Career Day


“It was unlike anything you could ever imagine,” I said with almost enough enthusiasm to convince these kids. I sat in front of the group of children that had huge smiles on their faces. Career day was usually for parents to talk about their hard jobs, but for me, it was about telling the story that changed my life. 

There was no way of telling if this group of children would believe me. Most children listen to their parents when they are told ‘mermaids are not real’, I’m hoping this story can change that. The classroom was full of bright faces and doubtful looks from parents, but that always happened.

“I never believed in the supernatural before that day. It was just a bunch of junk that people created in their false realities.” It was true, if you asked me 15 years ago whether or not I believed in mermaids, I would have laughed in your face. “But it never occurred to me that one day I might become one of these false realities.” I look back at all the children. They seemed to have no idea what awaited them at the end of this story, so I continued. “You never expect to fear being in contact with water, fear that you might turn into a mermaid unexpectedly, but honestly, life is full of fear that cannot be controlled.” 

  It was finally the day! I couldn’t believe it! I grabbed my suitcase and headed straight to the airport. At the airport, I met up with my old friends from high school, Rylie, Annabelle, and Katie. “I’ve always wanted to go to Ireland,” Katie says. “Same,” I say. “I really hope that we can explore and learn about Ireland’s history,” Annabelle says. “Yes, Ireland truly has some of the most beautiful history,” Rylie replies.  

It was a bright summer day and we were about to board the private plane to Ireland. We were all so thrilled and had been planning this trip since we were kids. “I can’t wait till we get to Ireland,” Annabelle says. “I know, It’s going to be the most incredible trip ever,” Katie responds. A few hours into the flight I begin to notice a mysterious pungent smell coming from the back of the plane. “What is that smell?” I ask. “It smells like smoke,” Rylie says. It’s moments later when we notice that the plane’s engine had set on fire! “OMG, WE ARE ALL GONNA DIE,” Rylie shouts. “Relax,” Annabelle says. “As long as we stay calm everything will be okay,” I say. 

Only moments later do we end up plummeting right into the middle of the ocean! This is when everything goes downhill. After a little while, we begin to notice a mysterious liquid trickling down the center aisle of the plane. ”What is this atrocious mess?” asks Rylie. “Where is it coming from?” Rylie also asks. “I think it might be chemicals coming from the engine,” says Annabelle.  “They are beginning to ooze out and seep all over us,” I say. “We should get out of here,” Annabelle says. “Yes, as soon as possible,” I say. In an attempt to break out of the plane, I decided to use the hammer I found in our emergency preparedness kit to shatter the windows in hopes to swim away and find help.

 Meanwhile, Katie was trying her best to steer clear of the ocean but that was all we could see. Ocean for miles and miles. As we were quickly descending a large unknown object hit the plane causing her to lose grip of the plane’s wheel and fall through the hole the large object created. We wouldn’t learn that for quite a while, until it was much too late. 

It was our worst nightmare. Falling into the biggest mass on Earth, flailing helplessly in the ocean, surrounded by nothing but a vast sea. I am struggling to keep my head above water as I look for Rylie, Annabelle, and Katie around me. I see Rylie first. She looks flushed and starts swimming towards me. “CAMMY! WE ARE GOING TO DIE!” she shouted, before finally reaching me. I tried to stay calm and desperately looked for Annabelle and Katie. Annabelle resurfaces a moment later, her face red and burns on her arms. She swam towards us, wincing the entire time. “Annabelle, what happened?” I asked. “The engine- the engine exploded moments before I was able to escape,” she replied with a shaky voice. I was trying not to panic, as we were stuck, left to die in this impossible situation that could have been avoided. 

Rylie had been silent for a while, and I asked her if she was okay. Rylie turned around, with tears in her eyes. “Guys…where is Katie?” We went silent. Everything started to make sense now. As the pilot, she would have had a difficult time getting out of the plane. Now that I recall, something did hurtle out of the sky as we were falling. It was truly all a blur. Annabelle covered her mouth with her hand and stifled a scream. “She’s not here.” The calmness I was maintaining only a moment ago had been lost. We all started swimming in different directions, shouting Katie’s name, as if there was a chance she could still be alive. 

