“Welcome to BoPovia.” The giant, illuminated sign read…
Sophie and Sea Mist approached a beautiful, sprawling underwater metropolis, with coloured lights and a magical, glittering aura. As they ventured forward the Mermaids, Mermen and Merpeople, came swimming out to greet them. The Merpeople were a glorious spectrum, all different shapes, colours, sizes and abilities. Sophie met Helena first, a mermaid with a brace around her tail and an attached mechanical fin. Helena’s actual fin was twisted and turned in such a way that meant she could not swim unaided. Sophie did not want to stare, but in doing so became even more uncomfortable. However, Helena was used to this, she smiled kindly and said “It’s ok Sophie, you can ask…”.
“W-What happened to your tail?” Sophie asked awkwardly. “Well Sophie, I have cerebral palsy which limits my mobility. I was born this way. My parents made my fin-harness to help me.” Helena said with a proud smile. Sophie looked sad and said, “Oh, I am so sorry.”
“Oh Honey what do you need to be sorry for? Are you sorry for me?” Helena asked.
“Yes”, Sophie replied, “because you can’t do the things that other Merpeople can do.” Sophie blushed; she was feeling embarrassed. Helena laughed, “Oh Honey… can I ask you something? Can you do a spiralling back-flip?”
“Nope.” Sophie answered.
“How about speaking four languages, including Dolphin?”
“How about both at the same time!?”… Helena whipped herself around in an amazing display of backflips whilst making glorious Dolphin sounds. It was marvellous and Sophie giggled with delight. “So Sophie, do you still feel sorry for me? Should I feel sorry for you because you can’t do these things, or is it amazing that we are just able in different ways?” Helena was panting from her exertions, but grinning widely with her hands sassily on her hips. Sophie hugged Helena and said “I’ve never thought of it that way, thank you Helena, you are AWESOME!” Helena laughed and hugged her back, kissing her lovingly on the top of her head. “You are welcome Baby, such a beautiful, kind and intelligent young lady.”
Sophie smiled, feeling a warm sensation across her chest and again a little bit of her soul returned. ‘The Book’ let out another menacing growl, it did not like this one little bit.
Sophie meets the Merpeople
Sophie swam around meeting all the different Merpeople. At lunch Sea Mist introduced her to Kendrick. Kendrick was a stunning Merperson, with feminine features, a long lean slender body, short hair and a beautiful strong jawline. “Sea Mist,” Sophie whispered, “is Kendrick a boy or a girl?” Sea Mist smiled and repeated the question to Kendrick, knowing full well that Kendrick was happy to discuss this. “Well Sophie, I am neither and I am both!” Kendrick said mischievously winking at Sea Mist. Sophie scratched her head. Kendrick laughed and said “Sometimes I feel like I am a girl and other times I feel like a boy. My gender is not what defines me, I’d much rather be recognised for my awesome dance skills.” To which Kendrick then busted out some amazing moves to the music in the restaurant, spinning and swishing, twirling and pirouetting, finally resting in a flourishing bow. Sophie’s face was full of wonder as she watched and when Kendrick finished she broke into enthusiastic applause, as did the rest of the restaurant. Kendrick was an awesome dancer! As she beamed with pride over Kendrick’s accomplished dancing, Sophie’s soul rebuilt a little more. She felt ‘The Book’ buck and growl in her bag. She put her hand down and patted it, in an almost comforting way. ‘The Book’ nipped at her fingers. Sophie recoiled but she was still not yet ready to let ‘The Book’ go.
Sophie then met a myriad of fantastic Merpeople at a small gathering they held in honour of her arrival. There was Kelp, a beautiful, brave Mermaid who’d lost her hair and whose breast had to be removed because she had been sick. There was Callista, who had stripes on her big soft round tummy from bearing her beautiful children. Bella, the longest, slimmest Mermaid in town making her the star basketball player. Not forgetting Frank who was a big bear of a Merman, with a big soft body and hair everywhere. Sophie loved Frank and his big bushy beard with seahorses camping out inside it. Frank had such a big, kind heart, as did his partner, Bill, who couldn’t have been more different from Frank; but they were two halves of a whole.
