A New Mermaid Tale from Mermaiden Waverlee
“Waverlee? Are you ready?” My mom’s voice was muffled through the door to my room.
I lay on my belly, nestled in the softness of the cushions on the bed. I flicked my tail back and forth aimlessly, gazing at Bubbles who was fast asleep in front of me. Dread filled my chest at the thought of spending one more boring meeting sitting silently on those hard clamshell chairs. I started to squirm just thinking about it!
“Oh uh, actually can you go on without me?” I called, rolling onto my back and stretching. “I’m nearly ready but not quite.”
There was a brief pause, and then her response, “Alright then. Don’t be late, though.”
I sighed and scooted towards Bubbles. Wrapping my arms around my pet, I pulled the dolphin closer and let him nuzzle my ear. “Don’t make me go, Bubbles. I’d rather stay here all day with you.”
When no response from my dolphin friend came, I kissed the smooth top of his head and sat up, floating over to my looking glass. My hair stuck out at strange angles and my scales seemed to have lost some of their luster today. My lips turned down in a pout and I tried to smooth down my unruly curls to no avail. “Oh come on,” I whined. With a huff, I flung myself back into the safety of my bed.
“It’s not fair! I haven’t seen the sun for a week! I can’t stand being cooped up in this place day and night. I’ll go crazy. I’m not going to the meeting. I—“
Just then I remembered Aldric, the old mercouncilman who hadn’t attended our meeting yesterday. A slow smile spread across my face. If he can skip, why can’t I? It’s only once and what harm can it do? I’m sure no one will even miss me.
With a broad smile I leaped out of bed, pecked Bubbles on the head a second time, and slipped on my golden cloak, a special covering made of shimmering gold material that had a hood that covered my head. I found it years ago and I occasionally use it when I want to go unrecognized around my kingdom. I tucked my hair back and surveyed the scene in my looking glass.
Perfect! I nearly squealed at the way my tanned skin complemented the fine stitches of gold.
Slipping into the hallway like a silent eel—the thought made me squirm with an exhilarating disgust—I made my way as stealthily as I could past each corner, peeking first to make sure no one was lurking around. My first thought was to go to the dining area to get something to eat and then up to the roof, since I’d never been and it had always seemed enticing. But then a wave of guilt came crashing over me. What am I doing? I can’t just skip out on my duties like this. I’m a princess, and soon to be ambassador! Then I pictured my parents’ faces when I walked in the room, late. Well…maybe I’ll just watch from the observation platforms.
The path to the observation platforms was relatively clear and I only passed three merfolk in the hall; they were too busy to even look up at me, though. Before long, I was there. The observation platforms were the rings that encircled the MerCouncil room from bottom to top behind huge plates of thin, clear diamond that served as a barrier. Behind the diamond plates were the thousands of merfolk who had come to watch the MerCouncil in action. It was hard to imagine them when I couldn’t see them all, staring down at me. I wonder what my hair looks like from the top. I nearly giggled, but then I reminded myself I wasn’t supposed to be here.
The most important merfolk are seated in the bottom circles, as these are the closest and best seats in the place. After the first three rings though, anyone has a chance to grab a spot. I glided toward the second ring, putting out my hand to push it open, but then stopped dead in my path. Wait a second, I thought, panicked. If someone sees me, they’ll wonder why I’m not in the meeting. I slowly backed away from the door. Maybe on another level, though, I won’t be as easily recognized. And even if someone does see me, they wouldn’t dare talk to the King and Queen, would they?
After a little debate, I decided to try my luck at one of the higher levels. I picked Ring 14 and slipped in, choosing to worm my way up to the front of the room and press my nose up to the diamond pane to look down. As I craned my neck to try to catch a glimpse of Damon, my elbow slipped and jabbed the person next to me.
“Oof!” A voice grunted in my ear and my eyes widened.
“Oh! Oh I’m so sorry!” I apologized as I turned towards a young merman with startling white hair and ice blue eyes. Those eyes! They looked so familiar, and although the color reminded me of something cold, I felt warm when they rested on me. For a split second I just stared, open mouthed at him and wondered how I hadn’t seen him before! Then he gave me a charming and somewhat sarcastic half smile and said, “Well, Princess Waverlee, I have to say I’d always hoped to meet you, but being elbowed in the stomach by your Highness is an entirely different experience altogether.”
Stunned, an eruption of nervous giggles exploded from my chest, inducing glares and even a whispered, “Be quiet!” from the crowd behind me. “Sorry!” I whispered back, my hand against my lips in a desperate maneuver to keep myself quiet. Good thing the lighting is so dark in here, I thought, or someone else might have recognized me. My cloak hood had slid back when I bumped into… oh, I realized I didn’t know who I had bumped into.
I turned back toward the tall and remarkably handsome young merman in front of me. “Well, you seem to know who I am,” I leaned close so he could hear my whisper. “But, with regret, I have to say I don’t have the slightest idea who you are. Have we met before?”
The merman smiled down at his sleek black tail and then looked up with what I guessed was supposed to be an apologetic face. “Forgive my lack of manners, Princess. My name is Obsidian. And no, I don’t believe we have met before. I would have remembered, believe me. Most likely I’d have a bruise to show for it.”
I groaned and he laughed. “I said I was sorry. You’re not going to let that one go, are you?” He merely shook his head in response with an amused expression.
I sighed. “Well, although you intend on teasing me permanently, I am pleased to meet you, Obsidian.” I bowed my head a little, and batted my eyelashes at him. His smile grew bigger and slightly mischievous.
“And I, you. May I ask you something, Princess?”
“Of course,” I answered brightly.
“I admit for a minute you caught me off guard. I was counting the number in the MerCouncil below and just as I reached the conclusion that someone was missing, which I deduced from the one empty chair —aren’t I impressive?—you stumbled in and punched me in the gut,” he held a hand up to indicate he was still teasing as I began to protest, “and it seemed to be fate. But I suppose what I’m getting at is, what are you doing up here and not down there?”
I bit my lip and turned away, looking down into the MerCouncil room to see my empty seat. “Well…” I looked up at him and saw an unexpected empathy written plainly across his face.
“I see,” he smiled when he saw me watching him. “After all, you’re only what? Fifteen? Sixteen? These are huge decisions you all are making down there. Ones that will affect the rest of your life, and all merfolk as well.”
I saw the truth in his words as soon as I heard them. I guess I am kind of afraid of all the responsibility being handed to me, I realized. I looked up at Obsidian and smiled, grateful to have someone who seemed to understand my predicament.
We turned back to watch the MerCouncil for a minute or so. Then, coyly, I turned and smiled up at him. “You know, Obsidian is an awfully formal name,” I hinted.
He turned and smiled so broadly his teeth gleamed in the dark. “Oh yes, four syllables are tough on the tongue,” he said teasingly.
I laughed and rolled my eyes. “What I mean is, do you have a nickname I could call you?”
He seemed to hesitate. “Well, you could call me Sid if you want.”
“Sid?” I tried it out. “Yes, that’s perfect. I think I’ll call you Sid from now on.”
Obsidian winced when I said it, though, like I’d jabbed him with my elbow a second time.
“What’s the matter?” I said, worried he was hurt.
“Nothing. It’s just…well, that’s what my twin sister called me.” He hurried to explain when he saw the confusion on my face. “Does, that’s what she does call me. I just haven’t seen her in a while is all.”
“Oh! Well who’s your sister? I’m sure if you want, I can arrange a meeting between the two of you! What’s her name?”
Obsidian seemed to debate with himself for a moment, and reached a conclusion. His voice was gentle as he said, “Her name is Crystal.”