Well, here we are at the last day of June. I’ve had a lot of fun the past two months. In May several authors visited with retellings of their novels from the mom of the main character’s POV to celebrate Mother’s Day. All of June was spent sharing excerpts of scenes featuring fathers from books to celebrate Father’s Day. It was the busiest month so far on the blog, with 12 different authors visiting, and it was a challenge for me to get it all posted in a timely fashion. As a beginning blogger, I feel pretty happy about how it all turned out. I will be back to posts about writing and revision in July. I'm always open to authors who would like to share a revision story, so please email me if you'd like to submit something. firstname.lastname@example.org (books must be appropriate for teen readers).
For the final post to the Scenes with Father’s theme, I’m doing a scene from my own novel Cry of the Sea. This scene comes from chapter three, right after June discovers the mermaids at the beach with her environmentalist activist father.
I’ll give you a little tip. If you go to the Fire and Ice Young Adult Books website, you can read the first two chapters. Then this excerpt comes right on the heels of that. Just like that you’ll have read almost 3 chapters of my novel for free. And if after all that hopping around you think you want to keep going, there are a bunch of links below to get yourself an ebook or print copy.
They must be surfers, was all I could think as I ran toward the three squirming bodies. Who else would be in the water this early in the morning? But even for surfers, this was pretty early. They’d have to have been surfing in the dark. That didn’t make any sense. Were they crazy? I knew some surfers at school, and they were definitely nuts sometimes, but surfing before the sun rose seemed extreme even for them.
Well, crazy or not, they didn’t deserve to be caught in an oil slick. I crashed down to my knees beside the bodies and dropped my gear. I started to reach out my hand to tap them and see if they were all right without even stopping to get a good look at them. But before I touched any of them, my arm recoiled back to my side.
“Dad!” I screamed. “Oh my God! Dad!”
My dad rushed up behind me. “Are they alive?” he asked, trying to catch his breath.
Words didn’t come. I couldn’t formulate a thought. I was too startled. These three figures lying in the sand in front of me weren’t surfers at all.
They weren’t even people.
From their facial features and upper torsos, they looked kind of like women, but all three of them had silver-colored skin. They were bald, with strange ridges marking their skulls. None of them seemed to have ears, only holes in the sides of their heads. No nose was visible, not even a bone or nostrils filled that space between their eyes and mouths. Although their mouths seemed to be moving, they were actually breathing through what looked like gills in their necks.
And if that wasn’t weird enough, instead of legs, their upper torsos stretched out into long, scale-covered, silver fishtails. If I had to say what these things stranded in front of me, splattered with oil, appeared to be, I’d say mermaids. And no, they didn’t look like they’d start singing songs or granting me wishes. They looked a little bit scary—but fragile too. Most of all, they looked like they were going to die, and no handsome prince was there to kiss them and keep them from turning into sea foam.
“June,” my dad whispered. “Do you think they’re real?”
“Yes,” I whispered back. “Strange but very real.”
“You don’t think they’re costumes?” he suggested. “Maybe some costume party on a yacht last night—they fell off.”
Sometimes my dad’s brain worked even more off-kilter than mine. I shook my head. “Those are not costumes, Dad.”
Those beings lying there in the sand were not wearing anything that was cut or stitched together. What I saw wasn’t material. It wasn’t a lycra suit like on Catwoman, nor was it some kind of make-up like that chick from X-Men. Make-up would’ve been washed away.
What I saw was real skin. Or some kind of skin, if skin could be silver. And those were real scales, not some kind of pointy sequins. I’d been around enough fish to know the difference. Besides, if these were a couple drunk, rich women in costumes, they’d be dead already. I knew these creatures weren’t dead, because the one closest to me suddenly opened its eyes and focused them right at me.
They were huge and midnight blue, almost like eyes from a Japanese Anime character but more oval in shape. The color was so deep, lacking any light, probably like the world the creature knew. In those eyes I saw such intense pain and desperation. The creature implored me with those eyes to do something to help. The mermaid raised its webbed hands to its throat. The other mermaids started doing the same action.
