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Rated: E · Short Story · Romance/Love · #935864
Cajun love story, with mermaids.

The Catch

The old fashioned alarm clock started ringing at 5 am. Every stroke of the strikers against the dented bells pulled its owner further out of his deep slumber. Tee-boy slapped at the clock and stopped its awful chatter. With a groan, he sat up and swung his legs onto the floor of the cabin of his shrimp boat and stood up. He walked unsteadily 3 feet to the small propane stove and set a pot of water to boil. While the water was boiling he got dressed, pulled on his rubber boots and started his daily routine.

Every morning for the last 18 shrimp seasons since he had bought his own boat it was the same, go below deck turn on a 12-volt light bulb and check the oil in the old Detroit diesel and grease the power take off that turned the winch of the trawler. By the time he was finished checking his engine, the water was boiling and he poured it into the top of the old time drip coffee pot. While the coffee was dripping he then started the motor so it could warm up for it’s long day of pulling shrimp trawls though the murky water of the Louisiana coast.

Tee-boy poured his first cup of the strong Cajun brew and sat in old worn chair behind the wheel and turned on the vhf radio to listen to the morning gossip of the other shimper’s anchored around him.

“ Oh Boudreaux, may you up man” he could hear one of the old timers calling to a friend.

“ Wee wee I’m up you old catfish you, I aint no late sleep like you non, I been up since 4 dis morning listening to the weather on the radio. Looks like we gots a good day work to work wit yea, light winds and a clear sky, maybe the shrimp will be running and we can go in with the hold full and some on deck.”

Tee-boy shook his head as he drank the last bit of coffee. Trawlers are all the same he thought, always dreaming of making one big drag that will fill up the hold so they can go in. But it’s always a dream, with a hard a life as trawling is you have to dream to keep your mind off of home and those left behind.

After he washed out the coffee cup, tee-boy went out on deck and hauled up the anchor and got ready to set the trawl for the first drag of the day. With the block and tackle squealing like a stuck pig he lowered the tail of the trawl over board and threw it over the side. He reached through the window and advanced the throttle as the net streamed out behind the boat. With a splash and a grinding of gears, the boards that opened up the trawl went into the water, once enough cable was let out the winch was dogged off and the first day began.

Tee- boy got another cup of coffee and sat behind the wheel, watching the sun peeking over the horizon, with bright streamers of sunlight streaking the azure sky. He let his thoughts wonder to times past and present and loved one’s no longer here.
Tee-boy was a handsome 40 years old, lean and muscular, with that dark skin that Cajuns have and a mischievous grin. He once had a girl, a long time ago, when he was a teen, but one day she had fallen off of her daddy’s shrimp boat in a squall and was never found. Since that day he had been alone. He had loved Jollie with a passion only read about in books, and as he felt he could never love another like he loved her, he never tried again.

The squalling of the sea gulls brought him out of his past and back to the future. He looked at his watch and saw it was time to pick up his trawl. Tee-boy slowed the engine down, kicked in the winch and began to reel in the cables attached to the trawl. The boards cleared the water, streaming the warm water of the gulf. With a gaff he pulled in the lazy line that is connected from one corner of a board and to the tail of the trawl and wrapped it around the cathead and sucked the tail to the side of the boat. He then wrapped the block and tackle to the beginning of the tail of the trawl and haled the tail aboard. Once the tail was hanging off of the deck, he grabbed hold of the rope that was tied with 6 slipknots around the opening of the bag of the trawl and the white Louisiana gold spilled out onto the deck. With quick flicks of his wrists the bag was retied and the whole process of setting the trawl started again.

When the trawl was set and his course set, he looked at his first catch of the day. Fish were flopping on deck, sending sprays of water flying in all directions, crabs running around with their pinchers held high, daring Tee-boy to catch them. Screeching sea gulls flew about the boat waiting for the first morsel to be thrown overboard. And of course there was shrimp, snapping and popping into the air, their long whiskers flaying about as the quickly settled down. In less than 45 minuets the catch was sorted and 100 pounds of shrimp was on ice in the hold.

