This story starts like any other story and if you are a reader like me you will know the exact words "Once upon a time". Once upon a time there were two little children: Lukas and Maria. Lukas was 6 years old and Maria was 3. They were a little sad because that was their last day of vacation at the seaside. As Lukas came out of the hotel he blinked in the sun and he checked his greatest treasure, in the pocket of his trousers: a beautiful and perfect seashell which he found on the beach. Then he looked around to the white hotel, the blue swimming pool, the green palm trees, so different from the trees of his country, the bushes of rhododendrons and in front of the hotel the golden beach and the bluish-green sea. He closed his eyes and tried to picture the landscape in his head, so he will be able to take it in his mind when he goes home. But he was interrupted by the steps of his little sister. Maria was dressed in her favorite yellow summer dress with strawberries on it. She had her pink sandals with butterflies and two pony tales. She looked at him with her large blue eyes and all of a sudden told him:
"Today I'm going with mummy!"Lukas sighed. This was their everyday morning fight. Who was going to hold mummy's hand until the beach.
"You went with mummy yesterday" he said angry.
"But I'm the smallest" Maria replied.
"She started using this excuse too". Lukas was tired of hearing he is the older and he has to let his sister do anything she wanted. Just like yesterday when he had to eat the chocolate cake because Maria wanted the strawberry."But it's my turn today."
"Yes, but mummy has a yellow dress like me and you have pants like daddy, so you have to go with him.""You are such a girl!" he told her.
There was no greater offense, Maria thought. She stamped her little feet and responded back."And you are such a boy!"
There could never be a bigger insult. Lukas said nothing but pulled her by her two pony tails. Her little lips trembled and hot tears poured from her blue eyes."Now she is crying" thought Lukas "isn't that just like a girl? Girls always cry."
That moment their parents came out of the hotel. His father had shorts like him and slippers. His mother had a long yellow beach dress and a straw hat."Mummy is so beautiful" though Lukas but before he could say it out loud Maria told on him.
"Lukas" his mother shouted "you are older, you must take care of your little sister."
And she took Maria's hand and walked to the beach. Lukas swallowed his pride and stood beyond with his father. "Look at them, the women, dressed the same, who needs that?" Lukas was angry. "I will walk with daddy, like real men do. We are boys and we are better. Look at Maria, in her strawberry dress and herprincess sandals."
Everybody loves cute little Maria but he needs to be the big boy and the responsible brother. Anyway, she is little, she still has no worries. Today is the last day of vacation, but when back home, Maria will continue to play and go to the park while he will start school. Mummy and daddy told him about all the great things that will happen at school. But he is no fool. He saw all the girls and boys going to school with their bags on their backs, how they have to stay in the classroom all day long and then they have to do homework in the evenings. He saw them inside of the school from the park, where he was playing with other little children like him. How many adventures he had in that park! How many times he was Prince Charming on a white horse or a great warrior saving the world. Now he will be in a classroom and other little children will have great adventures in the park. Maria will be there playing in the sandbox while he will be stuck in the school learning math. He just wished he had a last great adventure before going to school. Maybe he will meet sea monsters and mermaids like in the story daddy read to them last night.
As they walked on the beach, Lukas put down his shoes and let the hot sand touch his feet and breathed in the warm, salty breeze. The sea was blue- green sparkling in the morning sun, small waves were breaking on the shore, foamy and warm. He walked on the golden sand until the first wave hit him on his naked feet. He took off his t-shirt and shorts and entered the water to his knees in his swimming pants. Maria came behind him in the water in her pink swimsuit."Don't swim very far!" his mother shouted. Maria was laughing between the waves.
"I want to swim with you, Lukas" she asked.
Lukas didn't like that very much. "Why would you swim with me. This is a very big sea. Swim alone."
Maria started to cry.
