Under the Pacific Ocean close to the continent of North America, is the underwater city of Nysa. A perfect place for mermaids, naiads, and selkies to work, live, and other wise enjoy life. It is the last of the underwater cities in the Earth Realm. It is a beautiful day today with the water being a clear blue and the temperature being comfortably warm. The sun is shining strong today.
A lovely Selkie named Oona brushes her long thick black hair with a seashell comb and checks her olive-skinned face to be sure that her make-up is straight before putting on her selkie coat. It is a long grey seal suit that when she puts it on, she turns into a seal and her already deep brown eyes bulge out even more. Before she leaves her small cave, which is a mixture of stone and coral, she looks in the mirror to check her now more prominent teeth due to her seal form. Her teeth are clean as they should be. As soon as she swims out her door, she sees her beloved fiancée Dondre waiting for her outside her rusty chain fence with a big smile on his handsome face. In his seal coat, he is a greyish brown creature but when it is off, he is a musclebound, dark-skinned man with a glorious smile and a sparkle in his eye. Oona gleefully swims towards him and presses her lips sweetly onto his.
“I’m happy to see you.” Oona says in the grunts and barks of her selkie language. “Are you heading to work too?”
“Yes. I thought I would swim with you before your shift.” Dondre returns the barks.
Together in their seal-like forms, the two of them flow like a synchronized dance meant only for the water and for them. They swim towards the giant sunken ship where some pirates had met their tragic end but today, it is the best restaurant that an undersea city could ever have. Oona works there as a server while Dondre hunts for the fish that they serve there. It is a busy and productive place that both selkies enjoy working at. The two of them stop at the entrance and face each other.
“Well, my shift starts in ten minutes.” Oona tells Dondre.
“Understood and my crew is awaiting me.” He speaks. “But if I get back in time, maybe we can share a lunch break?”
“Sounds great!” Oona yelps and the two of them press their mouths together in a quick kiss.
As they turn to leave, the once bright aura of the ocean suddenly becomes dark like an unnatural nightfall has crossed their paths. The two of them look up to see what looks like a thick cloud-like blob cover the top of the ocean. Oona and Dondre aren’t the only ones who notice this. The surrounding people look up and see it too. Half of the siren clan freezes in shock while the others scream in panic. Mer-creatures and fish swim frantically trying to get away as this demonic black mass swiftly spreads itself and sinks closer to them all.
Before Oona can even scream, Dondre pushes her towards this small hole in the sand that she never even knew was there. Both swimming with great speed while the two of them hear the screams and cries of the other beings around them. When they stop at the entrance of this hole, Oona turns and sees a mermaid getting enveloped in this black substance and begins coughing. With all the hacking that she is doing, Oona watches in horror as that poor mermaid’s skin turns black and her breathing stops abruptly before she sinks to the ground lifeless.
“Oona go!” Squeals Dondre. Quickly, he pushes her in the hole and together they swim into the hole until it turns into a tunnel.
He is right behind her as they swim for their lives away from this horrible disaster.
“What’s happening?” Oona screams behind her.
“An oil spill!” Dondre pants his answer. “Keep going! We should make it out to the other side in safe waters again.”
In a short time, Oona sees a bright light that leads out of this tunnel. “We’re almost there Dondre!”
Without thinking, she increases her speed as she sees the exit. She makes it out and notices these beautiful clear waters again. She huffs and puffs as she sinks herself to the sand to catch her breath. In seconds she turns around to look for Dondre, only to find that he is not there. Fearfully, she turns to the cave and sees that the exit has caved in behind her. He didn’t make it. She feels the pain of a thousand swords stab her over and over. The first tear leaves her eye as she lets out a heartbroken wail into the world.
Breathlessly, Oona in her human form awakens in her bed from the room she rents in Duncan, British Columbia, Canada. She runs her hands through her now short bob of hair and looks around at all her bare wooden walls panting in panic. That nightmare of her destroyed life still haunts her, even though it is seven years later. She still struggles with her depression and the loss of her Dondre. She reaches into her nightstand to take out the prescribed pills that she got from the doctor and swallows them dry. The heartbreak never ceased in Oona.
Wiping the tears from her eyes, Oona gets out to the bed and opens the trunk where she keeps her selkie skin. Humans look at it and think it is an ordinary grey trench coat but it is her only way home if she could ever go back. That oil spill destroyed everything for her and she has found no other survivors. She picks up her coat and presses it to her body to inhale its sea-salty smell. She looks at her alarm clock to see that she has to be at her shift at the Shipyard Restaurant in a short time.
She puts her coat back into the trunk and changes from her white tank shirt and striped pajama pants into her work uniform. She goes to her small stove where she keeps her tea kettle and scones. As she sips her tea and nibbles on her breakfast, she thinks about the restaurant she works at now. She actually likes it. It reminds her a lot about her old job back in Nysa. She works as a server and has made a couple of friends there. So, it’s not too bad what she has now. When she thinks of this, she finds herself calming down a bit.
She walks outside towards her bicycle. She has taken up bike-riding since arriving to Vancouver Island. Not only has it proven to be great exercise and fun for her but it lessens her carbon imprint on the world which is able to help the heal the environment. In twenty minutes, Oona arrives at the Shipyard Restaurant. Outside it looks a lot like a barn that is the size of a warehouse. It also has a large patio that patrons love to sit out and look at the beautiful view of the beach and the mountains. On the inside it looks like an old-fashioned wooden ship complete with a model of an old steam liner and velveteen benches.
Once inside, Oona looks around and smiles at the few customers that have arrived just as she has. She walks past a couple of her regulars. They look at her, smile, and give her a wave.
“Hi gang!” She mouths to them before she drops off her coat and picks up her worker’s apron with her notepad and pen in the pocket.
