“Stop!” DeeDee yelled at her little brother, Mikey, who was running backward down the dock right at her table. She dropped the knife she was using to clean the day’s catch just as Mikey swerved past the table and tripped over an old cooler next to it, almost falling off the dock into the greasy water churning below.
“What are you doing?” DeeDee grabbed Mikey’s collar and drug him to his feet. “I’ve told you a hundred times not to run on the deck!” She brushed off his shorts and started to push him out in front of the table, away from the edge of the dock, when she looked up and saw a bunch of kids from the beach (townies) laughing and pointing at them.
She sighed and looked away, trying to ignore them as she led Mickey onto the deck of the old fishing boat they shared with their dad. She resisted the urge to shake him as they started below deck. It wasn’t Mikey’s fault the kids made fun of them for living on the boat, and it wasn’t even their dad’s fault they had to live there. There were times, however, that she wished for a solid floor beneath her instead of the constant rolling of the boat’s deck. Sometimes just the thought of escaping the day-to-day sameness of life on a fishing boat was what kept DeeDee going. How she wished she could get away from here!
That night, while DeeDee’s dad and brother slept in the main cabin, she climbed up to the moonlit deck and sat at the prow, leaning against the old, worn figurehead of a mermaid. She idly stroked the once painted face, gazing out to the bay without really seeing it. “If only you could talk,” she murmured to the wooden figure with carved hair flowing down her back. “I really need a friend.” DeeDee settled down against the figurehead, closed her eyes, and imagined swimming, undulating her tail behind her, lazily propelling her through clear, warm, tropical water.
A soft, tinkling music woke her. “Ummmmmm.” she said, as she slowly stretched and opened her eyes, then caught herself before sinking below the silvery surface of the water. DeeDee jerked, splashed, and cried out, “Hey, what?…uh?…how?” she tried to tread water, but her legs would not cooperate.
“Slow down, you’ll hurt yourself.” The tinkling music she heard before was a voice, one very near to her in the water. DeeDee swirled around, awkwardly flopping the tail where her legs used to be, and found herself looking into a pair of clear green, gold-flecked eyes set just below long, flowing blonde hair and above a smiling mouth.
“Wh-who are y-you?” she stammered and stared. “I’m Kyrie, your new friend. Remember? You asked for me just before you fell asleep.”
“But you’re a … and I’m a … are we??” DeeDee asked, turning and flipping her tail just above the surface.
“Mermaids? Yes.” Kyrie laughed, sending tinkling musical sounds out across the water.
“Am I dreaming? Or are you real? Am I real?” DeeDee rolled over onto her back and tried undulating her lower body. She started to move slowly away from Kyrie. DeeDee loved to swim, but this was better than anything she had ever done! She loved the way the tail made her feel as she moved through the water. She hoped she was not dreaming!
“Well, yes, we are real, and you are not dreaming. At least not in the usual sense of dreaming.” Kyrie followed DeeDee slowing moving her tail to keep up.
“What do you mean?”
“You wished for a friend, and I was trapped in that figurehead at the front of your dad’s boat. Your wish set us both free! Don’t you see, the magic that trapped me in the wood was also trying to trap you into a dull life on an old fishing boat. And now, all we have to do is just swim and play all day long. Isn’t this fun?” Kyrie looked anxiously at DeeDee, hoping she was loving her new environment.
“Wow!” DeeDee thought, what a way to live! Just swimming around in the lagoon with Kyrie. Playing all day. Boy, wouldn’t those snotty kids in town be jealous of her if they knew about this? She suddenly stopped. “But wait a minute, Kyrie. What about my dad and brother? Won’t they notice that I am gone? I probably should get back, but I can come again, right?”
Kyrie stopped swimming and looked at DeeDee. Her eyes were now hard, flinty black; her hair more tangled than floating on the water. “Sure, they will notice you are gone, but what do you care? Your brother is a pest and your dad is a looser. Why would you want to stay with them when you can have all this? Don’t ruin it, DeeDee!” She waved her arm around the lagoon – where the light seemed to have gone out of the moon, and a darkness moved across the water toward them.