However, after two minutes of searching Annabelle swam back to us in a hurry. “There is a dolphin behind me, it is coming toward us.” I turned around and saw a cute little dolphin swimming in circles around us. Rylie managed to look happy for a moment and smiled at the dolphin, despite our deaths looming closer and closer. Suddenly, another dolphin appeared from below the water. I started to smile too, as maybe this was a sign we could all get out of this mess. Before we know it, 7 dolphins are circling the three of us. 

At first glance, they seem to be doing this for fun and to be playful. Upon closer inspection, the dolphins do not look as friendly as I thought they would be. Annabelle and Rylie start to realize the same thing, and we start getting worried. The dolphins are getting closer and closer to us, and I begin to wonder what my friends and I have done to deserve this. A dolphin jumps above us and lands next to Rylie. She screams. “THE DOLPHIN BIT ME! IT IS TRYING TO EAT MY ARM!!!!!!!” Annabelle and I freak out, however, there is no way we can save our friend from the dolphin. It is simply too dangerous. 

The other dolphins are now four feet away from Annabelle and I give her one last hug, and close my eyes, waiting for my fate to unfold. I can feel the dolphin’s teeth on my arm, hoping that death will be painless and quick. After a minute, I opened my eyes and saw a blinding white light. “Is this heaven?” I asked aloud. “No, you idiot,” Annabelle replied. I looked down, confused, and realized that I had not died. I had not been injured at all. The dolphins were gone, they had vanished, leaving me very puzzled. 

I started to open my mouth, and then thought better of it because I could not be the only one seeing this phenomenon occur in front of me, could I? Out of the corner of my eye, I spot Rylie and point at this terrifying creature. What is it, you may ask? Something that you hear about all the time, in books, and movies. They usually don’t end very well for anyone that crosses their path. I’m talking about a whirlpool. A huge, massive whirlpool came towards the three of us at lightning speed. 

All the shock from the past 20 minutes of my life just hit me. Falling out of a plane, losing Katie, being stranded at sea, bitten by a dolphin, somehow living through this with not a scratch on my body. Yet, now a horrific beast is trying to swallow me into its darkness, to never see the light again? At that moment, I will never truly know what came over me, but I started swimming towards the whirlpool.

 Annabelle’s head whipped around. “Cammy! What are you doing? You’re going to get yourself killed!” she screamed. However, I couldn’t hear her over the rushing waves. Rylie swam over to Annabelle and they talked for a brief moment, then started backstroking towards me as fast as they could. I’m not the most agile, so they caught up to me very quickly. Rylie grabbed my arm and put it behind me so that I couldn’t move. “Don’t do this. It’ll only kill you faster,” she said weakly, trying not to cry again. Annabelle hesitated and then spoke. 

“She’s right. Cammy is right, let’s face it. We are all going to die, in only a matter of minutes. There’s no way out. But why can’t we die with bravery? Valor? Something tells me that swimming into the whirlpool is way better than waiting here for our fates to unfold, surrendering, to something that will trump over us anyway. I mean, we are explorers after all.” I smirked. “Where did you learn to do pep talks?” Annabelle rolled her eyes and looked in the distance to the whirlpool. By this time it had grown much larger and was getting nearer and nearer with every passing second. I sighed and looked at both of them. “Are we crazy enough to do this?” They nodded, and with that, we started swimming towards the whirlpool.

 About halfway, I started regretting all my life decisions and again, wondered what my friends and I did to deserve this. I didn’t want to cry but the tears formed anyway, slowly running down my face. Rylie and Annabelle were crying as well. We had reached the whirlpool. I turned around in the water, to face both of my friends. “Together?” I asked. “Together,” they replied in unison. And with that, the three of us dove headfirst into the whirlpool, vanishing from the surface and into the depths of the unknown. 

Now, this is the part where you become extremely confused. Shouldn’t I have died? Yes, however, this is not the end of the story. Honestly, this is just the beginning. Courageously diving into the whirlpool will forever be embedded in my heart, as this was the moment that changed my life forever. 

