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Honorable Mention Story by Max

What Happened to a Normal Day

I wake up to the beeping of my alarm longing for sleep. It’s seven o’clock on a sunny August day.  I never get enough sleep because I am a light sleeper and I get really hot which wakes me up frequently.  I always toss and turn.  I drag myself out of bed and fall to the floor.  I look to the wall to see a picture of myself and my ghost of a father. 
            I was nine years old when the incident happened.  It was just like any other day; I went to school and my father went surfing.  There were big waves and people were told to stay out of the water.  Of course my stubborn daredevil of a father had to go in.  It wasn’t the waves that got him; it was a shark.  He was pulled under and never seen again.
            I came home to my mother who was sobbing about my father dying and my life as I knew it, ended there.   My mom and I don’t have the best connection.  I don’t talk to her a lot because I think it’s her fault that Dad died because she always let him go out surfing and didn’t warm him about the impending storm the last time he took his board to the waves. 
            I haul myself down the hall to the breakfast table where my mom pours me a bowl of my favorite cereal, Captain Crunch.  I finish within a minute and wash out my bowl.  I slide my flip-flops on and tell my mom I’m going to the beach.  I stroll out the front door and take the hundred-foot walk to the water.      
I feel the warm sand slither between my toes and massage my feet.  I walk down the beach and pick up shells along the way to my special rock planning to watch the sunrise like always.  I love the fresh sea air.  It makes me calm and remember my dad.  I throw rocks into the ocean and watch as they splash.  This is the best part about living in Florida.  It’s always warm and there is always a beach to walk on.  
The rock is warm and has a glisten to it.  The gray surface has a scramble of words written on it because I use it as my journal.  It’s flat and about five feet around.  I would use another smaller rock and etch the words onto the surface with it.  It was my dad’s idea in the first place to use the rock.  We always use to come together.   All the writing is just my feelings with the date.  Today I’m relaxed as I always am in the summer.
I look at the ocean to see a bunch of birds dive-bombing.  It must be a school of herring.  Whatever it is, it’s coming closer to the shore.  That’s not a school of fish.  It looks like a dolphin!  I walk closer to the water and start to feel the clumpy sand touch my feet.  My heart starts to pump faster.  It feels like it skips a beat.  I don’t believe what I am seeing.  It’s a mermaid!  I quickly bring out my pocketknife.  She is tangled in a lobster trap.   Flipping and turning, she makes me nervous because I have knife in my hand and I don’t want to hurt her.  I cut through the rope and toss it along with its trap to the beach.  By the looks of her, she is my age or one year older.  Surprisingly I hear a small soft voice speak. 
It whispers, “My name is Sara.” 
            It takes me a couple of seconds to respond but when I come to, I slowly say, “I’m Milo.”
I have to get her out of the water.  I have been in there too long myself and want out because of my fear of the ocean.  And I am so drawn to her that I can’t let her go and must bring her with me.  Then I think to myself, will she die if I take her out?   No.  I take the risk and drag her to the soft fluffy sand.  For the first time I feel her tail.  It’s greenish blue, a mottled turquoise.  When I reach out to touch her tail she flinches but then says, “It’s ok you can touch it.”  It has a slimy feel to it but is soothing.  Sara starts to glow like a sea of moon jellies.  I turn my head because the glare is blinding.  When I turn my head I see a naked girl with legs.  I blush and slowly take a glimpse at her body and stop myself, feeling embarrassed, turn right around, and run to the rock and grab my towel.  I go back to Sara and give her the towel.  Sara wraps it around herself and tries to stand up.  She falls right back down.  This happens five times and then I hear a screech of frustration.  I help Sara up and thankfully keep her in a standing position.  Once again she thanks me profusely.  Right then I come to and realize the fact that I am holding a mermaid in my hands.  I think to myself that this can’t be happening.  I must be dreaming.  I touch her arm and realize I am really holding a mermaid.  I quickly tell Sara, “ Stay here.”  I run to the rock and grab my shoes and cell phone.  I run back to Sara and realize something.  Where am I going to put her?
I panic, but then realize where I can put Sara.  I’ll bring her back to my house and put Sara in my pool till 3:00 P.M. when mom gets home.  I don’t know what I will do when she gets home.  I calmly say to Sara, “ I’m going to take you back to my house and put you in my pool.”  Sara gives me a slight nod and grabs my shoulder.  It takes a while to get Sara to the beach entrance because she falls every couple of steps.  I finally get her across the street and take her into my house.  As soon as we get into the house Sara plops right down on the couch.  She is just like a normal teenage girl except she isn’t. 
