Rated: E · Book · Children's · #1922493
A young boy writes himself an epic adventure...which starts to come true!
Jayden and Caitlin didn't go on any more adventures during the school week. They knew they'd be too tired for school if they did. Caitlin found the school week tiring enough as it was. With an early start every morning and two one-hour karate lessons during the week, she didn't have enough energy left over for adventures. But she and Jayden talked about them constantly. They discussed the elves, the unicorn, the dragon and the fairies. They spoke about the jewels that Callum had brought home from Scotland, and how it looked like he would get to keep them. They were both a bit jealous of that. And they discussed where they would go next and who they would meet.
"What about a mermaid?"
"Yeah, we could do that," Jayden agreed. "Or we could go and see another dragon, since you missed out on seeing that. We could see a different sort of dragon this time. Maybe a water dragon or an ice dragon."
"Hmm," Caitlin murmured. "Maybe a baby dragon?!" Her face lit up with excitement. "That would be cool!"
"That would be very cool."
"The unicorn told me about some magical horses that fly. We could see them."
"Yeah, that was them!"
"Yeah, that'd be pretty cool too," Jayden nodded.
Finally the weekend rolled around again.
Jayden looked up when his door swung open and Caitlin tiptoed in. He looked and saw that she was wearing a skirt and top, with sandals on her feet. They'd both learned to get dressed straight away in the mornings now.
"Can we go and see a mermaid, Jayden?" Caitlin whispered as she climbed on to the bed beside him. "I was thinking about it last night," she continued as she propped a pillow between her back and the wall and leaned on it. "I'd like to see a mermaid before we use up the whole journal."
Use it up? Jayden looked down at the brown leather-covered book in his hands. He noted that half of the pages in the book were now filled with writing. She was right. They were using the book up. What would happen when it was full? There'd be no more adventures. This put an entirely different perspective on everything.
"If we're using up the pages, we'll have to be very careful about what adventures we go on. Also, how long we stay in each place, because the longer we stay, the more pages we use."
"Yeah, when I was talking to Equus, he said something about using up the pages."
"Did he tell you how we can clear them or something so we can have more adventures?" Jayden asked hopefully. Caitlin shook her head and his face fell again.
"We'll just have to be careful then. Let's go and see a mermaid, then when we come back we'll make a list of what we want to see with the rest of the journal. So far we've seen a taniwha, fairies, dragon, unicorn and elves," Jayden listed, ticking each one off on his fingers. "That's five and we're about halfway through the journal. So if we see another five, that'll be it. So let's go and see the mermaid, then we'll each come up with two mythical creatures we want to see before we finish, and that'll be that." Jayden looked a bit glum about the prospect of the adventures coming to an end.
"And we'll both go on all the adventures left," Caitlin reminded him meaningfully.
Jayden nodded his head, then drew in a deep breath. Right. A mermaid.
Caitlin and Jayden were sitting on a beach near a friendly mermaid.
He wasn't sure if there was such a thing as an unfriendly mermaid, but it seemed that mythical creatures weren't all friendly. Dan, the elf, had turned out to be friendly in the end even if he hadn't been pleased to see them at first, and he supposed that Blue, the dragon, had been as well, but it didn't seem to be something they could take for granted.
Jayden buried the toes of his shoes in the sand while he thought, before realising what he was doing. He lifted his head and looked at the water just about a metre away from his feet. Caitlin was leaning forward, pointing to something and when Jayden looked in that direction he caught his breath on a gasp.
The mermaid was beautiful. She had blue hair, which he hadn't been expecting. He'd never seen anything quite like it before. Of course, he'd never seen a mermaid before. Her hair was long and flowed down her back, different shades of dark and light blue. She was lying on her front in the shallow water, her arms resting on the sand. She was looking at them, and Jayden saw that her skin was sort of blue too, a very pale blue. Her face looked like a human face, except for the blue skin and hair of course, but behind her he could see a large tail. It looked sort of like a whale's tail, he thought, or a fish tail, which made sense. It was a shimmery, shiny blue with flashes of green and turquoise, and he thought it was probably scaly like a fish tail.
"Hello," said Caitlin, making Jayden realise he'd just been sitting there staring. "My name is Caitlin, and this is my brother Jayden. You must be a mermaid."
"I am," replied the mermaid in a beautiful, musical voice. "My name is Lorelei."