And so Tee-boys day went, hauling the net in, dumping it, setting it and sorting his catch. A normal day like any other………….until the last drag. Then things got exciting. Because when he got the bag of the trawl next to the boat he saw a great tail thrashing in the bag, something big was in there! He hurried and wrapped the block and tackle around the netting, he had to get what ever was in there out before it smashed all the shrimp to mush and ruined the last catch of the day. He quickly got the bag up, went to the ropes holding it closed and dumped it all on deck, what he saw there made his mouth drop open as he stood there, rooted to the deck unable to move.

The tail was wide, delicate, and yet strong, the flanks were a silvery blue, which glowed neon in the setting sun. Midway, scales gave way to the smoothest, milkiest white skin Tee-boy have ever seen, long flowing wet blond hair cascaded down it’s back. Then it turned its head to him its bright sky blue eye’s filled with fear

But the creature wasn’t the only one filled with fear, Tee-boy dropped to his knees, grabbed his saint Christopher medal with his left hand and made the sign of the cross with his right in hope’s of warding off what ever evil this thing might bring. He had only read and heard the stories of mermaids, he had never believed in them and never in a million years did he think he would catch one, but there she was, lying on the deck of his boat.

Both of the looked at each other for what seemed ages, and then the fear that was holding Tee-boy gave way confusion then disbelief, then terror and anger.

“Jollie?” he asked “ no, it can’t be, there’s just no way, what kind of being are you to take the shape of a human? You must be some kind of evil sprit sent to torment me or some one has cast a gre-gree on me” he yelled at the apparition, referring to the spells cast by the old treater’s that practiced a form of religious healing with elements of voodoo and spell casting.

He ran into the cabin, and when he came out his hands held the old 12 gauge shot gun his father had given him and aimed the weapon at the creature’s head.

“Tee-boy, please stop, it is me, it is me, it is Jollie, please don’t be afraid, I’m not some evil creature, and no one has cast a gre-gree on you. But I do need to get in the water, please help me and I will explain every thing to you.”

Tee-boy never moved the gun from the mermaid. “ How do I know that your telling the truth, that you won’t return to the water, call the rest of your kind, sink my boat and pull me under water and kill me? I don’t know what you are; all I know is I want you dead and off my boat, so you better do some fast-talking.”

Jollie looked at Tee-boy and knew she didn’t have much time, already she was gasping for oxygen, as mermaids can only breath out of water for a short time, and she was already exhausted from being caught in the trawl.

“Tee-boy, I am Jollie, all those years ago when I fell off of daddy’s boat, I drifted away in the storm, I fought the waves with all I had, but it was no use. I finally gave up and slipped beneath the waves. As I floated in the water, choking on the salt water, I saw the strangest sight I had ever seen. A group of merpeople had happened upon me. With the last bit of air I had left in my lungs I screamed. When I woke up, I was a mermaid.”

With the beginning of her story started, she started choking and gasping, time was fast running out.

“Tee-boy, I need to get into the water, or I’ll die this time” Jollie pleaded.

Tee-boy’s mind was racing, on one hand he wanted to believe the fantastic story he had heard, for if this was really Jollie the last thing he wanted was any harm to come to her. On the other hand, if she was lying, and she was some kind of evil sprit, his days were numbered.

In the end, the love he had carried for Jollie all these years won out. He put the gun down, scooped Jollie up in his arms and as gently as he could, lowered her into the water. As their arms slid against each other and their hands brushed together, Jollie grabbed Tee-boys hand so she would stay near the boat. And there they stayed, Tee-boy lying on the deck of his boat, arms stretched to the water and Jollie with her head under the water, gathering her strength.
After 20 minuets, Jollie finally surfaced, the color was back in her cheeks and she was even more beautiful than Tee-boy had remembered. But, he was still skeptical, as he knew the evil things in this world would lie to get what they wanted.

“Ok, you have your breath back, now either do what you will to me or tell me more of how you came to be like this” Tee-boy said to the creature, as he wasn’t sure what to believe at this point.

Jollie smiled at Tee-boy with a smile she had used only for him and explained more of her story.

