Down by the sea, just below the steep gray cliffs, there was a small house. Broken down and weather beaten, with scuffed and scratched window panes. Normal wear and tear from the sea salt spray and the sand that blew during the windy season. The wood that built it’s walls and door was cracked; splintered and flakey from the hot sun. There was slight discoloration around the foundation as algae had begun to thrive from the constant kiss of the tide. It was a far cry from a good home, but a home it was.
In this worn and creaky house, lived a boy. A beautiful little boy, with eyes as blue as the sea and hair as black as its depths. However, if the sun’s golden rays hit his locks just right, you could see the touches of blue-green in it. He had pale olive skin that never darkened, despite the high sun. A remarkably agile little thing, and swifter than anyone in the neighboring village. He was small for his age, but his frame and features were beautifully elegant. He could easily be mistaken for the child of a great lord, or perhaps a lost prince, but he was none of these things. He was simply a fisherman’s son.
His father also lived in the small house, but he was a cruel man. The boy was nothing like his papa; nothing like him at all, in physicality or temperament. His father was in his late fifties, with dingy gray hair and worn harshly tanned skin. He was tall but stout, and incredibly hairy. The boy believed his papa might have been handsome when he was younger, but it had to be far before the boy was born. Now, he was just a cruel old man, and he hardly showed the boy any kindness.
Since the boy’s papa hardly cared for him, the boy often times went and played by the sea. He collected many shells, and would very carefully examine the creatures hidden in the sand. He’d mimic the crab’s funny walk, and would make faces at the fish that swam around his toes. He’d even chase the tide as it went out, and run away laughing as it came in. He was a very sweet boy.
Now, you may be wondering where his mama was. His mama, very unfortunately, had died just three short months ago. Many of the neighboring villagers had thought his mama a great beauty, with a kind smile but sad eyes. They knew how much she had doted on her son, and pitied him for his loss. They figured he did not understand why she was gone, and it’s understandable that they did.
The little boy was deaf you see, and unfortunately mute too. It was because of this they thought him simple, but much like all things in this world that wasn’t the case.
The little boy was just as much quick of mind as he was quick of body. Because of his disabilities people gave him no notice, and he used that to his advantage. He knew exactly what had happened to his mama, and he knew exactly where his mama had gone. Not to heaven no. His mama had returned to the sea; at least that’s what he believed.
His mama had loved the sea better than anything in this world. Well, almost anything. He knew his mother loved the sea, but his mama loved him too. He knew this pull of her heart was why she died. It was not sickness, like the villagers believed. No, the little boy was fairly certain his mama had died of a broken heart.
Since he could remember, his mama brought him to the sea. She would cradle him in her arms, and watch the horizon as the water kissed her feet. He’d braid her long black hair as it swept down into his face, and smile up at her bright green eyes. He could remember clearly the longing he saw there, and the tight grip with which she’d hold him. As if to remind herself why she stayed there, instead of going to the sea. It was like his mama was making a choice, and he wondered if she ever regretted it. Regretted him.
He hoped the answer was no, and that she was happy with the beautiful boy. Happy with how much he looked like her, and happy with how much he loved her. Alas, now he would never know. Oh how he missed his mama. Especially today.
Today was his birthday, and like always his papa had forgotten. The boy didn’t mind though, at least not too much. The only part he disliked about this birthday was mama wasn’t here to remember with him. He had peaked out of his room this morning to see if papa might surprise him this once, but he didn’t. So he grabbed his mama’s shell bag, and proceeded to head for the beach. He wouldn’t break tradition, even if mama wasn’t here.
As he quietly walked the hot sand, he felt his eyes begin to sting with tears; his nose sniffling here and there. He picked up the prettiest shells he could find, and placed them in his bag as his mind wandered. He was sighing an irritating amount he slowly realized, but he knew why this was so hard. Every birthday his mama would do this with him, and with the shells they’d make things. Little trinkets they’d sell in the village, and later they’d buy him a present. Oh how he missed his mama. She knew just how to talk to him, and with her the world had sounds. Magical sounds only they could hear.
