According to ancient folklore, the groves growing in and around the seaside were home to mermaids. These creatures were rumored to be the most beautiful things ever seen by any man, woman, or child. However, with no evidence to back up the existence of these magnificent creatures, most children wrote them off as fairy tales by the age of eight.
When the children of the small town surrounding the grove realized the tales of merpeople were ridiculous, they lost interest in the groves. This made the little marsh a quiet place, filled with the sounds of the tide, the wind through the trees, and the birds. And, of course, the footsteps of little Marie.
Marie was 10 and very different from the other children of the surrounding town. While they would play in the town square among the cobblestones and houses, Marie would go to the groves. For she believed, with all her heart, in the idea of beautiful merpeople.
Most thought Marie’s fallacy was adorable, not knowing how deeply it ran. Everyone in town knew her and found it commonplace to see her sauntering towards the groves without any supervision.
Marie, however, was not the only one who believed in the people of the sea. The other sought out mermaids so he could extort their existence and make himself rich. A miserly man by the name of Lawrence Jordan. Marie, innocent as a rose, searched for mermaids simply so that she could enjoy their beauty.
One day while walking down by the seaside, hidden within the grove, Marie finally saw what she had waited to see all her life: a mermaid. The creature sat precariously on a rock sticking out of the water, the wind picking up the long strands of hair running down her back. She was every bit as beautiful as the stories told. Marie stared in awe and let out the tiniest gasp, alerting the mermaid of her presence.
Crawling back down behind the rock the mermaid shouted, “Who are you?”
Marie, with the breeze in her voice, responded, “I am Marie. I am 10 years old, and I won’t hurt you.” As the mermaid peered over the rock at Marie, the ocean currents pulled at the child’s feet drawing her into the water.
“Oh, you’re only a child! My name is Amphitrite. Come closer, my dear,” the mermaid beckoned Marie towards her. “Why do you seek out my people?” Amphitrite inquired. “Is it for love or for greed?”
But before she could answer, a man’s voice came from the forest, “A mermaid. I- I can’t believe they’re real.”
Marie and Amphitrite’s heads snapped in the direction of the voice to see that it belonged to Lawrence Jordan. Upon seeing Lawrence, Amphitrite shrieked. Her face was gripped with fear and she dove back into the sea. An evil grin spread across the face of Lawrence Jordan, “They’re real.”
Days passed with Marie at the seaside calling out to Amphitrite. To Marie, it felt like weeks had passed since she first saw the mermaid. But Amphitrite did not dare show herself again once Lawrence knew that she existed. And Lawrence had been trailing Marie ever since he saw her speaking with Amphitrite.
About two weeks passed and it came time for the annual meeting of the townspeople. Lawrence, being an adult, was required to attend, leaving Marie free as a bird. She crept out to the seaside and stepped into the water, “Amphitrite! All the adults are at a meeting all day! Please, show yourself!” And to her surprise, Amphitrite appeared out of the water.
“Lawrence can’t find us here?” Amphitrite asked, relieved.
“No,” responded Marie, “but we must do something about him. He wishes to put you in a cage and have people pay to see you!”
Amphitrite stared hard at the water, thinking. “I have a plan. But it requires you to lure Lawrence into the sea.”
“Amphitrite, he fears the sea. It will never work,” reasoned Marie.
Amphitrite looked Marie in the eyes and smiled knowingly: “He doesn’t fear the sea. He fears what lurks beneath the surface. But greed is more powerful than fear.”
Lawrence was out stalking Marie the day after the meeting. He watched her make her way through town and towards the seaside. Quickly and quietly he followed her through the trees and watched her wade out into the water.
“Amphitrite! I’m here again!” Marie cried out with a quick glance over her shoulder. Amphitrite appeared close to Marie’s feet, inches away from the shoreline. “I’m so glad to see you again, my child,” Amphitrite smiled slyly.
Unable to resist the temptation of a mermaid, Lawrence jumped out from the trees and ran into the water to grab Amphitrite. Knowing this would be his reaction, Amphitrite and Marie receded deeper into the water drawing Lawrence out with them. Lawrence halted and turned white, realizing his mistake.
His body went limp as two other mermaids pulled his legs out from under him. He let out a scream that was muffled by the seawater he was now submerged in and flung his arms about for help. He was pulled farther and farther out until nothing could be seen but splashes as a last attempt to be freed.
“Goodbye, Mr. Lawrence. You will no longer bother the people of the sea,” Marie whispered after him. And she waved farewell to her Goliath.
Photo Credit: Aidan Petrie