“ T-boy, you were there that day, you know how bad that squall was, at the height of the squall the ice hold covers blew off, and poppa went out to put it back because the waves were filling up the hold and we had started to sink. A big wave washed over the bow and knocked poppa into the hold, knocking him unconscious. I went out to help him and we got the cover back in place. As we headed back to the cabin the boat turned broad side to the waves and another big wave hit us and I was thrown in to the water, I fought with all my might, but in the end I failed.”

“I understand that much of your story, but how did you become a mermaid? That’s the part I want to know”. T-boy asked, still not knowing what to believe.

Jollie ducked her head under the water again, to clear her thoughts and move her hair out of her face before starting again. “ In the group of mer-people that found me was an old king and his wife, they were childless. It is a decree from primeval king of the mer-people not to interfer with the lives of men, even though they have the ability to save a drowning person and make then into a mer-person There are only two exceptions to this rule, one is if a betrothed couple has no children. If a drowning child under the age of 17 is found they are allowed to save it and adopt the child as their own after the king approves the changeling and the rite of change takes place. And since it was the king him self who found me he approved me and the shaman performed the rite.”

“Your story is fantastic, but it still proves nothing, how can you prove you are my Jollie that I lost so long ago”. T-boy asked with sarcasm in his voice.

“Always the doubting one still, even after all these years. That’s one of the things I’ve missed about you all theses years,” Jollie said with laughter. “ Here, maybe this will ease your misgivings”

From between her breast, Jollie pulled a golden cross embedded with small diamonds around the figure of Christ “ Would an evil sprit dare wear Christ around its neck?” She asked with a smile. “ Do you remember when you gave this to me? It was the same day I gave you the St.Christopher medallion you wear around your neck. Remember how we pledged our love to one another that day? We promised to wait forever for each other if we had to. Maybe our time has finally come, and we can be together, not living as man and wife, not every day of our life, but together when we can.”

With a soaring heart, and tears of joy, T-boy jumped overboard and swam to Jolie. Together they floated in the warm water embracing and kissing. “ I do believe you now Jollie. But why so long? How come only now did you come to me? I’ve been so lonely all these years, why only now revel your self to me?

“Silly man” Jollie said with laughter that sounded like a crystal chandelier tinkling in the wind. “ It was you that caught me remember? We pass through these waters every year on the way to warmer waters for the winter. I’ve searched every boat we came across for a glimpse of you. I listened from the water at night, hoping to hear your voice, or some one speak the name of the boat you were on. I was able to keep up with you, catching a clue every now and then of what was going on in your life, and as long as I heard you were safe, I was some what satisfied.”

“But why didn’t you just ask some one? All us shrimpers know each other; one of them would have told you where I was. We could have been reunited long ago and maybe been happy long before this” T- boy asked?

“Rember how you reacted when you caught me? What do you think would have happened if I just popped my head out of the water to someone like old man Boudreaux? I can assure you that I wouldn’t have a head now. And once word got out that mer-people were real………well lets just say it would not be a very good life being the main attraction at the zoo. One of the first lessons I learned after I was saved was that the people who dwelled on land would make our life miserable if they ever found out, so we take great care to hide our existence from them It is much safer to let people think we are just figments of their imagination.”

T-boy looked at her for a bit before answering. “ Your right of course, you always thought things out, I just wish things would have turned out differently, that we some how could have found each other again sooner. But I also know that we can’t change fate, but now that I have you again I don’t want to lose you another time. You said we can’t be together every day, only some time’s. Why is that? Why can’t you just live in these waters? Then I can be with you most every day. I can still shrimp, go into town to sell them and get what we need. It would be such a wonderful life, just the two of us, loving each other till we die.”

“ And what would happen when you grow too old to run your boat? What would happen when I grow too old to live in the sea by my self? We mer-people are not the only life in these waters that you don’t know about. Strange creatures called Kraken, the sea monsters of old that are like the giant squid follow us in hopes of catching us off guard. So we live together so we can offer each other protection and help the elders. We move to keep ahead of those creatures that follow us. Staying in these waters is out of the question, I must follow my tribe.” Jollie answered sadly.

