Sea Foam

Sea Foam

A Story by No_One_Special

A dark interpretation of "The Little Mermaid" that addresses some unanswered questions...


Sea Foam

Through the ages, humans have dreamed of discovering mermaids: the inhumanly beautiful aquatic dwellers of the ocean, who inhabit ornate sunken palaces. They imagine a grand society spreading from the atlantic to the pacific and all the seven seas, ruled under the watchful eye of Poseidon or Neptune, or whatever each person happened to believe in. But mermaids were never to be found, because those curious humans had been looking in the wrong place all along.

The mermaids in our story lived at the bottom of a lake. A shimmering green lake located very close to a human kingdom. Curiously, no humans ever investigated the lake. They never even came near it to swim, or fish, or even dip their feet. The mermaids knew of the humans, and many of them wondered why the humans would never come near, and had never in turn learned about them. But still, things had been going on like this for so long, that the chief of the merpeople feared if the humans ever did discover them, it would cause a disruption to their society. So, even though many of the citizens found it unnecessary (since humans never came by anyway), he banned any form of contact with the humans.

However, the chief had a very curious and restless young daughter. She’d never seen a human for herself before, because of their reluctance to come near the lake, and she was eager to see one for herself. To her, the notion of having “two limbs of flesh that stuck out below your hips, where your tail should be” sounded like an old wives’ tale. She’d often sneak away and swim up to the surface to try and catch a glimpse of one.

One day, it happened that the young prince of the nearby human kingdom was riding on horseback with some of his guards. They were headed back towards his small kingdom, after tending to some business in a neighboring land. From her perch on a rock at the lake’s edge, the mermaid could just barely see the specks that were the prince and his horses off in the distance. Then suddenly, more blurry specks could been seen, and she heard distant screams and the clashing of metal. The prince’s group had been ambushed by bandits!

The sounds became louder as these strange creatures called humans, and the four legged beasts they rode came closer. The bandits were pinning the prince and his guards against the lake! When they got close enough that one of them might see her, the mermaid gasped and jumped off the rock. She hid behind it and peered over the side, hoping none of them had noticed her. 

She saw the bandits murder off all of the prince’s guards, and watched them one by one fall near the lake, their blood spilling into it. Alone and outnumbered, the prince was overtaken and struck across the chest by one of the bandit’s swords. He fell off of his horse and down to the rocks, causing the frightened beast to run quickly off into the distance. He appeared to be dead, and the mermaid watched on, trembling with fear, as the blood covered bandits laughed and sorted through his possessions. When they had stripped the bodies of the prince and his guards for anything of value, they mounted their black horses and sped away, leaving the devastation behind at the edge of the lake.

The mermaid didn’t know what to do, and wondered for a moment if she should swim to her father’s side and tell him what had had happened. While she was contemplating she noticed the slightest movement from the prince, and cautiously swam out from behind the rock to get closer to him. 

She didn’t know his name, or his exact position, but she had an inkling that he was some form of royalty in the human world. He’d been dressed in bold red garments adorned with gold thread, which is how her father always said the rich and nobility of the human world dressed. He also said, violent, lesser humans were often after their lives and possessions, which had just happened now. 

She very slowly approached the human, pulling herself out of the lake with her arms and slithering her way over. She put her hand gently on his chest and after a second could feel some weak breathing and a quiet heartbeat. This human was still alive... for now. He was wounded very badly though, and his blood was spilling out of him and down the rocks, into the lake. If she didn’t do something he would die.

If her father was here, then he would most certainly instruct her to leave him for dead, claiming it would be in the best interest of the merpeople. But as the naive young mermaid looked into the face of the gorgeous human, she was overcome with feelings towards him. She even thought to herself that if she could gain this human’s favor, then he could instruct all of the humans who followed him to be kind and accepting of the merpeople. Then surely her father would have nothing to worry about. And if this human was some form of royalty, then she as the chief's daughter, a veritable princess, was a well suited match for him.

She knew now that she must save this man. She knew she couldn’t do much by herself, but she had to stop his bleeding somehow. She did the only thing she could think of under the circumstances, and took a sharp rock in her hands. She used it to slice off several yards of her long, amber hair, and wrapped it around his wound like a bandage. After that, she tried her best to wake him up so she could explain everything to him, but he remained unconscious despite her best efforts.

Knowing that she really couldn’t do much else, she screamed and called out for help on his behalf, trying to get the attention of other humans who could pick him up and give him proper care. She stayed with him for a long time, and after several hours of calling, she noticed more humans on horses, riding towards the lake. 

She had fully intended to speak with the humans, telling them the story of what happened, but when they got closer, she lost her nerve. She quickly slithered back into the lake and behind her rock before they could see her. She cursed her cowardice, but had good reason to be afraid since she didn’t know what type of humans these would be.

