Author: Gabriella Viljoen
Long, long ago, in a little village on the coast of Crete lived a beautiful girl, named Helena. All the women in her family were expected to wear pretty dresses and recite meaningless poetry, and they were all completely fine with that. In fact, they even enjoyed it. But this little girl was different. She refused to even recite a verse of her favourite poet’s work, and whenever someone tried to put her in a dress she would squirm around until it ripped.
I woke up, wet with sweat. That was the worst dream I’d had yet. I keep having scary dreams about being drowned, strangled by sea monsters or executed by sea kings. It’s strange, but all the dreams I have are somehow related to the sea.
Same old breakfast, orange juice and porridge, a typical young lady’s breakfast, as mother used to say. Same breakfast, but different topic. Mother and aunt Jane are discussing my lack of skirt, my long, unruly hair and my bare feet. I hate how everyone in my family expects me to sit still, and look pretty, as if I’m some kind of doll.
One day, I decided to go down to the beach and swim. The beach was like my home, my refuge. It was the only place I could go without someone staring rudely at me. I found my secret cave in the rocks, slipped off my clothes and slipped into my worn-out swimming costume. I am not allowed to swim because aunt Jane says it’s unladylike and that I could get sick. I only have one, very tattered swimming costume that I got from my grandma before she passed away.
My grandma and I were very close. We went on picnics together, and she even let me swim. She drowned three years ago, and it broke my heart. At the time, I couldn’t imagine life without her, but here I am.
I strolled lazily to the water, the sand wedging between my toes. The ocean is the most relaxing place ever. The salt in your eyes, the wind in your hair, the sand between your toes. Without the ocean, I don’t know what I would be.
I started slowly wading in, my toes tingling beneath the water. As soon as I started paddling, something pulled me beneath the water. I could feel the water in my lungs, and it was the most intense pain I've ever felt.
I woke up in an unfamiliar room, in an unfamiliar place. Well, at least that’s what I thought at the time. There was loud music playing and I was wearing a crown. What on earth is happening to me?
Suddenly, the wall started to unfold and it revealed a huge crowd of people. But wait. THEY HAD TAILS! And we were underwater. I looked down at my legs, and got the fright of my life. They had vanished!!! Instead, I found a shimmering, glossy tail. And this was no ordinary ceremony, it was a coronation. So hang on...... I was just about to become the queen of the ocean. How weird.
After the ceremony, a kind looking mother came up to me with her child and said, “congratulations, you are the new queen of the sea”. I couldn’t believe my ears. But the most surprising thing was that there stood my grandmother. I ran as fast as I could an embraced her.
She told me everything, how the exact same thing happened to her three years ago, and how she lived here with all the rest of the mermaids.
I decided to stay, and rule the sea.