I awoke to blue. Blue? Was this heaven after all? I wondered if my friends saw blue as well, maybe they all saw different colors. I looked around me. Bluer. It was a lot to take in, yet not that much. It was all just…blue. It sort of looked the ocean. I thought that was weird. Does the afterlife seem like the place where you perished? There were so many questions forming in my mind, I could not think straight. All I remembered was diving into the whirlpool, as my last act of bravery, dying with the ones with whom I had experienced enough amazing adventures to last me a lifetime. It’s funny saying the word life as if I’m still living one.

 I pushed all these thoughts out of my head and tried to speak. It worked, but bubbles were coming out of my mouth. What the heck is happening? I heard voices to my left, so I turned my head. Annabelle is there, her mouth open. I started moving towards her. It felt off. Her mouth was still hanging open by the time I reached her. “Annabelle, what is this place?” Annabelle looked at me, awe in her eyes. “Cammy, you’re alive. I’m alive! We’re all alive!” she shouts with joy. Rylie appears from behind her, smiling. “You guys are crazy, we died. This is just..shock.” Rylie shakes her head. “No, we’re in the ocean right now.” I stared at her and started laughing, giggling hysterically until I couldn’t control myself. “You’re funny,” I replied. “Still playing pranks on me even after we passed away?”

 Annabelle blinked, and then slapped me in the face. “OW!” I yelped. “What was that for-? Wait. I can feel that.” Annabelle rolled her eyes once again. “Look around you, Cammy. We are literally in the ocean.” I looked around as she said, and I wish I knew the feelings overwhelming me at that moment. “I- I- how?” Rylie shrugged and looked down. Her face changed instantly, from shocked to scared then to joy. I followed her gaze, and this was the first time I truly understood the meaning of a life changer. I…I had a tail! We all had a tail! Gorgeous fins, mine green, Annabelle’s purple, and Rylie’s blue, they glimmered in the water.

 “Oh my god. Oh my god.” was all I could say for the next minute. Annabelle squealed, and finally said out loud what we had all been thinking. “WE ARE MERMAIDS!” I honestly couldn’t quite wrap my head around it. I started to move around, and with it, my tail started flapping. No wonder we could all breathe underwater. I wasn’t dead…in fact, I was more alive than I had ever been! I started shouting at the top of my lungs, Annabelle and Rylie doing the same. We shouted for 5 minutes straight, then laughed until our stomachs hurt. If we even had a stomach. At this point, anything was possible.

 “Um, guys? First of all, we are mermaids. Mermaids. I don’t know how this happened, how we are still alive, and why we are here. But we can figure that out all later. Second, why are we still here? We have the chance to do what no one has done before. Explore the sea for however long we want, find unknown places and explore them, and most importantly, have fun of course! We can worry about the side effects of…this…power later. But for now, I say we swim down to the deeper parts of the ocean and see what lies beneath the surface.” Rylie nods her head in agreement. I agreed, but I couldn’t shake the feeling that whatever made us mermaids, was more than science could ever predict. It would take us many years to figure out the reason was due to radioactive waves contained in the chemicals that spilled on us as our plane crashed that day.

 I gave them a thumbs up and attempted to dive further down in the sea. Using a tail is way easier than people explain in the movies. We effortlessly glided with the sea as we swam. After a few minutes of swimming downwards, we began to search for signs of life or anything worthwhile to check out. “Y’all, let’s play a game,” Rylie said. “We have 15 minutes to find the coolest thing we can in the ocean, and meet back here to bring it. Then, we take a vote, and whoever’s object has the most votes wins.” I grinned. “Deal.”

15 minutes later, I came up with nothing but a rock that looked like it had come from somewhere that we don’t see in pictures because they don’t exist. I was in awe of the brightness illuminating from the rock because it seemed to almost…draw light towards it. I swam towards our meeting spot and there were Annabelle and Rylie. Rylie pulled out a piece of coral. It was an iridescent pink and had the same shimmering quality that my rock had. I pulled out my rock and showed it to both of them. They were both very pretty and I was very excited to see what Anna had in store for us.

