, twitching and fidgeting. I knew she wouldn’t show up until later but I couldn’t do anything else. Eventually, she showed. Unlike previously, she didn’t look happy to see me; it reminded me of how my parents had looked at me when I told them I was trans. I’d changed.

Despite that reminder, when I saw her I felt relieved. Previously I had felt happy, and this was not that. It felt the same as scratching the itch, and there was more to scratch. I laughed. “It’s so good to see you,” I said.

“I’m sorry, Charlotte,” she said. “I couldn’t help myself. I just wanted to ease your pain.”

“Well it’s just made me feel more! I had a plan, but I can’t do it. Now I just want to be around you all the time and it hurts. It hurts so much!”

She said nothing.

I was heartbroken. “You said I would never understand…”

“I saw how much you were suffering and I wanted to help.”

“And you made me like this? Even though you promised you never would? Even after I said I was going home?!”

The voice that had become a prominent part of my head had started screaming again. GO TO HER, EMBRACE HER, FEEL HER FLESH ON YOURS, the thoughts getting more and more intense, until I realised what was happening to my body.

She glanced at my crotch. “Is that why you came here?”

I was mortified. “I just wanted you to hold me! I-”

“Well, now that we’re here, would you like me to take care of that for you?”

Like I said, there were two “parts” in my head. The one in sync with her voice was yelling about how much I wanted it. The other part had wanted it too, independently of the voice. I still wanted it. All sorts of hormones ran through my body. I did want to go home, but every part of my mind was in agreement: It could wait.


She motioned for me to come closer to her and it was like my body was magnetic. She pulled me in and kissed me, gently at first. She pulled away and giggled.

“How was your first kiss, Charlotte?”

I couldn’t say anything. I was in shock, and not just because she had guessed correctly. Finally, I’d get to do all the things to her that I wanted to.

She pulled me in and kissed me harder this time. She barely gave me an opportunity to breathe. I did my best to intertwine my tongue with hers. I wanted to touch as much of her as possible.

She did this while undoing my bikini top. My breasts had only been growing for a year and for the most part weren’t visible, but when I wasn’t wearing anything it was clear there was something there. She pinched my nipple and I involuntarily gasped. I couldn’t believe how much better it felt when someone else was doing it.

Then she undid my swim skirt so quickly that I didn’t even have time to worry about what she would think when she saw my dick. It was so hard my swim bottoms were barely containing it. She pulled those down too. I hadn’t gone into the ocean so it was obvious how wet I’d become from just this. She didn’t make a fuss of it. If she’d never seen a trans women’s dick before, she gave no indication. Just like in so many other ways, she was a black box.

She giggled. “Sit in the water,” she commanded.

I slid in and lied next to her without hesitation. I wanted every part of her. I got on top and tried to be the forceful one. I made out with her, I tried to lick her nipples. I grasped at her. I tried to see if she had some kind of erogenous zone on her tail that I could rut against, like the stories I had read. I knew my days were numbered. I wanted to do everything, right now. I was clumsy and uncoordinated. She giggled and tried to push me aside. Clearly I wasn’t doing anything good for her.

I wanted to keep doing things to her. I wanted to know whether I could fuck her, or frot with her or anything. I did my best to say it. The part of me tainted by her voice made it difficult.


“It’s ok,” she said, “Don’t worry about it.”

“Fffffrrrrrott-” I was so turned on and my mind was so mushy that I could barely speak; I just had to do something.

“Hmm?” She tilted her head.

“I wanna…. I wanna fuck or frot or just let me rub up against you it’s all I need-”

She cut me off again, by placing a finger on my lips. I couldn’t help myself: I sucked on it.

She pulled it away and giggled. “Don’t you worry about that,” she said, “I’ll make you feel good.”

She dived underwater and started to lick my clit. She knew exactly what to do with it. It hadn’t even been a minute before I had the biggest orgasm I’d ever had in my life. I was shaking.

Initially, she slowed down. And then she kept going.

