Fin Fun presents a mermaid story from Mermaiden Waverlee
MerKing Takumi sat at the head of a square stone table, his caramel-colored cloak rippling in the water.
His face looks as lifeless as the table, I sighed to myself, leaning forward to rest my chin in my hand. I feel more like I’m going to get a lecture than an old fable! I flipped my fluke back and forth, creating tiny whirlpools beneath the table. No wonder Jia is always so serious.
I frowned slightly. That’s no way to think! I love Jia, and I’m so grateful for her and the other Mermaidens. I sighed. It’s just stress, that’s all it is. If I don’t catch a break, my skin is going to start breaking out.
I let out another deep breath, letting go of the tension in my body and pushing my shoulders back. I hope I can go home soon. That would be nice. Hm… but that means I probably wouldn’t be able to see Sid.
Sid was sitting on my right, and Crystal sat on the other side of him. Since we had gathered together to save the MerCouncil, that’s how we were, flanking Sid’s sides at all times. Right now, Sid also didn’t seem very excited to sit and listen to others talk again, but he kept his pale blue eyes on Takumi’s face.
I lowered my eyes to see his left hand dangling next to me. Should I hold his hand right now? My hand twitched in response, as if already deciding what to do. No… now’s not the time. I’ll talk to him after this. I clenched my fidgeting hand and focused on MerKing Takumi again.
Though the King’s face was unemotional, his dark brown eyes seemed to hold a bottomless pool of knowledge. “Mermaidens, and Obsidian, of course,” he started. “This is a tale known in all the kingdoms. In fact, my nursemaid told me this story when I was young. It’s been passed down for centuries to teach young merfolk to abandon acts of revenge. What we know of Calisto brought this story to my mind, so listen carefully.”
Calla lived on an island and spent her days cultivating ocean life. The animals loved her, and the coral around her island flourished. Like many of the ocean goddesses and nymphs, her fulfillment came from the companionship of her finfriends.
“It sounds like a utopia,” MerKing Takumi interjected. “I’m sure many of you have found similar joy in your daily lives because you have established relationships with the merfolk and sea creatures in your respective kingdoms.”
Everyone around the table nodded, including me. But Calla’s life does sound a bit boring, I thought. Could I spend every day with Bubbles and no one else? Probably not. I continued to flip my fluke under the table and kept listening.
One day, there was a terrible storm. A fisherman had been caught in it, and his boat was destroyed. Calla’s finfriends rescued him before he drowned and placed him on the shore of her island. She took him into her home and nursed him back to health. She only planned to help the man and send him back to his home as soon as he was able to sail again, but Fate had another plan in store.
“What was it?” Serena asked, eyes full of wonder.
Takumi smiled, eyes roaming the room until they fell on her. “They fell in love.”
There was a collective “awwww” around the table, but I saw Mariana fold her arms and sit back in her seat. Zoey elbowed Mariana’s side and remarked, “Oh, come on, mate! Everyone loves a good love story!”
Mariana allowed herself a small smile but kept her gaze on the MerKing.
I glanced over at Sid, who was also sneaking a glance at me. My face grew hot, and I couldn’t suppress my giggles.
Thankfully, Takumi was ready to continue.
The man had no desire to return to the human world and asked to stay with Calla. She had never spent so much time with someone, let alone a human, but she thoroughly enjoyed his company. With Poseidon’s approval, the two married and spent decades together in harmony.
Because Calla was a sea goddess, she didn’t age as the years passed. She couldn’t bear the thought of life without her love, so she used her power to extend her husband’s life. He was not immortal, but she effectively kept him from growing older.
Then, Calla’s finfriends brought news from the distant mainland. The humans there were at war and had harmed one of Poseidon’s sons in the process. Legends portray Poseidon’s ill temper time and time again, and this instance was no different. His anger caused mighty storms and earthquakes, which started to harm the sea itself.
After several days, Calla’s husband decided to set sail and confront Poseidon. He planned to talk some sense into the angry god for the sake of the ocean’s health. She begged him to stay. She was afraid of how he would fare during the storm and how Poseidon would react to a human’s advice. However, her pleading didn’t convince him, and he set out.
Less than a full day after his departure, the sea calmed. Calla urged her finfriends to bring her word of her husband and what had transpired between Poseidon and the human’s war. For days, she waited by the shore, plagued by a pain in her heart that she’d never felt before.
Calla started to fear that her husband was never going to return because she hadn’t received any word regarding him. All she knew was that the human war had moved further inland and was no longer a threat to ocean life. Distraught, she sought an audience with Poseidon.
Because she was a minor sea goddess, Calla could live on land and in the sea. Her legs bound together to form a fin, and she swam to Poseidon’s gem and coral palace on the ocean floor.
