Wednesday, 30 April 2014

The Last Mermaid

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The Last Mermaid
by Rebecca Fyfe
I was never lonely, despite being the last of my kind. I had the dolphins, the whales, the octopuses, the seals and the sea lions to keep me company. I often took turns spending months at a time with different colonies or pods.

I never even wondered about my lone existence until the day the seahorse asked me about the others.  He asked me why I had never gone looking for them. I couldn't answer him then, but I realized, when I had time to think about it, that, as I had no memory of the others, I had just grown up believing that I'd always been the only one of my kind. It had never occurred to me that there might be others like me.

The sea horse told me that he'd heard stories, stories about the Sea Witch imprisoning all of merkind with a spell many years ago.

I asked him where I could find the Sea Witch and he told me she lived in the deepest, darkest part of the ocean, in an underwater cave in the center of a maze of tunnels.

"No one who enters the Sea Witch's caves ever comes out again," he warned.

I shrugged off his warning. The idea that there might be others like me filled me with too much excitement to let the idea go without doing something to find them.

And that is how I found myself lost in a tunnel leading to a cave in the deepest, darkest part of the sea. I couldn't see much, even though I had brought some crystal jellyfish in a sack. Every now and then I would release one so that the glow from it could light my way. I got lost in the maze of tunnels, but when I was almost out of crystal jellies and starting to feel like it was a lost cause, I finally found the center of the Sea Witch's cave.

The Sea Witch was there. She almost looked like one of us, except that, where my scales were colorful and reflected light and sparkle, her scales were black and dull. Where my skin was smooth and naturally sun-kissed from my time near the surface, hers was as pale as a corpse. Where my eyes were vivid and a bright green, hers were so black from edge to edge. Where my hair was long and carried a variety of shades form copper to gold to brown, hers was short, grey and dull. It had no shine. She looked like a dead thing, pretending to be of merkind.

The Sea Witch turned to me, "A mermaid. I thought I'd imprisoned all of you. It seems I missed one."

"Why did you imprison the others?" I asked, keeping my distance from her.

"Oh, they were always meddling and getting in my way. They tried to keep me from my magic, kept complaining that it was evil, that I shouldn't harm others. I got tired of always having to answer to them, so I got made sure they couldn't complain anymore."

"Where are they?" I asked. I couldn't help thinking that if she could imprison all of the mermaids at one time, then she might just as easily rid herself of me.

"I'll tell you what, little mermaid; since you are the last, I will release the others if you can figure out where they are in this room."

I looked around the room. There was a lot of junk in the room; it was as if the Sea Witch liked collecting a variety of different things, none of it which seemed to go together. There were jars of ointments, all stoppered up to keep the sea water out of them, and different kinds of sea weed growing in oddly shaped wood containers. The wood looked like it was made from driftwood. There were baubles and trinkets of all kinds.

One necklace, in particular, drew my attention. It looked like glass with the color and texture of sea foam. I remembered someone's voice telling me a story, so long ago I couldn't remember a face to go with the voice. The story had said that all mermaids were created out of sea foam.

Was that what she had done? Turned the others all back into sea foam and trapped them in the glass of the necklace? Nothing else in the room triggered any hidden memories for me, and I had no way of being certain, but I had to try.

"Is it this necklace?" I asked, lifting the necklace to show her.

"No, how could you? You couldn't have figured it out!" The sea witch flew into a rage. The nails on her fingers grew into claws and she swam at me at full speed, reaching out to carve me with her claws. I grabbed the closest thing to me, which turned out to be a piece of stone broken off from a statue of some sort. As she threw herself at me, I jammed the sharpened shard of stone into her chest. Her claws rakes at my shoulder, piercing the skin. I cried out in pain, but the Sea Witch had stopped moving. I pulled the stone out from her chest and she slumped to, floating aimlessly in the water, blood spreading through the water around her.

She was dead, but the other mermaids were still not free. I didn't know what else to do, so I decided to put the necklace on and find some other sea creatures to ask if they knew what I could do to free the mermaids. As soon as the necklace touched my skin, it began to glow. The glass melted away from it and the sea foam drifted up into the water. Before a question could form in my mind, the different parts of the sea foam began to change shape and hundreds of merpeople stood before me, so many that their numbers were spread out into the tunnels.

