Escape, Explore, Examine: A Merpeople's Tale
They’d escaped, at least for a while, away from their world to go explore another. The atmosphere, the deep greenish-blue the sea tended to be, was serene and silent. Like they preferred
She held his hand as they swam to their Sanctuary. It wasn’t because she could get lost; naturally
not, for she knew the way better than him. But because she loved the way his hand felt in hers, the way his fingers gently touched her own in a way like a caress. Like a glove, his hand fit into
hers perfectly, like they’d be crafted from wood or stone for each other specifically.
They arrived at their Sanctuary, and their hands fell apart to explore. She, to the ocean floor, to
search the sand for treasures. Her pink scales shimmered beautifully in the soft streak of moonlight that cut across the cove. He watched in amused adoration as she found a small shell, luster
strong from the moonlight, and brought it up to him.
With a grin, he drifted to a deep crevice in the surrounding circular wall of rock and placed the
shell in a group of others that were identical. She appeared at his side, and when he glanced at her, he saw the glint of happiness in her eyes and felt happy himself.
And when she leaned in for a kiss, he felt his fins quiver and lift above his head as he returned it
He took her hand once more and pulled her up, so that they were directly in the light of the moon.
He did a back flip, hoping to impress her, but when he looked, she was doing one as well with a bright grin.
With effort, he did two in a row. Striking a triumphant pose, he looked to her, only to see her do
three. When she ended with her hands on her chin, blinking her eyelashes up at him mischievously, he furrowed his brow and pretended to push up imaginary sleeves (a thing they’d seen the Humans do
She giggled, her yellow hair floating up like a fog around her face. Then she crossed her arms
across her chest and smirked at him, almost as if saying, Let’s see what you got.
With a puff of determination, he back flipped numerous times in a row, the movements sending
him up, up, up, towards the surface. After doing ten without pausing, he was moving onto his eleventh to bring it all home when something collided with his forehead.
He stopped and blinked dizzily, rubbing his head. She had her hands out-cupped, and something
dropped softly into them. He swam down to join her.
It was a strange thing. A gold, solid object, misshapen and on a chain. They glanced at each other
in wonder. She examined it and they both started when the thing popped open.
The inside was even stranger. On each side was a small picture, one of a boy, the other of a girl. Both smiling. The boy wore strange glass . . . things on his face, the middle hanging
loosely off his nose.
He looked at her in astonishment, and she pointed up.
His blue eyes widened in disbelief. He shook his head, making the tuff of curly dark hair wriggle. But she was already on her way to the surface. He followed quickly, frantically.
Only their eyes broke the water.
Sitting on the deck that connected their ocean to the Human World was a little girl. Her eyes were
filled with tears, leaking over and streaking down her cheeks. Her hair was the color of driftwood, and it was in two long braids down her back, the ends tied in ribbons. She wore a plaid pink
dress and stockings and shiny brown shoes. She was sobbing into her hands. The girl couldn’t have been older than ten.
He felt his heart soften for the girl, but what to do for her? Then, in an instant, they looked to
each other in an alien sort of victory.
As quietly as she could, she ducked under the water and got closer to the dock, and he followed
nervously. Contact with Humans was certainly forbidden. But who was watching? And what could a little girl do?
She peeked out from the water and whistled to get the girl’s attention. The girl wiped her eyes and
looked. Then she blinked in confusion. “Who—who’re you guys?”
She smiled warmly and extended her hand, so that it was mere inches from the girl’s leg. She dropped
the gold thing in front of the girl.
“My locket!” squealed the girl in delight. She hugged the thing to her chest. “Oh, thank you, thank
you! I was so afraid I’d never see it again! I dropped it while looking at the photos inside.” She grinned toothily (for she was missing both front teeth) and opened the “locket” and pointed to the
female. “This is my older sister Annie. And this”—she pointed to the male—“is my older brother Spencer. And I’m Ophelia May, but you can call me Ophi.”
They blinked, silent, then she smiled and nodded. Nervously, he followed suit.
“What’re your guyses’ names?” asked Ophi innocently with a sweet smile. “I wish I had some coins to
give you guys as a thank you. Oh! I know what I can give you!” Ophi reached into her dress pockets and frowned. “Huh. I thought I had . . .” She winced. “Awww, man. I left the candies at home.
Well, all I have left is . . .” She dumped the deposits of her pockets before them. “A red hair ribbon and a coat button. Sorry.”
But they were fascinated. She ran her finger along the fabric of the ribbon, mesmerized. And he
peeked through all four of the tiny holes on the teal button and smiled.
“You . . . like them?” Ophi cocked her head, but let out a laugh. “Well, then that’s great! You can
have them, if you want.”
They nodded vigorously, and Ophi grinned, relieved. Then she glanced at the faraway clock. “Oh no!
I’m gonna be late!” She smiled apologetically. “Sorry, I gotta go. Annie expects me home for dinner. But thanks again for saving my locket!” She rose.
They appeared bewildered by her, but didn’t object to her having to leave.
“Wait!” Ophi stopped them before they could sink below the surface. “I never got your names.”
In response, he smiled good-naturedly and allowed the end of his grassy green fin to come above the
water. She did the same.
Ophi’s mouth fell open in shock, her hands going slack and her eyes bulging. “Wha—wait—y-you
They didn’t hear her entire question. They’d already disappeared, eager to try out their new
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