This is the fin-al chapter in A Mermade’s Tale. Even though it is snowy and cold right now as I tell you this story; this adventure takes place just as summer is beginning for Shell and Pearl.

Chapter Eight
            Pearl had discovered radio waves. While Shell and her siblings were listening to “You Were There” adventure records, Pearl was rocking and rolling to the Water Beatles and Sea Monkees. She was almost an entire year older than Shell and had more sophisticated taste. Shell had heard rock music on the radio in the mer-tor car once or twice, but she did not know the names of the bands and songs like Pearl did. Pearl loved to jam and she had a king conch-sized crush on one of the singers; she had a picture of him and talked about him. A lot. His Name was Davy Jones, like the locker, and he had a cute British accent. I do not know if Mr. Jones knew that Pearl was one of his biggest sea fans, but she certainly was. The Sea Monkees were from the City of Angelfish and because Pearl was also born in that city, she had city taste, even though her mom was a country girl with a garden.
            When Shell, Foam and Pearl got together to color, instead of La Mer, they were listening to the Sea Monkees sing “Baydream Believer” and “The Last Train to Sharksville.” Secretly, Shell preferred the songs of the Floating Stones and she didn’t like the Water Beatles much, but Pearl really liked them and listening to their music made her so happy that instead of whining, Shell hummed along with the radio too.  The Water Beatles had hit songs that summer too;  “I Saw Her Swimming There,” “Hard Wave’s Night,” and “My Shell.” Pearl had flipped for wavy rock and roll. Shell and Foam liked the Beach Guys, they had surfing songs and really knew a lot about the shore culture. They sang “Be True to Your School of Fish,” “California Gills” and “Bobbing Ann.” Any radio wave station you tuned to would likely be playing the music of these popular bands, they had a lot of sea fans.
            Pearl, Foam and Shell were spending more time at the beach. Suddenly it was important to be tan, which takes a little while if you are underwater, but if you work at it, you can achieve a tan tone. The “cool” mermades at school had tanned tails and blond streaks in their hair. Shell didn’t understand why it was important to look like the surfers they saw above the waves, but that was the style. The girls started parting their hair in the middle and wearing puka shell necklaces from Hawaii. The boys were saying things like “dude,” and “totally, ” but for the most parts, the mergirls still considered them urchins who just wanted to show off their mussels. It was a funny summer. And It was an important time in the little mermade’s world. They were starting to spend more time away from their homes with their friends. They were trying to be exactly alike. They wore the same style clothes, the same hairstyles and listened to the same music. Shell didn’t know how important having good friends would be (and friends that were good.)
            Just down the lane from Foam, another new merfamily moved into a new sand castle. Cairn and Volute Gillson and their two daughters Coral and Netty. Coral had exquisite manners and a good imagination, Shell liked her immediately. Coral was a serious student who wrote fun and creative stories. She was polite on the playground and the teachers liked her too. Coral had attended fin-ishing school and knew the proper way to enter a tide pool, eat with good manners and behave in public, she also knew a few words of Merman.  She was never too loud and didn’t make fun of others. Coral was a good influence. Netty and Sandy became friends and a lot of fun together too.
            Foam invited Shell, Pearl and Coral to ride seahorses one afternoon. The coral where Bubble stayed had seahorses to rent and trails to ride on. It was Shell’s first time riding a seahorse out of the coral. She was nervous, but she didn’t want to seem like a sea chicken in front of her friends. The girls and their seahorses started off swimming slowly, then Foam “giddiyupped” Bubbles and Bubbles took off swimming faster. Pearl was right behind her, then Coral. Shell gulped and held on tight as her seahorse followed the others. They swam through tall sea grasses and past the kelp forest. Shell was having so much fun, she forgot to be afraid. The girls and their mounts swam like the wind – they could have easily sea starred in a western movie! It was a day they would always remember and treasure.
            One time Coral and her family asked her friends over to make shrimp pizza. Shell was in heaven. She invited Coral to her sand castle to play with bobbing dolls. Coral asked if Nettie could come too.  So Sandy, Nettie, Coral and Shell all had a bobbing dolls tea party together.
Coral’s birthday was exactly the opposite of Shell’s; she was born in the summer and was six months older. At the end of the school year Coral invited the mermades in her class to her sandcastle for a birthday party. Shell loved to go to her friend’s house and was excited to attend her party. Vol was kind to all the mermade children and made them feel welcome (and she was a good cook.) A few days after school was out for summer, it was time for Corals’ party and a chance for the classmates to get together again.
            Shell tried to think of something Coral would like for her birthday. Shell’s birthday was right after Christmas so all of her gifts came at once and they were usually winter presents. Coral was having a summer party and would get fun summer things. Shell was almost jealous of her friend. But Coral was so warm and friendly, like her summer birthday, that Shell couldn’t have bad feelings about her good fortune. Shell made her a pretty necklace out of, you guessed it, shells. She wrapped it carefully, made a card and took them to Corals’ party. Pearl had picked a bouquet of beautiful ocean flowers from her garden for Coral, she wrapped them with a pretty ribbon. Foam had made her a model seahorse in her favorite color.
            Shell was excited to see Pearl, Foam, Coral, Reef, the other two Shells and friends from school. Coral’s sandcastle was decorated with glittering sea stars, kelp garlands and floating bubbles. It all looked magical, just perfect for a mermade party. The girls played games like “Truth or Mer” and “Never.” “Never” was a favorite with the mergirls. They sat in a circle on the sand and each received a bag with twelve pieces of candy. The first said “I never…(held hands with a merboy, swam in the Atlantic, touched an octopus…) If a mermade had done that thing she ate one piece of candy. The mermade that ate all her candy first won!
            Coral and her friends played another fun game. Since they were all turning into rock music fans, they made a deck of cards with words from songs like, “wave,” “love” and “hand.” They divided into two teams. One player would flip over a card, and each team took turns singing songs with that word in the lyrics. If one of the teams couldn’t think of a song after 30 seconds, they lost the turn and the other team got a point. Ten points won the game. Listening to a lot of music paid off.
            Vol served a pretty seacake with fancy sugar shells and icicles and the mermades sang happy birthday to Coral. They watched with excitement as she opened her gifts. She received two record albums, games, clothes and sea star clips for her hair. She loved the necklace that Shell had made for her, the bouquet from Pearl and Foam’s seahorse. One of the neighbors that had a tide pool invited the mermades to come over for a twilight swim. They raced down the street and dove into the tide pool. With the Beach Guys, Sea Monkees and Water Beatles’ music playing, the merfriends dove and swam with the glittering sea stars into the night.
Here are the directions for making a pearl and shell necklace like the one Shell made for Coral’s birthday.

You will need:
a string of pearl beads from a bead or craft store
a shell with a hole in it
a jewelry clasp
a small metal ring to attach the shell
super glue

Pearls are one of the birthstones for June and are fun to use for a birthday gift for that month. If the birthday is another month, you might choose beads like that month’s birthstone.

1. Ask your parent to help you attach the necklace clasp to the string of pearls using superglue.

2. When the glue is dry, use needle nose piers to open the small metal ring and attach the shell to the center of the string of pearls.

3. Wrap in a jewelry box with a pretty bow – happy birthday friend!