I was no longer the last mermaid.

Tuesday, 29 April 2014

A Mermaid's Treasure

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A Mermaid's Treasure
by Rebecca Fyfe

Sandy loved exploring those old, sunken ships. She swished her tail, giving herself a burst of speed that pushed her through the water to the stern of the ship. She couldn't help wondering what it would have been like to have been a sailor and sailed over the water on a ship that cut through the waves, to feel the wind on her face. As a mermaid, she had no choice but to live in the sea. She could breathe out of water, but her fins and the scales of her tail would dry out if she didn't keep them immersed in sea water. She might be okay for a little while out of water, but not for long.

Sandy had done enough imagining; it always made her sad to think of what she couldn't do. She loved adventures and to spend time on land, to her, sounded like the greatest adventure of all. She swam below the deck on the ship to do some more exploring. After looking through some of the rooms in the lower decks, she became a little depressed. Many had died on this ship, their bones the only testament to the fact that not many had escaped a watery death when this ship had gone down.

The signs of death did not keep her from her explorations, and she soon found herself up on the first class level of the ship. She knew about these things because she had seen the difference between the two, from bare rooms with thin mattresses to lavish furnishing in abundantly sized rooms, it was obvious that some people were treated better than others on these ships than others.

In one of the first class rooms, Sandy found a funny metal box. It was medium sized and had a lock on the outside holding it closed, but the lock was rusted through. Sandy pulled the lock off the metal box. A combination of the rust and her mermaid strength made it an easy task.

Inside, she found a beautiful purple and blue bracelet. The beads were slightly transparent and sparked in the water. She slipped it on her wrist and immediately felt the magic it contained spread through her body. As soon as the magic spread through her, like a warm blanket being spread over her, she felt an urgent need to rise to the surface and swim towards the nearest shore.

Once at the shore, she kept swimming until she was laying on the beach with only the gentle waves lapping against her fluke. She still felt the magic and as a new surge of it spread through her, it was as if it washed away her scales and tail and turned them into legs. She had a human body. She knew instinctively that it was not a permanent change; once she took the magic bracelet off, she'd be a mermaid again.

Sandy looked back at the ocean. It called to her; it was where she belonged.

But adventures awaited her. She stood on shaky legs and walked away from the sea and towards the adventures she had always dreamed of having.

Monday, 28 April 2014

The Mermaids of Atlantis

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The Mermaids of Atlantis
by Rebecca Fyfe
Atlantis was once a prosperous city in ancient times, one known far and wide for its culture and art. It wasn't until the city was attacked that Atlantis disappeared from human eyes forever, hidden deep under the sea.

The attack came by men form over the sea. They came by ship and murdered and pillaged until the city's population had fallen from thousands to not even one hundred people. Most of the men were killed, though a few remained alive. The majority of those who survived were women and children, but the murderous barbarians who came from across the sea had no intentions of letting any of them live free.

Before they could be taken as slaves, the women, as one, all fell to their knees and prayed to Poseidon to save them Poseidon was the god worshipped in Atlantis, and the women of Atlantis had always been his most faithful followers.

As they prayed, a great wave surged forward and swallowed up Atlantis. No one could escape the rushing waters and those who tried to pillage the city were swept away to drown at sea.

But the women who had stead-fastly remained faithful to their god Poseidon did not drown when the waters closed over them. Instead, they were given the tails of fish and the ability to breathe under the sea. The few men left and the children of Atlantis were also given these gifts.

To this day, the people of Atlantis still live in their city, ruling a new, underwater civilization. Their children and their children's children have repopulated the great city and, due to their new found longevity, for every mermaid of Atlantis lived for thousands of years, they have a rich oral history which they pass down to their offspring so that every child knows who to thank for their fortunate existence.

Atlantis is still a land of art and culture, music and storytelling, but no human has ever been able to find Atlantis for themselves.