With a realization that his time with his true love was limited, a great depression came over T-boy. The fleeting glimpse of a happy life with Jollie was blow away, like the ashes of a cold fire. “ How long will you stay here? And how will I find you again? If I only have a short time with you, I want to spend every moment I can with you. It’s time to sell my shrimp now. If I leave today, I can be back here first thing in the morning. And that will give us another week together before I’ll need more supplies and have to sell my shrimp. Jollie, I need to be with you. It’s been a lonely life with out you. I don’t want to waste a second of the time we have left together.”

Jollie smiled sadly at t-boy. “ We have to leave the morning after the next full moon, that’s when the Kraken are most active and we must stay a head of them. I will meet you in this spot tomorrow morning. We can spend this one-week together and try to be as happy as we can. You can tell me of your life since we’ve been apart, and I will tell you of all the wondrous sights I’ve seen in my travels through the underwater world. And we can plan our reunion for next year, because we will be back, and I want to spend as much time with you as my travels will allow.”

With a nod of understanding, they had one more hug and kiss, and T-boy hauled himself aboard his boat and made ready to leave. “ Jollie, I will be back as soon as I can tomorrow morning, please stay safe for me.” And with a final loving look, T-boy started the engine and put the clutch in gear and started on his way. Both hearts were heavy with the pain of parting, both longing for more than what time they had been allowed together. But, there was also a hint of anticipation, for they knew happiness was just around the corner, even if it was only for a short time.

Bright and early the next morning T-boy was back in the spot where this adventure began. And floating on the water, looking like an angel from his dreams was Jollie. “ There you are” T-boy said with a grin. “ I really didn’t know if I was dreaming or not, but now I know I’m not. Lets not waste any more time, what’s the first thing you want to do?

“Well the first thigh you need to do is throw your nets over, just because I’m here don’t mean it’s vacation time, you still need to work, otherwise you won’t have enough money to keep up this boat and you won’t be able to come out and see me next time I’m here.

“Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr, you slave driver” T-boy said with a laugh, “ but your right as always, this is the best time to be shrimping and with the season drawing to a close I really can’t afford to miss too many days” So T-boy got his nets ready and began his daily work.

By the end of the day there was over 800 pounds of large shrimp in the hold of the boat. “ Lord, I don’t remember the last time I caught so many of these jumbo shrimp, I hope I can catch as many tomorrow, that would really help my year out and let me make some improvement to my boat, like maybe putting in a live well so a certain someone can ride -on the boat instead of swimming along side like she did today.”

“Oh I’m sure you’ll do as well tomorrow.” Jollie said with a wink. “ It just took having a woman around to, um, persuade the shrimp to be more cooperative.

And so their week went, shrimping during the day, and spending the evenings and nights just being together. T-boy had rigged a net over the side so Jollie could sleep next to the boat with out drifting away, and the mattress from his bunk was pulled outside so T-boy could sleep as close to Jollie as he could. It was a week of catching up and sharing and wishing. All too soon the week was up and there was only one more day and night left before Jollie was to leave.

“ I wish I could dance with you one more time. While I was selling my shrimp, I head that there is a Fais-Dodo in Morgan City tonight.” T-boy said with a sad grin, referring to the Cajun tradition of an all night dance where the children slept while the grown ups dance the night away. “ To dance with you one more time would make this week complete, but I imagine that it wouldn’t be a very graceful waltz with your tail dragging the floor.”

With a delightful laugh that tickled the insides of T-boys ear and a smile that would shame the most beautiful sunrise, Jollie surprised T-boy yet again. Did I ever tell you that we Mer-people can walk on land at certain times? On a night with a full moon we can walk just as well as you land people, as long as were back in the water for high tide. And if I’m correct in my thinking, tonight is a full moon! I was saving that surprise for tonight, thinking we could walk along the beach, hand in hand, even for just a short time. But dancing with you would be even better. I have some clothes I found in a sunken ship that was stored in a water puff bag. I’ve been saving it for a special occasion, and I can think of no better time to wear them than a night of dancing with you.”

