A Story by S.Gillogly

This was a class assignment based on the movie "Finding Neverland" were we took a memory of our past and made it into a story.



It was the summer right before my 9th birthday, and my whole family was excited about our vacation coming up at the lake near the edge of town. We were supposed to be camping there for a few days, fishing and swimming till we dropped from exhaustion or hunger, whichever struck us first. When I say us I mean my friend Adry and I.  We were going with both our parents in what seemed like a caravan from the pioneer days. I remember how it was hot and dusty, and we were lying in my step-dad’s camper on the bunk above him and my mother, who was busy trying to get him to listen to her directions and failing miserably. We slept most of the time, the rest we spent staring either up at the ceiling complaining about the heat or staring out the window…complaining about the heat.  We rode around in the camper for around 3 hours, and then we stopped to use the bathroom and eat and visit her parent’s camper for a while, then hit the road again.  It took us what seemed like forever to get to the campground, 5 hours can seem like forever to an eight year old, mind you. We helped get everything situated in the camp, unpacking the tent me and Adry were going to use cause my parents didn’t want us playing in the camper and making a mess, setting up the canapé and the fold out chairs and such, pulling out the heavy blue cooler, and even starting the fire. I felt like Huck Finn, and Adry was Tom sawyer.

She always liked to be the leader.  We ran around, stretching our cramped legs as we raced to find fire wood and other interesting objects, returning to the fire to stock it with more wood. Then we were off again.  It started to get dark so we came back over to the large camp and set up our little tent near the fire, the back of it to the lake we so conveniently parked the camper near. I hadn’t ever told anyone, but I was afraid of the water. I didn’t know how to swim, at least not very well, and didn’t like the idea of falling in the water and sucking it up like a Hoover vacuum cleaner.

The night started off like any of our other camping trips, with the adults getting hammered and acting stupid as they cooked dinner for the kids. There were a few of our parent’s friends there and of course, peer pressure and all, it wasn’t long until my step dad and Adry’s  were gallivanting around singing a song excruciatingly loud even though they didn’t know many of the words. I watched in amusement as my mother and hers ran to the water, but my mom didn’t make it far as she tripped and fell on the bank, then rolled her way into the water I assumed was freezing by the way the women were shrieking.  After they were done rough housing, the two climbed out of the water and chased us down, my mother hugging me to her, soaking my tank top. Adry was screaming and running as her mother chased her down as well, only she caught her and tossed her into the lake. It was the first time I had seen her so utterly livid, she looked like a little wet kitten, a lion’s kitten that is. Adry pulled her mom in the water and they two fought and splashed around until they were exhausted. 

Then her mother climbed up on the nearby dock and lifted her out of the water, apparently sobered by the dip. She scolded herself and my mom, who was laughing so hard she began coughing, about getting a cold from being all wet in the middle of the night when it was starting to get cold. I wasn’t so cold though because as soon as my mother had occupied herself elsewhere and stopped getting me all wet I ran over to the fire and sat as close as I could without igniting myself, attempting to dry my poor shirt. Adry slumped down next to me with a look of sudden hatred as I pointed at my shirt, which was now dry, and smiled. She growled at me and told me she’d pay me back tomorrow. Then she got up and went into the tent to put on her pajamas. I waited for her to be done then did the same, afterwards we walked over to the now sober adults who gave us plates of heaped up grilled meat and buns and beans. I inhaled my plate of food and walked back over to the fire, where I pulled out a blanket, laid it by the fire, and sat down to play my GameBoy and warm my toes. Adry did the same.  After a few hours of trying to catch a Pokémon that seemed utterly impossible I gave up and went to bed. Adry came in a little while after and soon we were both out. I love camping.

That morning we woke up just as the sun was beginning to rise. It was still a little nippy, so Adry went out and stoked up the fire, and then yanked me out of the tent. We sat around the flames till we were warmed and filled with energy again, the adults were just starting to rise as well, and then we helped my mother to make breakfast. We cooked the scrambled eggs, my mom did the fried potatoes, and her mom did the bacon. 

