Veronica sighed as she sank down into the cool, blue swimming hole. Snippets of song carried on the breeze, spreading a festive mood. A few girls were dropping from the rope-swing that the last visitors had set-up for them, tumbling into the water with squeals of mock terror and peals of laughter. It’s important to remember these moments, Veronica reminded herself, trailing her fingers through the clear waters. These moments seemed few and far between. Even more so as time wore on. She leaned her head back onto the warm rock at the water’s edge, just as something landed lightly behind her.
“You’ve got that glum look again, Roni.” That was Skye, having dropped from the tree limb that overhung the small lake. Veronica craned her neck back, gazing up at the lithe woman.
“I’m sorry, Skye. I am enjoying myself, truly. It’s just…” She trailed off, unsure how to finish a conversation that had been started countless times before. Skye knelt at her side, slipping one foot into the water, gasping at the coolness. Her chestnut skin glittered faintly in the diffuse light.
“You know your problem, sweetie? You remember too much.” She ran a finger through Veronica’s wet hair, pulling out a small green water weed that had gotten caught in her locks. “Let it go. Immerse yourself in the moment, like the others do.”
“And you? Are you content to just stand around all day, waiting for the next alarm?” Veronica retorted, shooting a look at her friend. Skye merely chuckled.
“I’m too old to be worried. There’s less time ahead than behind for me, regardless.”
“Oh, don’t be melodramatic.” Veronica sighed. “Don’t you ever dream of a different future? One without…” The alarm came all of a sudden, spreading throughout the glade. The two women exchanged looks, Skye’s eyes betraying a tired look. Veronica squeezed her friend’s hand briefly, before slipping down into her pool.
“There’s seven of them! They’re almost here!” A few of the scouts had returned, bursting from the hidden path.
“Places, places everyone!” That was Brenda. She acted like she owned the place. But she kept the girls in line and on track, so no one complained that much. “You know the drill. Prepare yourselves!” Limbs and hair streamed everywhere as girls ran about. Out the corner of her eye, Veronica glimpsed Skye scampering back up her tree.
Silence fell, save the rustling on the hidden trail. And then they burst into view.
“Oh, sweet, man!”
“But where are the babes? They said there’d be babes!” Oh marvelous. Frat boys. Veronica sank underwater, bubbles escaping from between her lips. The seven post-pubescent human males entered the sacred glade, clad in plaid shorts, t-shirts and pairs of those ridiculous footwear they called ‘flip-flops’. They carted with them flimsy wood-pulp pouches filled with jars of grain alcohol, as well as a multitude of sacks, undoubtedly filled with what humans called ‘snacks’. As if on cue, her sisters who formed the welcoming committee shot out of their hiding spots.
“Oooh! Men!” They squealed and jiggled and waved, just as they always did. The boys froze, momentarily stunned.
“Oh my God, dude! It’s true. It’s really true!”
“Awesome!” The girls gestured for them to come to the water’s edge, for introductions. The boys clustered about one another, slapping each other in disbelief.
“I’m Mindy!” Said one of the girls. “Welcome! We don’t get many men here!” If only, Veronica thought, as she glided over towards them. “Could you stay the night? We have lots to offer…” Mindy trailed off, batting her blonde lashes. The frat-boys were in heaven now: speechless and giddy. “I’m a nymph, which means I like to laugh and have lots of fun! This is Gaby; she’s a nymph too! And look up there: that’s Skye! She’s a dryad. Wave ‘hi’, Skye! Down there is Veronica…”
“Wow! You’re like, a real mermaid!” One frat boy noted.
“Strictly speaking, I’m a siren,” Veronica said, ignoring Mindy’s directed glare.
“I call dibs on the mermaid!” Another cried out.
“Wait – aren’t sirens, like, dangerous, or something.”
“Oh. You mean my siren-call? Well, I won’t use that on you, silly. I’d hardly need to, you’re all so keen…” Veronica blinked. Something clicked in her head. “Would you all like to start off with a nice swim? You’re all so hot and sweaty!”
“Roni?” Mindy was giving her a not-so-subtle look now, and she could see Brenda striding over her way. It was now or never. Song burst from her throat, as clear and sweet as the water of her lake. As undeniable as the imperative to mate. The boys dropped everything and rushed into the water. Veronica flipped backwards and down, her tail lashing out and splashing the entranced males. Her sisters at the water’s edge looked down in utter shock, but could do nothing: this was her demesne. The frat-boys came on, even as their lungs began to strain. Veronica held on tightly to her magic, as they struggled to escape her clutches. Something ran through her – a feeling that set her eyes aflame and her loins tingling. She raised her arms then, vortices of bubbles cavitating in their wake. She laughed even as she sang.
Seven bodies bobbed to the surface. Gasps swooped about the glade as Veronica’s weed-laden head broke through the water.
“What… what have you done?” Whispered Brenda. Skye dropped down from her tree, treading over.
“Roni. You’ve done it. You’ve freed us from the curse of men,” the dryad said. Realization spread quickly. Mindy glanced down at sacks by her feet.
“Who wants snacks?”