T-boy looked at his watch. “ Well if that’s the plan we better get going, it’s almost night fall. It’s a two-hour run to Morgan City and I don’t want a second of dancing with you. And you still need to get your dress, where ever you keep it.”

“I’ll meet you at the Berwick Bridge in just a little over two hours, I’ll just change on your boat” Jollie said with an excited edge in her voice. “ It will be a dream come true to be able to dance with you again.” And blowing T-boy a kiss, she flicked her tail and was gone.

With a smile on his face and a song in his heart, T-boy got under way. By some miracle, by the time his boat was tied up, T-boy was cleaned up and shaved and had on his best clothes that he kept on his boat because his boat was also is home. He never bought a house because after Jollie was lost he never had the urge to settle into a home. As he finished tying up the boat he heard a gentle splash and looked overboard. And there was Jollie.

Well are you just gona let a girl float here or are you going to help me out of the water? Jollie asked.

“Well seeing as I haven’t danced with you in so long, I guess I better drag you up here huh?” And T-boy grabbed Jollie’s arms that she had outstretched and pulled her up in one smooth motion. “Damn you’ve gotten heavy. But I guess that’s because of that big bag you have hung on your shoulders.”

“Well, Every woman needs just a few lil things when she goes out for the night, and Mermaids are no different. Just get me and the bag in the cabin and I’ll be out soon, and no peeking. Ok?”

“Yes my lady.” T-Boy said with a laugh and sat on the bit on the bow of the boat to wait, and watched the muddy water of the Attchafalya River run slowly by.

All of a sudden he smelled the sweet smell of magnolia flowers. When T-Boy turned around to see where the smell came from, he saw a sight the made his heart stop beating in his chest. There stood Jollie looking like a vision of heaven. Her gown was a pale peach, thin delicate straps ran over her shoulders, the bodice of the gown tapered from the gentle swell of her brest and shoulders, to her narrow waist and then flared out till it touched the floor. On her feet were delicate shoes the same color as her dress with thin finely shaped heels. Her blond hair was lightly piled on top of her head with soft waves and tightly curled ringlets that framed her face. When she smiled, her soft glistening lips showed no sign of lipstick and she wore very little make up to hide her flawless complexion. If a gust of wind had come along at that point, T-boy would have been blown down because of her beauty.

“ Well, are you going to stand there gawking?” Jollie asked with an impish smile on her face. “ Or are we going to go dancing?

It took T-boy several seconds to get his mouth off of the deck of the boat before answering. “ Yes, yes, were going” and he stumbled over some rope that was piled on deck as he walked to her. “ Jollie your are beautiful, now I wish more than ever we could be together always.”

“ And you are so handsome T-boy, it saddens my heart that we have to part tomorrow, but lets not waste any more time, I want you to hold me tight and dance with me all night long.

They left the boat and made their way down the street to the hall where the Fais-Dodo was being held. Soon they could hear the lonesome sounds of Cajun fiddles and accordions playing ahead. When they entered the hall all eyes were on the couple and every one wondered who they were. As the strains of Jollie Blond” began to play, Jollie and T-boy started a Cajun waltz. The pair floated across the dance floor like they were dancing on air. They danced to every tune the band played, never taking their eyes off of each other and stealing kisses every chance they got.

All too soon, the time that they had together started to come to an end. “ T-boy, we have to go, I can feel the tingle in my legs that tells me I am starting to lose my ability to walk on land.”Jollie said with a forlorn sound in her voiced. So the pair made their good byes and started back down the street. They quickly made their way on to the boat and Jollie swiftly changed. The pair stood in the shadow of the boats cabin and said their good byes.

“Jollie, I wish this night would never end, I don’t know how I will make it till you come to these waters again. You have reminded me so much of how life could be, I don’t want to be lonely again, are you sure there is no way we could be together?” T-boy asked with a sorrow that twisted his very insides.

