I still remember the first time I stood on the beach. My parents tell me I took one look, clapped my hands and proclaimed “big bath!” The picture above is me on that glorious day. Even though I don’t remember talking, I do remember the size of the water. How mysterious and exciting it looked. And I remember one other thing. Seeing one of the merfolk for the very first time.
Just a glimpse. Something large and glossy zooming beneath the crest of the waves. A hint of a face with wide eyes that seemed as shocked to see me as I was to see him. I don’t know why my parents didn’t see him. Maybe they were too focused on the safety of their two-year-old daughter. Maybe it was the single-minded attention to capturing the right light and angle for the photo. Or maybe I had been given a special gift—an ability to see beyond the everyday world.
The next time I visited the beach was on my tenth birthday. My favorite aunt told me I was a “double-digit midget.” When she explained what a midget was, I was offended that she didn’t think I was a big girl yet. Compared to my three-year brother, I was practically a grownup. To appease me she took me down to the waters’ edge and watched as I entered the ocean with all the abandonment of a fearless tween. I had learned how to paddle about and I could even put my face in the water and hold my breath. I was no midget.
The waves shaped the sand beneath my feet in tight runnels filled with shards of pink and white and brown seashells. Tiny fish darted between my legs, their feathery fins tickling my skin. I’m not sure how long I splashed but eventually I saw something large and dark a few feet further away from the beach. At first I was concerned but then realized it was a boy swimming parallel to the sand just under the waves. He was so graceful. Slick and fast like Daddy’s new Camaro. I clapped my hands in delight and pointed but my aunt was looking over her shoulder toward our condo.
I slapped the water a couple of times to get his attention, thrilled when I saw him make a tight turn and swim toward me. How I wished I could move like he did. Maybe when I was older, Mama would agree to swimming lessons. If not, Daddy was a pushover.
The sun slipped behind a cloud as the boy reached me, making it harder for me to see him. He didn’t stand up, instead gliding in a tight circle around me. I twisted to follow his movement and my mouth dropped open. No wonder he didn’t stand up. This boy had a tail instead of feet.
Was he Ariel’s brother?
Awe and excitement filled me. The Little Mermaid was one of my favorite movies. I dipped my shoulders into the water and blew out some bubbles. He stopped swimming and grinned at me. He opened his mouth and blew out enough air to make the water froth around us. I felt like I’d been tossed into a can of root beer. The bubbles somehow tickled their way under my feet and I began to float. Laughter filled me at the sensation of flying. He straightened and inclined his head toward the deeper water. His invitation was clear. I put a hand in his outstretched one and held my breath. I wasn’t sure where I’d end up but I knew I would love it.
Many thanks to the parents of the little girl in the picture for today’s post. Yes, she really did call the ocean a “big bath.” No, she’d better not ride off into the waves with a strange boy, human or not!
Until next time remember you are Born2BeMore.