The story goes that when I was born my mum wanted to name me “Seafoam” but dad wasn’t up for that. I love that mum had that very 1970’s notion, though–and being such a water baby who’d cry to be put back into any body of water I was around, I’ve often thought mum’s first instinct was bang on. She went with “Fiona” (after a feisty heroine in a novel she’d read) and, with almost psychic perception, she suspected I’d be a writer.
That name, “Seafoam”, has always stuck with me and captured my imagination. Might there be a girl out there called Seafoam? What would she be like? All these years later, I finally sat down with a word document and asked those questions… And Seafoam’s story began to unfold. Much to my delight, I found myself back in the oceans and inlets around South East Queensland where I grew up, under the surface in a place between worlds that suits me just fine, telling a tale about a Deep Water Nymph a tad too curious for her own good.
“Seafoam”, my next short story e-book, may be the first in a series of stories inspired by her and the magical, mysterious water world she and her kind call home. I’m working on final edits and the cover design and hope to release her into the digital wild–on Amazon for Kindle– in the coming weeks. Here’s a first look at the start of her story… I hope you like it!
“Seafoam” – an excerpt
Once upon a time–just the middle of last week, actually–a small, weathered fishing boat was enjoying the friendly slap of the warm Pacific Ocean as she drifted with the tide off the coast of southeast Queensland. She was just far enough out to have lost sight of land. Nets whistled as they flew through the air, hit the water with a smack and sunk dreamily down into the big blue. Up on deck, a fisherman rubbed his beer belly with satisfaction and unscrewed his thermos lid. Happy at the thought of a strong cup of tea and a chocolate biscuit, he turned up the volume on his iPod and sang in falsetto, “Like a virgin… woo! Touched for the very first time…” The music filled his hairy ears. He was smiling and thinking about a girl he’d known in high school, so he didn’t notice the ripples around his starboard side, the two very large sea-green eyes that glinted in the sun then dipped below the surface, or the silvery fins that flicked the fiberglass hull.
“Are you awake? Are you awake? Or are you dead?” came a petulant voice bubbling with youthful impatience and silky as the salt water enveloping it. It was lucky for the fisherman that he didn’t happen to possess any super powers, like X Ray vision. His clogged arteries and this much reality would not be a good mix. Under his little boat, where only barnacles and boringly predictable currents hang out, something like a girl was swimming like a fish, and asking a lot of questions like a woman.
“Where are you guys going? Where did you come from? “Byron?” “What, do you come from Tug Boat stock, the strong, silent type?” Seafoam fired away. She even tickled the duckboard with a flurry of bubbles, hoping the smelly old boat would warm up to her.
If you could hold her still long enough, closer inspection would reveal Seafoam’s over sized eyes held a permanently dreamy look. Her pale, oddly colored skin was like the luminous inside of an Oyster shell and her long, dark hair was a burnished mahogany. Her mother said Seafoam’s hair was the color of the deck of that wooden ship, The Endeavor, that sailed by the year Seafoam was born. But her crowning glory had fiery red streaks here and there that she was quite proud of. “It’s like little sparks of fire under water!” “Fire under water… How delightful and impossible!” she’d think to herself. She used to think it was from thinking too much, but the red was actually inherited from her grandmother who was the hottest summer day on record. This particular day was indeed “a good hair day”. Shiny tendrils drifted around her slippery, human looking arms and torso and licked her perky breasts with their nipples like peaks of caramel. She’d heard they tasted like caramel as well. But who knows what that is, and who can believe anything Groupers say?
Anyway, on this particular day, below her finned forearms, around each of her delicate wrists, Seafoam was wearing her favorite seaweed bracelets. They trailed beside her like streamers she’d seen on bicycle handles. She wished she had a bell to ring, too. Like the ones she’d seen little girls dinging as they zoomed down the boardwalk at the Marina where the Land Lovers did their peopling or whatever it is humans do. In lieu of a bell to ring, Seafoam made do with a purple topped Cowrie shell strapped on with more seaweed and some fishing line she’d unknotted from around a seagull’s leg. It didn’t ding but it looked cool. Where her hips sloped down into thigh and luscious butt cheeks her skin turned shades of silver, like the choppy ocean’s surface just before an afternoon thunderstorm has a good cry.