"Here she goes again" Lukas sighted and tried to get out of the water but stopped. Maria was half in the water crying silently. Behind her a strange creature
was coming out of the water. There was a very tall woman with green face and black dirty hair and tentacles instead of arms. Many, many ugly dirty tentacles. She folded her tentacles around the little girl and pulled her in the water."Maria, sea monster!" he screamed.
"Lukaaaaaaaaaaaas!" and she was gone.
Lukas was scared and sad. He was angry on Maria, but he never wished for this to happen. Maria was his little sister, he saw her when she was a baby and his parents brought her home, he pushed her in her troller and played with her . He must get her back. "Hm" he heard a small crystal voice.
Behind him in the warm water there was a little mermaid. She was maybe 2 or 3 years older then Lukas with long black hair, dark blue eyes and a face with perfect porcelain skin."I saw what you did to your sister" she said "that was not very nice."
"Who are you" asked Lukas.
"I am Pearl, I'm a mermaid, I am 8 years old and I'm a princess."
"Yes, my father is the king of the underwater kingdom.
"Nice to meet you, Pearl, I am Lukas."
"And your sister is Maria" she replied "and you were treating her very bad. "
"Yes, it's true" Lukas agreed "But you saw that the sea monster took her away. You must help me to get her back."Pearl shook her head sending drops of salty water everywhere.
"That was not a sea monster silly, that was the sea which, which went very bad, she does a lot of bad things, all us mermaids hate her.""Either way, you have to help me."
"Because she is my sister."
Pearl thought a little and then smiled at him.
"Very well, come with me" she said giving him her hand.
"In the sea, but I'm human, i will drown."
"Not if you are with me."
As he entered the water, and it covered his head, Lukas first felt strange and cold, but after a few minutes of swimming he felt a warmth all around his body. For a while they went in silence, Lukas thinking only about Maria but soon the wonderful landscape captured his attention. He began to look left and right and ask Pearl about all the beautiful things around them. The sand was shining like gold and colored pebbles where half visible from it. Many colored fish were swimming around them. Some where in large pack, they were silvery, thin and long. Others were big and flat like pancakes and a light blue color. They were passing large fields fool of different colors. Some fields were full of green,long and transparent algae that were waving in the water. Other were full of red flowers that were closing and opening like a heartbeats.Some fields were multicolored, full of corals and red, green, blue, orange strange looking plants. From the depth of them millions of eyes were watching them. Small fish and animals, seahorses and jellyfishes. They were all looking with curiosity and fear to this human intruder who came into their world.
After passing many more fields they approached a very dark and deep hole in the bottom of the sea. Hidden there was the great city of the King of the Seas. As they swim down into the whole Lukas started to see the great towers and pillars of the Coral Castle, the pebbled streets, the gardens full of strange looking plants and colors. The palace was white with great towers, white walls and balconies, while red flowers were climbing on the walls. The city was lighted by million of phosphorescent rocks and corals. There was a great rumble and activity in the city. Mermaids and mermen were swimming here and there doing chores, picking plants or caring big baskets full of algae, plants, corals and rocks."Are we going to see the palace." asked Lukas
"We don't have time, we will go to see the father Jasper, the priest of the City of Corals." Pearl said pulling him to the highest building in the whole city, higher then the kings palace.
There was no mistaking that this was the Cathedral of the underwater city. The church was large and made from the most whitest coral he ever saw in his life. It was like made of marble. It has a tall thin tower where in the upper world should have been the bell. Here there was only a space in the top of the tower where Pearl told him that a mermen is blowing a large shell every hour. As they entered the Cathedral Lukas saw the pews made of corals also and statues all around decorated with red flowers and real pearls. In front of the golden altar there was a man very thin, with white hair and dressed in black like all the priests.He turned around and smiled."Hello, hello, Miss Pearl is here"
"Good morning father, we came here because Lukas has a problem."
Father Jasper came near the children and looked at Lukas in directly in his face.
"You are Lukas, great to meet you. Now have a sit here and tell me what is your problem."