Quickly she strides over to the two familiar faces of Ben and Tom who have their lunch there every Tuesday and Thursday. “Good day you two!” She says cheerfully, “How is the world of antiquing, treating you?”
“It’s a little slow now Oona.” Says Ben. “Sadly, Mother’s Day is over and now we have to find things that would appeal to the fathers.”
“That won’t stop you boys now, will it?” Oona says in her usual friendly manner.
“Definitely not! We are not afraid of a challenge.” Tom replies and suddenly remembers. “Oh, by the way, are you still coming to the clean-up of the beach tomorrow and the rally afterwards?”
Oona smiles at him and says, “Absolutely! You know I would never miss it.” With a brief pause, Oona brings her pen and notepad in front of her face. “Alright. The usual drinks for you two? Two diet cokes?”
“Yes Ma’am.” Ben says. “I’ll have the daily catch with rice and vegetables”
“And I’ll have the breaded oysters with shrimp and extra coleslaw, please.” Jerry politely orders.
“Alright! I’ll get that for you ASAP.” Oona winks at them and turns towards the kitchen.
Since moving to Duncan, BC, Oona has joined many activist groups that help raise money for oil spill clean ups, talking to businesses about reducing their carbon imprint, volunteering, and bringing awareness to environmental concerns especially when it comes to the ocean. Every spare second, she has, she does what she can to help the environment. This has been her saving grace since coming here as this has given her a noble purpose.
The day goes by quickly enough. They are busy with all their patrons who are eager to get the day’s catch for their meal. Not that she blames the humans. Oona knows that all the meals here are cooked with love as well as fresh fish. After all the small chats with the customers and recommendations on what to order, the restaurant finally starts to slow down.
Three of the other servers which include Bobby, Natalie, and Lizzie all sit at the bar where the two bartenders Killian and Spence are pouring waters for everyone. Now is a good time because this time whatever the kitchen has left over, they get to eat it so it doesn’t go to waste. This is everyone’s favorite time of the day.
Oona has the pasta with rose’ sauce and primavera vegetables while the others have the fish and chips along with shrimp skewers and rice. With the laughter of everyone around the table, Oona takes the first bite of her pasta. This is always her favorite dish. The taste of creamy and savory mixed with the herby flavour of the vegetables makes her groan with pleasure every single time.
“Hey Oona!” Bobby says interrupting her thoughts. “Are you going to come with us for a drink tonight?”
“Sorry gang.” She says sending an apologetic smile. “But I am meeting up with the Oceanites first thing in the morning to clean up the beach. Do you guys want to come?”
Bobby chuckles as he shakes his head. “No sorry. I open the restaurant tomorrow.”
“I have a shift later in the day but I can join early and help out.” Natalie answers.
“Me too. I’ll come and if you give me time, I’ll convince Spence to come.” Killian says giving her a thumbs up.
“Great! You all are most welcome.” Oona says as she was hoping to get more people to join the effort. “I got to take off but I’ll see some of you all tomorrow.”
She stands up from the stool and waves good-bye to her friends/co-workers who return her warm departure.
The evening is warm and lovely. As the breeze runs through Oona’s hair, she decides that she will make a quick pit stop to her favorite ice cream place to celebrate a good day and the great accomplishment of having some of her friends join her on beach clean-up. Besides, after having her nightmares come back, she needs to find a way to find something pleasurable to help heal her mind. Ice cream would be a good way to make everything more bearable.
On the side of the road is a small white house that invites you in for ice cream from Island Farms. A local ice cream company that is quite popular on the island. Each flavor is different and you are given so many choices that sometimes you just don’t know what to get. But today, Oona knows exactly what she wants; rainbow sherbet and moon dust ice cream. The rainbow sherbet for its tangy taste and the moon dust for its sweet sample of cotton candy-like flavor. A perfect blend that shouldn’t go together but it does.
Oona gets it in a cup and walks outside to sit by her bike. She savours every little nibble of the delectable dessert. It is a perfect way to begin her evening.
Back in her room, Oona writes, “Oceans need CARE” with a big blue sharpy pen on the picket sign that she made for the rally. That event should take up a good part of her afternoon but she did promise the aquarium that she will volunteer for the early evening handing out pamphlets. Oona lifts up her sign and sighs. Yes, it is going to be a busy day tomorrow and she is looking forward to it. The fact that she does all this reminds her that in her small way she is bringing justice to what happened to Nysa. It gives her some peace of mind.
Oona looks outside her window and sees a beautiful sunset. The meld of the orange, pink, and blue sky makes her want to go outside and be apart of it. That is just what she will do. Putting her sign gently on the floor, Oona goes to her window, opens it, and climbs cautiously to the top of the roof. She finds herself almost instantly relaxing.
Despite the hell of watching her home being destroyed and losing her fiancée, Oona is not vengeful about it. She wants justice for sure but at the same time she doesn’t want anyone hurt especially since she learned the truth about what happened. The engine on an oil rig overheated and blew up. There seemed to be no warning of this and all the humans on this rig died horribly from it. As it turns out, she isn’t the only one who lost loved ones. Those poor humans who were killed had families too. She can empathize with all of them.
Besides, her life right now is not bad. She has all these human friends who are just as determined as she is to take care of the ocean. One day, it will be cleaned up again and she can go back to Nysa. On that day, she will clean the city up and rebuild it. Hopefully find others to come live in Nysa again. That is worth fighting for and luckily, she is a patient selkie.
Special Thanks to:
The Shipyard Restaurant: For wonderful food and ambiance. 6145 Genoa Bay Rd, Duncan, British Columbia V9L 5Y5 Canada http://www.shipyardrestaurant.com/
Island Farms Ice Creams: For the Ice creams I had everyday on the Island. https://www.islandfarms.com/en/products/ice-creams.