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The Girl Behind the Glass

What is your name?

By Stephanie DownardPublished 2 years ago Updated 2 years ago 7 min read

I watched her every day for as long as I have been here. The essence of her beauty filled the aquarium. It memorized me how her long golden hair fell loosely over her shoulders. Nothing compared to how the sun glistened off the water to expose her bright blue eyes. I got lost in them all the time, keeping my distance to avoid appearing creepy. I knew every inch of her body. My eyes traced her silhouette as her form-fitting uniform revealed all her beautiful curves. I loved how her cute little nose and plump lips perfectly fit her face. Her hands looked so smooth and inviting as she cleaned the glass. I imagined what it would feel like to caress them, how I longed to hold her body close to mine. Daydreaming about her made the days pass easier. I discreetly followed her as she cleaned my windows throughout the tank, always amazed by her perfection. She was the only reason I showed myself.

Being the only merman in the aquarium put all the attention on me all day. Speaking to her or anyone was out of the question. They called me Gary. It drove me crazy. Gary seemed like a good name for the man who got rid of the garbage. I so badly wanted to scream my name was Marsious, but I played dumb in hopes they wouldn’t expect anything from me. Honestly, I don’t think anyone knew how intelligent I really was. All the other employees were nothing. Useless creatures who thought they were so brilliant, but I knew better. I decided a long time ago not to succumb to their worthless testing. It was daunting pretending to be what they called an idiot. Dumb as a box of rocks is what they said. On the inside, I laughed at how stupid these so-called scientists were. Rewarded me for the simplest of tasks a measly dolphin could. Don’t get me wrong, dolphins are smart, but nothing compared to my superiority. A dolphin to merpeople was comparable to a human and a dog.

The most loyal of all the dolphins was one I named Zulimar. During the day, he swam next to me in our tank as I followed my dream girl. At night we would play with the toys left out from the day. One thing I was grateful for was that we had the biggest tank of all the enclosures. Ours had a view of all the surrounding tanks above and below. I missed the open sea and the feeling of freedom. I had been stuck in captivity for far too long. Escaping seemed impossible but often crossed my mind. How I wished I had my ring so I could simply walk out of this place. It was lost somewhere when I was captured. The ring was given to me when I turned 18 by my father. It granted me the power to walk on land anytime I pleased.

I dreamed I would find it and walk out of the aquarium holding the beautiful woman’s hand. I hoped one day I would figure out her name. Other employees called her window girl. It angered me she was referred to as such. She was far too incredible to be reduced to that horrid name. I dreaded the days she was gone. They dragged on as I waited for them to pass. I watched and waited the next morning for her return, but she never came. Sadness took over me. She always came back. I overheard some employees talking about how a new company bought the aquarium, and people were getting fired.

I couldn’t believe the words that entered my ears. The realization that she may not return left me feeling worse than when I was put in this glass prison. The sorrow that ached in my heart was unbearable. She was the only thing I had to look forward to every day. I never learned her name. Why didn’t I risk asking her to find out? I knew I would always regret it. I hid out most of the day, too depressed to swim around. By nightfall, Zulimar was bugging me to play, but I just couldn’t. All my motivation was gone. He gave up and rested his head on me as we floated around for a while. Zulimar abruptly left and swam towards the glass, looking out from below. He quickly came back and started nudging me to swim down. I ignored him and got so annoyed I tried to get away.

Zulimar let out one of his loud clicking noises, clamped down on my tail with his mouth, and dragged me down to the glass window below. I looked out and saw her laughing with the most beautiful smile. I was slightly embarrassed but loved that she looked so happy. A feeling of relief rushed over me. She wasn’t fired. The new owners switched the cleaning schedule to nights. I also noticed her uniform was different, and this one had a name tag. I swam back by to get a glimpse. Gracie, her name was Gracie.

As I swam by, our eyes locked onto one another. My stomach felt as if a jellyfish was dancing around inside. This was the first time we had made eye contact. Gracie’s bashful smile gave me tingles all over. It was a magical moment, almost indescribable. I couldn’t even compare it to anything else. My love for her amplified even more that night. As the morning grew closer, I lost count of all the times I caught her staring at me. I hadn’t been this delighted in such a long time. I became grateful the new company changed her cleaning time.