My brain was starting to get fried. I couldn’t tell what she was doing, but I didn’t have a refractory period. I’d came but I didn’t feel the need to stop: it made me hornier and hornier, more and more feral. Again. Each time it happened the song in my head got louder, more in sync with the noises she made.

All of a sudden I couldn’t take being passive any longer. I rolled her over, her back on the sand, and got on top. I must have struck at something, hit an erogenous zone, because at last she started moaning. Maybe she just did it because I was too? Again, inscrutable. Either way, each moan made that song even stronger. I frotted with her despite her not having anything and came even harder than I had before.

Then she held my hand, and pulled me underwater. I didn’t stop breathing and I didn’t stop frotting. She moved her mouth as if she was still moaning. No bubbles left her mouth, yet through her song I heard it as clear as day. It felt like my body was not only piloted by me, but by her as well, driving together. Every so often, she would let go of my hand, and water filled my lungs. I realised what would have happened had I let go before: I would have drowned. More importantly, I was severed from my connection with her. Her voice continued, but just slightly out of sync. I grabbed her hand back and felt reunited, body and soul. I continued to rut against her, harder and fast, as though my body was not my own, until I finally came one last time.

Eventually she rose up out of the water and held me. I cried. It had been the most intimate experience of my life. We held each other, my body half submerged in the waves, as we fell asleep together, hand in hand.

The next morning, I woke up. I realised then and there what had changed. The part of me that wasn’t influenced by her song had wanted it, sure, but the part of me that was influenced had wanted it a lot more. Now, it had almost completely won.

The sensation is hard to describe. I felt like what had once been a small part of my selfhood, the part she had put there, had now totally eclipsed what had been there before. Everything “I” did was now a product of that corruption. Now, the only part of the original me that was left was nothing but an observer.

The instant I woke up, I giggled. I was so happy. So happy to still be next to her.

“Good morning,” she said.

My heart jumped for joy. I giggled harder after hearing her voice. I understood how heavenly it truly was.

“It’s happened, hasn’t it.” Not a question. She knew it had.

I nodded and giggled. “Yesssssssssss…” It was difficult for that part of me to get the words out.

She looked away.

“Take my hand.”

My body was so thrilled to be given an order by her that I didn’t even need to hear her finish before I grabbed it. Again, she dived down into the ocean.

This time, when I held her hand, more concrete feelings entered my brain. Perspectives of other people that had gone through this, and so many people had gone through it. They were the memories of people who were being led to a watery grave. Some thrashed the whole way down, some were too far gone to do much of anything. I couldn’t tell, for myself. I was seeing her perspective of her… prey. Her prey. I was now her prey.

More interesting was that I could sense their thoughts. One of them wishing he hadn’t abandoned his wife for her. Another lamented that “their work” (I couldn’t tell what) wasn’t yet done. One lamented the other people he was close to, his friends and parents and the trans woman on his team, stuck in a town in Western Australia. He’d connected the dots. She didn’t had anything resembling a friend apart from him. Now, he thought, she wouldn’t have anything.

As I journeyed down into the abyss, I felt something change. The pressure was changing. I didn’t feel it, but I felt it. I knew what was going to happen. The instant I let go of her hand, I would die.

Eventually we got so far down that light from the surface stopped penetrating the water. We kept swimming for an impossibly long time before my feet felt that all too familiar feeling of wet sand, though wet in a different way.

We were somewhere beautiful. Light from the surface had stopped reaching us, but the plants down here let off small amount of blue… bioluminescence? Was that the term? It lit up the ocean floor, and just a little bit of our bodies. I saw her face. Her emotions were impossible to read, even now.

I had no way of knowing how deep we were. All I knew was that this was a place that so few humans had seen, and the only ones who had seen it were about to become… something. The memories stop there. Death, of some kind, I assumed. But what happened after? No idea. Maybe I was deep enough to be instantly crushed, as a mercy. Maybe I wouldn’t, and I was just food for her.

Either way, I would make once last choice.

I let go of her hand.

(back to list of fiction)