Day 53 of 365 Days of Writing Prompts: Write a story with a mermaid.
Shannon: “I don’t feel right about this,” I spoke out loud as I stared at the tank.
“We’re not hurting her,” Mark argued. “We’re just studying her like you would any other abnormal human or animal, or in this case both.”
“But it’s against her will, and she’s not sick.”
“How do you know that? We could be saving her life, and it’s going to make us rich in the process. We’ve been given a permit. She’s lucky she ended up in the hand of scientists. Imagine what other people could have done with her,” he tried to downplay his role in the situation. “Why do you want to ruin this? Do you want her to go to another team, and let them get all the glory?”
“I don’t know. She just looks so unhappy,” I watched her lying motionless at the bottom of the small tank, with her face buried beneath her arms. It was a position we’d come to expect from her when we weren’t picking at her for some other reason.
“She’s sleeping,” he slapped the tank and she didn’t move. “See.”
I shook my head, frustrated. “So that’s the problem, she’s just always sleeping?”
“When you’re closing up tonight just remember we have cameras. Don’t let her go. It’s coming out of you’re pocket if you do, and I know you don’t have that kind of money. You’ll paying for it for the rest of you’re life, and I won’t be able to save you,” he put his hand on my shoulder.
I breathed out. Why’d he have to remind me? “Don’t worry I won’t let her go. Have a good night,” I assured him and soon after he left the building.
After I was sure I was alone I grabbed the sack of seashells I’d collect by the ocean for her, my best attempt at peace offering. I when up to the top of the tank and tried to get her attention, but she wouldn’t look up. I didn’t blame her. Instead I started dropping them all in the water, hoping to gain her interest. There was movement, and then she swam up to me, and let her head float above the water. “What are you doing,” she questioned.
I never heard her speak before, so I was a bit in shock. “I’m sorry,” I held out the huge conch shell I didn’t want to drop on her. She took it from my hand immediately and the rough scales on her skin brushed my fingers.
“Why did you get me this?” She took it over to the edge to examine it.
“Tell me the truth and I’ll forgive you for what you’ve done,” she looked back at me with her piercing blue eyes.
“My grandma used to tell me you could hear the ocean if you held it up to your ear. I know it’s not true, but I didn’t know how to bring the ocean to you, and I can’t bring you to the ocean,” I explained, defeated.
“Hmm,” she furrowed her brow, and glided back against the glass. She then held the shell like a telephone. She listened silently.
“Do you hear it,” I questioned.
She stuck her hand up and pushed it to the side to silence me, and I listened. “Mom,” she smiled with genuine relief. “No, no everything is fine. My shell just broke, and I had a hard time finding a new one. I’ll call more often, I promise,” she flashed her eyes up to me with hope in her gaze. “Don’t worry I just need to stay up here a little longer. I’ll be back when I’m ready. Yes I’ve made some really great friends. Okay,” she listened for a while and pressed her lips together. “Yeah of course go. I love you too,” tears fell from her face. “Goodbye,” her voice cracked.
She nodded. “Yeah,” she dunked her head to clear her eyes and I heard a noise from the water. I think she might have been screaming. She resurfaced and swam to me. “Can you hide this? Can you bring it to me whenever you’re alone?”
I nodded, taking it from her. “Why did you tell her you were okay?”
She shrugged. “Because I will be. Why worry her over something she can’t fix?”
“Well I’ll bring her to you every night,” I held up the shell. “And I promise I’ll get you out of here. I just haven’t figured out how yet.”
Erin: “Wannera,” I said her name as I dangled my feet over the edge of the dock. I made sure to flash my rainbow toes toward the bottom of the water.
I felt a tickle on them and I knew my favorite company was just beneath me. “You’re here,” she squealed shooting her head and upper body out of the water.
“Nice to see you,” I bent down and she raised enough to embrace me.
“I’ve missed you,” her smile gave the summer days sun a run for its money.
“Me too,” I assured. “You’re not going to believe what happened at school.”
“I’m sure it was amazing. I’ve always wanted to go to school,” her tail flipped out of the water as she did a little twirl.
“Calm down Wan,” I splashed at her and that only caused more giggling. “School is not fun,” I tried to burst her bubble.
“Yes, it is,” somehow her smile grew.
“No, it is not,” I tried to be stern.
“You’re there right,” she asked.
“Yes,” I answered.
“Then school is the most wonderful place in the world,” her eyes turned to glitter.
“That’s a little dramatic,” I started giggling as well.
“No, it’s not,” she sighed. Then swam over so she could prop her elbows on the dock. “You are my favorite person. I wish I had someone who understood my insides as much as you do down here,” she plopped her hand into the water.
“Well I wish I had someone who gets me like you do up here,” I tried not to let my frown show.
“Our worlds are lonely, aren’t they,” she added as a tear dropped from her eye. I didn’t know mermaids could cry.
“I don’t know if I’m supposed to be with you or if you’re supposed to be with me. All I know is we were created to be in the same world,” I kicked the water some more.
How about we bring our stories down under, the water that is?