Slowly he turned to the sea, feeling it call to him the way he was sure it had called to mama. He had never gone close to the water without his mama, but he knew it was the only thing that would comfort him now. He made his way into the water, wading in the soft waves of the morning. Slowly he began to cry as he stood shoulder deep in sea water. His little body shook, and his little tears pitter-patted the top of the water. The ripples grew, as they floated gently out across the surface. The waves seemed to ease, as if to try and make the little boy feel better. This calmed him slightly, but it was not the same as having his mama hug him tight.
He took a deep breath, knowing his mama wouldn’t want him so sad. He rubbed his eyes gently, and sniffled softly. When he looked up, he saw a woman’s face; poking out of the surface of the sea. He gasped, and clumsily tried to move back. The woman looked curious, as if wondering why he bothered her waters with his tears. The boy wiped his nose, and very slowly raised his hand to wave. The woman smiled, and she lifted herself so that her whole head was out of the water. The boy marveled at her blue-green hair, and the powder blue tint of her pale skin. Yet what caught his attention most, was the bright green eyes she had.
Just like mama’s, he thought.
She smiled brighter, and beckoned him closer with her elegant hands. Hands that held dark webbing between her fingers. The little boy looked back towards his home, chewing thoughtfully on his lip. He shook his head at the woman, and turned to go back to shore. He had barely taken four steps before feeling something at his legs. He looked down into the clear water and marveled at the woman circling him, but he was most transfixed by the beautiful fin where her legs should have been.
He stopped his retreat, but she kept circling. It wasn’t menacing, or even scary. In fact the little boy found it funny, and he smiled down at her. Finally she stopped, smoothly poking her head out of the water. She lifted herself half out of the water, and smiled once more at the little boy. Her gaze softened, and with a gentle hand she wiped his lingering tears. The little boy’s smile faded, and his sobbing renewed. The mermaid tugged at his little hand, and he sadly followed her gentle pulling.
He clambered on to her back, wrapping his little arms around her shoulders. He looked back once more at his home, unsure if he should continue to follow. Yet, something whispered he should. So she started her swim, and the little boy held on. The mermaid brought him to the small grove his mother used to visit, and she gracefully lifted herself on to a rock. He pulled himself up on to the rocks as well, struggling slightly. She motioned for him to come to her. Once she had him in her arms, she rocked him gently.
The boy cried his little heart out, for in her arms he felt safe. She stroked his hair lovingly, and with a voice only he could hear she sang. It filled his little body with warmth, and even some happiness. When he felt better she started to do tricks, juggling precious stones she found in the water or on the rocks they sat upon. Every time he smiled, she did too. She brought him all sorts of beautiful things too, some of which he could even sell if he wished. Then when the sun began to ebb, he started to return to shore.
The mermaid made a sad face, but in his own way he told her he’d return. He didn’t want to lose her, he couldn’t. The mermaid nodded, but did not head back out to sea till he got to the shore safely. As he walked through the crooked door, he handed papa all the beautiful things the mermaid had given him. All, but a small blue pearl. His papa was very pleased, and quickly left to sell everything in town. Upon his return he wore new clothes, and his hair was cut. The little boy wasn’t surprised that he had gotten him nothing though, and retired to his room. He looked over the little pearl, and a smile crept across his face.
He wondered if mama’s spirit had sent the mermaid, or if it was mama herself. Either way, he was happy once again.
When he woke the next day, he rushed out to the grove. He beamed brightly upon seeing his mermaid, and jumped haphazardly into the water. The mermaid jumped in after him, and they swam in circles around each other. The mermaid gave him her back, and placed his little hands on her shoulders. When he finally got a good grip, she dove down into the water. She showed him the beautiful coral that flourished beneath the surface, and all the creatures that lived there. She handed him shells, pearls, and precious stones too. She would return to the surface whenever he tapped her so that he may breath, but as soon as he was done they were away again.
They returned to the grove when his shell bag was full, and again they had to part. He waved good bye to his mermaid, warm tears brimming his eyes. Once more he handed everything to his papa, and once more papa returned with all sorts of new things. None of it was for him though, and this made him miss his mermaid even more. With her, he was complete again. With her, he was happy again. His heart didn’t ache as much, and when he did cry she held him tight. He wished he could be a mermaid, then he’d never have to leave her.