Thankfully, these humans were not savage bandits, but were dressed nicely as the prince had been. They even remarked on the horror of seeing their prince in such a horrible situation as one gingerly lifted the young man onto his horse. These comments made the mermaid very happy, confirming the young man she had thought to be a prince really was. She figured it would be safe to come out now, and tell these humans of how she’d saved him, and how she wished for their two kingdoms to join together through her union with the prince.

Although, right before the mermaid had a chance to make her glowing entrance, the humans had saddled up their horses and quickly sped off to get help for the prince. The mermaid was stunned, after everything that happened, and thought to herself in her confusion that she’d just explain it when they came back.

Only more humans never came. The mermaid waited for weeks, as the corpses of the fallen guards rotted away. She’d held out hope that prince would come by for her and offer his life to her as a token of appreciation, but he never did. Slowly, she began to realize how different she and the prince really were. She was a mermaid, not a human. She had a tail, not legs. It wasn’t as though she could just walk all the way to his kingdom and demand an audience.

She had all but given up hope on her impossible dream, until one day when impossible didn’t seem so out of the question. The mermaid happened to run into one of her friends who’d always been overweight and homely to look at, and who’d been painfully self conscious of that fact. Only now you’d hardly recognize her because of her gorgeous figure, curvy tail, and clear bright skin. The mermaid asked her friend what had brought about the transformation, when her friend told her that an older mermaid with magical powers had opened up a store peddling her potions and services. The friend went on that this old mermaid, nicknamed “The Witch”, could make any wish come true as long as you could pay the price.

The mermaid’s hope was suddenly restored and her infatuation with the human prince came back to her stronger than ever. She knew she had to get The Witch to turn her into a human, and she’d be willing to pay any price. So one night when her father was asleep, she snuck into his stock of gold and jewels and stuffed several handfuls into an old bag. Then she quickly swam off to The Witch’s store, which was only open at night.

When the mermaid got to the store, in the deepest, darkest corner of the lake, no one else was there. It was only The Witch, who had a sharp and menacing aura, stirring things in a pot. When she noticed the mermaid she raised an apathetic eyebrow and flatly asked what the young mermaid wanted. 

The mermaid explained the whole story to The Witch, and tossed the bag of gold and jewels at the The Witch’s tail. She demanded that The Witch turn her human, and in turn would be welcome to any and all contents of the bag.

The Witch just laughed and reached into the bag, pulling out a single coin. She told the mermaid that would be payment enough for her stake in this and to put the rest of it away. The mermaid was very happy, thinking of how generous The Witch was being, until a grim warning came after the payment.

The Witch explained that the only spell that could turn her human, would dissolve her voice. It wasn’t that The Witch was particularly after the mermaid’s voice, just that an unavoidable side effect of the spell would eat it away. She asked the mermaid again if she was sure she wanted to do this. The mermaid hesitated, but decided that she’d find another way to communicate her feelings to the prince, so she agreed.

Then another warning came. The Witch explained that, once human, should the mermaid try to come back to the lake, she’d turn to froth and foam and disappear, never to be seen again. This terrified the mermaid, who insisted that she could provide more coins for a less gruesome spell. But The Witch said it didn’t matter how much money she gave her, there was only one spell for this kind of thing, and she couldn’t do anything to help the side effects.

Perhaps a more mature mermaid would have know better than to act on feelings of infatuation and not take such a gamble, but this mermaid was only a young teenager and so ended up foolishly agreeing to the deal. She even thought to herself that this old witch must be senile, because humans didn’t “turn to foam” just by getting in lakes. She must have been making that last part up to scare her. 

And so The Witch said some magical words in a forgotten language that the mermaid did not recognize, and it made lights flash on the young girl’s skin. After the lights faded, The Witch instructed the mermaid to swim up to the surface and crawl onto land. Then, she should attempt to speak, in doing so her voice would disappear and legs would grow. 

So the mermaid did just that, and when she first tried to speak, she felt like the inside of her throat had shattered. It felt bloody and dry, but no matter how much she gagged and struggled, no sound would come out. Almost instantly she felt burning sensations in her tail as her scales melted off like searing metal onto the rocks beneath her. Finally, when the pain subsided and all remnants of her tail had dripped away, in their place were two, long, fleshy human legs.

The mermaid smiled, though she could no longer speak, and slowly stood up. It took awhile for her to teach herself how to walk, but when she could do it without falling over, she began walking triumphantly towards the palace. She was completely naked, because she had nothing to wear, and also because she assumed that as with mermaids, humans only wore clothing sometimes. Thankfully her hair was still long enough that it reached her knees, and it covered her body.

In the morning when the mermaid reached the human kingdom, she was overcome by all the strange things she’d never seen before. It was a completely different world. She was still hopeful that she would find her prince, and as it turned out, she was whisked off to the palace to meet the king and queen after only being in the city for a short time. It seemed that ever since the prince had been found wrapped in her translucent amber hair (hair unlike any human) they had been looking for the person it came from. 

