The Curiosity of Shimmering Purple
While visiting the aquarium, 7-year-old Nina finds something magical in the giant fish tank.
Nina presses her face up against the glass of the giant fish tank. The tip of her nose scrunching up and bending in an attempt to get closer. Her little palms flatten against the glass, as she turns her head this way and that. She saw it, she knows she did, and it doesn't matter what Mum thinks, it was real.
She hates being seven because Mum never believes her and only smiles and laughs when Nina tells her things like this. It's not fair. Nina doesn't see what's so funny about it. It doesn't matter that Mum doesn't tell her that she's wrong because Nina can see that's what she thinks.
But Nina is super-duper, extremely positive that she saw a mermaid.
A very beautiful mermaid.
So, Nina is going to find it and she's going to take a photo with the camera Dad let her use to take pictures of all the fish. Then Nina can smile and laugh when Mum sees it too.
She's managed to squeeze into the same corner she was in earlier. Earlier when she was watching the sharks and happened to first spot the mermaid swimming down behind a big rock. This time, her eyes stay glued on all the blue. She constantly moves her head, her eyes narrowing whenever fishes or bubbles get in her way. Soon, Mum will drag her away from the big tank and Nina can't let that happen. She has to get her photo.
Suddenly, out of the corner of her eye, there's a swish. Her head snaps in that direction. The water moves in waves with tiny bubbles floating upward where it's been disturbed but all Nina sees is the shimmery, purple tail fin that disappears over the rock and behind some greenery that frames the giant rock structure that sits a little off-centre in the tank. She knows there are no purple fishes that big in the tank.
It happens quickly after that.
When no mermaid or fish or anything comes around the side of the giant structure. Nina crouches down so she can peer up toward the top of the tank. At first, there's nothing and then there are two hands on the edge, followed by a face that peers over to look down from the structure. Long brown hair flows around, reaching this way and that way as its eyes follow the fish with amusement.
Nina stares up at the mermaid in awe because it's so pretty and real. Grabbing at the camera, she turns it on and brings it to her eye then looks through the little hole like Dad told her to. Only, when she looks toward the mermaid, it's gone.
With a gasp, Nina pulls the camera away and looks again but the structure is bare. She pouts as her gaze drops down only to land on more purple. Nina stares wide-eyed at the mermaid who is now hiding behind the smaller rock from earlier. The purple tail occasionally swishes out from over the top of the rock as the mermaid's face peeks out from the side of it to look right at Nina.
Stunned into silence, Nina's little mouth goes slack. She can see now that the mermaid's eyes are also brown, only a little darker than its hair. Those eyes are curious as they look at Nina all over. It makes the little girl shiver all over. Being up close like this is very different, like a trance, but she manages to snap herself out of it.
Bringing the camera up once more, she doesn't get too far before two things happen at once: Mum calling her name and the mermaid catching sight of the camera. With a surprised look from both of them, Nina hits the big button Dad had shown her just as the mermaid turns and swims back into hiding.
Mum reaches her and takes ahold of Nina's hand, murmuring a soft, "let's see what else we can find" as they set off away from the tank. With her free hand, Nina pushes the buttons on the camera until a picture fills the screen and she stops walking, forcing Mum to stop as well. Quickly, she thrusts the camera upward for Mum to take. When she does so, Nina hops from foot to foot, looking hopefully up at Mum who studies the photo in front of her.
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