He woke slowly the next day, and was confused as to why his papa was not home. He shrugged it off however, and proceeded to head down to the grove. He waited a long time, but his mermaid never came. It was a whole day gone before he finally gave up. Heart broken, he returned home. He saw his papa bolting the door to his mama’s old room, which hadn’t been done since mama died. His papa glared at him, and put the key on a string around his neck.
Still, the little boy was far too sad to really care what his papa was up to. He barely ate his supper before going to his room. He laid on his bed a while, his mind swimming with thoughts of his mermaid. He began to cry, curled up on his little bed. What had he done? Was his mermaid mad? He didn’t want to lose her, not like he lost mama. He shook with hard sobs, but all was silent to him. Then, a soft magical sound filled his ears.
He sat up in his bed, straining his broken ears to hear. It was his mermaid. She was singing. But where? He carefully opened his door, and poked his head around the corner. The house was dark, and the shape of his papa could be seen in his chair. He was fast asleep, so the boy crept out into the hall. He followed the singing to his mother’s room. He put his ear to the door, and could hear it inside. He looked at the door in horror, realizing his papa had snatched his mermaid. His little heart broke for the mermaid, and tears trailed down his cheeks. He had not meant for this to happen. He had just wanted his mama back.
The little boy decided right then that he wouldn’t let this happen. His mermaid belonged in the sea, and she would of a broken heart if she was kept here. He wouldn’t allow that to happen. So the boy wiped his face of tears and crept towards his papa. With all his courage he moved closer,so close he could smell the drink on his father’s breath.
The little boy bit his lip, and reached out to take gentle hold of the string. He sucked in a breath when his father grunted; quickening his fingers at untying the string. He lifted the key upon its loosening, and tip-toed back to the door. Thankfully, it was not too high for him to reach. He very carefully unlocked the bolt, and moved inside the room. His eyes had to adjust to the dark room, but with the help of the full moon he could see a little.
There on his mama’s bed sat the mermaid, at least he thought it was her. Her hair was black like his, and instead of a fin she had legs. When the woman looked up at him, she smiled sweetly. It was indeed her, his little mermaid. He quickly took hold of her hand, and quietly made their way to the door. He looked to see if his papa had woken, but he was still fast asleep. He took a deep breath, and made his way to the front door. He held onto his mermaid tight, his little knuckles white from strain.
As they got closer to the sea, the mermaid released his hand. She quickly dove into the icy waters, and before he knew it she was gone. He looked out into the sea, but he could see nothing. He was happy she was safe, but he wish it hadn’t included losing her. The little boy made his way back home, and crept back to his room. Soon his papa would wake and see what he had done, but the little boy did not care.
He took out the little blue pearl, and lovingly ran his finger over its smooth surface. He wondered if he’d ever see her again, but he knew the answer was most likely no. He was almost asleep when he heard his mermaid’s song. He looked up to see her looking in his window. She smiled, and waved at him. He got up, and opened his window to her. She sweetly touched his face, wiping his tears. In a way only he could understand, she gave him a choice. As he had saved her, the mermaid now owed him a debt. This could either be payed in riches, or be payed…with a wish.
The boy thought about this, and looked all around at his little room. He looked at his mermaid, and with his heart he chose. The mermaid smiled, and scooped the little boy up into her arms. They headed back to the sea, and as the sun began to rise the mermaid looked back. She watched as his papa came barreling out of the house. She pulled the boy close to her chest, and smiled wide at the angry man.
“You took my dear sister from me. She is gone, but here I have her child. Her most precious one. This, is the only thing I shall thank you for.”
Before his papa could reply, she dove into the water. The little boy held onto his mermaid tightly, but soon felt a tingling in his legs. He looked down, and saw with amazement his legs turn to a fin. He beamed at the mermaid, and the mermaid smiled sweetly back. She lovingly took his hand, and together they swam away. To the depths of the sea, where magic still lies.