I hear my mum's voice interrupting my sleep.
"What a messy room!" She says. "I must tend to it immediately!"
What is she on about? She never speaks like that! My eyelids flutter open, expecting to see those little dolphins on the roof, but instead, I see a pearly coloured ceiling. My eyebrows furrow, and I push myself up.
"Mum..." I start. But then I notice that it isn't mum who spoke at all! By an expensive looking coral coloured dressing table, is a young lady with long teal coloured hair. Her skin is creamy white. She spins round suddenly, beaming.
"You're awake!" She clasps her hands together. "Brilliant!" A bubble escapes from her mouth, causing her to giggle. I gawp. We are underwater! But how? I quickly realise I shouldn't breath, and slap my hands across my mouth. "Don't be silly," she says. "You can breath just fine." She flicks her tail and moves closer. Wait- what?! Her tail?! I do a double take. Okay, now I know I'm dreaming. There most definetely can not be a mermaid in front of me. She brushes a finger across my cheek and smiles. "You are beautiful, just like the stories say." I raise a confused eyebrow.
"I'm sorry," I say. I'm talking underwater! This is crazy! "But you must have the wrong person."
She laughs and shakes her head. "The wrong person? Why don't be daft, Galithina."
"Galithina?" I ponder. "But my names Gaia."
Her face is very kind and pretty. Her eyes are the same colour as the ocean, and her lips are like little peachy waves. "Galithina," she says. "It has always been that way. I was there when your mimino gave you your name. At the ceremone've'conome".
"My what?" I say. This is stupid.
"Your mimino. Your...mother. At the ceremone've'conome... the ceremony of names, I think."
"Naming ceremony. Like when someone gets christined."
"Gets what?" The girl says. I look away, then suddenly scream.
"WHAT THE HELL IS THAT?!" I cry, pointing at a long tail spurting from my waist. She giggles, bubbles escaping from her lips.
"Silly girl! That's your tail!" She looks as though I've told a hilarious joke. "You don't know, do you?"
"Know what?!" I snap. She laughs even more.
"That you're a mermaid!" She says it as if telling me my own name.
"A mermaid. Don't tell me you don't know what a-"
"I know what a mermaid is!" I spit. "This is just a stupid dream."
Her smile fades. "No," she says, eyebrows dipped. "You are home, at last. You have returned from the two-legged-land. I was sent to collect you last night."
This is all too much to take in. "If this isn't a dream, I demand you take me home!" I say, folding my arms across my bare chest.
"But, you're already here," she says, the corner of her lips brushing up into a gentle smile. "Come."
She gestures me over to a little wardrobe. Her hand runs along the side of it.
"Made from real Gashouvi shells," she says. "You're lucky to have all this. If it weren't for your dear mimino, we'd be ever so poor."
Mimino...mother. Wait, my mum?
"My mum's on the shore, where the two-legged people are, the normal kind! What could she have done?!"
She laughs. "Oh dear, you have much to learn, young merliciano! But we shall save it for later! Oh- dear!" She exclaims. "How could I forget?!" She reaches out a hand, with purple scales running along her thumb. They glimmer in the light. "My name is Cynthira." I shake her hand, and then she pulls it away, and rades the wardrobe made from "Gashouvi" shells. After a while, she thrusts two violet coloured shells onto the bed, followed by a beautiful batwing top.
"You must wear something to visit Ci Queen ve s'Oceana, your mimino."
"My mum?" I say, picking up the two shells, staring at them with a quizzical look.
"Sei!" She says, nodding. Then she laughs, and whips the shells from my hands and clips them onto my breasts. "Like I said, you have a lot to learn! But within time of course!"
I scoop the top into my arms, and hold it out in front of me. It's beautiful. When you move it in the light, it shines many different colours. I gasp.
"It's gorgeous, isn't it?" Cynthira whispers over my shoulder. "Made from real fish scales, sewn by hand!"
My lips press together. "Cynthira, as greatful as I am, I really do not want to wear fish scales!"
Her eyebrows shoot up. "But they are so precious and rare! Not many merliciano's get to wear such a thing in their lifetime! And you get them offered just like this! No, you must wear this."
I sigh, and pull it over my head. I'm surprised to find out it doesn't stink. Cynthira looks at me and claps.
"It suits you so very much. Now look!" she says, indicating a tall mirror. It has seaweed swaying up the rims. I slowly make towards the mirror. I let out a shriek.
"What is it?!" Cynthira cries. "Is something wrong?"
"I'm a mermaid!" I scream.
"Yes," Cynthira says, sounding dull and bored. "I thought we had gathered that."
"But...it's a lot to take in..." I stare at my reflection. And my hair! It's like a mix of crimson and dark velvety purple. I run my long, slightly webbed fingers through it. It's true. The top does suit me. It falls just right, and pinches in at my waist, making me look curvey. My eyes! I stare into them for a while, but it doesn't make sense. First they were raspberry pink, next they were purple, and now they are a very dark green! "Cynthira!" I call, grabbing for her arm. "My eyes!"
"Ah yes," she starts. "It runs in the family. They change according to your mood. Quite clever, don't you think?"
I can't help but smile. Next I admire my tail. It is a beautiful blue colour, which fades from midnight blue, to the kind you see in the sky, then at the tips, it is coloured raspberry pink. There are two little fins at either side halfway down my tail, opaque little things, but following the same colour pattern. I swish my tail, and it moves like an elegant snake.
"You are striking, Galithina. If you will believe that is your name."
"I'm sorry, Cynthira," I say, turning away from my reflection to face her. "But I'm not sure I do. If you don't mind, I think I'm ready to visit my "mimino" now."