Another huge wave crashed into the side of the little boat. Lily clung to the pole and watched as her brother, Tipton, ran to help his parents pull down the sail. The wind howled and lightning flashed across the dark sky. Lily dug her nails deeper into the wood of the pole. An enormous wave, with a white crest, slammed into the side of the boat. Lily was flung from the side of the ship into the cold, dark ocean. She could hear Tipton yelling, but everything else was going dark and quiet. The last thing she saw was a large, green fin swimming toward her.
When Lily woke up later, she was in a beautiful room with pink colored shells that decorated the walls. Vibrant red coral crept along the north wall, branching out like a tree. There were little bubbles floating on the ceiling that had a glow inside them, giving the room light. She was laying on a large bed with cool, yellow sheets with intricate designs of different types of fish sewed on. Lily rolled over and gasped: she was underwater! Yet she could still breathe, just as if she were on land. She was still marveling at this when a beautiful creature came into the room. Lily did a double take. It was a mermaid! The mermaid was extremely pretty with long red hair, and startling green eyes. She smiled at Lily then swam over.
"Well, I see that you're finally awoken. We've all been so worried," the mermaid said. Lily was too shocked too say anything, she just stared at this gorgeous being with large, round eyes.
The mermaid laughed, a lovely tinkling sound. "By the way, my name's Arria, and you're in MerLand. This is where all the Merpeople live, and you're the first human to ever see it," she smiled.
"Wow," that was all Lily could think to say.
"And one more thing," said Arria. "See that necklace you're wearing?" Lily looked down and saw a beautiful amethyst on a gold chain around her neck. "Never take that off," Arria continued. "That is what enables you to breathe."
"But how does it work?" Lily asked, still gazing at the lovely purple stone.
Arria shrugged. "It's magic. And the only person who knows about magic is Lestina."
Lily nodded. "I wish Coral was here. He would love this."
"Who's Coral?" Arria asked.
"Oh, that's my turtle," Lily answered. "I sure miss him and the rest of my family," she said softly.
Arria smiled sympathetically, "I know you do."
"How am I going to get home?" Lily asked, suddenly aware of this huge problem.
Arria looked uncomfortable. "Well," she said slowly. "We've never had a human here before, so I don't know how to get you back." Then seeing Lily's stricken face, she hastily added, "But I'm sure we'll find a way."
Lily nodded; she sure hoped Arria was right.
"How would you like to look around MerLand? I'm sure you'll enjoy it!" Arria offered, seeing how sad Lily looked.
"Okay," Lily agreed, and swam after Arria. When they left the room, Lily gasped with surprise. Everything was so beautiful down here. Merpeople were swimming around talking to each other. Shops declared sales on fin polishing kits, and fresh, green seaweed. Merchildren were playing tag and swam away at exciting speeds. Lily tried to keep up with Arria, but it was so hard to when there were so many new things to see. Arria waved to some of the shopkeepers and introduced Lily. All the Merpeople were just as interested in Lily as she was in them. They wanted to touch her legs, (since they had never seen them before) and see if she could talk like they did. Arria finally shooed them all away so Lily could escape from their excitement.
After a while, Arria led Lily into a small bookstore with a gleaming sign that read: Binaya's Best-selling Books.
"Who's Binaya?" Lily asked, peeking in through the window.
"One of my very dear friends. I think you'll like her," Arria said, grinning, and opened the bookshop store.
The store was dark and millions of books covered the bookshelves around the walls. Most of them were dusty and old, but some, on a cleaner case in the window, looked new. Lily ran her finger over the titles. They had weird names like, A Mermaid's Guide to the Over World, and The Amazing Adventure of Caodka the Crab. Lily giggled. These were some pretty crazy books. A soft tap on the shoulder startled her and she turned around quickly.
One of the strangest mermaids was standing right behind her. She had long blonde hair, pulled up in a tight bun, and her skin was very pale, like she hadn't gone outside in days. Her enormous brown eyes were hidden behind equally enormous pink, round glasses. And she didn't blink as many times as a normal person/mermaid.
Arria saw Lily's reaction and grinned. "Lily, I would like to introduce you to Binaya." She turned to Binaya, and motioned with her hand to Lily. "Binaya, this is the human, Lily."
Binaya looked at Lily through her round glasses and stuck out her hand. "Delighted to meet you," she said. Lily grasped the long, thin fingers and shook them.
"Binaya, we were wondering if you had any idea how we could get Lily back to her family," Arria asked.
"Well, I suppose you've already ruled out swimming, because that would be a dreadfully long journey for such a young child," Binaya said in a misty voice.
Arria nodded. "Yes, but you know the most about the over world. So we thought that perhaps you would have learned something from one of your books."
Binaya's face lit up. She swam around, pulling off different books from bookshelves and throwing them to Arria and Lily, all the while muttering to herself. Finally, after Lily had almost broken her toe when a huge, brown book entitled, Biology for Bigwigs, landed on her foot, Binaya stopped and slowly pulled off a bright red book. Its gold title read, Human Superstition and what to do with it. She flipped through the pages and stopped at one with a picture of a human making a wish at a wishing well. Binaya read so fast her eyes zoomed from side to side behind her glasses.
"Ah ha!" she said, and pointed to a section on the page. "You must go to the magic wishing well and wish with all your heart that you were back with your family." Binaya said, and shut the book with a slam. But Lily was already out the door and swimming to the wishing well, which she had seen on her tour with Arria. Arria was swimming behind her and was struggling to keep up. At last Lily found the wishing well and stopped beside it. She waited for Arria to catch up and threw her arms around her friend.
"I hope I'll be able to see you. But even if I don't I'll never forget you," Lily said.
"I had a great time today, Lily. I'll miss you. And you must come back and visit," Arria said.
"Okay," Lily said. "I would like that."
"Now make your wish."
Lily looked deep into the blue water of the wishing well and wished with all her hear that she was back with her family. Suddenly there was a whooshing noise and Lily was being twirled around and around, then it stopped just as suddenly as it had began.
She was on the boat again, except the storm was over and the sky was blue with white puffy clouds.
"Lily!" her mother cried, running across the deck to her daughter. "Where have you been?"
"Oh, I just wanted to go for a swim." Lily smiled, fingering the amethyst necklace, and as she looked out across the blue ocean, she saw a green fin flip up and splash back down.