Then we all dished out the food and sat down to eat. I made sure to pour ketchup all over my eggs and potatoes, at this time I wasn’t horrified by the taste of ketchup as I am now, and ate till I felt like I couldn’t move. After about an hour of digesting, Adry and I decided to grab our fishing gear and head out.  We ran around the whole lake till I finally found us a good spot, and Adry teased me because the second I found it I had to go to the bathroom, and of course there wasn’t one nearby, so I had to run back to camp as she set up our gear.  When I returned it was just starting to warm up outside and Adry was already fishing away, flinging her fishing pole like a mad woman.   I picked up my own pole and joined her, laughing as we made fun of each other’s techniques and tried to think of more effective ways to catch the little devils we saw splashing about in the water.  I was the first to catch a fish, and of course I wasn’t going to touch it. I hated fish, still do, every little thing about them made me sick. Yet, I loved fishing. Adry had to pull the hook out and threw the little thing back out into the water. I felt kind of bad because I knew it must have hurt the little thing, crashing back into its own world like that.  We kept at it for a few more hours until hunger started setting in once more and we packed up our stuff and headed back to the campsite.

We returned just in time for lunch and boat rides. I especially loved the boat rides. My step-dad would load up all of us kids and speed about the lake, whipping left and right, and I would sit up on the hood, feeling the wind whipping past my face and arms. My heart would pound furiously in my chest, the whole world sucked into what seemed like a wind tunnel of forever. 

Then he would stop and turn off the boat, letting all the kids dive into the water to play. I stayed on the hood despite Adry’s demands and cajoling for me to get in the water with her. She was my best friend, yet I never told her of my fear.

The boat finally docked back at camp, and we all got off and ran ashore. My mother was still cooking and handed me a hotdog, which once again I lathered up in ketchup and mustard.  I took my food to the edge of the dock where Adry and a few of the other children that were with us on this camping trip were all sitting. I sat next to her and let my feet fall off the edge into the water, smacking my food as I stared out at the waves. Adry stood and walked to the end of the dock, I turned and watched as she launched herself into the air, flying out into the waves created by various speed boats still soaring across the water.  I laughed as she belly flopped, almost choking on my half eaten hot dog. Adry smiled at me and yelled for me to get in too, but I shook my head no and pointed to the bun on the paper plate on my lap. She didn’t seem to happy about it as she pulled herself back on the dock. I happened to still be wearing the life jacket I had on when we were all on the boat, and knew that even if she was mad, I would be okay if she wanted me to get in with her. I decided I would do it, but I would only go in up to my waist. I stood and walked over to the end of the dock where there was a garbage can, then deposited my plate and bun remnants.  Then I went to a spot on the dock I thought was reasonable, but not too deep. I was about to jump in when Adry yelled. She screamed that it was an amazing fish with huge fins and had the face of a person.

I turned to look at her and saw that she was staring. Mortified by whatever was in the water. And being a curious eight year old I rushed over to her. I looked down at the water but didn’t see anything, and then I turned and looked at her. I should have known it was a trick, and I cursed myself for being so stupid. Adry yanked at the life jacket until it came off. Then I felt a hard thrust into the middle of my stomach, and time stood still. Sudden cold overcame me.

I felt a rush of adrenaline as the freezing water engulfed me.  It slurped me into itself and spit me back out, and I did the same with it. My whole world seemed to be lost in those short minutes. I came up a few times, clawing at the water as if it was an attacker, screaming for my mother to come help me. Then it was dark again. My body began to feel tingly and my head felt fuzzy.

Then I felt nothing. Just a sense of warmth and a numbness in my limbs. When I opened my eyes once more, I nearly screamed. There was the fish creature. It had the upper half of a woman and the lower of a fish. And she was beautiful. The woman was lovelier than any of the models on the cover of my mother’s magazines. She had long flowing brown hair, large green eyes almost hidden by thick black lashes, porcelain skin, and her fins were shiny and brilliantly turquoise in color.  She swam over to me as I struggled to move my clumsy human limbs in an attempt to get back to the surface. I knew I couldn’t hold my breath much longer, and felt my lungs burning. The woman put her fingers to my lips and just when I thought I couldn’t take it anymore, a small bubble formed around my mouth. I exploded, sucking in deeply.