As each night passed, our interactions happened more and more. She was able to pay more attention to me instead of worrying about getting in the way of the spectators. Some nights she would finish early and sit to watch me play with Zulimar. Occasionally he would let her join in and throw him the ball. One night she put her hands on the glass and waited for me. I mimicked her and placed mine on the glass too. It was at that point I knew from the look in her eyes I could trust her. I decided then and there that I had to risk everything and talk to her. I waved my hand and gestured for her to come up to the top side of the tank.

I swam up and watched for Gracie. My mind raced as I tried to think of what I would say. I waited by the edge of the tank until she was standing next to me, looking down. The silence was awkward, and then I heard,

“Hello, Gary.”

“My name is Marsious, not Gary,” I blurted out.

Gracie stumbled back with a shocked look on her face.

“I’m sorry, Gracie, I did mean to startle you.”

She stared at me, unable to speak. Fear flooded my mind with regret. Unsure if she would tell anyone.

“No, I’m sorry I reacted that way. I just wasn’t expecting you to talk.”

“It’s perfectly understandable, Gracie. No one knows I can.”

“I promise I won’t say anything. Your secret is safe with me, Marsious, but how do you know my name?”

“Your name tag, silly.”

“Oh, right. So I guess that means you can read too?”

“Yes, of course, I can. I only pretend to be dumb, so the scientists leave me alone.”

“I’ve always hated that they keep you captive here.”

“You do?”

“Yes. You should be free, not stuck in a tank for all the world to see.”

“If only I didn’t lose my ring; that was the only chance I had to escape.”

“What ring?”

“The one my father gave me. It allows me to walk on land.”

“What does your ring look like, Marsious?”

“It’s golden and looks like a trident that wraps perfectly around my finger.”

Gracie’s eyes opened wide as she pulled out a necklace from under her shirt with my ring on it.

“That’s my ring,” I said with excitement. “How do you have it?”

“I found it on the ground behind the aquarium by the loading dock. I thought it was beautiful so I kept it.”

She lifted the necklace over her head and placed it in my hand. Her skin was as soft as I had imagined.

“What can I do to help Marsious?”

“Run away with me, Gracie. I know that sounds crazy, but I’ve been drawn to you since I first saw you. Please tell me you will.”

“I will, Marsious!”


“Yes, I've always been captivated by you. Honestly, you're the only reason I ever liked coming to work.”

Happiness rushed over me. I never imagined the girl of my dreams would be the key to my freedom after all this time.

“I’ll be right back, Marsious,” Gracie yelled as she ran off.

I got nervous she wasn’t coming back, but minutes later, she returned with a set of men's clothes and a pair of shoes.

“I figured you might need these.”

I slipped the ring on my finger, and within seconds, my tail transformed into legs. I was shaky getting out of the tank, but Gracie helped pull me out. It was hard to get my balance as I put on the clothes. I turned around and saw Zulimar looking at me. I felt terrible for leaving him here. I bent down and patted him on the head.

“Don’t worry, Zulimar; I promise I will come back for you.”

Finally, I grabbed Gracie’s hand, and we walked out of the aquarium just as the sun was beginning to rise.


About the Creator

Stephanie Downard

I'm a mom of 3 plus a bonus son. I've discovered I love writing, and in my free time, that's what I do! I may not be the best, but that will not stop me! It can only go up from here! I hope you enjoy the words that trickle out of my head.

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Excellent work. Looking forward to reading more!

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Comments (8)

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  • sleepy drafts2 years ago

    Oh, I absolutely loved this!❤️

  • Gina C.2 years ago

    What a wonderful story! Magical, enchanting, lovely! Happy endings are the best:) Great job!

  • Lilly Cooper2 years ago

    I enjoyed your take on it :) nicely done.

  • Test2 years ago

    Really liked your take on the challenge, as well as the happy ending. You also made Marsious a really strong character in a small amount of space. Good work!

  • Dana Stewart2 years ago

    Enchanting! Good job! ❤️

  • Max Russell2 years ago

    I liked how the story focused on inner monologue for the first half to show his isolation before switching to dialogue and action after he makes a connection. Nice romantic story. 🧜‍♂️

  • Heather Hubler2 years ago

    Oh, I enjoyed this so much :) I appreciated that it had a happy ending! And I hope he's able to free Zulimar someday. Great work :)

  • C. H. Richard2 years ago

    What a sweet love story❤️ Pictured a handsome merman, Masious ❤️ Hearted and subscribed

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