The Ocean Princess
The Ocean King watched sadly his only daughter sneaking out every bright night when the moon lit the ocean, and the stars showed her the way to the surface. She headed toward the shallows, so close to the dangerous shore. He anticipated some dangerous events and strange happenings and his heart ached.
But he loved her so much that he couldn’t limit her freedom and stop her from exploring this underwater world as well as the world above. Even though he knew, the world above only presented a peril to her. He was afraid that his only daughter was doomed to a life of danger since her mother’s blood ran through her veins as well.
The Ocean Princess was sitting restlessly in her armchair finishing her dinner and waiting for the night to fall. All the maids left the King’s chambers and retreated to their own rooms to take a good night rest.
Her father, the Ocean King, was tired but she could see some sadness in his eyes that made him restless.
And tonight, he reluctantly went to his own bedroom leaving his lovely daughter to her favourite hour of loneliness. He didn’t ask anything, he didn’t say anything, he just approached her slowly and kissed her cheeks gently wishing her a good night. She sensed that he knew she had been planning something mischievous. But she couldn’t help herself. The blood in her veins, and the pulling, almost savage, urge to learn more about the world above left her anxious.
After half an hour, when she thought she could hear her father’s deep breath which lulled him into the world of dreams, she slowly sneaked out of the palace and swam carefully toward the surface. The ocean was calm and friendly and no peril seemed to lurk in its waters. But as her father often said, she was not afraid of the ocean, it was her home and it would always protect her and save her if necessary.
What caused her uneasiness was that what was above the surface. All those lights, all those creatures who walked on two legs and breathed the air, and talked in a very strange way, bothered her and fascinated her at the same time. Fear mingled with curiosity and pushed her to observe the happenings of that over-water world which lived with all its turbulence, noise and movements. She couldn’t understand how those creatures didn’t desire a bit of silence and calmness that the ocean had and how they managed to live in the chaotic tumult of their everyday life. She was eager to learn the answers to all those questions that popped into her beautiful head. However, she didn’t know how and from whom to get the answers. Her father, the Ocean King knew everything of both their own ocean world and this strange earthly one, but he despised so much everything in that world above the ocean that he refused to ever talk about it. And his daughter didn’t dare to ask him since she was afraid that he had already suspected her mischiefs. Further questions would outrage him.
The last time when she reached the shallows, she saw those earthly children playing in the water, running along the coast and yelling in that strange language. She could understand their happy smiles and bright eyes that told her they were harmless. Or that was what she thought.
This time, she saw them again engrossed in the joy of their game and she thought she would come closer to them and try to communicate with them. She swam in a tender manner toward them trying not to disturb their playing. And when she was so close to them that she thought she could stretch her hand and touch one of them, she rose slightly from the water. One by one, the children acknowledged her presence, and their eyes first showed terror and shock, but then, seeing her calm and steady they decided to come closer and examine her. Still, they were careful and a bit fearful. But her kind and friendly features showed them she didn’t mean any harm. They walked through the shallows and stood just in front of her admiring her long blonde hair that wriggled gently through the water, her long green tail that was the same as one of the fish and scales which covered her lower part of the body. They were truly amazed and didn’t hide it.
When the children came closer led by the curiosity of this amazing creature that they had never seen before, the Ocean Princess didn’t run away. She let them touch her scales and her long hair. They seemed friendly and harmless. But not long after, some strange voices broke the silence and lights appeared all along the coast. Those strange creatures that walked on two legs called people ran toward the Ocean Princess. The children also surprised that the adults saw this amazing ocean creature ran away scared that the adults would be angry with them as well.
The Ocean Princess tried swimming away but she was in shallows and behind her, some strange invention, huge and white vessel, stood still. She used to see those human vessels for transport sailing on the surface of the ocean and she knew that they were loaded by humans who controlled those giants. This time, some of the humans were standing on the top of this huge human invention holding fishing nets. They threw the nets over the Ocean Princess and she found herself caught into this cloth she could see through but she could not escape through. She struggled to release herself from the strong grip of the net but unsuccessfully.
Within minutes, she got into the hands of those two-legged creatures and they tied her and took her out from the water. The Ocean Princess was desperate. Her final day seemed just behind the corner. Being out of water meant hugging death. She thought about her father and her beautiful underwater world and she thought how silly she had been when she allowed her curiosity to bring her into danger.
And the humans shackled her and put her in the cage. Soon enough, her beautiful scale-covered tail started withering and her smooth and long hair fell off. The legs started growing there where once the beautiful tail was and the hair forever faded never to grow again. She was a strange bald creature, with weak legs that barely supported her and rough skin. She couldn’t speak her own language anymore and she didn’t understand the language of people.
In the meantime, the yellow snappers which cruised the shallows of the coast where the Ocean Princes got into trouble witnessed her capturing by humans and hurried to inform her father, the Ocean King.
Upon hearing the news, the Ocean Kind almost fell from his seat. He knew that his curious daughter might get into trouble but he didn’t know that this trouble would be so hazardous. He was desperate.
And even though, a long time ago, he promised himself that he would never go and search his daughter’s mother, a woman, with whom he had fallen in love and he hadn’t been supposed to because she was the creature from the world above the ocean, he had no other solution but to find her and ask for help. He called the giant waves and asked them to cause the turmoil in the ocean leading him to the surface in the way which was ascribed only to kings.