Lukas look at the priest and into his eyes. It seemed to him that he could not hide anything from those eyes and that man. He sat down and told him everything. The priest listened without interrupting, patiently and nodding his head from time to time in order to encourage him. Then he was quiet for a time as if to make sure that Lukas finished his story."So" he said in the end " you want me to help you get your sister back."
"Yes, father" he answered "why do you think that the witch took my sister."
The man sighted and then turned to the little child:
"The witch was once one of our mermaids only that in the course of the years she did a lot of bad things and bad things make you ugly, both body and soul.
She ran away from us and lives in a cave away from mermen or other sea creatures. She is attracted by anger, envy and the badness in people.""Do you think that she came to us because i was bad to Maria?"
The priest nodded his head.
"The question is now, why were you bad with your sister? Are you angry with her?"
"She always gets what she wants because she is the small and cute one. She will get to stay at home and play while i will have to go school."The priest smiled before he answered again.
"Well a few years ago, when you were small like her, you probably also got everything you wanted. You have to understand that you sister is still very small and does not understand yet what is right and wrong. However you are now a big boy and you know when you do something bad or something good. When she will grow she will have to be responsible too and go to school too. Why are you so sad about going to school?""Because i will not be able to play anymore and have great adventures."
"Oh, but that is not true. You will be able to play in the evenings and in the weekends. And in school you will learn many interesting things, you will learn how to read. There are so many beautiful books in the world and when you will be able to read, then you will see how many adventures you will have. Imagine how many new friends you will meet in school and how you will play with them."
"Are you sure, father?"
There was silence again and finally Pearl asked:
"Will you help us to get Maria back, father?"
"Yes, i can help, i will go and talk to the witch. But in the end Lukas has to do it." He turned to the little boy. "If you tell her that you love her, and really love her from all your heart, and all the anger and envy is gone you will draw her to you, no matter where she is."
As they left from the City of Coral, the priest dressed his official clothes in order to impress in front of the witch. Pearl wanted to come but the priest refused and asked her to stay home. The two swim a long way and Lukas was surprised by the lack of plants or animals in that region of the sea. As they entered the darkest cave in the world, Lukas was very scared but he knew he had to go on. They saw a little light at the end and swim towards it. When they reached the home of the Sea witch Lukas hold his breath for a second. She was so monstrous, so ugly and slimy. But behind her he saw Maria,locked into a glass room. The priest started to talk to her and as the conversation grew louder Lukas run behind them to the place where his sister was. This has been the plan all along. While the grown-ups were talking he had to run and get his sister."But will you be all-right, father?" he asked the priest.
He laughed in answer.
"Do not worry about me, she has no power over me. After you leave with your sister i will also leave unharmed."
Lukas tried to pass the glass wall which was separating him from Maria but was not able. He hit it with his fists and with his feet but nothing happened."Listen, Maria" he said "I'm sorry for what i said earlier, i love you, you are my sister."
The glass shattered in thousands of small pieces. Lukas took Maria's hand and both felt like being pulled out of the cave and up towards the surface of the sea. The last thing he saw while swimming up was the happy smiling face of the father."Lukas, I am scared" he heard Maria's voice.
"It's OK, I'm here and I'm your big brother, you have nothing to fear."
He closed his eyes.
"Lukaaaaaaaaaaaaas,Lukaaaaaaaaaaaas, mummy says to wake up!"
He opened his eyes and found himself on the beach on the towel. Maria was in front of him in her yellow strawberry dress. His parents were already packed and ready to go to the hotel. A red sun was going down in the sea sending golden rays all over the water ad the golden-red sand."Come on, sleepy one, you have been sleeping all afternoon" said his mother.
On the plane the next morning Lukas didn't feel anymore fear for going to school. He felt even excitement to see what will happened, how many friends he will make and how much it will take him to be able to read all the books that daddy is reading to them. Maria was near him. He searched in his pocket and tookout his greatest treasure, the perfect shell and gave it to his sister. His has his last great adventure and now was waiting for new ones in the school.