 Annabelle looked both of us in the eye and smirked. “I have you beat.” “Yeah right,” Rylie replied. “What did you bring for us?” Annabelle struggled to respond. “It’s not so much as a what…it’s more of a where. Follow me, I can show you. Just be prepared to lose epically and be astounded like I was.” Rylie and I exchange a glance. Our curiosity gets the better of us and we follow Annabelle. We reach this clearing of rocks, rocks that look identical to the one I have. Coral is hanging from the top of the rocks, the same species that Rylie has in her hand. I frown and think it is merely a coincidence. 

The rocks stop in the middle, and the figure looks quite like a cave. It seems like you can go inside it, however, I was not sure at the time. Annabelle laughs. “Stop standing there gawking and go through the entrance.” Rylie rolls her eyes jokingly and enters, Annabelle and I following. What I saw next, I can never unsee. Ever. The place that children read about in fairy tales, in stories about myths that can never be forgotten, it was one of those places. The lost city of Atlantis, a utopian island that tragically sank into the ocean, never heard of or seen again, with everyone wondering whether it was real or not. I could answer the question for them, it was most definitely real. 

Rylie and I gawked at what we were seeing, and the entire time Annabelle grinned from ear to ear. “Did I win?” I nodded and didn’t say anything, still in wonder as to what we had discovered. “You guys are lucky I didn’t forget about you and go check this place out for myself.” she joked. Rylie pushed her playfully. “You better have not,” she replied. I chuckled and wished I had a photographic memory of this moment. Thankfully, I remember everything about it like this was yesterday. A city bustling with people was in front of our eyes. All the buildings were made out of the same pink, iridescent rock I was holding in my hand. Coral and other plants were hanging from the roofs of houses and decorated the entire square. You could feel it in the air, this city was alive with joy and prosperity. 

However, there was one thing I distinctly remember that we couldn’t take our eyes off of. In the center of this beautiful city was a huge palace, with towers and turrets that glistened like the sun during the warmer days of the year. The sight was breathtaking. “This..this is the most magnificent thing I have ever seen in my life,” I said aloud. “Agreed 100 percent,” Rylie responded. Annabelle started to say something, but then stopped. “Wait. All the people in this city have tails…like us!” Rylie looked closer and nodded. “You’re right! All we have to do is act like we fit in…right?” “Yes,” I responded. “As long as we do not cause any unwanted attention to ourselves I think if we go exploring the city, no one should mind.” I said.

“Okay. Hold up, we are surrounded in a city of merpeople, a city that shouldn’t exist, and a city that probably holds way more than science and the imagination can even comprehend. We don’t know if this power expires or if we have a time limit on how long we can be underwater.” Rylie says. “You’re right. We should go explore right now and see what the city of Atlantis has to offer.” Annabelle replies. I nodded in agreement. “Well, what are we waiting for?” I said joyously. We all giggled and swam into the gates of the city, eager to see what wonders were awaiting us.

While exploring the vast ocean of Atlantis and seeing all the merpeople, Rylie seems distracted by something. I swam closer to get a better look at what was catching her eye. To my surprise, I saw a young handsome man who looked to be around our age. Rylie said to me, ”Cammy, I think I am in love.” I thought that was the craziest thing I have ever heard. She has never even spoken a word to this merman. Before I could respond Rylie was swimming toward him. I watched closely trying to figure out what she was saying but couldn’t make out anything. After about five minutes she swims back and says.” His name is Rocki and he said he can show us the castle.” I was so happy I almost screamed. I said to Rylie, “Myths say the lost treasure of Atlantis lies deep beneath the castle. They say the treasure brings luck and riches. If we find it we might not only be able to get home but also could become millionaires.” Rylie looked at me shocked and said,” We need to go find Annabelle now.” Without a moment’s hesitation, we started to swim to deliver Annabelle this amazing news. We found her in one of the stores looking at the seashells for sale. Rylie screams with joy,” ANNABELLE WE MIGHT FIND THE LOST TREASURE OF ATLANTIS.” Annabelle, looking confused as ever, says,” What?!?” I explained everything before we headed back to Rocki. We find Rocki in the same spot he was when we had left. ”We are ready,” says Rylie. Rocki introduced himself to me and Annabelle and then we were off.

