Chapter 01: What the Storm Brings
Sam couldn't walk for another two days, and Kyle had to do his best to hide him from the maids and his father. It wasn't all that difficult though, considering his father was out most of the time and the maids tended to mind their own business. He knew they suspected he was up to something though, probably because he hadn't gotten out of his room for a while, not since the day after he found Sam, and that had only been to retrieve his pail with sea shells.
It had been fun to show them to Sam, who knew quite a bit about them having lived in the sea for the whole of his short life. He was very interesting, at least to Kyle, and the older boy spent most of his time with the boy asking questions about all sorts of things. Sam's answers were usually very entertaining, like when he asked him about his name. Because no matter what he was told, Sam just didn't sound like a name for a mermaid.
"Well, my name's Samouel, but I like Sam more," the little redhead told his new friend as he examined a stuffed toy.
Kyle had noticed that he seemed to like those over the other toys in his room. He supposed it had something to do with the texture.
"But lotsa people say it sounds funny," Sam went on, scrunching up his nose.
"Your name sounds funny, I like Sam more too," Kyle told Sam.
Sam seemed pleased to hear this.
On the fourth day of Sam's stay, he convinced Kyle to take him out to the beach. He insisted that his leg didn't hurt and that he just wanted to be closer to the sea. Kyle was reluctant, not because he didn't think Sam was well enough, but because he was afraid his new friend would leave him. Eventually, he relented, and the two left Kyle's home with Sam dressed in more of the older boy's old clothes. They took Kyle's pail, to gather sea shells if they found any nice ones, and Sam dragged along an old stuffed bear he had taken a liking to.
He looked rather odd, Kyle thought, too pale and with hair too bright a red. It was no wonder people gave them odd looks as they walked around. Of course, it could have also had something to do with them being so young and wandering around all alone. Kyle did his best to ignore the people though, keeping a firm grip on Sam's hand. The younger boy, however, had other ideas.
"Stop waving!" Kyle hissed at Sam as the boy waved enthusiastically at a group of young girls.
"But they waved first," Sam defended.
"Well, ignore them," the older boy told him.
Sam shook his head.
"No, it's rude," he explained rather seriously.
Kyle sighed in exasperation, and tried not to glare at the people that went along with Sam and tried to talk to them. He hoped they could get to a part of the beach with less people. Another thing about Sam, was that he kept asking about just everything he saw. Kyle did his best to explain, thought some things even he didn't know what they were. Sam's questions weren't all bad though.
"Kyle, what's that?"
The older boy looked to where Sam was pointing and grinned.
"It's Shave Ice," he told Sam, leading the boy towards the small stand.
"You eat it, it's good."
Sam looked at the colorful bottles of flavored syrup and turned to Kyle.
"I want one," he said, pulling at the older boy's arm.
Kyle had to admit, that was an awfully normal reaction. He almost forgot Sam was a mermaid, but he supposed he was only a little kid, no matter what. After setting his empty pail down, Kyle dug around in his shorts' pocket and pulled out some money, thinking it was a good thing he had thought to carry some.
"Which one do you want?" he asked Sam, motioning for him to pick a flavor.
Almost immediately, Sam pointed at the bright red bottle in front of him.
"That one," he said.
"Are you getting that one 'cause it matches your hair?" Kyle asked.
"Uh huh," Sam nodded, not bothering to deny it.
Kyle snorted, amused, but got Sam his shaved Ice and got himself a grape flavored one as well. The two walked a little ways away from the stand, away from most of the people and closer to the shore, and sat down. It was pretty funny, watching Sam eat, mostly because he ate too much ice on his first bite. He liked it though, and the two settled down to watch the sea. After a while, Kyle started to ask Sam some more questions, seeing as no one was close enough to hear them.
"So are there a lot more mermaids out there?" he asked.
Sam gave him what he guessed was meant to be a glare, but wasn't really scary.
"I'm a boy," Sam said, sounding insulted.
"So what are you?" Kyle said, eyebrow raised.
"I'm a merman," Sam answered and Kyle couldn't help but laugh.
"But you're not a man," he pointed out, snickering.
