Kimberly Gould’s Picture Choice: 2
Title: Excerpt from a Mermaid of a Different Color
AN: I have been working on a story for my daughter about a mermaid whose tail changes color. She is green in the ocean and blue in the river. Here is an excerpt from her trip upriver to find her mother.
One benefit of moving into the fresher water was the increase in plants, those that floated up to the surface and those that grew along the shores. In the ocean, most of her food was algae, but here she had a wider variety of food, from straw-like reeds to the large flat lily pads. She didn’t eat while fighting the current, but had two handfuls by the time she found another break to rest in. Even more plants grew in the break.
Cordelia tasted what she had brought, not finishing any of it. The plants growing in the break were different from those in the river. They tasted different too.
She was used to the tang of seaweed, but the river plants were even sharper, spicier. Those in the break were sweet, sweeter than anything she had tasted. Pink and yellow flowers topped some of the emerging stems. Cordelia pulled them under and discovered what sunshine tasted like, bursting on her tongue. She wished Meri were here. Her friend would be just as excited to taste something new. There was no point in collecting plants now, but she must remember to take some back with her.
With her belly full and her tongue remembering the taste of flowers, she sank to the bottom and slept.
Cordelia woke to find herself surrounded by a school of tiny fish. Their silver sides sparkled as they darted one way and another. If they could speak, she could neither hear them nor understand, but she loved the way they swirled around her.
Sitting up, she stared at her tail in shock. She had noticed it was a slightly bluer green than the other merfolk, but now it was definitely blue. There might be a tinge of green, but there was no doubt the color had changed. Cordelia had to find her mother. Hopefully she would know what was happening and why.
Perhaps she was sick. Older merfolk became paler, silvery, but those who spent too much time close to the humans turned yellow and brown. They became twisted creatures that no other merfolk would approach.
She wasn’t turning yellow or brown, though. She was turning blue. Grabbing one quick stem to eat, she flicked her oddly colored tail and returned to the river.
The current made her fight to gain ground. The farther she went, the stronger the current became. The only grace came as the violent water carved out pockets in the shore, small places Cordelia could tuck herself into to rest.
Breaks weren’t abundant and she couldn’t sleep in the pockets of swirling water, so she rested until her tail no longer burned, only ached, and pressed on.
Where was her mother? It seemed she’d been swimming forever. One thing was certain, when she returned to the ocean, she would be able to outswim Dallas and all his friends.
She took a deep breath before exiting her latest alcove to find fish, the same fish Meri had found. Unlike the others she passed, these were only swimming against the current.
“Will you lead me to my mother?” she wondered.
They didn’t answer, didn’t really look at her, pushing against the current toward the mountain.
Cordelia felt like crying. She’d been swimming so long, and now, when she found proof she was in the right place, she found no clues where to go next.
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Kimberly Gould is the author of Cargon: Honour and Privilege, and it's sequel Duty and Sacrifice. She can be found most places as Kimmydonn, including Kimmydonn.com