Vi, from the Mermaid Hour, by David Valdes Greenwood

VI. (trans woman) I am a mermaid. My name is Violet. And this is my story. Most people don’t know that there’s a magic time, a little blue window, when mermaids can be anything they want. Not part fish and part human, but all at once themselves: tail strong enough to walk on, lungs able to hold air and water. When a mermaid is under the sea, she is all fish, swimming like the others, water flowing through her. But she thinks: I am not fish. I want to breathe the way the mortal humans do. When a mermaid is on land, she must give up her tail and take on legs, wobble along until it feels ok, and breathe only air, like mortals. But then she thinks: I am not mortal either. She is happiest in the mermaid hour, the time you see her on the rock, beautiful fins sweeping across stone, her chest rising and falling with fresh air in full lungs. It’s only there, where air and ocean meet, that she’s everything she wants to be. No one needs her to have legs, no one wonders at the smoothness of her perfect tail. When you see her sitting on a rock in the mermaid hour, she isn’t waiting for a prince to come and make her human. She’s singing a song for the sailor who will see magic in how she looks at sunset. I am a mermaid and I have I found a sailor who sees my magic. He loves the sea like he’s supposed to love the land so he knows about being caught between “should be” and “is.” He saw me in the mermaid hour and said I was beautiful. When we are together, in mermaid light, atop my rock, free from land or sea, fish or mortal, we are beautiful. You can be beautiful! You can be the mermaid! I LOVE YOU JACOB ENDO!

Context: For Pilar and Bird, navigating their tween daughter Violet’s transition is tricky as they juggle not only their own opposing parenting styles but her impulsive nature. Vi is just as concerned about her best friend Jacob, who she wishes was her boyfriend, and when nothing is going as she wants, she makes a YouTube video that pushes everyone’s buttons. As her parents wrestle with all of Vi’s choices, they confront the gaps between them as a couple–and which they’ll have to overcome to see them all through.

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