A Mermade’s Tale Chapter 4

Chapter Four
            One sunny spring day, Shell and Pearl were swimming on the playground during morning recess. They were discussing a television show they had seen the night before about a supemerhero called “Bat Ray.” Bat Ray and his sidekick Red Snapper fought evil and solved the crimes of nefarious villains. All the kids watched it; Bat Ray was very popular. Shell’s mom had let her buy a Bat Ray ring from a vending machine at the grocery store. She was showing the ring to Pearl when she noticed a new little mermade off in the corner of the playground. She had brown hair, the color of beach glass and was holding a toy seahorse.
“Pearl have you met that new girl yet?” asked Shell. “No she’s in another class,” said Pearl. “Oh,” said Shell. She and Pearl went back to their conversation about becoming junior bat rays and helping fight crime. Then the principal rang the ship’s bell and it was time to return to class.
            Later in the day, as they sat in the grotto eating lunch, the mermades continued their conversation about Bat Ray and his arch anemone Man O’War.  Pearl looked over and saw the new merchild. She was sitting alone eating her lunch and looking a little sad. “Do you think we should invite her to sit with us?” asked Pearl. She was braver than Shell and more friendly. Shell was busy with the stories and adventures in her mind and sometimes real mermades seemed to get in the way. Pearl was a mermade person, she loved meeting merpeople; the more friends the better for Pearl.  “I don’t know,” said Shell. “What if she doesn’t like Bat Ray?” “She looks kind of sad,” offered Pearl. “I’m going to go get her.” Pearl swam over to the new girl. “Hi, I’m Pearl and that’s Shell,” she said pointing toward her friend. “Would you like to sit with us?” A shy smile lit up the new mermade’s face. “I’m Foam, I just moved here.”
            The conversation turned to Foam and her family. Her father worked for the shell phone company. He was in charge of the conch shells that you can hear the sea in when you hold them to your ear.  Foam’s family had bought a sandcastle on the lane near their other friends, Shell Sellers and Shell Whimsy. There were a lot of Shells in Coralsbed.
            Pearl and Shell found out the Foam loved sea animals and collected seahorse models. She had two little brothers, Wind and Wharf. Her dad’s name was Sand and her mom was Sea Lily. Once she got to know you, Foam was a talker. She told the mermades stories about her old school of fish and her best friend that she had left when they moved. Foam liked to water ski, but her favorite thing to do was riding her seahorse. “You have a seahorse?” asked Shell with great surprise. More than anything, even more than fighting crime, Shell wanted to ride a real seahorse. “Yes, her name is Bubbles,” said Foam, “and she is beautiful.” Shell gasped as she remembered the little seahorse doll that she had named Bubbles. “Would you like to come to the coral and see her sometime?” “Yes, yes!” clapped Pearl and Shell. They were finished eating and ready to play. “Let’s pretend we are riding seahorses and helping Bat Ray fight crime” Shell suggested. Foam and Pearl agreed and the young supemerheroes swam off to the rescue.
            Pearl and Shell were glad they had found Foam. She had a good imagination and was a nice merchild. Around strangers she was still very shy, but when the three mergirls played, she was a lot of fun. Having her in their group made them even better supemerheroes and they had even greater adventures. And they were surprised when they went to Piermerry that week to see Foam and her brother Wind there. Wharf was very small, about Brine’s age, and he was too little to go to Piermerry yet.
            Foam got to know her neighbors Shell Sellers and Shell Whimsy too. Soon they started swimming to school together. Foam never looked lonely after that.  
            The merchildren took turns playing at one another’s sandcastles. Foam had bobbing dolls too and she brought them along. Sometimes Sandy would play with her sister and friends. Sea Lily became friends with Nekton and Oyster and now and then, all of the merchildren got to go to the park and play in the sea grass and sand. In time, Sea Lily was put in charge of Piermerry and that was fun. She would let her daughter’s friends help hold pictures when she was teaching lessons about being a good neighbor and forgiveness. After a while it felt like Foam and her family had been there all along.
            Now and then, on the very best days, Foam would invite her friends to go to the coral to see Bubbles. She was a beautiful seahorse, sleek and lovely. She would let the girls pat her muzzle.  Sometimes the girls brought her shrimp and she would eat it out of their hands. Foam showed the girls how to ride Bubbles and let them take turns. Shell was in heaven! Riding a seahorse was even better than she had imagined. Bubbles would gallop around the coral as Shell held onto her bridle. Shell felt as if she was flying through the water. When they were older, Shell and Pearl would rent seahorses and they would go on real adventures with Foam and Bubbles, but that is another story.
            Back at school, one day while they were in class, Shell said something that one of the merboys didn’t like. His name was Moray and he didn’t have many friends because he was crabby. After school, as she started for home, Moray came up behind Shell and hit her on the head with a book! “You shouldn’t have said that,” he growled. Shell was startled and sad. She didn’t know what to do, and suddenly she had an anemone. After that she had to keep an eye out for Moray. He would say mean things and might try to hurt her again. She didn’t know that she should go tell the teacher or principal and ask for help. Shell told Pearl and Foam about her anemone; they decided they had better stick together. Pearl told the teacher about Moray and the teacher told him to never touch Shell again. If Moray came close to the girls on the playground, they found a teacher or a large group of friends to swim near. They started asking themselves, “what would Bat Ray do?” They kept an eye on Moray to make sure he’s wasn’t being a bull shark to the younger merchildren.
            Foam had an idea. Maybe if they did something nice for Moray, he wouldn’t be so crabby; she had two brothers and knew something about boys. She asked her friends what they could do to help Moray. Shell wasn’t sure she wanted to do something nice for him. Pearl thought for a minute, then suggested that they could share some of the sandy cookies in their lunches with him. Pearl and Foam agreed that it was worth a try. Shell still wasn’t sure. That day at lunch, they swam over to where Moray was eating by himself. “Moray we don’t want to be your anemones anymore, “said Foam firmly. Pearl held out the cookies. Moray looked at the cookies with a surprised expression. He thought for a minute. He considered the fun the girls usually seemed to be having on the playground. Maybe he wouldn’t have to work so hard to be a bull shark. Maybe it was ok to not be at war. Moray took the cookies. He looked like no one had been nice to him for a while. “OK,” he agreed, he held up hand for a fist bump. Foam gave him a fist bump, then Pearl. Shell hesitated, but she knew Foam and Pearl were right. She gave Moray a fist bump and the girls swam away. Maybe Moray wouldn’t be their friend, but he didn’t have to be their anemone. It was nice to be at peace.
            After school that day Pearl, Foam, Shell and Sandy got together to make more sandy cookies. The cookies were easy and fun to make. The merchildren liked to bake them for Father’s Day gifts.
These are little mermaids’ favorite cookies.             Preheat oven to 325°. Cream together
1 C butter
1/3 C granulated sugar
            Mix in
2 tsp water
2 tsp vanilla
            Add and blend until dough barely holds together
2 C sifted all-purpose flour
1 C chopped pecans
            Chill dough for 4 hours. Shape in 1 – 1½” balls. Bake on an ungreased cookie sheet at         325° for about 20 minutes. Remove from pan, cool slightly and roll in powdered sugar.