“I don’t think they can breathe,” I said. “They’re suffocating.”
My dad and I had been kneeling there in the sand, mesmerized by the creatures for far too long. I forced myself to my feet and sprang into action. Reaching into my pack, I pulled out a box of alcohol wipes. I used them to wipe the oil away from the mermaids’ gills and faces. The mermaids cringed at the sting of the alcohol. While I attended to the mermaids, my dad got on the cell phone.
“Yeah,” he said to someone on the other end. “It’s Peter Sawfeather. We’ve got an emergency… Oil spill… How fast can you get the center ready? We’ve got a number of animals here, but we need to bring in three, um, fish, right away… We can’t wait… Dolphin size… Saltwater… Give us twenty minutes. Maybe less.” He closed his phone and came back to me.
By now the sun was fully above the horizon. The Coast Guard and Affron specialists should be arriving any moment to take over.
“We’ve got to get them out of here before Affron gets here,” Dad told me as if I didn’t know that already. “They won’t be safe.”
I chose not to take a moment to say, “Duh,” even though I was thinking it. Instead, I slipped my arms under the cold, slimy body of the first mermaid. He didn’t lean over and grab the tail. Instead, he was rummaging through his pack. “Dad,” I said impatiently, “help me carry them.”
“Wait,” my dad said. “One second.” He pulled out the video camera he’d stashed in there when he ran over to join me and aimed the lens at the three mermaids. “Hold that one up a little bit more, June,” he ordered. “Let me get a good shot of her.”
“Dad, we don’t have time for this,” I said. He didn’t listen. He gestured for me to hold the mermaid up even a little straighter. “This might be hurting her.” He put a ‘stop’ hand up. I guess I had her where he wanted. “Dad, am I in this shot?” I asked. “Please say no.”
With the mermaid dying in my arms, I knew it was awful to think about how ugly I was at the moment. I mean, my hair wasn’t brushed, and I didn’t have a stitch of make-up on. A part of me realized that I shouldn’t care about such things. I should only care about doing what was right—saving the mermaids and recording their plight for the world to discover. This was an unbelievable find that I could barely wrap my head around, and yet I knew it was more important than my stupid vanity. That was the thinking of the responsible person my parents raised, who understood the enormity of what was happening, what I was holding in my arms. The rest of me, however, was still a teenage girl with a few basic needs. One necessity was being given some kind of warning that I was going to be filmed, so I would not be completely hideous looking. Who knew where my dad might choose to send this footage? I didn’t even have a free hand at the moment to tuck my stray hairs back up under my cap.
Dad put up a ‘shush’ finger in front of his mouth and then started narrating into the microphone: “We’ve found an amazing discovery at Grayland Beach in Washington today. What you are seeing are three sea creatures that appear to have human features such as arms, a torso, and a head. Based on these features being matched with fish tails, one might stipulate that these are the mermaids of legend. They have found their way to this beach because of leaking oil from an Affron Oil vessel. The mermaids have mere moments to live unless we can get them to a tank of water and get the oil cleared away from their gills.” He leaned close to me to get a good shot of the gills on the mermaids’ necks.
“Dad,” I said urgently. “Stop taping. We don’t have time. They’re dying.”
As he focused tightly on the face and neck of the mermaid in my arms, guess who else got a close-up on camera?
“Dad!” I shouted for two reasons. Do-gooder and teenage girl unite in protest!
My dad snapped up. “You’re right,” he said, backing up and turning off the camera. “I got carried away.” He tucked the camera inside the bag on his shoulder and helped me lift the first mermaid.
Her skin had a spongy quality similar to the skin of a dolphin or seal, and yet it wasn’t as thick as a sea mammal and not nearly as heavy. Some of the scales bent backwards and cut at my hands. I guessed the scales protected her like armor. As we carried her to the truck, I saw the mermaid’s skin color darken. Her eyes fluttered, and her gills worked frantically. She had to get back into water—fast.
Want to read more?
Fire and Ice Young Adult Books (publisher)
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Kindle (only $2.99 right now)
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D. G. Driver
Author of Young Adult books Cry of the Sea and Passing Notes.