“No T-boy there is no way, I have asked the king and the shaman, I begged and pleaded for them to search the ancient scrolls, but they could find nothing. We must part sweet heart. My heart is breaking with our parting. Next May is only 6 months away, I will meet you in the same place you caught me at the first full moon of the month. And then we can be together again till my tribe leaves again.” With tears running down both their faces, they shared one last kiss and Jollie dove into the water.

“I love you T-boy, how I wish our life could have turned out differently, to spend every day with you would be like living in heaven” Jollie told him after she resurfaced.

“And I love you Jollie, with all my heart, we would have had such a wonderful life together.” T-boy said to her. “ Is there any way I can see you in the morning before you leave? I have to go back out any way, and I can be any where you want me at first light.”

“If you meet me at the big oyster reef that lays 3 miles offshore of the mouth of the river, I can spend just a lil more time with you, the gathering place for the tribe is near by, we can share one last kiss before I leave. Be well my love, and be safe.” And with a blown kiss Jollie dived below the water and was gone.

Just as the sun was peaking it’s sleepy head over the horizon the nest morning, T-boy was at the reef. The sky was starting to become over cast and the sea’s had an oily sheen to them. The run out to the reef was a harbinger of bad weather to come as the ground swells that come in before a cold front were building. The boat bobbed up and down like a fishing cork on the waves in a pond asT-boy stood on the bow of his boat and looked for any sign of Jollie. Then all of a sudden her head popped out of the water.

“T-boy, you must leave now it’s too dangerous, all the signs are here that this will be a bad one”

“Not before I get my last kiss,” he said as he went to the side of the boat. T-boy bent over the side and he and Jollie clasped arms and shared a parting kiss.

“Now go T-boy” Jollie said with worry. “ Look, the clouds are building to the north, you must leave now.”

“Good-bye my love, till we meet again next year” And with a look of loving sorrow T-boy started his motor and began the trip to safety.

Jollie had been right, the front was coming fast, and T-boy knew that this was a dangerous thing to have done, Jollie would have understood, but his heart would not have forgiven him if he hadn’t made the trip to the reef this morning. As T-boy steered the boat inshore he watched the front come in. The bottom of the clouds were jagged and white, with dark angry tops, and the wind that lay beneath those clouds were turning the water frothy as the wind whipped the surface of the water like a huge blender. Just a little further behind the clouds, the rain could be seen.

As T-boy entered the maw of the gale, he could smell the odor of the land that the wind blew before it, like the front was ridding the air before it of the pollutants that man put into it. In seconds the air went from pleasing tropical warmth, to the coldness of a blast freezer. Then the wind hit the boat like a sledgehammer from god, and he could feel the boat stagger from that first blow. The seas built quickly with every minuet and soon the waves were washing over the bow and any thing that wasn’t tied down was thrown into the raging water.

“This aint good.” T-boy thought to him self as he struggled to keep the boat headed into the seas and toward the safety of land. The bow of the boat rose higher and plunged deeper with each succeeding wave. As the waves rolled under the boat it lifted the stern high, exposing the propeller and the rudder. As the stern was driven back into the water, the rudder was forced one way, then the other, causing T-boy to fight the helm to maintain his course. Sweat soon beaded his brow, his arms were aching from the struggle, and his heart beat so hard he could feel it in his ears. “ Please god, let me make it to shore, I have to make it, I need to see Jollie again.” Was T-boy’s prayer as he fought with all his might against the tempest.

The rain was coming sideways now, as if shot from a fire hose. The water a steady sheet on the window making it all but impossible to judge the direction of the waves. T-boy felt the bow rise on the crest of a huge wave, and when the stern dropped, it wrenched the rudder and the helm to one side with such force; it threw T-boy to the floor of the cabin. When he struggled back to his feet and grabbed the spokes of the steering wheel, the wheel would only turn in circles, like an old time wagon wheel. The old cable that connected the wheel to the rudder, the one T-boy had meant to replace during the off-season had finally given way. The boat was now guideless against the gale.