Where a standard issue Mermaid’s tail would normally begin, Seafoam instead had long, muscular legs that tapered to powerful webbed feet–permanent flippers you could say. From a distance, if the light was right and the remnants of last night’s magic mushrooms had them fooled, a Land Lover lucky enough to catch sight of Seafoam could mistake her for a Mermaid. And sure, she could do a great mermaid impression, swimming lazily with her legs together, but a deep water nymph never got anywhere keeping her legs together. She’d laugh at the truth in that, and with a flick of her ankles, launch herself high into daylight, plunging in a beautiful sun kissed arch the shape of a whale’s spout. She did love to prove a point.
If she were here right now, and if you could speak Ocean–as many people used to–Seafoam would explain with pride that she is a Deep Water Nymph. Like many other supposedly mythological creatures, Deep Water Nymphs are most at home in the open ocean, so they’re rarely seen and, therefore, not well understood. They’re related to Mermaids and Sirens, yet are considerably smaller in stature, and of course they have those aforementioned lovely, long legs descending to flippers that forests of Sea Kelp just love to play and sway with. Mermaids are jealous of that by the way. Furthermore, while Sirens are downright devious, and Mermaids are famous for lying about on rocks, brushing their hair and pining for impossible loves, Deep Water Nymphs are, simply put, jovial. Like their Irish cousins, Silkies, Deep Water Nymphs love a good fight and are, obviously, closely related to Fresh Water Nymphs–like the ones John William Waterhouse captured in his famous painting “Hylas And The Nymphs”. It may be helpful to know, too, that Deep Water Nymphs find Land Lovers compelling and scary at the same time–kinda like a ferry crash.
Speaking of which, Seafoam loved to watch Land Lovers jostle around together on the deck of the tourist ferries to that “boom, boom” sound. Was it called “dancing?” Seafoam thought so. She clearly remembered the look on one’s face as she shuffled in time with her mate–or “husband”–Seafoam believed they were called. Saggy skin and pitiful lung capacity aside, those two Land Lovers radiated pure bliss. Memories like those got under Seafoam’s skin and soon she developed an inconvenient longing to dance. She was shunned by her sea-faring brethren for voicing such a desire. Surface frolicking, plunge diving, attack circling, bottom cruising–those were all respectable past times to the Oceanic Community. They could after all be considered survival practice or hunting techniques, but dancing? Ridiculous. You see, for thousands of generations Underwaterlings (they call each other Undies for short) have all felt far superior to humans. So a pointless desire to dance, to stumble around upright sucking down toxic air would certainly be, pardon the pun, “a step backwards”. As time passed and the ocean grew warmer and shipping lanes got busier, it was generally held there were more important things to think about. The Undies in her area forgot about Seafoam’s wish, or simply laughed it off. Yet her dream persisted as only a dream can. She’d watch the occasional dinner cruise with its swarm of floppy tourists swaying gleefully, their wrinkly faces lifted to the moon. She’d catch those rare blissful looks, the rays of inexplicable happiness and keep them–a memento in her ageless psyche. That would be enough, wouldn’t it?
But back to the tale. Not a fish tale or a mermaid tail. The story tale. Seafoam had long been a fan of speaking to strangers and had learned a lot from the vessels Land Dwellers rode around in. But this little, old fishing boat–aptly named “The Grumpy Crab”– it wasn’t saying anything! It lolled from side to side and seemed almost bored. Tired of trying to strike up a conversation, Seafoam back flipped into a drop off in frustration. Stupid old floater, she thought to herself and laughed again.
Late that night, Seafoam was snuggled up to a Spanish Dancer sea slug, with its silky frills against her neck, just drifting with the tide in a symphony of moonbeams when a strange, muffled breath yanked her out of a dream. “Shhhhhhh.. gggggggghhhhhkkk!..” came the snorting sound again. Near the entrance to a Rock Fish cave, two black figures loomed…
To see what happens next and how this story ends check back here for news about “Seafoam” – a short story e-book – coming soon to Amazon for Kindle!
To check out more of my magical realism short stories, cruise by my Amazon Author Page here.
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