Willow Tuppingwon stood with her tail dangling in the water. The warm glow of the evening sun glistening on her pale cheeks. Her long brown hair flailed out behind her and she reached down to pick up a flower as the sunset slowly faded away. She brought her tale up onto the ledge and rested it there. She emerged from the water and sat silently. Pondering the questions of her world. No one knew she was a mermaid. No one could know. They would kill her. Mermaids were banned. Magic was banned. King Uther didn't believe that it was noble. He didn’t believe that it was anything. He thought it to be a mystical source that people tried to copy and failed. His son, Prince Arthur was a kind man. But he had the same views on magic. She sighed and walked slowly back to her small house. Leaving her fantasies of the world behind.
Opening the door she remembered that her mother had gone out to collect supplies. Her father was a knight and wouldn’t be back until morning. Sighing, she slipped on her pyjamas and climbed into bed. She needed to leave the problems of her world behind. She needed to sleep. Too many things were happening. Last Tuesday at precisely 5.34 pm a nobleman had kissed her. Now she felt a duty, no a responsibility to the King and his subjects. But by hiding her identity she was slandering the rules, bending them. It wasn’t allowed. The nobleman, Florian, had always had his eye on Willow. He had fallen in love with her. But she could not love him. She wanted to. But the rules forbid it. A nobleman could not marry a poor woman. Closing her eyelids she traced the lines on her hand and softly drifted into a dreamless slumber.
Morning came, bringing new problems with it. Willow awoke and felt wet. She looked down. Her tail was dangling out of the side of the bed. She gasped and tried to hide it under the covers as her dad walked in.
“Hi dad,” She said shakily.
“Time to get up, you got a full day ahead,”
“I know,” He walked out and she let out a sigh of relief. Her tail slowly dissipated and she felt relieved when her legs reappeared. Getting up slowly she walks into the small kitchen. Her mum had already gone out to work. It was just her in the house. Her dad always left just after he woke her. The tiny and battered kitchen sat next to a farmyard. Her mother worked all day long bringing in crops and harvesting grain. Not that she got to keep much of it. Willow readied herself and set out into the pastures. Her job was to sew the grain. Florian got pasture duty twice a week. That was two times that he could come to see her.
Willow went out to the fields and began to sew her grain. The cool breeze trickled past her tired body as she sewed all day long. Florian would come by at 4.30 to say a quick hi before he had to go to his next job. She looked forward to it all day long. She saw his blonde hair before he came around the corner. She squealed and rushed over to him. He hugged her and they stayed in that position before her friend Emery shouted that someone was coming. Florian and Willow detached from each other and she rushed to grab her basket. Willow started to sew her grain, but as Florian pulled away he splashed water onto her. She gasped and tried to run. The guard stopped her.
“Where are you going woman?”
“Please I need to go, just please,”
“Fine, you have 30 seconds otherwise it’s the stocks for you tonight,”
She rushed past him and cowered behind a large bush. Her tail sprouted and she fell to the floor. She heard footsteps approaching. She rushed to hide her tail. It was Florian. He looked astounded when he saw her tail.
“What? I’m sorry what?”
She sat there sheepishly not quite knowing what to do. He had uncovered her secret.
“I’m sorry, I should’ve told you,”
“Why didn’t you,” He said angrily
“I didn’t want to get you into trouble,”
He shook his head and placed his tanned hands on the bridge of his nose. The guard rushed along just as Willow detransformed.
“There you are,” Willow stood and left Florian in his grief. She didn’t want to leave him, but she had to. She walked slowly back to the field and started to sew again. Emery leaned across.
She shook her head slowly, “I don’t think Florian wants to be with me anymore,”
“That monster, don't worry I can take him out for you,”
“Don’t, it’s my fault,” Emery settled and went back to working with her other friend Gisela, leaving Willow all alone in her misery.
The harsh sun bared down on them and they shielded their faces from the sweltering heat. Willow just wanted to get home. She didn't want anyone else to get into trouble, not for her. The workday ended when the sunset. It started to get darker. She grabbed her stuff and ran off to her house. The little nook where she always sat was crowded with papers. The stars shined bright through her window and she looked out into the night sky. The cool calmness comforting her racing thoughts and pounding heartbeats. Florian was going to hate her. Cupping her hands she started to cry. A soft gust of wind blew past her. A piece of paper landed on her lap. She picked it up and unrolled it. In scrawly loopy writing with the seal of the king, it read this: We know who you are, and we can help. Willow wanted to ignore it. No one could possibly know who she was. Could they? The question pounded around in her brain and she decided to follow the small map beneath her writing. If it was from the king then she had to go. Walking outside to the calm night she looked up into the stars and set off to find her destiny.