He took us to the grand entrance which seemed taller than the Eiffel Tower. There were about 30 guards all around the entrance, but none stopped us, we just swam right in. I thought it was a little odd because usually guards would stop you and ask what your business is there, but we swam on. The grand entrance was like nothing I have ever seen before. Beautiful marble covered the floor, walls and ceiling, and three massive archways. One was leading left, one leading right, and one leading forward, and to top it all off the largest chandelier I have ever seen. “This place feels like a dream,” said Annabelle. I nodded in agreement, then Rocki led us through the left archway. “I am going to show you the throne room next,” he said. Stunned, I responded, “How do you know this place so well?” Stone stopped for a second and turned around to face us saying, “Well this is kinda my home.” All three of us stared at him blankly. ”YOU’RE THE PRINCE,” Rylie shrieked. Looking a little embarrassed, Rocki nodded. He turned around and continued to swim toward the throne room as we all followed. Rylie whispered in my ear, “I told you I was in love with him,” I rolled my eyes and laughed. We get to the throne room and my heart drops. This was the most magnificent place I had ever seen in my whole life. I felt like fainting. The next thing I knew my vision went black and I was out.

I woke up in a cozy little room thinking it was all just a dream. Then I spot Rylie sitting on a chair. To my disappointment, she still has a tail, and I do too. Rylie spots me getting out of the bed and comes to my aid. ”Are you ok?! You were knocked out for five hours.” I look at her shocked,” FIVE HOURS?!?! We need to go now and find the treasure!” Rylie stops me before I can bolt out the door, she says, “I already asked Rocki about it, he said his mom used to tell him stories about the treasure and he might know how to get to the entrance.” I am filled with relief, “So let’s go right now,” I say. Rylie doesn’t look so happy and says, “Rocki said no mermaid has made it out alive.” I am shocked even though somewhere I remember reading the treasure was very dangerous to achieve, “Well we are different,” I say. Rylie looks up at me, saying,” I sure hope so.” We go to find Annabelle and Rocki to start what seems like this impossible quest. We find them at the table trying to come up with a plan. Rylie looks at Rocki, “Are you coming with us?” she asks. Rocki looks up and says, “Yeah, you guys are gonna need my help,” Rylie nods and doesn’t disagree. We spend what seems like forever getting our game plan ready but then we are good to go. Rocki leads us down to the dungeon where he said the entrance might be. We all push on this large boulder and sit there in shock at what we discover behind it.

 A long dark tunnel with a little gold light at the end, “Well here goes nothing,” says Annabelle. We all look at each other as if it is the last time we will see our friends’ faces. A tear rolls down my cheek but I brush it away ready to face anything. We swim forward reaching the end of the tunnel. There we find four sections each saying “ONE PERSON,” then each swim to one of the spots. I chose the spot on the far left thinking this may be the day I die. The next thing I knew was glass tubes coming down surrounding each of us. Rylie starts screaming like usual and Annanelle calms her down. We all sit there shaking with looks of sheer terror all over our faces. Annabelle starts talking saying,” You guys are the best people I have ever met, I would do anything for you and-,” she is suddenly cut off as I start falling. 

I am falling faster and faster by the second. I look down and see the floor, but right as I am about to hit it I slow to a steady stop. I take a deep breath in and let it out. I look around the room before me. It was a plain dark room with concrete covering everything. I stood there for a minute confused, but the walls on all sides started moving in. I panicked not knowing what to do. The place I had come from was closed off and I started hyperventilating. The walls were inching closer and closer but just before it was too late I spotted a trap door below me. I quickly opened it and got in. Breathing heavily, I heard the walls move above me. I calm myself down before opening the door. 

