The Young Fisherman
( The young mermaid side of the story. )
By Edwin Tomes
The time had come for Marina to join her mother on the “ The Great Journey. In human year years Marina would have been eight, but Marina wasn’t quite human, she was a mermaid. Marina was part of a clan of 75 sea-people that lived along this part of the coast. Marina’s mother was a very important part of this clan of sea-people. Her mother knew what plants and other sea life that made the sea-people better when they were sick. This knowledge was passed down from mother to daughter and now it was Marina’s turn to learn from her mother.
The Great Journey happened once a year. Every year her mother would travel up a certain river to a special place where a water plant grew. In the early part of the summer the water plant would bloom and from the blossoms her mother would bring back and mix with other plants and certain corals , then she would give it to all the sea-people. The mixture prevented the sea-people from getting sick from the different chemicals that the humans dumped into the ocean. From a early age Marina was taught to avoid the people who lived on the land. They dragged nets through the water that the sea-people had to avoid. This wasn’t that hard, because before the nets came you could hear the boats on the surface a long distance away. When you heard them you kept a eye out for the nets and fishing lines that they pulled behind them.
Marina thought that the people who lived on the surface were very noisy. Even when their boats were not running they always seemed to be doing some thing. Once they came across a boat that was anchor in a small cove that the clan was looking for crabs in. The rest of the clan kept away, but she has swam under it and listen. She could hear the human talking then walk to other parts of the boat. Music could be heard, she had heard what the land people called music. Some was very loud and she did not like, other were soft and pleasant to hear. On this boat the music was soft and nice to listen to. There were 2 of them and they began to giggle about some thing, as she was trying to figure what they were laughing about her mother found her and dragged her away from the dreaded humans boat.
That was many months ago, now the day had come to begin the great journey and Marina was feeling nervous. In the sea it was easy to avoid humans, but in a river there would always be land on either sides of you and the only way that you could travel was either up of down the river. You didn’t have the openness of the sea where you could flee in any direction to escape danger. Her mother told her that every thing was going to be fine and for her not to worry, but before they left they had to make a stop at the sea cave. This sea cave was one of several that this clan of sea people used. Marina like to call it the stuff cave. It was used to keep the stuff that the sea-people found and could use in their day to day lives. Some things were things from the sea, but most of the items in the cave were thing made by the surface dwellers. Years ago the sea-people used to make bags from seaweed, but then they found that the different bags and such that the surface dwellers threw away the sea people used to gather and store food in. They stored these and other things in the cave. Not all the things they found were thrown away, some were swept from ships by wind, waves, or washed into the ocean by storms. Her mother went into the cave and brought out a medium size back pack on her back. Last year she had come back from the Great Journey with it. She had told the clan that she had found it at under what the humans call a bridge. There had been some things in the back pack the surface dwellers call books and paper. Her mother knew right away that she could use it to carry the blossoms from the water plant in, so she found a place where no one could see her and emptied the back pack onto the shore. The back pack was made of nylon and the zipper of plastic, so it would last longer than most other things in salt water. When her mother came back from the cave with the back pack it wasn’t emptied, in side were 4 long bags that once had said “ Bread “ on them, but the lettering had been worn off. Her mother told her that the final place where the plants grew was too dangerous for Marina and that she knew of a place that was near by where Marina would be safe while she gathered the blossoms.
The entire clan swam to them when they had seem them coming back with the back pack. They were there to wish them a safe journey, and for the trip to be a short one. Marina felt like she had butterfly fish in her stomach, it would be days before they would see their clan again, and the trip still worried her. This would be the first time she was away from the clan for more than a day, and she still was not looking forward in swimming up the river.
The first few days were uneventful. They avoided the fishing boats with their nets. When they were hunger they would chew on some seaweed, or take a crab or two out of a fisherman trap. They were easy to find, all you had to do was to look for a rope that lead up from the trap to a float on the surface. The fishermen never knew that mermaids were getting a free meal from their traps, they just thought that he was in a bad area. Finely they came to the mouth of the river. It was scary, she could fell the land on both sides of her. Boats would pass over head, and they had to be careful of the fishing lines, and hooks that trailed behind them. They came to a area where the boats with the fishing lines became less and less. Here faster boats and other things shot over head. Then she heard it, at first it was a distant buzzing sound, then it was roaring angrily above her, turned and then shot back the way it had come. Soon there was another and another and more, they seemed to be all wound them on the surface, and also in the water you could hear the humans splashing in the water. She was used to the quietness of the sea, all of this at once was too much for her and she began to panic, darting this way or that, only to be cut off by the roaring of the human’s machine over head. Her mother caught up with her and held her close Marina began to cry making the water taste saltier because of her tears. The machines continued to crisscross overhead, laughter and yelling could be heard. Marina wanted to be as far away from there as quick as possible, but her mother was holding her. She was so terrified that at first she didn’t hear her mothers words, but as she began to relax in her comforting arms she began to listen to what her mother was saying over and over. “ Marina, don’t worry its alright.” When her mother felt Marina’s hold on her ease she went on, “ Those things can’t hurt you down here, only when you get too close to the surface. “ Marina looked up she notice that while they did make a lot of noise all they did was skim along the surface. “ What are those horrible machines called ? “ she asked her mother. “ They call them jet skies and they are not as bad as you might think. They keep the boats with the nets and fishing lines away. The humans with the boats that have the fishing lines don’t stay in the same area when there are too many jet skies around. When they are near that means that we are safe, as long as we can put up with the noise. “ her mother told her and gave her a reassuring smile. Marina looked around, and thought about it. Her mother was right, since they had swam into this area of the river they had not seen any fishing line or nets in the water. A jet ski roared over head, bouncing in the wake of another jet ski when the driver of the jet ski was suddenly thrown off. Some thing kept him on the surface, a shiny jacket of some sort. The human had no ideal that just a few feet below him were a mother and daughter mermaids. After the jet ski had lost its driver it had lost almost all of its speed and was making a slow circle that would bring it back to the human. As it slowly made it way to him he relaxed and let his legs just hang in the water under him. This gave Marina a her first chance to look at a human up close. Marina’s mother wasn’t worried, the human was too busy waiting for the jet ski to get closer, so he wasn’t paying any attention to what was happening below him, and if they were seen they could swim away before anything could happen to them. Marina was curious about the lower half of the humans, they didn’t have a fin like her, but limbs like her arm. “ What did they feel like ? “ she wondered. “ What did the feet feel like ? They looked fleshy like her fingers, but were they really that way ? “ There they were right in front of her, before her mother could stop her she reached out to grab the little toe on the left foot. The man yelled out, “ Something’s got me ! “ and began kicking his feet swimming to the jet ski as fast as he could. When he got to it he scrambled onto it and shot off to the closest shore. For a moment the jet ski and water ski boat traffic stop. Sound travels better underwater than in air and they could hear the surface dweller telling how he had been attacked in the water. Some one asked where the wound was, and for a second there was silence, then laughter could be heard. Soon the jet skis and boats were back on the river as if nothing had happen. Marina turned and looked at her mother and said, “ So that is what they feel like. “ and both her mother and her burst into laughter.