Sam smacked his arm with his small hand and glared.
"Ow! Don't hit me," Kyle said, giving the boy a sharp poke on the arm.
"You called me a girl!" Sam accused.
"Fine, sorry, I didn't mean to."
Sam seemed appeased with the apology, and continued to eat his Shave Ice. Apparently, he had forgotten about Kyle's question, so the other boy reminded him of it.
"So, are there more of you?"
Sam nodded, and swallowed a mouthful of ice.
"Uh huh, lots, really deep in the water," he said.
Kyle couldn't imagine that being true, but Sam was proof enough. It was pretty amazing, in his opinion for them to have managed to hide so well for so long.
"How come you have legs?" he asked next, because it was something he was curious about.
Sam, however, merely shrugged and wiggled his toes.
"Dunno, everyone has 'em though, when they come up here."
Kyle blinked in surprise.
"Do they come up here a lot?" and if they did he wondered how many mermaids he had walked past without knowing it.
"Sometimes, but only some, 'cause lots of us don't like people up here."
"How come?" Kyle asked, his brow scrunched up.
"'Cause people here are mean," Sam told his friend seriously.
Kyle didn't ask much more after that. He was still thinking about what Sam said as they walked around looking for shells, because he hadn't thought about how Sam might have seen him at first. It made sense though, if he thought back to the way Sam had tried to run away when they first met. He hoped Sam didn't think he was mean though.
Sam stayed for a while longer, and told Kyle all sorts of things about his home.
Kyle learned that because there were merfolk(and that was another thing he had learned from the merboy) all over the world, and they sometimes went up to dry land, they spoke all sorts of languages. It depended on the area, it seemed, so that explained why Sam could understand him. He also learned about the way they lived and the things they did for entertainment. It was all really interesting, he thought, but the best part was getting to see which parts of the stories he had heard were true and which weren't. Sam was very helpful with that.
They tried a lot of different things, guided by Kyle's old storybooks. Apparently, while Sam sang really well, he wouldn't be luring anyone to their doom any time soon. Sam thought most of the things written were funny, except for the part about merfolk eating people.
In exchange, Kyle taught Sam more about life on land. They went out very often, once or twice taking a bus so that Kyle could show Sam a few shops. People stared too much though, most of them worried about them being alone, though a few were just curious. One lady asked why they were on their own and Kyle had told her he was old enough to take care of his little brother. She hadn't seemed too convinced though, most likely because the two children didn't look like they could be related and she said as much.
"I'm adopted," Kyle answered easily, and it wasn't really a lie, because he was.
The woman had apologized and left and Kyle and Sam hadn't taken the bus anywhere after that.
They still had fun in Kyle's house, mainly his room. The older boy was pretty impressed with himself for having kept Sam a secret for so long, a sentiment that Sam seemed to share.
Two weeks went by and on the start of the third, a storm passed through the area, rattling the windows and howling in the night. Kyle had never liked storms, but they were a lot worse while so close to the sea. Sam didn't seem too worried though, so Kyle did his best to look brave and ignore the lightning and thunder.
Both boys stayed in Kyle's room, playing and telling stories, though Kyle noticed that Sam seemed a bit less cheerful that night. He didn't say anything about it though, for fear of making his friend mad. It was late by the time they went to bed, mainly because Sam kept asking for more stories. In the end, they both curled up on Kyle's large bed, Sam holding onto the bear he had named Charlie after some television character(he thought the name sounded funny).
Kyle hummed to show he was listening.
"I really liked meeting you," Sam continued.
The other boy smiled sleepily.
"I liked meeting you too, Sam," he said, and he really meant it, because Sam was a really good friend.
"Now go to sleep, we're gonna go look for more shells tomorrow," Kyle told the boy with a yawn.
Kyle barely heard Sam's response, already falling asleep.
There was no shell hunting the next day, but that was the least of Kyle's worries.
When he woke up Sam was gone, the only things left of the little boy were the bear he had dragged around during his stay and the bright red sea shell he had carried in his pocket. The very sea shell that Kyle had said matched his hair and his tail and had gotten the little merboy hurt. It was resting on Kyle's bedside table, looking brighter in the sunlight, the only reminder that Sam had been there.
