What does an "unbelievable summer" mean to you? Visiting a farm in New Zealand? Swimming in Bali? Elephant riding in Thailand?
Well, my summer became unbelievable when I met a mermaid at Repulse Bay.
My adventure began when our family went to Hong Kong for the summer. My younger brother, Joshua, and I pestered our parents to take us to the beach.
"I'll get the keys," Dad sighed.
"I'll fetch the swim suits," Mum said, sounding fed up.
Within minutes, Dad, Mum, Joshua and I were on the way to Repulse Bay!
When we arrived at the beach, a cool breeze ruffled my curls, and fresh, salty smells greeted us.
Joshua immediately took off his sandals and padded along the golden sand. However, one look at the sea told me something was wrong. The water was dirty and plastic bottles bobbed on its surface.
Despite this, Joshua jumped in. He was only four and couldn't swim very well, and he soon squealed: "Chloe! Come here!"
Mum sighed and said: "Chloe, can you go and play with your brother?" I bit my lip but there was no choice.
I closed my eyes and jumped in. The water was freezing. I paddled over to join my brother.
"Joshua, listen: you must stick to me like peanut butter to bread, okay?" I told him firmly.
He nodded, and we swam further into the water.
After 20 minutes of splashing each other and playing, I was shivering. "Come on, Joshua, let's get back to Mummy and Daddy," I said, but he pulled me further out.
"Joshua, be a good boy . . . " I couldn't finish my sentence because a sudden wave filled my mouth with water, leaving me choking and coughing.
I hadn't noticed the sky had turned grey - the first roar of thunder took me by surprise. I reached out to grab Joshua, but he had disappeared. I screamed, "Joshua!" as I pushed my way through plastic bags, swimming faster than I ever had before. "Joshua!"
All was silent. I felt lost and alone. Tears ran down my cheeks. I sat on a rock in despair.
Then a familiar voice shouted, "BOO!" and I heard Joshua's laugh. "Remember? I'm gonna stick to you like peanut butter to bread, Chloe!"
I hugged Joshua - I was so relieved.
"Were you scared, Chloe? Did you think that I was gone?" Joshua asked cheekily.
"No! Well, not that scared. Maybe a bit," I replied, my cheeks turning to the same shade of red as the Coke cans scattered on the sand.
"Oh, yeah right, Chloe. If you weren't scared, then I'm a piece of talking macaroni!" Joshua said, rolling his eyes.
Then I heard thunder again. "Joshua, we seriously have to go back now, Mum and Dad must be worried. Hey! No Joshua, don't eat that seaweed. It's dirty!"
"Aw, Chlo-weee, you always spoil my fun. Fine then, we'll go back to Mummy and Daddy. Do you think Mummy's gonna let me eat ice cream? I . . . " Joshua's voice trailed off and his eyes suddenly became as big as saucers.
I turned around to see what he was looking at and my mouth became a huge "O". A girl of my age was swimming towards us. She had dark green hair, the colour of seaweed, and dazzling deep blue eyes. Her earrings were made of tiny shells. She had a silvery-green tail. When it caught the light, it sparkled with a million colours. I was stunned.
However, as she swam closer, I could hear her coughing and I could see she wasn't beautiful at all. Her face was eerily pale and there were dark smudges under her eyes. She was even skinnier than Joshua and her bones jutted out of her skin - her tail looked like it was about to snap any second.
I put my arm protectively around Joshua and stammered, "W-h-ho are y-y-you?"
The girl rolled her eyes and said in a bored, American accent, "A mermaid of course, duh. What did you expect?"
I racked my brains trying to think of something polite to say. "Beautiful home you have here" was the best I could manage.
She snorted with laughter. "You've gotta be kidding. This? Beautiful? I call it filthy. My cousins in the Maldives have a crystal clear home, with absolutely no plastic bags or coke cans, whatsoever. The only bad thing about their home is that you might get someone's flipper slapping you in the face."
Joshua laughed and nodded. "Yeah, it's, like, totally pathetic here," he said, trying to mimic the mermaid's American accent. "No Ben and Jerry's ice cream. No internet connection. Man, imagine, no Club Penguin games for me and no e-mail checking for you, Chloe!"
"Be quiet!" I hissed. Then, turning to the mermaid, I asked as politely as I could, "But if you like the Maldives so much, why don't you go there?"
Thankfully, the mermaid didn't take offence but just sighed. "I'd love to, really, but I can't find my way through all this junk. You humans always dump things onto my land. Do you know it will kill us eventually? Harmful chemicals damage our tails, making it impossible for us to swim."
I felt guilty. I knew what was happening, but I never did anything to stop it. But I was only 11 years old.
The mermaid smiled kindly, as if she could read my mind. "You could tell people to stop doing these things, and reduce the amount of waste you put in the sea." Hmmm . . . that wasn't a bad idea. I could write a story, maybe, or draw posters . . .
Joshua's voice interrupted my thoughts. "Do you have any sisters, mermaid? I have Chloe," he said pointing at me.
"I used to," the mermaid replied, sadly. "I used to have two. But Justine died of pollucer . . ."
She stopped, seeing our puzzled expressions. "What do humans call it? Oh yeah, cancer. Only pollucer is caused by pollution. The second one, Kristy, choked on a plastic bag. She was only four or five - your age, Joshua - and she thought plastic bags were food. Now I'm the only mermaid left in Hong Kong."
Joshua burst into tears. "Poor mermaids! I like mermaids!"
Before the mermaid had a chance to comfort him, a fishing net suddenly dropped and Joshua's leg was caught in it!
He was no longer crying, but screaming for help. "Chloe! Mermaid! Save me!"
I grabbed the net and shouted, "It's ok, Joshua. Once we're on the boat, we'll tell the fisherman what happened and he'll bring us back to Mummy and Daddy. Wave goodbye to the little mermaid, Joshua."
Sniffling, he wiped his eyes and waved as we were hauled up onto the boat. The mermaid waved back.
But when we told the fisherman what had happened, he was furious. "What do you mean you saw a mermaid? Utter rubbish. You kids are always wasting my time and causing trouble," he said.
Joshua opened his mouth but I put my hand over it. The fisherman glared at us, then made us sit squashed between piles of rotten, stinking dead fish.
"Kids!" he grumbled, as he headed back to shore.
Mum and Dad were worried sick and, of course, they also didn't believe our story. "You scared us to death. We thought you both drowned!" yelled Mum.
When we finally got home, I took a bath and put on clean clothes. As I looked out of our hotel window, I thought of the mermaid, probably dying of pollucer and will never see her parents and sisters again. I desperately wanted to help.
Then I remembered the mermaid's words. I got out my laptop and typed this story. I hope after you've read it, you'll pass on the message so that Hong Kong's waters can be clean, clear and healthy, once again. The life of the last mermaid in Hong Kong depends on us.