 I expected to intake a huge amount of the dirty lake water, but was surprised when I realized I was breathing. The bubble! The woman smiled at me, revealing sharp white teeth. The bubble she had formed around my mouth expanded and contracted as I breathed and I felt a sudden joy in my heart.  The fish woman then began to speak to me.  She told me her name was Nalisse, she was from a large underwater city that was hidden away deep in a cavern. There were many people like her there, and they were called Merpeople. She told me of how her city developed magics to help sailors when they shipwrecked out at sea. Her demeanor was calm and sweet, and she swam a little closer to me, holding me gently in her long arms as she began to swim. She continued her tale about how her people came to be, and how I wasn’t the first human to fall into her arms. Many small children in the olden days of dragons and knights weren’t able to swim, and their mothers and fathers would bring them to the lake and give them to the Merpeople so they could teach them how to swim. Her people enjoyed teaching and never asked anything in return. I smiled, and told her how lovely it was that her people would do that. She said that people eventually stopped coming to her people, especially now in modern times. They didn’t believe in Mermaids and Mermen. They were just fairytales. I told her that I still believed, and even more so now that I had met one face to face. Nalisse giggled, a melodic and strange noise, and when she reached the floor of the lake she set me down. She asked me if I’d like her to teach me how to swim. I eagerly said yes, not able to believe how lucky I was that she had come to save me.

First she taught me how to move my arms and legs in sync, and how to breathe while in water. She explained about the different pressure a human body would be under while in water, and how I couldn’t feel it now because I was enchanted at the moment.  Then she pulled me along as I kicked my legs and learned to move them in a rhythm with my arms. Soon enough I was paddling around under the water without her help, giggling and playing with the multicolored fish that had come to watch us. Then Nalisse chased me and I her. When I started to get tired and a little hungry, I knew it was time to go home. She nodded her head in agreement and helped me get up closer to the surface. Nalisse waved and said her goodbyes, then removed her enchantment. Instantly I felt the pressure of the water on my chest, which threatened to crush the air out of my lungs, but I didn’t panic. I struggled at first, but finally got my rhythm back and moved towards the surface of the water.

When I broke through the numbness, the cold, and the fear, I looked up into the eyes of my best friend. She hugged me tightly, crying about how she thought I had died on her. I heard footsteps on the dock and turned to see both our mothers running towards us. They asked her what happened and Adry explained how she had shoved me into the water, unaware that I couldn’t swim, and realized as I went under the truth. She jumped in and pulled me to more shallow water where she and a few of the other kids pulled me onto the dock. One of the older kids gave me CPR and got me breathing again. She was pouring tears now, and her mother scolded her, and then comforted her, telling her that I was okay.

My own mother got a few harsh words in and then pulled me to her, asking all the necessary mother questions like if I was okay, if I wanted to leave, if I needed a doctor. I told her I was fine, and that I had met a Merperson and the story of how I learned to swim. She of course thought I had brain damage and dragged me back to the campsite where she checked me out better and concluded that I had just been in shock.

I just nodded and agreed, and knew that no one would believe my story, because that’s all Merpeople were…Stories.  I went to sleep that night wondering if what had happened was merely a dream or if there really was magic in the world still.

The next morning it was dreadfully hot and all the kids were headed full on for the water. This time our parents were watching carefully, not wanting more mishaps.  And guess who was in the water with them. Eight year old me, that’s right, I was swimming.  Later on, we all packed up and began our trip back home, back to real life. And as we drove away, I once again stared out the window at the lake, wondering if Nalisse was watching us leave.

© 2010 S.Gillogly

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Added on January 5, 2010
Last Updated on January 5, 2010
Tags: Merpeople, mermaids, swimming, childhood, memories



TwinFalls, ID

Well, this is a site for writers and that what I want to be. I live in a tiny town in Idaho, love animals (except snakes, which I am terrifed of), like to cook, am an experianced artist, and don 't li.. more..

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