I CAN LIVE UNDER THE SEA

A short story in twenty five chapters
  1. 1.
    Trust Me
    My dad assured me it would work; he'd spent years researching his theories, and he was certain he'd found the key.
  2. 2.
    Drink Me
    He's been gone for two years. It's time. He said the formula takes about a half hour to activate, so I pop the cork from the small green bottle and take a big gulp.
  3. 3.
    Just Go
    I race outside, hop on my bike, and head for the beach.
  4. 4.
    Dooo It
    I don't want to be seen crossing the wide expanse of sand, and fortunately no one is around—except for a couple surfers on the other side of the pier.
  5. 5.
    Feel Something
    I step confidently into the water. My feet tingle. I dive into the surf and start to swim. I don't feel the cold, and I'm swimming faster than I ever could before.
  6. 6.
    Just Breathe
    My lungs aren't screaming for air, so I open my mouth and inhale. It's working!
  7. 7.
    No Tail
    I swim on; going deeper and deeper. I haven't turned into a fish, or even a mermaid, but I'm navigating the water as if I had.
  8. 8.
    Look Around
    Now that I feel comfortable and safe, I see what's around me. There are so many fish. Huge rocks and green and yellow plants waving in the current. A bat ray glides by, and I reach out to touch its fleshy wing. It feels like squeezing a mushroom cap. I see what I think are several sea bass in the distance, and I feel bad when I imagine their tasty flesh searing on our backyard grill.
  9. 9.
    Touch Bottom
    I can see the ocean floor beneath me, so I decide to see if I can stand—and I can! Swimming will get me where I want to go quickly, and walking allows me to explore small areas more closely.
  10. 10.
    I Spy
    I'm exploring a huge coral reef. There are anemones, sponges, starfish, wrasses, tiny gobies, and colorful rockfish with their pouty mouths. I graze the body of a flatfish camouflaged in the sand; it flaps away, clearly annoyed. A couple bottlenose dolphins are diving and jumping high over my head.
  11. 11.
    Closer Inspection
    I see a small cave in the reef and swim above the sharp edges to get a better look. A wolf eel peers out from a small hole at the opening of the cave. It seems indifferent to my presence. There are small crustaceans: spiny mole crabs, neon blue shrimp, and rock lobsters scuttling in and around the rocks.
  12. 12.
    Slowly I Turn
    My peripheral vision catches a glint of metal not far off. I hear a muffled voice ... is this possible?
  13. 13.
    Can it Be?
    "Laurie! What brings you here?" the figure calls out. I freeze, totally confused. Is my dad's undersea formula causing hallucinations? Then recognition dawns ... "Diver Dan?! Is that you?!" I call out.
  14. 14.
    Old Friends
    "Sure is, Laurie! How you been?" "Great, Diver Dan," I say. "I've been ... wait, uh, how do you know my name?" "You watched my show, Laurie. You were a loyal fan. I know all my fans' names," Diver Dan said. I smiled at him.
  15. 15.
    Long Time
    "It's been years, Diver Dan," I said. "I loved your show so much. I watched every day—so did my friends. Why did you quit?"
  16. 16.
    Bitter Revelation
    "Laurie, I didn't quit on all you kids, those bastards at the network cancelled my show," he said. "They said live-action shows with fish puppets were dead. They told me I was through. So, I left Hollywood forever; I don't take shit from nobody."
  17. 17.
    Another Party
    "Language, Dan. Language," a melodic voice called out behind me. I turned to see a beautiful face that was immediately familiar to me. "Miss Minerva!" I exclaimed. "Is it really you?"
  18. 18.
    Family Man
    "Oh, she's not Miss Minerva anymore," said Diver Dan, lumbering over to the lovely mermaid in his diving suit. "We got married over forty years ago, right, M?" "Yes, Dan. It's forty seven years this November," said Minerva.
  19. 19.
    Happy News
    "Wow, congratulations to you both." I said. "I had no idea. Miss—MISSES Minerva, how's your dad, King Neptune?" "Oh, as ornery as ever," she replied. "He was really against me marrying a Land Man, but considering all that Dan has done for us down here—keeping us safe from the bad elements—he had to give his blessing. He even officiated our ceremony."
  20. 20.
    Bad Fish
    "Speaking of bad elements," I said "How is Baron Barracuda doing? Did Trigger give up smoking finally?" "Well, Laurie, the Baron went to the great fish bowl in the sky two years ago. And that sinister creep Trigger is still polluting the ocean with his butts," Diver Dan said. "He's got no respect for himself or the environment."
  21. 21.
    How it Is
    "Too bad," I said. "Say, Diver Dan, do you live under the sea full-time? That must be tough in that heavy suit." "Oh, yeah," he replied, "I was done with up there. Me and Minerva built a good life down here, and she couldn't live on land, being a mermaid and all. That Little Mermaid story is a bunch of crap, by the way." "Language, Dan. Language," Minerva scolded.
  22. 22.
    Just Stay
    "Well, I can't blame you, Diver Dan. I love it down here. It's like heaven to me." "Stay, said Minerva and Diver Dan said in unison. "There are a lot of nice fish in the sea. We could introduce you to a super tiger shark who dates outside his species ..."
  23. 23.
    Good Times
    I remembered my husband, my daughters, grandkids, and my friends. I didn't even leave a note about my plans. How long had I been down here? I don't want anyone worrying. "Thank you, both," I said. "but I have a really nice life up there. My family, friends, a big cat ... I couldn't just leave them. In fact, guys, I'd better head back up."
  24. 24.
    Saying Goodbye
    "We understand," said Diver Dan. "But if you ever get cancelled, come on back down. Can you? I never even asked how you managed this without a diving suit." "It's a long story, Diver Dan. A long story."
  25. 25.
    Going Home
    I gave Diver Dan and Mrs. Minerva big hugs, turned, and swam off through the salty sea toward the beach. I'll remember this experience forever, I thought, as I waded out from the surf. The beach was packed with people, all of them staring at me, open mouthed. Wondering, certainly, where I'd come from. I found my bike and headed toward home, none the worse for wear.
  26. 26.
    THE END
  27. 27.
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