The god of the sea was still in a foul mood from the war, so he was calloused to Calla’s plea for aid. She asked for help finding her husband, reminding Poseidon that he was only trying to help keep the sea safe. However, Poseidon could only think of the evil in humans and refused. All logic failed against his stubbornness.
Calla’s despair morphed into anger, and she threatened to abandon her post as the sea’s caretaker. Not only was she going to leave the sea’s health to the whims of Fate as she searched for her husband, but she offered one more threat to Poseidon.
“You may think that the loss of my husband is equal trade for the harm to your son, but I will maim the rest of your children 10,000-fold and tear the oceans apart until I find him.”
“As you know, we merfolk are the descendants of Poseidon. The legend ends with Calla wandering the ocean for centuries, never finding her husband. Her abandonment of duty and quest to harm Poseidon only led to the pain and suffering of countless people. Our ancestors oftentimes attributed mysterious disappearances and deaths of merfolk with Calla’s anger.”
MerKing Takumi paused and watched each of us around the table. Everyone’s faces had furrowed brows and small frowns. I assumed they were like me and weren’t sure what to think.
Zoey’s voice was hesitant. “So… do you think… Calla and Calisto are related?”
“Like… blood-related?” I asked.
“No, no. Just that the story is similar.”
I let out a small giggle to laugh off the embarrassment of taking it so literally. “Oh.”
MerKing Takumi responded, “Mermaiden Zoey, I’m not sure. It’s merely an old merfolk tale, but I can’t shake the similarities between the two.”
“I’m going to need to think about this story for a while,” Mariana stated. “Is it okay if we take a break?”
Takumi nodded. “Take some time to yourselves before you retire to bed.”
The rest of the Mermaidens started pairing up as they left, probably so they had someone to chat with and process everything. I quickly turned to Sid. “Can we talk for a moment?”
Crystal, who was still at his side, glanced between the two of us. She reached out to squeeze his hand and stated, “I’ll be with Jia if you need me.”
Sid and I swam down an empty hallway that overlooked a courtyard where several of the Mermaidens had gathered. Mariana and Destiny looked to be in a serious conversation, whereas Zoey, Brynn, and Serena seemed to be outlining a new game. Jia and Crystal must have taken another route.
I wasn’t sure if I should hold Sid’s hand or not, so I kept my arms folded across my chest. I thought back to when Crystal witnessed our first kiss, and how embarrassing it was for someone else to realize that I wasn’t always as confident as I seemed.
“So, what’d you think of that story?” Sid asked, holding his arms above his head to stretch.
I let out a nervous giggle. “Oh, I don’t know. I mean, there are similarities, sure. But I’m not sure how it would help us find Calisto and take her down.”
“I’m with ya, Waverlee,” he agreed and turned to face me. The corners of his mouth were turned up just barely, and he reached out to grab one of my hands.
A grin spread across my face, and we turned to watch the others in the courtyard, fingers intertwined. His hand felt rugged but warm. I inched a bit closer so that our arms were touching.
“So, Sid…” I hesitated and looked up at his face.
His blue eyes were like the waves back home: bright and full of adventure. He looked down his shoulder. “Hm?”
This is one of the moments I told the girls about! This is the perfect opportunity to kiss him. I imagined Destiny’s surprised shriek and Jia’s embarrassed blush if I told them about this. But then I remembered Crystal’s “Ew!” from before.
I broke the gaze and stared back into the courtyard. “Once this is all over… once Calisto is defeated, and we all go back home… what happens? To us, I mean.”
I sneaked a glance back up at Sid’s face. He was looking out at the courtyard again. His jaw had stiffened, but his hold on my hand was still soft.
Afraid of what he would say, I kept talking. “Obviously, we’ll still have studies and learning more about the royal court, as well as preparing to take our parents’ places—”
Sid’s grip tightened, so I stopped.
He let out a sigh. “I don’t know, Waverlee. I already told my parents that Crystal should be heir to the throne because I don’t want it. But I also don’t know if I want to go back to the Orca pods. Can’t we just enjoy what we have at the moment and not worry about the future yet?”
“So are you going to talk to other mermaids after this? Crystal said that you used to—” I knew I shouldn’t have asked, but it was one of those thoughts that just popped into my head like a bubble and came out of my mouth immediately after.
Sid let go of me and groaned in frustration. “Man, why does it matter what happened in the past? I was just having fun—”
Then it was my turn to get frustrated. “Just having fun? Is that all this is to you?” I could feel my bones rattle as anger bubbled up inside of me.
His whole body was rigid. “No, Waverlee, that’s not what I meant! I just—I don’t know. I don’t know what I’m saying right now.” He dropped his arms and head in defeat.
I could feel my eyes welling with tears, but I didn’t want Sid to see them. “Well, maybe we should each take some time to figure out what we want.”
I turned and swam away before he could say anything else. As I turned the corner, I saw Sid sulking against the wall.
“Oh, Waverlee, you dunce,” I groaned.