I open the door and see a bright light. I swim out from the trap door and see a chalkboard with glowing lights around it. I go to get a closer look and see something written on it. On the top there is a five-minute timer ticking down by the second and below that 3 hearts. I read the words to the left of the board aloud. It states, “I speak without a mouth and hear without ears. I have nobody, but I come alive with the wind. What am I?” I tried to think fast, remembering the timer in the back of my head, I only drew a blank. I looked up at the timer four minutes and thirty seconds left. I started taking slow breaths. I thought to myself once more. It was as if a lightbulb went off, “A note,” I said. I picked up a piece of chalk and wrote it on the board. The white lights turned red, one of the hearts disappeared, and thirty seconds were taken off of the timer. My heart started beating faster, only three minutes and twenty-five seconds left. I took a breath, closing my eyes to think, “Comes alive with the wind,” I murmured to myself. My eyelids shot open thinking I had figured it out. I grabbed the chalk writing the words “kite” on the board. Just like it had happened before, the lights went red, two hearts turned to one and the timer was at two minutes and thirty seconds. I didn’t know what to do. This is it, I thought I had failed. I was scared and felt like crying but I stopped myself. I closed my eyes once more, cleared my head, and thought. I sat there for what seemed like an eternity. After coming up with nothing I opened my eyes and looked up at the timer. One minute.”Oh no.” That was it. I couldn’t hold it back any longer. I began to cry and scream, “I DON’T WANT TO DIE.” Over and over again I screamed this until I realized something. The same words were echoing back at me. I thought the echo spoke without a mouth and was heard without ears. It doesn’t have a body and it came alive with the wind, which is my breath! The timer was at twenty seconds now. I quickly picked up the chalk with a shaky hand, took a breath in, and wrote echo on the board. Nothing happened at first. My heart felt as if it was beating out of my chest. Then all of the sudden the lights turned green and behind me, a door opened. I swam through it. There I saw Annabelle and Rylie. I went over to them and gave them the biggest hug. None of us said anything and it was like that for around three minutes. 

Then a door opened and out swam Rocki. We all swam right toward him and hugged him. ”I am never letting you guys go ever again!” said Rylie. We were all so happy thinking we finished, “We did it!” said Annabelle, but she had spoken too soon. A voice was heard saying, “Congratulations you have gotten through the first half to find the gold. The second half is this, a mermaid sacrifice just says the word ‘me’ once you have decided. Good Luck!” We all looked around confused. A timer appeared. This time we did not get the glory of five minutes, instead, we got one. “Oh no.” said Annabelle. Staring helplessly at the timer, Stone said, “I am going to do it.” Not a word was said. Kylie walked over and hugged Stone. The timer was ticking now thirty seconds left. “Me” said Stone, we all turned, and just like that, a glass tube came down surrounding him, and then he was gone. A door opened and the gold was there. No one knew what to do. We all at the same time swam slowly toward the treasure, “We need to touch it at the same time,” said Annabelle. everyone nodded in agreement, Annabelle continued. ”One, Two, Three.” 

We appeared back in Atlantis. We decided to head back to the sunken plane to mourn the ones we lost on this treacherous journey. Many tears were shed. As we were wrapping up our mourning, three dolphins appeared just as they once did, but one seemed very familiar, “Is that Katie?” Rylie asked. As if the silence was an answer we all held onto their fins and rode off into the sunset, back home.

I took a deep breath and seemed to snap back into reality. I opened my eyes and took a second to refocus all my thoughts. I saw the kids staring at me, some with their mouths open and others with smiles plastered on their faces. As I look past the children sitting in front of me, I’m met with the other parents. Their eyes display callous and ugly thoughts. Nothing new. 

“You’re a liar! Mermaids cannot be real, my mom said that they are just in my imagination. Are you in my imagination right now?” A young girl with braids spoke up. Her unbelievably high voice was in such disbelief. In response, other children from across the room started chattering. 

In my experience, the supernatural was never a figment of my imagination. It was never the fine line between reality and fantasy. It was the spark of feeling that occurred whenever I told this story. The spark of joy that settles in the bottom of my stomach. 

As the children’s chatter quieted down, I made my way to the back of the classroom. The man next in line started telling the class about his job as a firefighter. He told the class stories about fires that took countless hours to put out. Other parents told stories about their job as a librarian or a dentist. And with that, I knew my story would never be like the others. 


The end.