If asked, Kyle would deny having cried, because he was too old for that, but he had been very sad to have his friend leave so suddenly. His father seemed to notice his son's mood, and made an effort to spend more time with him. As nice as it was to have his father pay attention to him, Kyle still missed his little friend, but he knew that he would have had to part ways with Sam eventually, so he did his best to move on.
Summer ended and Kyle and his father packet their things, getting ready to head back to their home in the city. The house on the beach was left empty and silent, and Kyle was glad to leave it, if only to get away from the depressing place.
Twelve years passed since that Summer at the beach and the house on the shore remained unoccupied. There was no time for vacations and no reason when the family owning the house hardly spent a full day at each other's side. And then, when it seemed that things were settling down and the house would be of use again, the owner of the house fell ill.
Kyle had thought the house would be sold soon after his father got sick, they had already canceled their plans of returning for the Summer, but his father refused. It wasn't fair, he said, for Kyle to not return, given how much he had like the ocean when he was younger. He thought it had been too long since anyone had been in that house and encouraged Kyle to go without him.
In the end, Kyle agreed, if only because the peace and relaxation the house would provide were things he would need before he returned to his college classes. He saw it as a good opportunity to rest without having to worry, and so he headed for the old beach house, bags packed with only the essentials and fully determined to enjoy his Summer.
The house wasn't what he had expected.
It was dusty and lonely and bigger than he remembered. His cat, Charlie, didn't seem too fond of it either, as he stuck to Kyle, his steps leaving prints on the dust. Kyle sighed and headed to his old room, thinking of how much work it would be just to get the house cleaned, but he supposed it would be worth it if he could relax for the rest of the Summer.
The door creaked as it opened, and Kyle made a note to apply some oil to the hinges. On the other side, his room was just as he remembered, though with less toys. The walls were the same sky blue and the bed was still made, though now had a layer of dust covering it, much like everything else. It was, Kyle thought, melancholic, bringing forth memories he had almost forgotten. With one last look, Kyle shut the door and went back downstairs to call someone to help clean the place.
It took two days to clean the whole house and make minor repairs, of course, it would have taken a lot longer if Kyle had gone with his initial plan of doing it on his own. He supposed it was a good thing he still had some common sense.
The place was a lot more welcoming without all the dust and cobwebs and Kyle finally got a chance to relax on the beach. He sat outside on the deck at the back and watched the ocean with his cat on his lap, thinking of the Summer's spent in that very house. He still recalled the first few stays, if a bit hazily. He remembered walking on the sand with his father and mother and thinking how pretty the ocean was, and the first Summer without his mother, sitting on the sand and just wishing she was there.
More clearly than that, he remembered his last Summer, the one that had given him the most trouble.
Because it was after the last Summer spent at the house on the beach that he had taken up an interest in mermaids, something that lasted for a while. He had read everything he could about them, drew pictures of them in the ocean, with sea shells and bright blue eyes and always with hair as red as blood, and he got scolded for it in school. It got to the point that it was a problem and people thought he was strange, that there was something wrong with him because he thought they were real, that he had seen one, and that didn't go over too well with his teachers or the therapist.
Then things got worse when he continued to ask his father to take him back to the beach, when he insisted and got upset and that was one of the reasons why they never returned. He didn't blame his father though, he had just been worried, had done what was best for his son, and in the end, the therapy worked and Kyle accepted that mermaids weren't real, that they were stories. And the memories of the red-haired little merboy with the pretty blue eyes became only that. Because he had been an imaginary friend, he had been told.
He had made him up out of loneliness, had found comfort in his mind when his father couldn't be with him and had begun to believe that it was all real. And then, when his father had noticed how lonely his son was, how much he needed him, the boy with the red hair had gone away, because Kyle didn't need him anymore. It was easy enough to believe, after all, no one had seen the supposed merboy, and how could a child like Kyle ever hide someone for so long?
So Kyle grew up, went to school, entered college, became an adult and stopped believing, and life had been easier since then. He still kept the red sea shell he had found at the beach(because he now knew he had found it), if only because that Summer had still been one of the better ones.