"Oh, that's a pretty name," said Caitlin and the mermaid smiled in response. "Um..." Caitlin looked to Jayden for some guidance on what to say next. Even though she'd wanted to meet a mermaid, she hadn't thought of any questions to ask her.
"We've never met a mermaid before," Jayden said.
"Oh, I have met your kind before," replied Lorelei. She looked down at her arms and flicked her tail down into to the water creating a small splash before looking up again. "Some of them were not very nice. Not nice at all," she shook her head.
Caitlin and Jayden looked at each other in surprise. "Well, we're nice!" exclaimed Caitlin. "We won't hurt you."
Lorelei raised an eyebrow. The movement made Jayden notice that her eyes were dark blue, a colour that made him think of some of the jewels he'd seen in the dragon's treasure room which were just that shade. "That is good to know. I was not just worried about myself though. I have many friends in the water, whales and fish, and they do not like to be mistreated either."
"But we're not going to hurt anybody!" Caitlin protested. "We just wanted to talk to you."
"I am happy to talk, Caitlin. I am just being careful. I have seen people of your kind do awful things to my friends and I would not want to see it again."
Caitlin sat down with a frown and folded her arms across her legs. "We haven't even done anything wrong," she muttered. "I don't think I like mermaids after all."
Jayden looked at the mermaid before asking "What sort of things do you mean?"
"It is the whales who suffer the most," said Lorelei. "I have seen your kind do the most awful things to them. Murdering them." She looked away for a moment. "They do not even leave the bodies for their family and friends to mourn, they take them away and we do not know what is done to them. I do not think they will be treated well."
Jayden bit his lip. He knew that whaling was still legal in some parts of the world, even though it had been illegal in New Zealand for many years. "I'm sorry about your friends. My country says that we are not allowed to hurt whales for any reason, but I know that not all countries agree."
Lorelei sniffed. "It is awful. So awful to see."
"And the rubbish, the oil, the pollution!" Lorelei burst out. "It is ruining the water! I hate it!"
"Ohhh," breathed Jayden. He hadn't thought about pollution. He supposed he wasn't entirely innocent of that. "I understand. I think most of our rubbish," he gestured between himself and Caitlin, "goes into rubbish tips which are kept on land. I don't think our rubbish goes in to the sea. We learn about that sort of thing at school, and try not to do it. We don't want pollution in our waters." He looked hopefully at the mermaid. Did that help?
"Let's go home," Caitlin muttered quietly to Jayden. "This isn't fun."
The mermaid turned her head to look at Caitlin. "Ah, Caitlin. I am sorry to have upset you. It does not sound like you and your brother are bad people. But it is hard for me to know who I can trust and who is going to hurt me or my friends. I do not like seeing my friends killed and hurt. Can you understand that?"
Caitlin nodded, although she was still frowning and not looking directly at the mermaid.
"Perhaps we can just talk for a while," Lorelei suggested.
"We don't know anything about mermaids," said Jayden, trying to lift the mood a little. "What do you do? What do you eat?"
"Oh, well I eat seafood of course," said Lorelei with a smile. "Do you like seafood?"
Both Jayden and Caitlin nodded. "Yes, we love seafood," said Jayden. "But...aren't fish your friends?"
"Ah, I see. This is part of life which we understand in the sea. The small fish is eaten by the medium fish. The medium fish is eaten by the big fish. We have a saying - 'There is always a bigger fish!'"
Jayden laughed. "We have sort of the same thing, because we like lambs and chickens and calves, but we eat them too. It is not a nice part of life, but it's just something you get used to."
"Yes. I tend to eat small fish and shellfish, and most of my friends are mammals, whales and dolphins."
"Mmm, I love shellfish," replied Jayden.
Caitlin smiled and nodded. "We had oysters. They were yum!"
"Oh, I love oysters too. And sometimes if I'm really lucky, I find a pearl!" Lorelei said.
"A pearl?" Caitlin asked in confusion.
"Did you not know that pearls are made by oysters? Not every oyster has a pearl, but if you are lucky, when you open the oyster shell there is a pearl inside. I like pearls."
"I didn't know that," said Caitlin, leaning forward, her pique forgotten. "So, like a pearl necklace, that is made from pearls from oysters?"
Lorelei nodded. "Exactly. Do you have a pearl necklace?" Caitlin shook her head. "Well, perhaps one day you will be lucky enough to find a pearl. It's much more fun finding your own."
"Can you talk to other fish?" asked Jayden curiously.
