The Ariel left her slip Portland’s Tomahawk Bay Marina at 9 AM sharp and began her three hour journey down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean. There were two occupants aboard, both women, one of whom had taken lessons for the last six months to learn how to pilot a sixty-four foot long yacht. They stopped at Astoria to pick up one passenger, a woman, then headed out of the Columbia River into the ocean before turning due south.
Little was said during the trip. Penny sat on the flying bridge and pretty much allowed the boat to pilot itself, while Kemena busied herself with chores, preparing the main cabin for their expected guests. Her problem was she had ninety minutes work to do over the course of four hours, which meant by the time they reached the Pacific Ocean she was antsy and ready to begin entertaining.
Penny wasn’t worried she’d find the location for which she was aiming: a few weeks before she’d been out in the stretch of ocean with a GPS locater placed inside a waterproof, pressure proof case, and marked the location with incredible precision. It also built during this time that she extended invitations to the guest were arriving for the special event.
Technically, Penny and Kemena had married two weeks earlier in Albuquerque, with Kemena’s mother and relatives in attendance, and they were on their honeymoon–but both women knew that the real vows were going to take place today. For it was one thing to take your vows in front of human parents of one bride: it was something else to take them in front of the family and friends of the other.
And these vows would be quite unlike the others…
As soon as the Ariel was within a few hundred feet of their intended destination Penny cut the engines and sent out a ping on the sonar. She hurried down to the main cabin and out to the fantail, for she knew it wouldn’t be long before the guests would arrive. Penny had already placed all the robes on the stern deck in anticipation for those coming.
As Penny expected, a number of heads broke the surface around the boat and made her way to the fantail. Penny, Kemena, and the third woman—a mermaid named Gloria who’d been living on the West Coast now for eighteen years—helped everyone aboard, giving them time to transform their tails into legs before helping them into robes and leading them to the main cabin.
Leigh—who was now sporting a small sunburst tattoo on her right shoulder—took it upon herself to introduce Kemena to the other women in the cabin. After all these years of hearing there names, she was finally able to eat meat Singing Nymph, Curious Squid, Penny’s binding grandmothers Swirling Maelstrom and Breaking Waves, Leigh’s two binding sisters, and four cousins who’d decided to come along. Kemena felt a bit overwhelmed as she realized she was the only human on the boat—the very soon she would be considered part of this family.
After the introductions the champagne came out in a couple of toasts were made to the happiness of the new brides. Only two bottles were brought: Penny indicated that her family wouldn’t drink much, so the other bottle was for them after they arrived back in Portland. Until then they would keep it nice and chilled.
Finally the time came for Penny and Kemena to change. The wedding dresses and worn in Albuquerque were in bags back home, and they had sprung for simple white dresses to wear here on board. There was no need for makeup, hair styling, or shoes, as their vows were going to be taken in a rather special way. There was one thing, however, that Kemena needed to where before the vows could be taken…
In the years since Penny and Kemena had decided to marry, and Penny explained how they would take their vows in front of her family, they had worked to have instructed a special piece of equipment: a nearly sixty pound articulated tail worn by “professional mermaids”. It it actually been Kemena’s idea, for she remembered the year before Penny left for the pod and the two of them swam about in Penny’s swimming pool, both of them sporting their tales.
Kemena decided if she was going to marry a mermaid, and she was going to marry her in the water, she was going to do it in style.
After she was fitted into the tail the members of the wedding party carried her out through the main cabin and on to the fantail. Nearly all the wedding party jumped in the water and transitioned while Curious Squid, Singing Nymph, and Penny helped Kemena into the water when she was comfortable floating about in certain that she wasn’t going to sink to the bottom, the last three mermaids dove into the water—Penny wearing her dress just as Kemena was—and traded their legs for tales.
Twenty feet from the stern of the boat they all tread water. Penny and Kemena were side-by-side and holding hands with the other surrounding them, while Gloria spoke of how to childhood friends were now embarking on a Grand Adventure, and they would forever be of two worlds. Kemena actually felt as if she were a member of the pod while she swished her tail front and back maintaining position next to the woman who decided to stay on land to be with her.
And at the end, Penny and Kemena sunk ten feet underwater and exchange their kiss while the others watched. Never for a moment did Kemena think of the fact that she was marrying a woman who was an aquatic being while they were five hundred feet above her family’s home.
After about twenty minutes in the water they all made their way back on to the fantail, with Penny and several others helping Kemena out of the water and onto the deck so she could get out of her tail. The other stayed for about another hour and then, one by one, said their farewells and began returning to the pod. Gloria, too, also left, telling Penny and Kemena she she had close in a car on shore and she’d make her way home from there.
The last to leave was Leigh, who not only gave her new daughter-in-law one last hug, but removed a bracelet from her left wrist and placed it upon Kemena’s, telling her she was now officially a part of the pod.
After everyone was gone Penny went up on the flying bridge, started the engines, and brought the Ariel about so they could begin the four hour trip back to Portland. Kemena and she stood on the bridge letting the wind whipped through their wet hair as he stared towards the horizon—
Both knew that their Grand Adventure was off to an auspicious start.