Paisley Marie was a very lucky seven-year-old girl because she got to live at the beach, the most magical place in all the world. She loved to walk on the sand, collect seashells, and talk to the mermaids that hid beneath the waves. The only thing that made her sad was that she didn’t have any friends to play with.
One morning, as she was telling the mermaids a story, she’d made up about them when she heard her mommy calling her.
“Come on, P-Marie! Let’s go to the store. We can bake cookies this afternoon.”
“I have to go now,” she said to her friends, “but I’ll bring some cookies when I come back later” and she ran over to her mommy, who was waiting by the car.
“Why are we baking cookies, Mommy?” she asked as she climbed in and buckled her seatbelt.
“Because it’s fun,” her mommy said, smiling at her in the rearview mirror. “We could make broccoli instead. Would that be better?”
“Ewww! Cookies are always better. Can we use the mermaid sprinkles?” Paisley’s eyes twinkled as she put on her sparkly purple sunglasses.
They talked about decorating cookies all the way to the store, and when they got there, they loaded up their cart with everything they needed.
“I think we have enough ingredients to feed a dozen mermaids!” Her mommy said. “Let’s pay and load up the car.”
As Paisley and her mommy were putting the empty cart away, a woman walked over to them holding a small box. She talked quietly to Paisley’s mommy and then the lady bent down to speak to Paisley.
“I’ve got this fish that needs a good home, and as soon as I saw you, I knew you would take good care of her. Would you like to see her?”
Paisley nodded, and the woman opened the box to reveal a small bowl that held water and sand, and the most beautiful fish Paisley had ever seen. It was blue and green and purple, and it had a big tail that was shaped like a fan.
“I have a bigger bowl that I’ll give to your mommy and a box of food. She would be happiest if there were some seashells in her bowl, and maybe some pretty pebbles. But the most important thing she needs is a friend. Fish get lonely when they’re by themselves for too long, so you’ll have to talk to her, sing to her, and tell her stories. She especially likes mermaid stories. Can you do that?”
“Yes!” Paisley answered. “She’ll be my best friend and will take good care of her. What’s her name?” She reached out to stroke the side of the bowl, and the little fish swam over to look at her fingers.
“That’s up to you! Can you hold her bowl while your mommy and I get her supplies?”
Paisley nodded and took the bowl with her tiny new friend. This was the best day ever!
When they got home, Paisley got her little friend settled into the bigger bowl and added a few pretty shells and pebbles.
“Do you like your new bowl?” she asked as she watched the fish swim around. “I hope you do. You’re so pretty! You need a pretty name.” Paisley thought for a moment and then smiled. “I know! I’ll call you Aurora.”
Paisley brought Aurora to the beach to meet the mermaids, then Aurora watched as Paisley and her mommy baked cookies and made dinner. She met Paisley’s daddy, and that night Paisley read three stories to Aurora before she said good night and crawled into bed.
She fell asleep with a smile on her face, only to wake up a little bit later when a voice whispered in her ear. “Wake up, Best Friend! Come play with me!”
Paisley sat up and saw a soft purple glow filling her bedroom, and a little girl standing by the bed.
“Who are you?” she asked, yawning.
“It’s me, Aurora!” the girl said. “Want to play?” She climbed up on the bed and waited for an answer.
“Aurora, like my fish?” Paisley looked over at the bowl and was surprised to see the bowl empty. “Oh, no! Where is my fish?”
“I’m right here,” the girl said. “I’m Aurora. See?” She showed Paisley the colors in her hair: purple, green, and blue, just like the fish.
“Wow!” She reached over and touched Aurora’s hair. “I never had a fish before. Do all fish turn into kids at night?”
“I’m not really a fish,” Aurora explained. “I’m a mermaid! The other mermaids and I love listening to your stories, and I really wanted to come and play with you, but my mimsy said she had to make sure you were going to treat me nicely. Sometimes humans aren’t kind to us.”
“Why not?” Paisley asked. “No one should ever be mean to you!”
“Sometimes people are scared of new things,” Aurora explained, “but when you came to tell us stories every day, my mimsy and pipsy thought that you and I could be friends.”
“There are lots of mermaids!” Paisley said. “Don’t you already have lots of friends?”
“We haven’t lived here very long,” Aurora said, “and sometimes I feel shy, so it’s hard to talk to new mermaids.”
“I’ll be your friend!” Paisley Marie said, giving Aurora a big hug. “We can play when you’re a mermaid at night, and when you’re a fish, I’ll tell you stories, and feed you cookies! You can help with my homework, too. Are you good at math?”
Aurora laughed. “I’m good at math and I love to eat cookies, but I can’t be your fish and your mermaid friend, or we would never sleep! You met my mimsy today at the store. She said you were sweet and kind, and that you would be a good friend. I got to be a fish all day today to see if you would keep your promise. I was afraid you’d put me on a shelf and forget about me, but you didn’t, and now we get to be friends!”
“I’ll miss my fish, Aurora, but I am going to love my mermaid friend, Aurora,” Paisley said. “But what would have happened if I had forgotten about you?”
“When you woke up in the morning, I would not be here, and no one would even remember that you had a fish. There have been lots of times mermaids have wanted to make friends with humans, but we learned that if humans are not kind to their pets, they won’t be kind to their friends, either.”
Paisley thought about that for a moment. “So tomorrow I won’t have a fish, and my mommy and daddy won’t remember that I ever had one?”
“Yep. But now you’ll get to see lots of mermaids! Only no one will know we’re mermaids, but you.” Aurora winked.
The girls talked for a long time before Aurora had to go back to the ocean and Paisley had to go to sleep. Once again, Paisley went to sleep with a smile on her face.
When she woke up the next morning, the fishbowl was gone, and she wondered if it had all been a dream.
After she’d finished her breakfast, Paisley went down to the beach, but there was no one else there. She started to feel very sad, but then she heard splashing in the water behind her and turned to see a little girl with beautifully colored hair swimming over to her.
“Hi!” she said. “My name is Aurora. My mims—my mommy is over there. We just moved in down the beach! What’s your name?” And before Paisley could answer, the little girl with purple, blue, and green hair winked at her.