Once upon a time, in a world where taking a break could help you find out who you really are, a young girl named Bella was on her way to spend some time with her grandparents at their beach house. This would be the first time Bella had ever been swimming at a beach, so she was very much looking forward to the trip. She and her grandparents had been planning this trip for weeks, discussing and writing down the activities they were going to undertake each day, figuring out what they were going to have for lunches and dinners and, of course, purchasing Bella a brand-new swimming costume. After a lovely but considerable drive, they arrived at the beach house which looked just as beautiful as Bella had imagined from her parents’ descriptions, even down to the fact that they had no neighbours for miles around them. As they drove up the driveway, however, Bella noticed something strange. Although the beach house was just as magnificent and calming as she had dreamed, Bella couldn’t help but feel uneasy about the fact that there was no beach, no ocean or, for that matter, no sign of any water anywhere at all.
Bella kept her curiosity to herself as they unpacked the car, each family member taking care of their own belongings, carrying them up the stairs and placing them down in the front area of the house. Bella took this opportunity to admire the details of the house, even finding charm in the way in which some of the older wooden beams were letting in sunlight through the cracks separating one beam from another. A musky smell filled each room of the house, but it didn’t bother Bella, as she figured that this was because the house wasn’t used all that often, adding to her gratefulness for being one of only a select few people to be brought to the house. Bella started feeling odd referring to the house as a beach house, because, despite taking the time to look through each of the slightly dusty windows, Bella was still yet to see any evidence whatsoever of any water anywhere.
The three of them headed to their bedrooms and took their time unpacking their belongings, organising them into draws and laying out the clothes they might need over the next few days. Bella was becoming quite sceptical about whether or not she would even need her brand-new swimmers, but her grandmother specifically mentioned to her that they will most certainly come in handy, so she left them on the dresser in her room for easy access.
Once they were unpacked, they sat around the table in the small dining room and discussed the more memorable moments their family had experienced over the years while enjoying the soup they had planned to eat that night. Bella, however, was understandably distracted and had trouble both finishing her meal and drawing on the details of the memories they were talking about. Her politeness kept her from mentioning her concerns over the lack of water near the house, though it was noticeable that her grandparents had not yet brought it up, either. After dinner, as her grandmother knitted, and her grandfather completed a crossword, Bella sat, curled up in a rocking chair pretending to read her book, finding herself using the quiet of the night to see if she could hear any waves in the distance. Occasionally, she was sure that she could hear the ocean but then thought the sound could have just as easily been the wind creating a rustling in the distant trees.
Just as Bella had the sense that they may be about to all head to bed for the night, her grandmother put down her knitting and came and sat beside her grandfather on the double sofa, placing a hand on his knee. He put down his pen and crossword and the two of them stared at Bella for a moment. She felt a little uneasy, but then her grandmother broke the tension by telling her it was time to put her swimmers on. Bella shook her head a little and, sensing her hesitation, her grandmother walked over and opened the front door to the tiny wooden, house and asked Bella to come and look outside. To her surprise, Bella could not only hear the sounds of waves crashing but could see that there was water heading towards the house. Panicking slightly, but also very excited, Bella looked up at her grandmother who reminded her that now was the time to put her swimmers on. She raced into her room, changed as quickly as she could and met her grandparents back in the living room.
The waves had now reached the front steps of the house, and Bella held her grandmother’s hand tightly as she watched the first round of waves enter the house. Bella took a step backwards, but her grandmother insisted they should remain where they were. Bella looked back at her grandfather who had a calming smile on his face. He told her not to worry and that she would soon see that everything was going to be alright. Water finally started to fill the living room and Bella felt the water touch her feet for the first time. It was a magical feeling, better than she ever could have imagined.
Still holding her grandmother’s hands while watching her feet in the clear, ocean water, Bella noticed that her feet felt slightly strange. She asked her grandmother what was happening when suddenly her grandmother ran towards the open door and dove into the ocean, Bella catching a glimpse of what looked like a fish’s tail where grandmother’s legs should have been. Bella looked down at her own feet and started to laugh as she realised that, as the water rose to her knees, her own feet were now joined and her legs becoming covered in shiny, silver scales.
She managed to work her way to the open door, took a deep breath and dove into the ocean water.
My name is Gregg Savage and, every night when the house is quiet, I write and publish a free children’s story at dailytales.com.au for you to share and enjoy.
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International License.