The Shimmering Waves
It was a sunny day, but it wasn’t too hot. A cool wind whipped across the landscape, messing with the tree’s hairdos and giving anyone who went outside a whiff of salty air.
So, it was the sort of day to go down to the water. Catherine went by herself every summer weekend, so she decided to go as usual.
She had got up early that morning to invite some friends and pack an enormous lunch. She had also brought the latest draft of a story she was writing and her sketchbook.
The beach was not too far from her house, Catherine thought. Why not wait
for her friends and family to come. Of course they would come, because it was her little sister’s birthday (her name was Olivia), and Catherine had help plan a surprise party at the beach.
But right now, she would take advantage of the solitude, Catherine said to herself. She repeated the word solitude three times to herself, and sprinted into the water with all her clothes on, something she would not have done if anyone was watching.
A huge wave came in, rumbling and rushing and glittering. Catherine jumped at it, but was not prepared to be literally swept off her feet. The wave crashed down, and left Catherine thrashing about in the water.
She had dragged herself back onto the beach when she heard a watery little laugh.
Catherine spun around and saw…nothing.
“I just imagined it,” she muttered, and looked in her basket for her story and a sandwich.
She flipped through her story, crossing things out, adding things in, and making notes.
Then she looked around carefully, making sure that no one was there, and started to read aloud. But when she had finished, she heard the sound of a smothered laugh and someone clapping. Again, Catherine spun around, and heard a little splash in the distance.
“It must be the neighbors,” Catherine thought, and went back to making her story better than it was yesterday, with one eye on her story, and the other on the beach before her.
After a little bit, Catherine put down her writing and opened her sketchbook, leaving her sandwich lying in the sand.
“What are you drawing?” said a voice.
Catherine jumped. Had one of her friends come down to spook her? She looked up and…
Her jaw dropped.
What she saw was not one of her friends, but a mermaid with short hair and a purple tail.
“Surprised?” said the mermaid, laughing. “Bet you are! I’ve been watching you for quite a while, and I just had to meet you.”
“You have?” said Catherine, finding something to say. “You mean you were spying on me?”
The mermaid looked faintly troubled. “We-ell, I guess you’d call it that. I’m sorry if I…”
“No, please stay,” said Catherine, who was finding this mermaid very interesting. She had never believed in merpeople even when she was an itsy bitsy toddler. “So, er…what do they call you?”
The mermaid hesitated. “Well, my given name is Glitterdrops, but I hate that name.”
“I can see why,” Catherine said, laughing. “What do you want me to call you?”
“Sparksplash,” the mermaid whispered.
“Sparksplash! That’s a great name!” Catherine said. “By the way, my name is Catherine.”
“I like that name,” said Sparksplash decidedly. “I thought that story you were reading was cool.”
“Really?” said Catherine beaming. “I wrote that!”
“You did?” Sparksplash said. “It was fabulous!”
And so the two of them dived into a long conversation. Catherine told Sparksplash about her house, her family, her writing. She told her about Olivia’s birthday, about her friends, about her cat, and about her studies. Sparksplash told Catherine about her family, about her wanders, about secretly stealing up to the surface to watch people, about the time she’d found a pair of scissors on a rock and cut her hair. She told Catherine about a shipwreck she lived in, about her diving contests, and about her pet crabs.
“Wow. I wish I lived down there with you.” said Catherine.
“And I wish I lived up here with you!” said Sparksplash. They looked at each other and laughed. Catherine unwrapped her sandwich and bit into it.
“What’s that? Can I have some?” Sparksplash looked eagerly at the sandwich.
“Of course,” Catherine handed her the sandwich. Sparksplash nibbled some and chewed. “It tastes really weird.” she mumbled. “What time is it?”
Catherine checked her watch. “Drat,” she said. “You’ll have to get going. My family will be here it any moment.”
“Oh my goodness,” Sparksplash said, “Mom must be thinking I was eaten by a shark.”
“I’ll see you tomorrow,” Catherine said. “Can I bring Olivia? I’ll make sure we won’t say anything.”
“Yes. I’ll be here at noon.” Sparksplash reached down and untied the seashell belt she was wearing. She slid two shells off. “One for Olivia and one for you. Goodbye!”
“Goodbye! Thank you!” called Catherine
as Sparksplash turned onto her stomach, and making little movements with her arms, slid into the water.
Catherine turned around and saw Olivia running through the sand. In no time at all, Catherine had scooped her up.
“There’s my birthday girl!” Catherine laughed and set her down again. She took the two shells Sparksplash had given her out of her pocket. “Which is it, green with spots or pink?”
“Ooo! Pink, pink!” squealed Olivia as she snatched the shell up.
Catherine looked at her shell and smiled. It was dark green with sliver spots. It made her think of the shimmering waves.