"Other fish? I am not a fish!" exclaimed Lorelei with a flick of her tail. She glared at Jayden. "I am a mermaid!"
"Oops," Jayden said, blushing with embarrassment. "I knew that, it just came out wrong. I meant, can you talk to fish?"
Lorelei eyed him as if she wasn't sure whether to believe his excuse or not. "I can understand them, but not talk to them like I am talking to you. We communicate, but not in sentences. It is different with the whales and dolphins. We can communicate properly. Not in sentences, but a different way. I can talk to the whales and have a conversation with them."
"That's so cool," commented Jayden. "I didn't know that."
"Can you make those squeaky noises that whales make?" Caitlin asked.
Lorelei nodded with a smile. "Yes. Mermaids only talk like this when we are above water. Below water it sounds much more like what you hear from the whales and dolphins. Can you hear them from up here?"
Jayden shook his head. "No, but scientists have recorded them and we've heard them on TV."
The mermaid nodded again. Jayden wasn't sure if she understood the concepts of scientists and television, but it probably wasn't worth explaining.
"What do you talk to whales and dolphins about?" asked Caitlin.
"Oh, all sorts of things," replied Lorelei. "We might talk about good places to swim or visit, places where there are good shellfish to eat or new fish to try. We might talk about our families, about new calves that have been born..."
"Calves?" interrupted Caitlin. "Like cows?"
"No, that's what baby whales are called, calves," explained Jayden.
"Ohhh," said Caitlin.
"Baby dolphins are also called calves," said Lorelei. "So yes, we talk about all sorts of things, just as you talk about all sorts of things with your own kind."
"Do you have a family?" asked Caitlin.
"Of course!" laughed Lorelei. "I have a big family."
"Are all mermaids blue like you?" asked Caitlin.
Jayden smiled, realising she was starting to remember all the questions she'd wanted to ask.
"No, they are not all blue. Most mermaids are a colour of the sea, so green and blue are most common. But there are other colours out there. My sister Esmerelda is a beautiful golden colour which is very rare in a mermaid, and my mother is almost purple, sort of a bluey purple colour."
"Oh, I'd love to see a golden mermaid," breathed Caitlin reverently.
"She does not come to populated places like this very much, just for her own safety, because she is so rare. I am sure she would like you though. I shall tell her all about meeting you. She will like to hear that."
"Okay," replied Caitlin, although she was a little disappointed they wouldn't get to see a golden mermaid.
"What's your favourite colour?" Lorelei asked.
"Mine is violet," replied Caitlin immediately. "Because it's in my name. Caitlin Violet Rosemary."
"Violet is a very pretty colour. What about you, Jayden?"
Jayden shrugged. "I dunno. I like orange. And blue. And green."
"Those are all good colours. Do you know, I do not think I know any orange mermaids," she teased.
Both the children smiled.
"Do you have a house under the water?" asked Caitlin, getting back to the serious business of finding out more about mermaids.
"No, not a house. More like..." Lorelei paused a moment to think. "More like a place. We do not take things from the sea and make them in to new things. We find the best spot in the sea and live there. Caves or coral forests or that sort of thing. We do not always live in one place, we move wherever we want to."
"Where is your favourite place?" asked Jayden.
"I love it where the water is warm, so I like to be near the equator. I do have to watch out for volcanoes and earthquakes though!"
Jayden nodded quickly in understanding.
"Do you both swim?" asked Lorelei.
"Yes," replied both children in unison. They looked at each other, and Jayden gestured for Caitlin to continue talking. "We go to swimming lessons on the weekend," she said. "And we do swimming at school too. Jayden is better than me, but I'm getting better."
"That is very good. Would you like to swim with me?"
Caitlin nodded, her eyes wide with excitement before Jayden pointed out that they didn't have their swimming togs with them. Caitlin pouted with disappointment before suddenly remembering about the journal. "You could write it in to the journal, Jayden!"
Jayden smacked himself in the forehead. "Duh! Why didn't I think of that!"
Lorelei scooted back in the water until she was able to swim freely. "I will wait for you here. It is not deep. It will not be past your shoulders, Caitlin, so do not be too afraid. And I will watch you carefully and help you if you need it."
Caitlin smiled with relief. She enjoyed swimming, but being out of her depth was very scary.
Jayden picked up the journal which was sitting on the sand beside him and wrote a line in the book.
Jayden and Caitlin were wearing their swimming togs, all ready to go for a swim with the mermaid.
