HOMECOMING

HOMECOMING

Out of the corner of my left eye, I watched as the first Policeman to arrive the scene signal for the buzzing crowd to calm down. Surprisingly, they did, and then he turned in my direction. He was wearing the ceremonial black and blue, and he looked smart in it. The drab all-black uniform wouldn’t have done his done his dark-skinned self any favor at all. Maybe he knew that too.

Anyway, I let him take two steps towards me, arms outstretched. Two more, and he would be able to grab me, although the tarnished railing would still be a barrier separating us.

‘Don’t move,’ he ordered, and I nodded as if I understood. Convinced that he was about to succeed, he took two hurried steps and lunged. I moved at that same instance, out of his reach, and off the edge. The wind snatched away his scream of frustration and swallowed it as I fell off in triumph. Talk about perfect timing.

My downward trajectory must have been mere moments in real-time, but to me, it felt a lot longer. The furious whipping of fabric against skin provided a fitting soundtrack as various scenes of the previous weeks scrolled past in my head in an elongated sequence.

When I hit the water surface, my ears filled her splashed-out greeting. Ah, Olokun’s embrace was as welcoming as ever. She must have missed me because her jubilant tentacles gleefully rushed into every crevice of mine they could find. Deliberately, I spread my limbs out like a starfish, so she could have the satisfaction of tucking them back in herself.

Just before I slipped beneath her wavy folds, I glanced up at the bridge. The crowd was now spread out at the railings, looking down at me. Although I couldn’t make out any individuals, I knew some of them would have their phones out, gathering souvenirs for like-minded ghouls on social media. A small part of me wanted to wave goodbye for the gallant Policeman’s benefit, to make him feel better. I didn’t want him blaming himself for the rest of his life for not having moved faster. How was he to know he could never have moved fast enough to save a soul that wanted to go under? Me allowing him to get that close was to heighten the drama of my exit.

The last remnants of the surface bubbled out of my lungs as the sea poured in through my nostrils. I suppressed an involuntary urge to gasp for breath in the few seconds my body needed to remember. Yes, for the last 18 months it had run on poisonous air, but it soon regained form and began pulling life from the water molecules.

The light receded as I allowed Olokun to pull me in further. As soon as my eyes adjusted to the gloom, and my heartbeat matched the pulse of the current, I knew everything was back to the way it was supposed to be.

A showy merman had returned home.

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