Sunday, 27 April 2014

The Little Mermaid's Power

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The Little Mermaid's Power
by Rebecca Fyfe

Ariel hated living with the humans. She had been such a fool, thinking she wanted to be one of them. She'd even imagined herself in love with one of them. Foolish, foolish girl!

Humans were not at all as she had imagined. Prince Eric had been fickle, deserting her for another woman. And these humans, she'd watched them; they did horrible things like throwing their trash into the ocean and eating fish that she could have called friends. They even ate lobsters!

They were awful creatures, killing everything around them and poisoning all of nature and the sea. She abhorred these humans now.

But she still thought her dad was wrong to keep them all hidden from humans. No, she and the other mermaids all had the power to stop the humans. Why couldn't he see that?

She sat in the room Prince Eric had given her, looking in the mirror on her dresser, and smiled to herself. It didn't matter that her father, Kind Triton, didn't agree with her. The Sea Witch agreed. And the Sea Witch had given Ariel back her voice. Now Ariel could enchant the humans and make them do her bidding.

She'd start with having the ones in this palace kill each other.

Saturday, 26 April 2014

The Sea Nymph

Manatee at Sea World, Orlando, picture from Wikipedia
The Sea Nymph
by Rebecca Fyfe
Pearl slipped past the manatee and swam through a school of colorful fish. She often left her ocean home to patrol the waterways and rivers leading from it. It was her job as a sea nymph. More and more humans kept moving closer to the water, building their homes at the banks and letting their waste and garbage clog up the natural environment.

The worst they brought were the vehicles that raced through the water, maiming and killing her beloved sea cows and filling the water with a poison the humans called oil. She cleaned what she could, but there was too much these days and she couldn't clean it all. Even her sisters were finding that the poisons and dangers brought by humans were too much for them to handle on the waterways and rivers which they tended.

Today, she came with a specific purpose. Word had reached her of a manatee that had been badly cut by the propeller of one of those evil machines that humans used to travel on the water. This particular manatee had recently given birth and still had her young one to tend. Pearl hoped what she found was something that she could heal.

When she spotted the rust colored water, she knew she'd found the blood spilled by the manatee. By the amount of blood, she knew that she was not going to be able to save this gentle creature, even before she spotted the manatee herself.

The gash along the manatee's belly was large and deep. Some of the internal organs of the creature were visible through the large wound's opening. The gentle soul was already struggling to breath. There was nothing Pearl could do for her.

The new born calf snuggled close to its mother's side. Small, sorrowful sounds came from the little one. Pearl's heart felt heavy with sorrow. She sang to the calf, calling it to her, letting her magical voice calm the little one. She would take this one and care for it until it was old enough to venture out into the waterways on its own. It was all she could do.

Friday, 25 April 2014

How the Mermaid Got Her Tail

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How the Mermaid Got her Tail
by Rebecca Fyfe

Regina splashed in the tide pool beside the ocean. Her mommy was up higher along the rocks, carrying a basket full of clams which she had searched for and found. Her mommy had explained the reason for the clams to Regina before. The clams would sell in the village, and then they would have money for supplies and food. Ever since daddy had died, mommy had started working: finding clams on the shore and mending clothes for money.

Regina watched her mommy. Her mommy wobbled for a moment and then disappeared from view as she slipped and fell into the ocean. Regina heard the splash, and scrambled up the rocks to find her mommy.

There was no sign of her though. The basket of clams was still on the rocks, tipped over with the clams spilling out beside it.

"Mommy!" Regina called. "Mommy!" She looked over the side, but it looked so far down to the water that she became frightened. She got onto her hand and knees and, turning backwards, crawled down the rocks slowly, finding flat rocks she could put her feet or hands on along the way.

The water was directly beneath her, but she couldn't let go of her last hand hold and enter the water because Regina was only six and had never been taught to swim. She reminded herself that her mommy was in the water. Mommy wouldn't let her drown.

Just as she was about to let go, she noticed something sparkling in the water beneath her. A fish that was almost as large as she was herself came to the surface of the water. Its scales shimmered as though reflecting every color in the rainbow. Then the fish did something Regina knew fish weren't supposed to do; it spoke to her.

"You are a funny looking fish," the fish said.

"I'm not a fish. I'm a girl."