The bow of the boat lifted again on the crown of another wave, but with no rudder T-boy was powerless to keep the bow straight into the seas. The wind pushed the bow to port, the boat was now abeam to the seas. Another huge wave came in, bigger than any others so far. The boat heeled hard to port, but never recovered, it just kept rolling over with the wave. T-boy was thrown about the cabin along with all the tools and possessions that had been gathered thought out the years that T-boy had had his boat. As the boat overturned T-boys head smashed against the corner of the cabinet that held the small stove, then all was dark and quite for T-boy.
T-boy awoke to a comfortable sensation of floating in warm soothing water. “So this is what heaven feels like” he thought to him self, because he knew he did not make it though the fight with the raging waters. As his senses returned he became aware of strange sounds around him, like he was somehow under water. His eyes slowly opened and he saw the face of Jollie floating above him. “This must be heaven” he mumbled not only because of the battering his body had taken, but also because it felt like he was trying to talk though water.T-boys sight returned even more and he became more aware of his surroundings. He saw other forms floating around him, and he wondered who or what they were.

“Wake up T-boy” he could hear Jollie’s sweet voice say from far away. “Wake up, I need to tell you something”.

“No, I want to just lay here and dream of being with my love” He mumbled back to the voice.

“T-boy, you must wake up, we have to leave soon. Look at me, it’s jollie” he heard the voice say again, as some one gently shook him

T-boy turned his head in the direction of the voice and saw Jollie, but something was strange. Hovering next to her was a Dolphin, looking this way and that, as if it was some kind of bodyguard.

All of a sudden T-boy sat up, or would have if he would have had he been on land. Instead he started into a slow summersault that only stopped when strong hand reached out and steadied him.

With a look of confusion on his face, he looked at Jollie and asked “ What’s going on here? Is this a dream? What’s happened to me? Am I dead?”

“ No your not dead T-boy.” Jollie said with a happy smile. “ When I realized how bad the storm had gotten I went back with the king to see if you were going to be all right. We got to your boat just as it turned over. You were starting to drown, so we rushed back to the others with you and saved you”

Now T-boys head was swimming in bewilderment. “ So now I’m a Merman? But how can that be? You said the only way was if a drowning child was found. I drowned, but I’m no child.”

“ I said there was two exceptions, I didn’t tell you the other one so you wouldn’t get any bright ideas.” Jollie told him. “ The other exception is if a merperson falls in love with a land person. It is only allowed if the land person’s drowning is accidental, not by taking their own life, and the love must be a true love, not some kind of infatuation. It must be a love that will last forever, for we live a very long time.”

Jollie reached out and held T-boys hands as she continued.” I told the King, my adopted father, of you from the time he saved me. When we met again and he found out, he went among the land people inquiring about you and found you had never taken another woman, so he knew your love for me was real, but we were still powerless to do anything. Then you got caught in the storm and almost drowned, it was as if that was your destiny.”

Jollie’s voice got serious as there was one more thing that had to be said. “ T-boy, listen carefully now, you have a decision to make. You can either stay as you are now and live with us, or you can choose to go back to land. The shaman can make you a land person again, but you will have no memory of even meeting me again, and I will not search you out. All will be as it was before you caught me.”

There was no decision for T-boy to make. “Jollie” he said “I have been in love with you all these years. I never could look at another woman with out seeing you in their face. I have withdrawn from every one on land. I have nothing to go back to. I need you in my life; I will not squander this chance for happiness with you. I want to stay a merperson, but only if you will be mine forever.”

With a flick of her tail, Jollie was next to T-boy. They embraced and kissed, oblivious to the other merpeople around them. “ Of course I will be yours forever, it’s all I ever wanted in life, to be loved by you and to return your love. That is the essence of life, to love with all your heart and be happy, to never regret loving someone as special as you. I know we will have a good life together exploring all the sea has to offer.

A deep gravely voice interrupted the reunion of the two lovers. “Jollie my daughter, T-boy my future son in law, I know you both have plenty to talk about and plan, but that can be done during our passage. T-boy you will learn our ways, you are a resourceful man, but you must learn them on the move. It is time to begin the trek before the kraken start to move.”

With a graceful turn he spoke to the others gathered around them,

“Let the journey of life begin.”

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