In another world, a newer time, and better storyline, Ariel would have saved the dinglehopper. Shined it, cared for it, and put on display, just left to the thingamabobs and below the galore of whatsits.
She tossed it to the side, instead, and torpedoed deeper into the sunken ship. That voice and those eyes of the strange, smoky blue figure. He felt… Familiar, like she had heard of him before. And like all things land, she swam down to the largest collection of whose-its to skim through layers of thin tablets to find him, before the delicate etchings faded away.
As she flowed and swayed, to and frow, to the waters current, she hummed its tune, to make numb the pain in her chest. Last time she had been down here, flounder almost lost his tail…
And daddy had to listen to a dozen schools of fish complain about how much of a bad influence the youngest princess was on their many children.
Ariel, of course, still protested and blamed it on the shark, to which Flounder had joined in to agree and protest as well.
In the day’s current, though, she swam alone. There was no reason to danger another creature with her wildest passions. And, Flounder had been… Well, to put it bluntly, Flounder was growing up. And growing tired of the olden days of Chase and Explore, like her young guppy games were merely that. Games. And Flounder had his future to think of, of course.
Well, Ariel had hers to. And when they discovered her plans, well…
She swayed this way and that, gliding over the leather-bound wonders as she pretended to read each foreign symbol etched into their bindings. And as she swayed, she hummed, then parted her lips and let out a soft melody that traveled through the waters around her:
“I need another story,
Something to get off my chest.
My life is kind of boring,
Need somewhere that I’m not oppressed.
My sisters made their bed
They won’t listen to see past, instead
The mask they think I don’t wear.
Thought you saw me blink, so,
I can hardly breath, so
Tell me what you want to hear,
Your voice has been so unclear,
So sick of being insecure,
I just wanna let go and fly away.
This time, I pray that you’re not a lie,
Don’t care if I cross the line,
I’m gonna let go and fly away.
But, if only my family knew,
What would they say?
So sick of all the insincere
Why won’t they just let me go and fly away?
I’ve tried, hidden messages in lullabies
Won’t let my feelings stand by
Why won’t they just let me go and fly away?
They won’t miss me if I’m not here,
They won’t come no matter how much I let them in,
They can’t see that I’m so insecure
Why can’t they just let me go and fly away?
These ties, broken so easily when family dies,
Won’t care about me either way,
If they just let me go, I would fly away.”*
Her fingers paused against one of the bindings, and she knocked the fragile tablets to the side and picked up the largest one on the bottom, as easily as a leaf of seaweed. Spiraling to the top of the boat, Ariel opened it up to the fading pages and let the book fall to the shipwreck floor as she followed it down. It made no sound as it touched the sand below and she settled down in front of it, her tail swaying back while she studied the strange language, like a young girl swings her feet back and forth as she is reading a good book.
Slowly, she turned each page, caught between amazement and wonder and the beautiful creature and how those humans understood a single character that was written on these thin, clothlike pressings. Her heart picked up when she turned a page, and caught sight of the blue male figure, the one she had spoken with up on shore.
Her eyes darted to below the portrait, and her fingers ran back and forth along the foreign languages, recognizing the repeat of many characters, but not quite able to understand them. But the pictures of the man, Ariel could understand those. Pictures were like ballads of shapes and figures. His especially were a whirlpool of color, striking every mental nerve with a sharp pluck. He was like a song, was the only way she could describe it, a song she learned to sing and scream and bellow, but could not for her own life, form the words to.
Red locks floated and hovered for a moment, as her head dipped down and she brushed her lips against the blue figure’s with a chaste passion. She giggled at her own silliness, then sighed as she stared at the portrait, longing to kiss it again.
“A-Ariel!” Her head jerked up with sudden fear and shame, and she quickly closed the book.
“Flounder?” she called out, looking all around. He would not understand her at all. But, her heart beat fast with excitement. Perhaps, he had changed his mind? Yes! Perhaps now, he would try, really try to understand her feelings.
“Flounder! I’m down here!” Pressing the large leather-bound tablet to her chest, she lifted herself up off the ocean floor, and circled around to scan the broken openings in the ships hole. Where was he?
“Ariel!” there was his voice again! Above her? No, it had been fading.
“Flounder, wait!” She giggled again, and swam through the hatch to the top deck. “I was down looking at pictures again. I found what I was looking for!” Her tail turned in twirls again, expecting to see the yellow sea creature floating just behind her, but there was no glimpse of his blue stripes, nor his tiny fin. “Flounder, I told you I was going to the shipwreck.” She called out, swimming further on to where she believed she had heard his voice.
“Ariel!” She heard his voice again, this time around one of the coral reef’s tunnels.
Her best friend, she had to catch him! They would play one last game of Chase, before she told him her plans. Ariel needed Flounder to support her on this. She could not do it alone. “My, Flounder, you’ve gotten rather fast!”
Slowing down to the entrance of the tunnel, her gills pulled in fresh saltwater, then she torpedoed forward, and around the bend. “Ahah- Flounder?” She paused again. He was not… there.
“Ariel!” Again, his voice called out, and she swam after it. This part of the reef did not look familiar to her. Perhaps he had found a new hideout for them? Yes, one last game of Explore before she moved on.
“You can hide, Flounder, but you can’t swim very fast!” She laughed again, chasing after his voice as she held the book to her chest. Yes, she would catch him, then show him what she had found! Just like they used to do!
Around more corners, and through deeper tunnels, she followed his voice again and again as he called out to her, never quite able to catch a glimpse of him. He must have been at the end, and had planned this, for his voice traveled very well through the tunnels. Obviously, that must have been the case, because there was no way Flounder was that fast.
Suddenly, Ariel turned around a corner and reached a dead end. But, there was no Flounder. Above her, though, the water stopped, and opened up into an air pocket. Her and Flounder had come across a few of these before, but he had never willing gone through one.
“Oh, Flounder, you can’t hide, either!” She chimed out, then broke through the surface with alarming speed, and halted quickly before she dolphined through the air. The cavern was brightly light, the burning, flickering heats that she had seen so many countless times on land, rested on either side, before the short shore. Her hand reached out to it in longing.
That burning, flickering heat, she had longed to lace her fingers through and grasp, not matter how badly it scorched her flesh. But, then… “Flounder…?”
“Oh, is that what you call the Cheesy Filet?” Her heart caught in her throat, and she held the binding to her chest protectively, though she knew it was meaningless compared to whom that voice belonged to. He stepped out from the shadows and into the glowing light, the wispy smoke following behind him as he reached the water’s edge.
She moved back instinctively, and every bone in her tail urged her to run. But… “Where is Flounder?”
“Not here,” he grinned, “I used his voice to lure you here.”
Shame swept her features as she had so stupidly followed his lure, and had kissed his portrait so carelessly. “W-why…?”
“Don’t you think it’s time we talked,” his hand raised up and she felt the waters shift behind her. Spinning around, she watched the entrance she had swam through close up with thick fog, the kind of fog that was warned could swallow a mermaid whole, if they got too close. She moved back away from the smoke, then turned to face him, now at his feet, on the shores edge. “Without interruptions this time, Ariel,” he added with a smile.
Song*: Secrets by OneRepublic
Featured Image: I do not own the rights to this image. Unfortunately, I cannot find the original source, either.