"If you're a girl, then why are you trying to come into the water? Don't you know humans can't breathe under water?"

"My mommy fell in, and I need to find her."

Regina hadn't realized before that fish could make expressions with their faces, but this fish looked sad.

"Won't you drown before you can find her?" the fish asked.

"No. Mommy's in the water. She won't let me drown." Regina couldn't see her mommy anywhere, but she had heard her fall into the water, so she knew she was there somewhere.

"Well, if you insist on coming into the sea with me, let me help you. Can you reach down to me without letting go of the rocks?"

Regina nodded.

"Then, reach down to me and take one of my scales," the fish told her.

"Won't that hurt you?" Regina asked.

"Only for a moment, but it will help you."

So Regina did as the fish asked and took one of his scales from him. It sparkled and shimmered prettily in her hand.

"You can let go of the rocks and let yourself fall into the ocean now, but don't let go of the scale," the fish told her.

Regina let go and splashed into the water, the cold wet sea water swallowing her up.

The scale in her hand began to glow. She tried to keep holding onto it as the fish had told her, but it pulled away from her hands. It floated swiftly to one of her legs and then it began to multiply. Within moments, her lower body was covered in the beautiful glowing scales. Her legs merged, and a fluke formed at her feet and she realized she had the lower half of a fish. She wasn't holding her breath either. She was breathing easily under the water.

The fish swam past her, missing one scale.

"Thank you," she thought to the fish.

"You're welcome," he thought back to her.

Regina smiled and swam off to search for her mother.

Thursday, 24 April 2014

The Merman in my Bathtub

The Merman in my Bathtub
by Rebecca Fyfe

The day at the beach had been wonderful. My children were all worn out from time spent in the sun and digging in the sand. I packed up our things while the kids put their clothes back on over their swimsuits. The children were still holding the buckets and spades they had used to build sand castles.

The drive home wasn't long, but all three children drifted off to sleep before we arrived home anyway. I carried my two year old son Caleb into the house and put him into bed, and then did the same for my four year old daughter Rose. Six year old Jenny was too heavy for me, so I woke her just enough to steer her up to her bed and then started unpacking the car. Sometimes being a single mother meant I had a lot of work to do all on my own, but, for the love my children gave me, it was all, worth it.

The last things I brought out of the car were the buckets the children had played with. To my surprise, one of them was still full of sea water. The water was muddy-looking and a strand of seaweed was bundled into the water too. I was about to dump the water out when I noticed something moving. I looked closer and realized that a crayfish the size of my hand was hiding behind the seaweed.

Instead of dumping the bucket out on my front lawn, I took the bucket, water, sand, seaweed and all, and brought it inside the house. I didn't own a fish tank, so I put the plug in the bathtub and dumped the bucket out, gently, into the tub.

The crayfish didn't hide once it was out in the open, but just sat staring at me. I felt badly for the poor thing. Had I known my children had scooped him up, I would have freed him back at the beach. I didn't know the first thing about caring for a crayfish, and I hoped he would survive the night so I could take him back in the morning. He didn't seem to have enough water, so I added a bit more cold water from the tap in the bathtub and then added some sea salt form the sink. I assumed he needed salt water since he was found at the shore, but I really had no clue what I was doing.

In the morning, when I went to check on the crayfish, I found a man sleeping in my bathtub, only he wasn't just a man. He was half-man and half-fish. His scaly tail was a shimmery blue and green. I knew I must be seeing things because mermaids didn't exist. And if mermaids didn't exist, then neither did mermen. My gasp upon seeing him was enough to wake him from his sleep.

When he first opened his eyes, he jerked as if startled, and stared at me as if he, too, couldn't believe what he was seeing.

"Who are you? What are you?" I asked, keeping my voice quiet so I wouldn't wake the children. "How did you get in my house?"

"You can see me? I mean, as I am? I'm not a shellfish any more?"

"What? No. I mean, yes. I mean, yes, I can see you and no, you're not a shellfish. You're a - you're a - well, you're a mermaid." Did he just imply that he was the crayfish I had found last night?

