Ava loved exploring the ocean. Ever since she was little, she was fascinated by the underwater world. On her 12th birthday, her parents gave her a new snorkeling set so she could see even more sea creatures.
The next weekend, Ava’s family went to visit the beach. After playing in the waves, Ava decided to go snorkeling. She swam out past the shallows into deeper water. The water was so clear that Ava could see far below. There were colorful fish darting between coral branches. Sea turtles glided by and schools of silver fish flickered like living quicksilver.
As Ava swam further, the sea floor dropped away into a sandy canyon. She spotted movement out of the corner of her mask. Turning, Ava gasped – it was a pod of dolphins! They were playing chase, somersaulting through the water. Ava watched in amazement as they swam over to investigate her. One dolphin nudged her hand gently with its nose, as if saying hello. Ava giggled, feeling the dolphin’s smooth skin.
Suddenly, the dolphins sped off into the blue. Ava swam after them, curious where they were going. As she crested a ridge of coral, Ava froze. Below was an incredible sight – a hidden lagoon ringed with white sand. But most amazing of all were the creatures swimming there. From the waist up, they had beautiful girl’s bodies. But below, their skin gradually blended into shimmering fish tails!
Ava pinched herself under water. Were those…mermaids? She had heard stories but never believed they were real. Yet here was an entire community of them! The mermaids were playing, braiding each other’s long hair and collecting shells. Ava watched, entranced, as they swam with graceful spins and twirls. One mermaid noticed Ava staring and smiled, waving in a friendly way. Ava waved back shyly.
Suddenly, a school of barracuda shot into the lagoon, chasing a smaller fish. The mermaids screamed and scattered. But one little mermaid was separated from her mother, crying in fear as the barracuda circled. Without thinking, Ava kicked hard and swam between the barracuda and the mermaid. She waved her arms and fins, trying to scare the fish away. It worked, and the barracuda fled.
Ava turned to the little mermaid. She had blue scales and pink hair, with a sad face. Ava took the mermaid’s hand and towed her gently towards the others. The mermaid’s mother embraced her, thanking Ava with tears in her eyes. Ava smiled, but then realized she needed air soon. She waved goodbye to the mermaids, who waved and blew kisses in return.
Ava surfaced, gasping for breath. She couldn’t wait to tell her family about the amazing things she saw! But when she got to shore, Ava realized no one would believe her story. They might think she was dreaming or making it up for attention. Ava decided to keep the mermaids a secret, at least for now.
The next weekend, Ava went snorkeling again, hoping to see her new friends. Sure enough, when she swam into the lagoon, the mermaids were there. They swam over excitedly, remembering Ava. The little mermaid she saved gave Ava a beautiful conch shell as a thank you gift. Ava spent the afternoon playing tag and hide and seek with the mermaids, who taught her their language of chirps, clicks and whistles.
Over the following months, Ava visited the mermaids whenever she could. She learned all about their underwater world and culture. The mermaids braided shells and corals into Ava’s hair. Ava brought them treats like berries and nuts that mermaids had never tasted before. Ava’s favorite was a mermaid named Coral, who had red scales and a kind heart. They became best friends.
One day, Ava arrived to find the mermaids in a panic. A large fishing net had been accidentally dragged into the lagoon. Several mermaids were entangled, struggling to free themselves. Ava swam over and began untangling the nets as fast as she could, helped by Coral and the others. It was hard work, but together they managed to release all the mermaids. Ava was proud of herself for saving her friends again.
As the seasons passed, Ava noticed Coral seemed sadder. When she asked what was wrong, Coral confided that at 16 years old, she would soon leave the lagoon to find a husband. Ava was upset at the thought of not seeing Coral anymore. But she understood it was part of growing up for mermaids. On Coral’s last day, they had a teary goodbye. Coral gave Ava a special pink shell necklace as a remembrance.
Ava treasured her time with the mermaids forever. As she got older, she became a marine biologist to continue learning about ocean life and protecting it. Ava never told a soul about the mermaids, keeping their secret safe. But she never forgot her best friend Coral or the magical summer she spent discovering the wonders of Mermaid Lagoon.