Part of Your World

This story is influenced by ‘The Little Mermaid.’

 

Part of Your World

 

Outside the rain was pouring hard. Florence could hear it tap-tapping on the roof as she ascended the creaky stairs, up into the dry, dark, and dusty attic. She did not know what to do on a day like today… Everything felt dull and shallow. Every time that it rained, or that she was near water, she felt a queer sense that part of her life was missing.
“Nonsense!” she muttered. She was just lonely because her father was away. He had gone off excitedly in his boat over the sea, on some ‘fishing expedition,’ as he always said.
Florence liked to go up in the attic when he wasn’t around: it was just the thing that she did. There were many things in the attic, and the rain that day made her have a strange desire to see, touch, and smell things from the past. She always told herself that it satisfied her hunger and made her life seem more whole… to help assure her that everything was there: that nothing was missing.
There were all of her toys in one box—slightly sticky and spotted brown in places from spit-up. There was a multitude of fans in one corner, a fishbowl that she had kept a little blue fish in for a while, on one shelf of a dark bookcase which towered to the attic ceiling. Her father had said the fish was not big enough to eat. Florence sighed. And that curious blue card-board box on the very top, out of her reach, with a faded ‘Fisherman’s Boots’ logo on the side she could see. There was always that. She had always been too small to reach it. She stood on the tips of her toes, as she usually did, but she had not done it recently. She was surprised when her finger-tips met its sides. She carefully slid it down and knelt with it on the floor.
She opened the lid and there were smiling faces—her face, and two others.
Florence jumped as she heard the front door screech open. Her father had come home.
Florence leapt nimbly and quietly down from stair to stair. She silently closed the door at the bottom. She pattered down the hallway in her socks, and down the stairs, to find her father at the front door, hanging up his large green water-proof coat. “No luck,” he said in his grunty voice.
“Oh,” said Florence. “Why did you never tell me that I had a mother and a sister,” she said conversationally, as if she had said, ‘You will probably have some better luck next time.’
Her father stared at her with a slightly blank look in his eyes. “Drowned in the lake,” he grunted, a little randomly, Florence thought, and stomped up the stairs in his fisherman’s boots, leaving behind him a trail of slimy black mud.
Florence’s hands shook from anger. It was zeal, rather. She felt that she had had a right to know. All of this time she had made up stories to herself of what had happened to this mother of hers. She had told them to herself so many times and sharpened the details until she believed herself. But her mother’s smiling face was a false memory. ‘And I had a sister!’ Florence thought with bitter shock, ‘my own age!’
Rapidly blinking, she tried to distract herself from the heavy feeling which crept up from her heart and into her eyes by resolutely putting on all of her water-proof things, and stomping out the front door in her red welly boots.
The rain had turned the whole front garden into muddy earth that was ankle-deep. Florence stomped on, even though she felt that the mud was trying to suck at her boots rather, so that she would trip over and fall in it. Then the heavy feeling would win and she would cry, laying there in the mud and in the depths of despair. She would not do that.
She stomped down the slight hill to the lake by her house. Its grey-brown surface was a frantic mess as it was hit with the many rain-drops which fell.
There was something quite close to the water’s edge. It was a very black round thing. Florence pulled a stick out of the mud and poked it as another distraction from the heaviness.
With a shriek, the black thing rose out of the water until it was nearly as tall as Florence. The stick slid from Florence’s hand.
A few lengths of weed dangled from its round black formless head. Florence could not tell where its mouth was when it spoke. “What is it, child,” it said in a terrible expressionless voice, like stones plonking into water. It was just a little deeper in tone than the rain hitting the water itself.
Florence swallowed, and said, “Are you the one that took my mother and sister?”
The thing seemed to look at her thoughtfully, although Florence could not tell where its eyes were. “…In a way,” it said. “However, they are alive and well.”
Florence hesitated, wringing the edge of her red rain-jacket. Suddenly, the words slid out of her mouth: “Take me to them.”
The thing beckoned to her with one large blobby black finger, and Florence leant slightly nearer to it. “There is one condition: you will not be able to speak a word to anyone.”
The words slid out of her mouth: “Yes.”
Suddenly she was writhing about in cold water as the thing pulled her down, and down, and down. Her wrist was enveloped in its thick formless hand, and she could not break free. She forgot what the thing had said as panic took her over inside. All that she could think was ‘I need to breathe!’ Finally she could hold her breath no longer: she involuntarily inhaled.
She relaxed as the thing pulled her quickly along through the water. She could see their shadows below on the bottom of the lake. The water became warmer, and when the thing finally let go of her wrist, she wriggled out and let go of her red rain jacket. She calmly swam behind the long black thing in her red bathing suit, to a dense patch of weed. Florence batted her way through to a clearing. The thing was gone. There was only a girl in a green bathing-suit sitting on a rock, with dark hair floating around her head quite prettily. She looked sad and bored at once: quite how she had been feeling, Florence observed. And then the girl looked up, and Florence knew that it was her sister.
The girl seemed to know too. She smiled. “Florence!” she said delightedly as she swam over and hugged her.
“You know my name,” Florence said a little guiltily, “but I do not know yours.”
Her sister leant back and looked at her in astonishment. “Our father did not tell you anything?!” she exclaimed. “I am Nimue! We are twins, you know.”
“How do you even know these things?” Florence asked uncertainly.
“Mum told me, of course,” said Nimue.
“Our mother is alive?” Florence said in shock. But then, there was her sister, breathing in the water as she was.
“She brought you here,” tested Nimue, “did she not?” Before Florence could say that a thing had brought her here, and was that thing her mother, Nimue said “Now let us play a game which is no fun by myself. Come over to this rock and show me how to use these things.” Florence sat a little awkwardly and helped her sister to comb her hair, and they each put on water-proof lip-stick. The two girls played for hours: they played tag, they pretended to be fish, and Nimue showed Florence her precious stone collection. “They aren’t really precious,” Nimue explained, “but they are to me.”
Later when the sisters were tired, Florence decided that it was time for her to go home. Her—their—father would be wondering what had happened to her. She wanted to tell him about her sister. She had forgot what the thing had said earlier. “Goodbye,” Florence said to her troubled sister.
When Florence broke the water’s surface, she stared up at the moon and found herself gulping in nothing. She had to get back below the surface again to breathe.
Florence swam back to her sister in tears that could not be seen. Her face was simply a bit red. When she got to the clearing, the black thing was with her smiling sister. “Is that horrible thing really my mum?” Florence sobbed.
The ‘thing’ took its formless hands and vigorously swept itself all over. Bits of black mud floated up around it, and Florence could not see the thing for a while because of a cloud of dirt. When the cloud dissolved, there was a beautiful lady in the thing’s place. Like Florence’s eyes and her sister’s, her eyes were green-blue, like the sea, and her hair was the same darkness. She wore a dress made out of weed woven together, which somehow looked exquisite. “Who are you calling a horrible thing?” she demanded scornfully. “I am Aerwyna, your mother. Also, I am a sea-witch. Living in this lake is my punishment for having too many magical experiments with the fish of the sea. I just want to do be good now, child, to please the moon goddess. Bringing you to your sister is good. Now you live together in the same world,” she said, as if it were so just because she said it was.
“I want to go home,” Florence wept.

 

4 Comments

    1. Thank you very much! 🙂 I can remember being about seven and searching for good mermaid stories, as I was fascinated by the idea of people living in lakes and oceans; I was rather disappointed by the lack of accounts of the aquatic world. There seemed to me to be an ocean to draw inspiration from. I am so happy that you enjoyed the story!

      Liked by 1 person

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