"I am no maid." He scowled at me. Then he looked around the small bathroom. "This is amazing. Where am I? How did you break my curse? You must be very magical."

"Um, no." I didn't know what to think of this conversation. "I'm not magical. I found you in my children's things last night. I was going to take you back to the ocean today, but you aren't a crayfish any more. Um, how am I supposed to get you back to the beach now? I mean, it's not like I can drive you around looking like that." I indicated his massive tail.

"Oh, this? I can take care of it." He tail immediately started to glow and his tail changed into legs right before my eyes. That's right about the time I realized that he wasn't wearing anything. I averted my eyes.

"Um, you don't seem to be wearing any clothes. I grabbed a towel from a rack beside me and blindly threw it over my shoulder towards him. "Could you please cover up with this? I'll go get you something you can wear."

I raced down the hall to my bedroom and dug through my closet. I knew I still had some clothing items my ex-husband had left here. I'd been without him for years, but I'd never gotten around to cleaning out my closet. He was smaller than the merman in my bathtub, but my ex usually wore his clothes loose and baggy, so they might be usable.

I hurried back to the bathroom and entered without knocking. The merman was standing just outside the bathtub with a towel wrapped around his hips. He was tan and well-muscled. I remembered seeing him naked just moments before and blushed.

"Here are some clothes." I handed him the sweatpants and t-shirt I managed to scrounge out of my closet. "My name is Lucy, by the way." I turned my back so he could change.

"I'm Nerite," he said, "and however you did it, thank you for breaking the curse."

"What is this curse you keep speaking of? Is that why you were a crayfish when I first saw you?"

"I have been trapped in that from for hundreds of years. Aphrodite wanted me to join her on Mount Olympus and be her lover. When I refused, she cursed me into the form of a shellfish. I did not think I would ever be free, and then you came along. Now, here I am."

I felt my mouth drop open. Aphrodite? The goddess of love? "Why did you turn her down? I thought she was supposed to be very beautiful."

"She was beautiful, but vain. And I did not wish to leave the sea."

"Oh," I said. Before I could ask any more questions, I heard my children waking. "Nerite, it's nice to meet you, but I have to make my children their breakfast and get them ready for school. If you come into the kitchen, I'll make you some breakfast too. After the children have gone to school, I can drive you back to the shore, if you'd like."

He gave me a nod and a smile before following me to the kitchen. I'd always thought my kitchen was a good size, but that was before Nerite entered it. His enormous from seemed to dwarf everything around it. He must have been at least 6 1/2 feet tall, if not closer to 7'. His broad shoulders made him look even bigger. I didn't have time to think about it though, because as soon as my children laid their eyes on him, they were full of questions. They asked him his name, where he was from and how he knew me, to which he answered, "Nerite," "from far across the ocean," and "Your mother once did me a wonderful favor." They asked how long he was going to be staying, but I answered that he would be leaving right after they went to school.

The children loved it when anything new happened, and, as a result, his visit had left them practically bouncing in their seats with excitement. Driving them to school didn't take long, even though I had to keep glancing at each of the kids in my rear-view mirror to make sure they stayed buckled into their car seats. Caleb, being only two, was the only one still in preschool. He only went to preschool two mornings a week, and thankfully, this was one of those mornings.

Once all of the children were dropped off at school, I drove straight to the beach. Nerite stepped out of the car and we walked down to the sand where the water lapped at our feet. He took my hand as we walked. I didn't pull away. Holding hands with him felt natural.

"Thank you for breaking my curse and for bringing me back to the sea," Nerite said, turning to look at me.

I looked up at him. "I don't know what I did to break your curse, but you're welcome. I guess this is goodbye then."

Nerite smiled. "No, not goodbye. You broke a curse that had bound me for centuries. That means we have an unbreakable bond, you and I. We will see each other again." He raised his hands and cupped my face gently in them, leaning forward just enough to brush his lips across mine. Where his lips touched me, my lips tingled in response.

He stepped away and before I could think of anything to say, he ran deeper into the water and dove in. His body disappeared under the water and, after a brief glow, his fish tail followed him, slapping down and splashing little particles of water into the air.

I turned away and went back to my car, ready for the drive home.