Staggering through the close-cut trees I tripped on a wayward root and landed on the hard ground as the trees sniggered behind me. Their bark was peeling and brittle but, even though I’d just cut my way through an entire forest, I was the one to be made fun of. Sighing I relaxed on the ground, wishing I could take a nap to easy my aching head. But there seemed to be no end in sight for the battle against Serena; of the two books we had in our possession, both told of their downfall and my destruction.
I didn’t care to continue but as the trees began hurling pinecones at my head I heaved myself back on my feet and started toward the Bayfairin sign. Sitting atop the enormous board was a rather large crow, pecking at the shifting waves and rocking ship on the logo. When I threw a small stone at it, the great bird flew up above my head, cawing angrily, before settling back on the placard. Scarcely caring about an ancient sign for a city that no one visited, I continued on down the desolate street.
As was the case during my first trip, none of the numerous shops on the main road were open; this time I stopped in front of a café with a scarred wooden sign. Within the shop, chairs were set neatly on top of the tables, the counter held a few plates of stale sweets and profanity was painted across the menu board. Around the room were peeling posters and scrawled messages in what was supposed to be blood, but had a thicker consistency. It was as though someone just closed up and left the place to be ransacked, but no one took anything.
Curious about whether looters had gone into any of the other shops I wandered across the street. Above me, the sun was mired in cloud and cast a bluish glow on the grey town. Before me stood the ruins of an extravagant bank; roman columns pretended to support a faux marble roof and a gate barred anyone from entering. Through the glass panes I could see a line of counters at the back, painted to look like tarnished gold, that cashiers would have sat at years ago. I could imagine the bustling lines of patrons waiting in bored lines across the room, wearing smart top hats and floor-length dresses in drab colours.
When something landed on the dirt road behind me I nearly jumped out of my skin, only hanging on to my wits after seeing the reflection of the culprit. Stepping in a small circle was the crow from the sign; I have no proof it was the same one, but I’m sure it was. This little beast set its beady eyes on me and squawked once before hopping backward. After that it turned and fluttered over to the café, settling down on the half-gone A.
I took a tentative step away from the bank and glanced down at the irregular pattern left in the dust; it looked strangely familiar, as though I saw it every day. But I couldn’t place it, and reminded myself it was created by a bird. Shuffling forward I erased the symbol and continued to Mark Street, where the Cor estate sat nearly abandoned and decaying from the outside in.
Fidgeting with my protective amulet I strolled past an odd pile of jet feathers lying in the middle of the road, shivering despite the warm day. On the opposite side of the street I passed two houses that were inundated with the feathered creatures; they sat comfortably on every shingle, pecked at the dead grass and jumped around on the lower branches. Without looking back I walked briskly to Serena’s house and stalked up the steps to the front porch.
Just as I stepped inside, the birds descended on the building. They resided in every inch of free space on the property and just sat there. Not a single feather fluttered in the wind. It was as though they were stone; simply yard decorations someone had far too many of.
Instead of thinking about how I expected to get out of the town I turned to the darkened foyer for the answers I hunted for. Touching the soft wallpaper I hummed quietly to the house and it came alive under my fingertips; the heart and trapped soul stirred like a monster waking from its deep slumber.
I decided to start with the sitting room off to the left; a tiny room devoid of furniture save the enormous, antique fireplace with its intricate metal grill. This space had been made for high company, exquisite wine and juicy gossip. Laying a hand on the delicate marble mantle I breathed life back into the fireplace and a flame appeared, munching hungrily at the damp wood before it. When a young girl’s laughter reached my ears I froze.
There was something about being somewhere you know no one should be, and hearing someone behind you. But when I turned around not a thing stirred; all was still and silent in the old home. I crept forward and hung off the door frame, searching the room for an odd shadow or swirl of magick. Again, the giggling echoed through the home and I rushed toward it, trailing light in my wake.
The house breathed life everywhere I chased the voice but I never caught up to it; the only person in the house was me. After I’d gone so deep into the house the oil lamps turned to torches I decided to turn back but something forced me to continue on. I could feel the laughter wasn’t joyful and that the voice’s owner needed my help. Even if it wasn’t my sister, she was probably someone’s.
In the dark, dank basement I touched the slimy walls but no lights sprang to life; this was the part that had never been alive with love and happiness. I could practically feel the loneliness and self-hatred that resided in this damp place, even as the chuckling resounded. Thrusting my hand into the back pocket of my backpack I pulled out a handful of bright citrine chips and brought them to my lips.
“Lumine diei,” I whispered to the gemstones before scattering them across the floor. Just before they touched the ground gravity ceased to affect them and the tiny shard burst into brilliant light as they hovered above the floor. I could see beams that held the house up covered in cobwebs as well as scats of boxes from centuries old to a few years young piled about the expansive room. When the voice came again it sounded more like crying than laughter and I could pinpoint where it was coming from.
At the other end of the basement floor was a door, set into the limestone the town was built on, with an intricate set of locks and sigils carved into the oak surface. Out of every piece of wood in the room, the door was the only one not rotted away by mildew. It was also the only one with someone sobbing behind it; but I stopped myself before breaking any of the wards to think. Though this person was trapped in my evil cousin’s basement, they might not be helpless.