When the huge waves brought him to the shore, wiping the small boats and throwing them to the beach and causing the chaos into the human habitats, he started singing the song which he knew only one woman would hear. It was a lament almost inaudible to normal human ears but this woman was extraordinary since she had given birth to a child whom she had conceived with the Ocean King. The beautiful even though pretty old woman heard the well-known voice and summoned call for help. And she didn’t hesitate. She knew the Ocean King had promised he would never again look for her and if he broke his own promise, some tragedy must have made him do so.
The lovers meet on the same beach where they had used to secretly enjoy each other’s company many years ago. And the meeting brought hard and dismal feelings. But they didn’t have time to reminisce and think about anything else but how to save their own daughter. Upon hearing what had happened to her daughter, the woman whose name was Shoshana, hurried to find her child and she promised to bring her daughter back to the Ocean King. But the mother’s instincts kicked in and knowing that her child was so close to her, on land, unprotected by her father and the safety of the ocean, she got carried away with the idea that maybe she should keep her daughter with her and introduce her to the human life.
Shoshana was happy with her own plan. When finally, she found the Ocean Princess and realized in how pure physical condition she was, she started crying. Her heart ached with pain. She gave a lot of money to the fishermen who had captured her daughter and kept her shackled, and she brought her to her home. She introduced herself and told her that she was her mother, telling her the whole story of her encounters with the Ocean King, but soon enough, she became fully aware that her daughter didn’t understand anything. She couldn’t understand the language of people.
The next few days, she made herbal medicines and balms and covered the Ocean Princess’ body with these, for humans, medicinal plants but those were futile attempts since those human remedies didn’t have any effect on the Ocean Princess’ body. Shoshana called all the doctors and healers she knew, hoping that some of them would help her and find the cure for her daughter, but none of them did.
In the meanwhile, the Ocean King was fading with worry. He didn’t eat and didn’t feel like living since he suspected that Shoshana had tricked him. He, the Ocean King, was helpless. He couldn’t do anything outside the borders of his kingdom. The land and people were dangerous and he knew that he didn’t have the power to fight against them and bring his daughter back.
Shoshana was running out of ideas on how to help her daughter. She looked at her daughter’s frail body and knew that if she didn’t bring her back to the ocean and her father, once the beautiful Ocean Princess would die. And with a heavy heart, she decided to do what was breaking her heart but might save her daughter’s life. When the low tide moved the powerful waves far from the beach, she carried her daughter’s weak body to the shallows. And she started singing. It was the saddest lament one could hear and since her voice was delicate, almost no human ear heard the song. But the Ocean King did. Old and tired, he gathered every ounce of strength he possessed, called the giant waves which carried him to the surface and met Shoshana in the shallows. This time, he brought big white sharks with him and let them circle around Shoshana afraid that she might again use some of her tricks. But the sad expression on her face showed him that she was worried. She was worried that their daughter might die at any moment.
Upon seeing his daughter body which looked sapless, the Ocean King didn’t waste any moment. He took his daughter and carried her into the ocean depths. Once he was surrounded by the ocean weed green walls of his home, he summoned the best ocean sponges, cuttlefish and octopuses. They gathered in the chambers of the Ocean King’s palace and after examining the barely alive body of the Ocean Princess, they hurried to make the healthy medicinal concoction which would give the strength back to once so energetic and beautiful Ocean Princess. They mixed the leaves of kelp, seagrass, red algae, added the juice of sea grapes, pinch of white sand and humpback whale’s milk and gave the girl the concoction to drink. With the help of her father and ocean maids, the Ocean Princess drank slowly the medicine prepared for her. And after she finished the last bit of it, she fell asleep. And she slept the next two days waking up occasionally tortured by nightmares. But her father and faithful maids were always by her side not letting her plunge into the depths of those bad dreams never to come back.
And after two days of sleeping and dreaming the monsters, people, land and other dreadful events, the Ocean Princess woke up. Her human legs started shrivelling and her beautiful tail and scales grew again.
But when she looked herself at the mirror, she realized that her hair was not growing. She was bald. And she started crying. The old octopus who had helped the others prepare the healthy concoction that had brought her back to life approached her and told her: “Don’t cry for your hair, our dear Princess. It might not grow again but who cares?! You are alive and with us again.”
She looked around and saw numerous ocean creatures gathered in her chambers looking at her with their eyes full of love. She was thankful to all of them. They had been with her praying for her health and bringing her presents. And their prayers were fulfilled. The ocean seaweed floated towards her and told her: “There are so many of us that we offer you always to carry some of us on your head and therefore,
you will not feel that your head is bald. I volunteer to be on your head as long as you wish.” Other seagrass leaves yelled at the same time: “I want to be on your head as well! I want! I want!” and all of them gathered around her. She placed some of them on top of her head and let their long leaves flounder around her body. She had the hair again, the most unique in the whole ocean world. And she smiled again. The ocean creatures all waited the moment when they would see her smile again and all at the same time they shouted “Hooray!”.
Her father, the Ocean King, watched her happy daughter enlivened and refreshed. His heart was full and he felt the strange burst of energy again. He came to her, kissed her and hugged her.
That evening, there was a beautiful dance festival in the Ocean King’s palace. Everyone in the ocean world was invited and plenty of food and drinks were served. Happiness and song echoed through the entire ocean.
At the same time, Shoshana stood on the same beach, where once upon a time, her daughter had been conceived. She shredded tears of sorrow and happiness at the same time. She was sad that she had lost her daughter again, but on the other hand, she was happy that her daughter was alive. Shoshana was the only one on land to hear the song coming from the ocean depths that night. And she knew her daughter was well again. And that was all that mattered.