At the palace, the mermaid didn’t understand much of what was being said. The mermaids and humans did speak the same language, but the humans had so many more words and strange ideas that it was hard for her to keep track. From what she could gather though, they were willing to excuse her nakedness and allow her to stay at the palace as an honored guest because she was the one who’d saved the prince’s life.

She was very happy and nodded her head “yes” enthusiastically when they asked her if it had been her. They were very disappointed however, when they discovered she was mute, because she couldn’t describe the bandits to them (who they had been hoping to catch). After the questioning about the incident, the mermaid started gesturing wildly, trying to explain her desire to marry the prince. They didn’t seem to have an idea what she was trying to tell them though, and just laughed jovially saying that she must be excited to be in the palace.

The mermaid was becoming frustrated at how things were working out, and was sad to be taken to her new room for the night without getting a chance to see the prince. She was determined that she would see him though, and not only see him, but marry him.

After a few days, she was able to see him face to face, where he thanked her very much for saving him. Then he simply turned to leave, not understanding her gestures either. The mermaid didn’t know how to explain things to him, but she had to. She wished she could “write” as humans did to recount the tale and her desire for marriage, but that was not something mermaids learned to do. What she just didn’t understand, was that the prince knew she was the one who saved him, and yet he wasn’t offering himself to her. He owed her his life, and such an offering would be expected in mermaid society.

Still, she remained determined, and followed him around the palace like a lovesick puppy everyday. The more time she spent with him, the more she fell in love with him. He seemed to grow fond of her as well, but for some reason he would never mention marriage and never seemed to understand what she was trying to say.

Eventually, one day a beautiful human girl came to the palace. She was not as beautiful as a mermaid of course, but for a human she was considered stunning. She had curly blonde hair, and rare, purple eyes. When she saw her for the first time, the mermaid assumed this girl must be more human royalty here for a visit. However, later that day the prince explained to the mermaid girl that that human was his fiancée, and how he hoped the two girls would get along. He was nearly glowing with delight while he spoke of the human, and said that the day the mermaid rescued him, was while he was coming back from arranging marriage negotiations with the human girl’s kingdom.

The mermaid girl was crushed and heartbroken. Bitter tears ran down her cheeks as she scrunched up her fists. She had sacrificed everything for this human, he owned her his life, and yet he was rejecting her?! It must be that he still didn’t understand, and this was her last chance to make him.

She roughly grabbed the prince’s face in her hands and forced a kiss on him, crying all the while. It was the boldest action she’d taken yet, and she knew it would convince him.

To the contrary though, he pushed her quickly off of him, and scolded her for her inappropriate behavior. He told her that she “forgets herself” and to never do something like that again. Then he turned his back on her and left the room. The mermaid was seething with rage, and ran furiously out of the castle, and through the town, making her way back to the lake.

She couldn’t take it anymore. Living as a human had brought her nothing- at least her father and fellow mermaids still loved her. She decided that she’d dive in and get someone’s attention. Then she’d have them fetch The Witch, who could turn her back into a mermaid.

In one graceful dive, the mermaid threw herself into the lake. And just like The Witch had warned, froth and foam gathered up everywhere her skin touched as she quickly dissolved. What the mermaid had never known, the reason why humans never came near this lake, was because it wasn’t filled with water. It was filled with acid.

Mermaids had a natural immunity to it and were able to thrive. But humans, the thing which she’d become, were very susceptible to it. And so, in her ignorant infatuation, she’d given up her greatest defense. See that you don’t do the same.

© 2011 No_One_Special

Author's Note

This tale was based on the original Hans Christian Andersen version. I was always bothered by the apparent plot holes in the story (actually, in any version of the story for that matter) Like why didn't she just write the prince a note, why did she give up so easily, what made her think the prince would even want her in the first place...? I was always intrigued by her turning to sea foam at the end, and it made me think that maybe the water was actually acid? "Sea Foam" is #32 of the No One Special Fairy Tales This story is Copyright No One Special 2011

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Featured Review

I find this absolutely genius, and I love your commentary on it. You do a wonderful job creatively filling in the gaps and holes, while keeping to the basic story of the original text. The way you have written it keeps it in the likely time-setting, and you have not too far removed the piece from it's place. Once again, great job!

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.


This is quite different from the other mermaid stories I've read. It's very well done. Bravo.

Posted 10 Years Ago

I find this absolutely genius, and I love your commentary on it. You do a wonderful job creatively filling in the gaps and holes, while keeping to the basic story of the original text. The way you have written it keeps it in the likely time-setting, and you have not too far removed the piece from it's place. Once again, great job!

Posted 10 Years Ago

1 of 1 people found this review constructive.

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2 Reviews
Added on August 8, 2011
Last Updated on September 5, 2011
Tags: The, Little, Mermaid, Sea, Foam, Fairy, Tale, No, One, Special



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