Mermaid and Butterfly, Sea Maiden 17

“A Sea Maiden with a butterfly, and all you can say is, Oh?” Edmund C. Roberts asked of the little girl. Sarah and Sue looked to their sister. She hesitated, but would not be intimidated. She repeated her first response, “Oh. She’s Oh.” I like it; I felt it when I saw her. I said it when I saw her. She’s Oh!”

Edmund looked around his salon and found solace in neat rows of leather bound books, their titles golden in the reflecting sun. “Oh,” he whispered quietly and then added in exasperation, “My grandfather, Sir Edmund Roberts, bless his soul, made the rule; he (or she) who first sights a Sea Maiden shall be awarded the privilege of choosing her first name. To his mortification, his motley crew consistently choose those of their sainted mothers or of their own, oh, so temporary, and oh, so fallen, favorites female companions monikers. Rudimentary choices. Vulgar choices. But, in the end, actual names, my dear children. Names. Not merely spoken reaction. Not a breath of air, as it were.” The young man pushed back his chair and began pacing in a circle around the triplets. Forgive my temerity for attempting an explanation, but I simply must: This voyage, children, is not only a foray into the aquatic wilderness in an attempt to find clues as to the circumstances surrounding the disappearance of my parents, it is  an exercise in science. It is a grand adventure to establish for once, and for all, the existence of Sea Maidens.  We have seen them, we have recorded their reality in word and image, and in fact, before this voyage is concluded, we shall capture at least one of the dears and bring her back, alive, to prove to our scientific community of doubters, of nay-sayers, that neither my parents, nor grandparents were insane.”

The girls had become increasingly concerned with Edmund Roberts growing agitation. His voice was beginning to strain. His face was reddening. He was also starting to direct his anger at the children. “So, my little Marie, we need a proper first name. Not an utterance. Not a verbal hiccough. A name.” He stopped pacing and spun around to the child. She stared at him as he dropped to one knee.  “And so, and in finality, since you were the very first of our part to spy said Sea Maiden, she being of an alluring fashion and in the company of a very pretty little butterfly, you, dearest little Marie, may …give…her…a…name.” He stopped and leaned ever so slightly forward. Sara and Sue watched and feared their timid little sister would now burst into tears. But she did not. Nor did she cringe. If anything, she leaned the tiniest bit forward too. She pursed her lips. She drew in her breath and narrowed her innocent eyes and finally whispered clearly and with conviction, “‘Oh,’. Her name is ‘Oh’.”

Edmund C. Roberts’ journal reads:
Sea Maiden 17 sighted on a beach in southernmost California. “Oh,”

September 2, 2019 popeye3165

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