"Yay!" Caitlin clapped her hands together and bounced on her toes. "Let's go!" She darted down to the water's edge wearing a sleek black one-piece suit with a silver fern that stretched up each side. She was also wearing a matching bathing cap and had a pair of goggles perched on the top of her head. She ran in to the shallow water, creating small splashes, shrieking as the cool water went up her legs.
Jayden smiled and followed behind in a pair of green board shorts. He too had a pair of goggles resting on his head.
The two children played in the water with Lorelei for some time, until they finally emerged breathless and laughing to flop inelegantly back down on the sand. Lorelei was a much better swimmer than either of them and had delighted in swimming under the water and surprising them or grabbing their toes.
Jayden lay back on the sand and closed his eyes. "That was fun," he sighed.
"Yeah," agreed Caitlin. "That was fun."
"How about some lunch?" asked Lorelei.
"Ooh, lunch!" Caitlin sprang up again, and Jayden was quick to sit up as well.
Lorelei raised her hand out of the water, showing them a fistful of shellfish.
"Yum!" cried Caitlin, skipping down to the edge of the water.
Lorelei smiled and moved forward until she was resting in a similar position to the one she'd been in when they first arrived, her arms resting on the sand just at the water's edge. She placed the shellfish in the water in front of her. "Come and get it," she said with a smile at their enthusiasm.
Jayden reached for a scallop and Caitlin reached for an oyster, and Lorelei had to laugh as she watched them frown down at the shells, trying to figure out how to open them.
"Clearly this is the first time you have had shellfish straight from the sea," she teased.
Jayden smiled and nodded. "Yeah, the shells are normally open when we get them, or they're not in shells at all."
Lorelei beckoned to Caitlin. "Give that one to me, Caitlin. Oysters can be very sharp and it would not be good if you cut yourself." With a few quick movements of her hand, she opened the oyster shell and handed it back to Caitlin.
"How did you that?" asked Jayden in astonishment. "How did you get it open?"
"My nails are very strong, very tough," replied Lorelei. "Truly this is what they are made for. Your nails are soft and easily broken, but mine are not."
Impressed, Jayden handed her his scallop to open.
"Aw, I didn't get a pearl," complained Caitlin with a frown. She looked up at Lorelei and pouted. "I was hoping to get a pearl."
"It is quite rare to find a pearl," advised Lorelei. "You might have to open ten thousand oysters to find one pearl."
Caitlin swallowed the oyster and then suggested cheekily, "You could give me one that you've found."
Lorelei widened her eyes in pretend surprise and reached one hand back in to the sand. "You are right! Here, have one of mine!" She held out her hand and opened it flat to reveal her empty palm. Caitlin made a silly face at her and Lorelei laughed. "You are more likely to find your own pearl than you are to convince a mermaid to give up her treasure," she said. "But it was a nice try."
After they had eaten their fill of shellfish, Jayden and Caitlin said goodbye to Lorelei.
"It was lovely to meet you," they chorused.
"It was nice to meet you too," she replied. "And I will look forward to seeing you again one day."
Caitlin waved goodbye as Lorelei scooted back in to the water, then dived under the surface. Her tail flicked up, sparkling with blue and green before sinking out of sight and Caitlin breathed a sigh. "She was very pretty."
Jayden looked up from the journal for a moment. "Yes, she was," he agreed.
Jayden remembered to write their clothes back to normal before writing them back home. Otherwise they would have had a hard time explaining to their parents where they had gone swimming!
Jayden and Caitlin were dressed back in their normal clothes. They were back in Jayden's bedroom.
"I thought that wasn't going to be a good adventure," Caitlin admitted, as she climbed off the bed. "But it turned out to be nice. We got to swim with a mermaid and eat oysters and scallops and stuff."
Jayden nodded. "It was good. I'm too full for breakfast now. I'm going to draw some pictures of Lorelei until Mum and Dad wake up."
Caitlin nodded. "I think I'll have a nap," she said, yawning.
Jayden sat with his blue pencil poised over the paper. He had just realised that he had no idea what the mermaid looked like from the front. Had she been wearing clothes, swimming togs? He shook his head. He didn't think so. His eyes widened in faint surprise. Well, she had been very clever about not showing her front, always hiding it in the water or lying on her arms. He would just draw her from that view. He particularly wanted to draw her beautiful blue hair and the blue and green scales on her tail. He nodded to himself and set pencil to paper to capture the pretty mermaid.