Taking out my knife I carved a circle before the door, careful not to touch the wood panels. Into the ring I tossed a bit of herbs from my bag, a binding sigil and spoke a tiresome incantation; if I let something evil out of that room, it wasn’t getting far. After I knew the cage was set properly I called to the person in the room, “Hello? Are you alright?”
Laughter was the only answer I got, but it sounded excited and jittery. I’d nearly decided to forget helping this woman, if it was a woman, if she wasn’t going to answer me when the voice turned to sorrow again. There was someone in need just beyond this door and I had to help them, even if they couldn’t speak.
“Okay, whoever you are, stand back,” I stood back and centered my energy, imagining the locks in my mind before breaking them in two. As they fell to the dusty floor I moved on to the sigils; ancient binding spells that I hadn’t seen before. But any spell could be broken if you knew how to improvise. Setting my mind on the first symbol I stood stiffly before it, hands outstretched and reasoned with the scarred wood. It twisted and warped under my supervision, destroying the line of sigils and felt the magick fall away.
As soon as the enchantments were gone I walked carefully around my binding circle and knocked on the door. Stepping back I braced for a fight with whatever demon or creature or witch Serena had locked up in her basement. But instead of bursting out like a caged animal the woman who stepped through the doorway was dressed in a gauzy teal gown that fluttered in the still air and with hair that nearly touched the floor braided down her back. Her eyes glowed faintly, like waves crashing around an underwater sun.
Once safely in the circle her feral, angular features paled and her dress fell limply about her knees; the unseen wind having been taken away. Pleading with her eyes, which lost their ethereal glimmer, she moaned pitifully and hugged herself. She shivered as I noticed scales snaking up her legs and down her arms and algae blooming in her wild hair.
After a moment I breathed, “Mermaid,” as a statement, completely in awe. She nodded and flashed a set of pointed teeth, meaning it to be a friendly gesture. Though I didn’t know a lot about them, I recalled that they couldn’t speak and instead used a form of telepathy to communicate with other species. My binding spell must have been inhibiting her abilities. Shaking my head I kicked at the circle, letting the mermaid out of my trap.
As soon as the charm was broken her elven face lit up, eyes blazing with power, and a soft voice reached my mind, “Thank you so much, miss. I’ve been down here for ever so long. That evil witch trapped me here.” She was completely sincere and I smiled back despite myself. But I still needed to find the answers to how I was going to defeat Serena and, though this was a worthwhile effort, I needed to focus on that.
Sighing, I gathered my things and headed toward the stairs. “I have to find the key to that witch’s destruction now. Care to assist?” I turned back to see a wicked grin spread across the mermaid’s face, sending a shiver down my spine; my cousin sure was going to have her hands full.
Created to Write:
Jacey and Finn look around as they enter the camp. It’s an old building, with multiple stories. The middle is mostly hallowed out, while the walls still have rooms and stairs. “Was this an old hotel?” Finn asks, looking at the large fountain in the middle.
“Yes,” their tour guide answers, “but no one has used it in ages, so it’s the perfect hiding place.”
Little girls are sitting on the ground next to the fountain. Water still sits in the depths.
Jacey looks at their faces. Her heart breaks for them, and she walks over to them. “Hi,” she says cheerily.
One of the girls looks up at her, sniffling.
“You miss your parents, don’t you?” Jacey asks. The girl nods, holding a doll closer. Jacey angles her head to get a better look at the doll. “Ariel, huh?”
The girl looks at the doll’s bright red hair. “She’s pretty…” the girl whispers. She looks at Jacey again, “She’s got hair like you.”
Jacey know her hair isn’t that red, but she gets an idea, “Wanna see something cool?” All the girls look up, nodding or looking on curiously.
Jacey goes to the fountain, taking her shoes off. She steps in and before Finn can persuade her otherwise, she completely submerges her lower half. The girls watch as Jacey folds her arms over the stone edge, watching them. She closes her eyes a moment, face centered on concentration. Then she looks at them again, her eyes sparkling.
She lifts her legs, which have combined into a beautiful teal and periwinkle tail.
“You’re a mermaid!” The girls squeal. Jacey beams at them.
She puts a finger to her lips, “You need to keep it a secret. You have no idea how many sailors would want to find me.”
One girl pipes up, “I heard that when mermaids sing, they lure men to their death.”
There’s a moment of silence.
“…Those are sirens,” Jacey corrects, “the bad mermaids. Us good mermaids are peaceful. We want to protect people and the ocean, without violence if we need to.”
The girls stare in awe. She lets them touch the fin of her tail, then the tour guide insists the continue. Jacey changes back, then gets out of the water. She walks off with Finn by her side. “Aren’t you going to tell them you can change into other animals besides fish?”
Jacey looks at him in disdain, “And break their innocent hearts? No way. I always wanted to meet a mermaid when I was their age, I’m not spoiling it for them.”