It was about a week after Kyle arrived at the beach that the storm had began. The first signs were the strong gusts of winds and the rain drizzling down. The sky was gray with heavy clouds and the sea was wild and foreboding, crashing against the shore. Kyle was lucky to get home from the store before the worse of the storm started and sighed in relief when he was back inside, setting his groceries on the kitchen counter, while his cat followed him around. And then he realized he had forgotten something.
"Crap, the mail," he said, hurrying back to the door as he pulled up the hood of his jacket.
His father wrote frequently, as he wasn't allowed near a computer(he would somehow always find a way to work instead of relax), and Kyle didn't want any of his letters getting wet. He hurried to the mailbox and then jogged back to his house with a letter in hand. Then, as soon as the door opened, there was a terrible sound of thunder and Charlie darted out of the house and around to the back.
"Charlie!" he called, but it was no use.
With a curse, he jogged to the back to see if he could find his pet, but he was nowhere to be found. Not for the first time, Kyle wondered why he bothered with the cat, but Charlie had been a present, and he wasn't always so annoying. Reluctantly, he admitted to himself that he liked the cat after all, enough to go down to the beach to search for a bit before the rain kicked in. He called out to his cat and tried to stay away from the dark waters of the ocean, but then the rain started to fall harder and Kyle gave up on looking for his cat. With his luck, it would be back home, hiding under a table.
"Charlie!" he called once more.
"Where are you, you stupid cat," Kyle muttered, squinting his eyes to see through the rain.
And then, not too far ahead, he saw a spot of red, standing out starkly against the dreary palette of the stormy beach.
"What the hell?"
Letting his curiosity lead him, Kyle walked towards the spot of crimson, shielding his eyes from the wind and rain with a hand and using the other to keep his hood from being blown away. Then, as he got closer he could make out the shape of a person crouched down on the beach and dangerously close to the raging sea. For a minute, Kyle thought that maybe this person was in trouble, and so he hurried forward, his mind working to register what was happening, because the person ahead of him didn't seem to be wearing anything at all and now Kyle was convinced they were in some need of aid.
"Hey, do you need help?" Kyle called, still moving forward.
The person in front of him stood at Kyle's voice, his back facing the man and seemingly holding something. Kyle stopped a few feet away, just in case, and watched as the person – a young boy – turned, and was met with bright blue eyes on a pale face riddled with freckles. He was in his teens with a slender frame that was about a whole head shorter than Kyle, and in the boy's arms was Charlie, looking very content as he was patted on the head.
At the sight of Kyle, the boy's face lit up and he let the cat go, the animal jumping off and landing nimbly on the sand. Then, in a moment, the boy was running forward, and then he was launching himself at Kyle and wrapping his arms around him and calling his name. And Kyle didn't know what to make of it all, so he pushed the boy back and looked at his face, so pale and familiar, and then just gaped because he knew that face.
"Sam?" he said, more out of impulse.
If possible, the boy's face lit up even more and he was now positively beaming.
"You remember!" he said.
And yes Kyle remembered, or more like, he never really forgot. He just didn't think it was all real, but the proof was standing right in front of him and he knew that this time it wasn't an imaginary friend and he had never discussed with his therapist what to do in case a figment of his imagination from his childhood returned during his adulthood. So he did the only thing he could think of doing.
He wrapped his jacket around the boy and led him to his house with Charlie following(and if he didn't too bad because it was all the damn cat's fault). And maybe this Summer wouldn't be so relaxing after all.
Hello everyone, hope you've enjoyed this chapter and if not, sorry it wasn't to your liking. I have no idea how, but I managed to write this up today, I'm calling it a product of my currently inspired state so I'm taking advantage of it. Dunno when the next one will be out, but I'm already working on it, so it might be tomorrow or it might be next week, who knows.
Anyways, this is where the story kicks off, and though I love writing about Sam and Kyle as kids, I have to get the story moving so if you want to read more about them feel free to ask and I might write a short story or two. Anyways, hope you like it and thanks to the person who reviewed the last chapter, I really appreciated it. Please review if you have the time, and if you do, thank you very much!