I suppose it must have been ten years ago that my mother caught the merman in her net.
He told me that this meant he was now beholden to her, and unless she let him go, he couldn’t go back to the sea.
Mother kept him in a bathtub in the shed. Many nights, he would sprout legs and go into mother’s room and they would have noisy sex. Most of his time he spent chasing tiny fish around with his fingers while lying down in the bathtub. He would make a bubbly noise deep in his throat when he did this, as if he were talking to the fish. I would sometimes sit outside the bathtub and stare at him play with the fish. It calmed me down.
He grew a scruffy, somewhat slimy beard almost every three or four days, and mother would shave it while tutting all the time. He’d sprout legs at will and she would dress him up and take him down to the marketplace with her, and while she never explicitly said it, I knew she was showing him off.
They would sometimes have fights, mostly when he started talking about the sea and how much he missed it. A lot of these were at the dinner table. When talk of the sea came up, mother would be rude and sarcastic, and then she would throw her plate into the wall and stride off to her room, scowling. The merman would go ‘tch’ a few times, then shuffle out into his shed and make loud, irritatingly shrieky noises that he would later try to pass off as undersea songs.