Once upon a time, in a quaint little fishing community of Valley Ford, there lived a fisherman, Tom and his wife, Mary. They lived in a small cozy cottage by the sea.
Life had been good to the couple, until just recently. Their only son, Jacob, had been lost to the sea. He had been out fishing when a thick, black, funnel-like cloud swirled above him. A tornado was headed straight for his small vessel! Jacob’s boat rocked with the huge waves that soon surrounded it. The boat capsized and Jacob fell into the rough waters.
Once in the sea, Jacob was captured by a wicked sea witch by the name of Erma. She was a very ugly creature with an old wrinkly face, black teeth and fiery orange hair. Erma had cast an evil spell on Jacob. She had turned him into a half-fish, half-man; a merman. The spell Erma cast on Jacob could only be broken if Jacob’s parents were to believe that he was dead. Unfortunately for Jacob, Erma knew that they would never believe such a thing.
Jacob was allowed to swim freely about the clear-blue sea. Erma had warned Jacob that if he was to so much as tried to escape, he would die. Jacob explored the cool waters of the sea everyday. He was amazed at the serene beauty of the world underneath. He swam with fish of all shapes, sizes and colours. He played with the sea-horses. He explored caverns and saw the brilliant colourful corals. Jacob collected oysters along the floor of the sea. Sometimes inside the oyster, he would find a milky white pearl.
One day, while on one of his adventures, Jacob came across the most beautiful creature he had ever seen in his life. Just beyond a coral reef, swam an elusive mermaid. Long, golden hair shimmered in the cool water. Her lithe body moved swiftly through the corals. Jacob swam shyly over to her. He didn’t want to frighten her away. Peering at Jacob through eyes that were similar to the colour of the reddish-orange corals which lined the floor of the sea, the mermaid swam gracefully around him. Her fish-like tail sparkled as the sunlight beamed through the water. Slowly, she came closer.
“Hello,” said Jacob, breathlessly. “My name is Jacob. What’s your name?”
“I’m Priscilla,” the mermaid answered shyly, as she swung her pinkish tail closer to him. “I see that Erma has cast a spell on you, too!”
“Don’t tell me that she has cast a spell on you?” Jacob asked, astounded.
“No, not exactly,” Priscilla answered. “Erma captured my mother when her boat capsized. She was pregnant with me at the time.”
“My, my,” said Jacob. “That is terrible. You were born down here!”
“Yes,” said Priscilla sadly. “I was. My mother died shortly after my birth. I can never leave the water!”
“There must be some way for you to leave,” said Jacob anxiously.
“There is one way,” said Priscilla. “But, it would never work.”
“Well, tell me,” said Jacob.
“The only way I can leave the water is if a real man kisses me,” Priscilla cried.
“That isn’t so difficult,” laughed Jacob.
“Do you see any real men down here?” Priscilla asked angrily.
“Well, uh, no, I don’t,” said Jacob foolishly. “There are plenty of men along the shore. I’m sure they would love to kiss a mermaid.”
“Maybe so,” said Priscilla. “But, everytime I go near them, they become frightened and run away.”
“Really!” exclaimed Jacob. “Well, I’ll tell you what, if I ever get out of here, I’ll kiss you.”
“Are you serious?” blushed Priscilla. “You are so kind. So, what kind of spell does the old sea witch have on you?”
“In order for me to be free, my parents have to believe that I am dead,” answered Jacob. “My parents will never believe that I am dead, unless my body were to wash up on the shore.”
“Wait,” yelled Priscilla. “I have a better idea. Take off your shirt!”
“What!” Jacob yelled.
“Come on,” Priscilla replied excitedly as she tore the shirt from Jacob’s muscular limbs. “This will work, believe me.”
And, with that, Priscilla swam towards the shore-line with Jacob’s shirt in her hands. A few days went by. A couple of old fishermen were on the dock, fishing. One of the men was Jacob’s father.
“Good day for fishing,” replied Tom as he reeled in a sixteen pound salmon.
“Yeah Tom,” said the other fisherman as he too, reeled in a fairly good sized salmon. “Any word on your son, yet?”
“No, Ron,” Tom replied sadly. “It’s been almost a year since he’s disappeared. Mary still believes that he is alive.”
“And you?” asked Ron.
“Ah, Ron,” said Tom. “I just don’t know. As each day goes by, it is getting harder and harder to believe that he is alive. If only his body would show up, then, we can get on with our lives.”
“Hey,” said Ron, as he reeled his line in once more. “I’ve got something!”
Ron reeled in his line and on the end of it, he found a red and white checkered shirt. He took the shirt off his hook and was about to cast it back into the sea when Tom stopped him.
“Hey Ron,” called Tom. “Let me see that shirt.”
Ron threw the shirt to Tom, who, upon catching it, turned the shirt over and over in his hands. He too, was going to discard the shirt, until something caught his eye. In the inside of the collar, was a hand-made label. Jacob’s name appeared on the label.
“This is Jacob’s shirt!” cried Tom. “This is the shirt he was wearing the night he disappeared.”
“Are you sure?” Ron asked doubtfully.
“Oh, I’m positive,” said Tom. “I’ll never forget what he was wearing that night. I have gone over every detail of that night in my mind, a thousand times.”
“Well,” said Ron. “If this is Jacob’s shirt, then Jacob might be around here somewhere.”
The two men searched every bit of that shore, leaving no rock unturned. A few hours later, Tom came up to Ron. Tears were streaming down his face.
“It’s no use,” Tom cried. “We’ll never find him. I believe finding his shirt can only confirm one thing.”
“What’s that?” asked Ron.
“Ron,” began Tom. “I believe my son is dead. He could never have survived that tornado. I have been so foolish holding onto the notion that he could be alive. What a fool I’ve been!”
Ron and Tom took the shirt home to show Mary. A flood of relief washed over Mary’s face when she saw the shirt.
“At least our Jacob can rest in peace,” she cried.
Jacob and Priscilla swam the sea together, waiting for Jacob’s spell to be broken. It had been three days now, since Priscilla had cast Jacob’s shirt ashore. All of a sudden, Jacob felt his body change. He was losing his fish tail. He was changing back into a man. He swam as fast as he could to the surface. Priscilla followed him. As soon as Jacob saw Priscilla bobbing in the water, he swam over to her as quickly as he could. He grabbed her and kissed her on the lips.
Priscilla felt her body change underneath Jacob’s warm lips. For the first time in Priscilla’s life, she was human. Jacob took Priscilla by the hand and walked her ashore. Priscilla was a bit wobbly, at first, because she had never had a pair of legs to walk with before. In fact, she had never walked before in her life.
“Boy,” said Priscilla. “These things called legs are pretty hard to keep steady.”
“Don’t worry,” laughed Jacob. “You will get used to them.”
In the background, Jacob and Priscilla could hear the piercing cry of Erma.
“Come back,” the old witch bellowed. “You can’t leave. You belong to me! I will die without you!”
“Just watch us,” said Jacob as he took Priscilla’s hand in his.
Behind them, Jacob and Priscilla could see a white brilliant light emit from the sky. They turned around just in time to see Erma being lifted from the sea. The light faded and Erma
disappeared. Jacob turned to face the golden-haired beauty standing before him.
“Priscilla,” he said shyly. “I must go find my parents and let them know that I am alive but first, I have an important question to ask you.”
“What’s that?” asked Priscilla sadly, thinking that Jacob was going to tell her that he didn’t want to see her anymore.
“I wish to make you my wife,” said Jacob. “Priscilla, will you marry me?”
“Oh yes!” cried Priscilla, overwhelmed. “Yes, Jacob. I will marry you!”