I decide I should probably take Sara out to the pool because she feels more comfortable in water.  I really don’t want to move her right now because she is watching TV.  I’m going to have to because she is becoming a TV brain as I look at her memorized eyeballs. 
“Sara come to the pool out back,” I say as I watch her silently get up from the couch.  She doesn’t talk a lot, which in a way is just like me.  As soon as we walk outside, the mid-day sun hits us with a warm feeling.  The pool is a modern take on a California style pool.  Actually the whole house is based on something from California.  It was my dad’s choice because as a boy he grew up in Santa Cruz.  Sara jumps right into the pool and regains her floppy and sparkly tail. 
I feel a small buzz in my pocket and grab my phone.  It is a text from my best friend Sam. 
“\Oh shoot,” I say as I remember I was supposed to hang with Sam today!  I realize though that I could bring him over to see Sara.  I text him back saying that he could come over and that I have a surprise for him.
“That will do,” as I watch Sara do flips and jumps.  I just then realize she doesn’t’ have any cloth’s! 
“I’ll be right back Sara” as I run to my mom’s bedroom. 
Thank god I say to myself as I look at my mom’s drawer that is filled with clothes.  My mom is small so I won’t have to worry about the clothes being too big.  I grab a couple things and run back to the pool put them on a chair with a fresh towel.  Just then there is a ring at the doorbell.  I run into the house with excitement and slide to the door.  I open it and Sam is waiting right there for me. 
“So what is the surprise?“
“Just come to the pool and I will show you, Sam.”  I walk him to the pool and just as we turn the corner Sara does one of her jumps.
“Holy crap!” says Sam. 
“I found her washed up on the beach,” I say with pride.  “  Say hi to her.”
“Well what is her name?”
“Her name is Sara.”
“Umm hi Sara,” Sam says slowly and nervously.
“Hi, “ says Sara with a jumpy spirit. 
 “Sara, I’ll be right back because me and Sam are going to go play some video games.”  She nods and we go and play some FIFA 2012. 
After two full hours of FIFA Sam gets a call from his mom calling him home.  We say our goodbyes and he is off.  I go back and watch the fascinating Sara.  Once again I feel a jolt in my pocket and see the text from Sam.  It says, “I’m sorry, Milo, but I told my mom about Sara, and she called the police, and they are on their way.”  My face goes pale and I don’t know what to do. 
“Sara we have to go now.  Put your clothes on and meet me right here.”  She gets out of the pool and takes the towel and dries herself off.  She starts to put her clothes on but I am already out the door to the garage.  In the garage there is something that belonged to my father.  It is his prized, custom-built, hot pink Santa Cruz surfboard.  I grab it and ran out of the garage and back to the pool.  Sara has her clothes on and is ready to go.
“Follow me,” I shout as I can hear the sirens off in the distance.  We run to the beach and don’t stop. We run for ten minutes until we get to the spot where we met.  It is time to step into the water.  I am scared but I have to do it.  I walk in slowly because I haven’t been in the water since my dad died.  I have to be brave and overcome my fears!  I trudge knee deep into the water with Sara on the surfboard.  If she gets out in the water I know she would be done for.  She has to be in deeper water, so I take my shirt off and start to paddle.  I feel warm water hit my chest.  Slowly but comfortably the water covers my body.  The salty water twists through my hair, making it very rough and sandy.  I haven’t been out here in a long time.  Every paddle I take I hear a whisper in my head.  It says to me, “closer,”, in a soft and wispy voice.  It sounds like my Dad’s voice.  Farther and farther I get out into the sea.  I get to the point where the water is too deep to see the bottom.  I feel the waves roll under us.  I get out about forty feet out and stop.
“Sara it’s time for you to go.”
“Okay,” she says with disappointed face that obviously stated her gloom.
“Visit again” I say as she plummets into the water. I watch her jump like a dolphin until I can’t see her anymore.  Right then I realize two things.  One, I just made a new friend, which is impossible for me.  Two, I conquered my fear of the ocean and will now look forward to being in it.  I just think these two things over and over again as I surf the waves of Florida in the afternoon sunlight.   I am welcomed home by a series of enormous, beautiful waves that I ride on my board as if it is an extension of my own body.  I am one with the ocean again.