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Sophie loved the sea; her family holidayed every year in the same quaint little fisherman’s cottage, just a stone’s throw away from the beach, and she spent the rest of the year looking forward to that glorious summer week.

She loved to splash through the surf, trying to dodge the waves as they crashed up to her shins. She loved to collect driftwood and unusual things that washed up from the sea; she had a pile of pieces of coloured glass that had been washed smooth by the waves, stacked up on a shelf at home. She collected shells, and used them to decorate picture frames and keepsake boxes.

She knew that there were signs on the beach, but she had never paid them too much attention. She assumed that they were grown-up things; where you were allowed to picnic and such. Her parents never bothered to point their warnings out to her, because she seemed so content to splash about in the shallow surf. She didn’t even know how to swim; she wouldn’t be in any danger from the deep currents.

One year, Sophie was playing at the edge of the waves when something caught her eye; it was silvery and fantastic looking. It looked almost like a mermaid’s skirt. She waded further out; it was floating just beyond her reach. She stretched out, and her feet left the bottom. For a moment, she flailed and sank under the water, but then she surfaced and with a splash and a kick, she was swimming. The silvery thing, whatever it was, floated further out, just beyond her reach, and she kicked and swam towards it.

Before she knew it, the currents had carried her far away from the shore. Still, she kicked and splashed through the waves and finally grasped the silvery material. It was almost as soft and fine as gossamer, and as she tugged it slipped away from the figure beneath; the figure of a beautiful woman with the fins of a fish in place of her legs.

“Welcome, little sister,” said the mermaid, turning with a smile. “Join us.”

The beautiful mermaid held out her hands to Sophie, and together they descended beneath the waves.

© Kari Fay