Merlin – he loved magic and performed tricks with shells, coral and an octopus, much to Sophie’s delight. Merlin was born with Down’s syndrome but this didn’t impair his impeccable showmanship. The party was in full swing and Sophie laughed, danced, swam, sang and ate beautiful rich, colourful and tasty food. Peg and Burt, a middle aged, married couple decorated all over with tattoos, taught Sophie the traditional dance of the BoPovians. She smiled and her heart felt like it was full to the brim with love and joy.
‘The Book’ Meets its Demise
‘The Book’ continued to growl louder until it was yelling and screaming, but Sophie hadn’t noticed. The bag was set aside and it bucked about violently, but it still went unnoticed. This made ‘The Book’ even more frustrated. It could feel that it was losing its power over Sophie, as the last bits of her soul slotted back together like a beautiful jigsaw puzzle. Sea Mist took Sophie by the hand and looked deep into her eyes, “Sophie, ‘The Book’ will not let you go unless YOU let go of IT. It will continue to control your life and growl and bite at you. Is that what you really want?” Sophie let out a long heavy sigh. She knew she had to let it go but she didn’t know how. She was frightened to be without ‘The Book’… How would she ever get to be a Princess?
Sea Mist turned to Sophie and looked deep into her almost repaired soul. “Why try to be a Princess, when you are already a beautiful Mermaid?”
Sophie thought of all the wonderful Merpeople she had met. She thought about Helena’s languages, Kendrick’s dancing, Kelp’s bravery, Callista’s love for her babies and her beauty, Bella’s amazing Basketball skills, Frank’s big heart and Merlin’s talent… and her heart filled with even more love. She realised that she did not see herself the way she saw others. She needed to love herself the way that she loved them. Sophie realised in that moment, that she wanted to be seen differently; as a great artist, a singer, as a kind and loving friend but most of all she wanted to be seen for what she was… one amazing person! As she looked down her legs turned into a magnificent rainbow tail, colours beaming and glittering. The other Merpeople looked on in awe and cheered. Sea Mist handed Sophie ‘The Book’ and she instantly knew what she had to do. She swam to the darkest, deepest ocean chasm she could find and cast ‘The Book’ into the depths. Lights appeared from within as the creatures from the deep came up and grabbed ‘The Book’, dragging it deep, deep down in to the inky blackness. ‘The Book’ let out a wail, a blood curdling scream, that faded off into the darkness as it was dragged further and further down.
Back in the woods ‘The Crone’ heard ‘The Book’s’ scream and knew her evil spell was broken. The realisation hit her as her dark withered heart finally shrunk away to nothing and she turned to dust; without Sophie’s soul she was nothing.
Sophie’s heart and soul were beaming, she knew she was free. “I promise I will never try to be anything other than the best version of myself!” She yelled, as the final piece of her soul fell back into place. Sophie shone like a beacon and all the Merpeople applauded her, giving her hugs and high fives. They were so proud of her. “Now, Dear Heart,” Sea Mist started “we must return you to your world.” Sophie felt sad and thought of all the sadness at home she might face. “But I am a Mermaid, can’t I stay here with you?” Sea Mist took Sophie in her arms and gave her the most comforting of cuddles. Sea Mist did not want her to go either but she knew that just as Sophie had let ‘The Book’ go, she must let Sophie go too. “You, my Dear Heart, have a Mermaid heart and soul, you will always be a part of us. We will watch you and from time to time you can call on us, but only if you really need us. You need to go out into the world on a new quest. Your quest is to help other young people to find out what’s in their hearts too. You have a gift, the power to help others realise their own worth. Remember, not everyone can be a Mermaid, so you need to help them find out who they are and embrace it. Can you do that?” Sophie lifted her chin high in the air, “Yes, Sea Mist, I can and I will.”
Sophie bid her farewells, she was given charms and necklaces made of seaweed and shells. Her heart was sad but so full of love (there was even a little bit of room for love for herself). Sea Mist led Sophie back to the gateway. “If you ever need us, just call my name into your mirror…but remember to only call if you need us. I will visit you from time to time though, if that’s ok?” Sophie hugged Sea Mist tightly. “Thank you, of course.” Comforted that she would see Sea Mist again, she climbed back through the mirror. Sophie couldn’t help but feel a little sadness as her tail turned back into her legs, but she knew that she was going to be ok.
Back on Land
The next morning Sophie’s mum came in to wake her. Sophie woke with a bright smile and hugged her mother, squeezing her tightly.
“I love you Mum!”
“I Love you too, my Darling. So, so, so much. I know things have been tough recently but I am very proud of you,” her mum said stroking her hair. “I feel like I’ve got my daughter back. I’ll go and make us some breakkie and we’ll spend the day together, how does that sound?” Sophie was delighted. Sophie, her mum and her brother laughed, joked, played and danced all day. They visited a park, breathed in the fresh air and ate delicious ice-cream; everything was just perfect. Sophie would be seeing her Daddy next weekend and she was excited. She had learnt she was going to be a big sister and she felt it was her responsibility to use her new mermaid heart to support her new brother or sister, as they made their way in the world. One thing she was sure of, although things were different now, she was confident it was all going to be ok. That night Sophie’s mum tucked her in like she used to when she was really little and kissed her on the forehead. As she left to close the door, she noticed the drawing. “Oh Sophie, that’s beautiful, you are such an amazing artist.” She absent mindedly touched the beautiful necklaces and charms made from seaweed and shells, that Sophie had hung from her mirror and said “pretty” as she walked out.
Sophie slept better than she had in weeks.
The next day they had a family Sunday roast and Mum’s new girlfriend, Sadie, came over. Sophie loved Sadie as they would sit and draw together. “Are you going to draw me another princess today?” Sadie asked. “No,” Sophie replied “I feel like drawing something different, I think I’ll draw a unicorn.” “Good idea, Soph, I’ll join you!”
It was the perfect end to the weekend.
A New Day in School
The alarm went off, it was a new day and time for school. Sophie had a little pang of nerves as she thought about having to face those mean girls but she felt her Mermaid heart beat strongly in her chest and she knew she had to confront her fears. She wanted to draw, to play and to be with her friends. She had missed them so, so much and she couldn’t wait to see them. Sophie got up, dressed, scoffed her breakfast and ran out of the door. As she neared the school gates she steeled herself. The ‘Mean Girls’ were in the playground. “Oh, hey look, there’s Fatty Fatty Boom Boom!” the main ‘Meanie’ shouted. Sophie’s first reaction was to run away. However, her Mermaid heart glowed inside her. She walked up to the main ‘Mean Girl’, hugged her tightly and said, “It’s ok, you don’t have to be mean to me to make yourself feel better. You are loved and you don’t need to be mean to get attention. You can say what you want but I have a Mermaid heart and that makes me strong. I forgive you.” The main ‘Mean Girl’ looked deflated, her mouth slung open and she stammered; she wanted to say something else but couldn’t think of what to do. The other ‘Mean Girls’ were just as dumbstruck. Sophie smiled and skipped away, joining her friends, catching up with the weekend gossip. She couldn’t wait to get to class and show off her creative streak, she wasn’t even afraid of her maths lesson. Miss Heather greeted her at the door. “Well, hello Sophie, you are looking bright eyed and bushy tailed.”
“Yes, Miss Heather, I am feeling MUCH better thank you.” Sophie beamed.
“That’s great news… and how was YOUR weekend?” Miss Heather enquired, giving Sophie a knowing smile.
Sophie wasn’t sure but she could have sworn that in that moment Miss Heather winked and a shimmer of gold scales glimmered briefly across her face.