Written by Catherine McMahon, illustrated By Melanie McIntyre.
Fearne loved Sunday mornings. This was the day that she and her mother took her dog Odin for a walk to the beach. Her mother and Odin went everyday but Fearne couldn’t go with them because she was in school.
When Fearne’s big grown up brother had told her he was getting a chocolate lab she thought he was getting an experiment kit to make chocolate. It turned out that lab was short for Labrador and it was dark brown, the same colour as chocolate so people called them chocolate labs.
Now I don’t know if you have a dog or not, but if you do, you will know that dogs need exercise. The bigger the dog is, the more exercise they need. Odin needed two long walks a day. The beach was his favourite place to go for a walk.
Fearne’s mother always bought a bag to the beach because she often found rubbish that she would pick up as they walked along the shore. Fearne always bought her red plastic bucket to the beach with her. She collected shells and unusual pretty pebbles along the way. Sometimes she picked up feathers too. Today she found a beautiful white one “look mum the angels are saying hello” she said when she picked it up and placed it in her bucket.
Fearne loved to see all the different colours and shapes of the stones, she especially loved it when she found a stone that looked a little bit like a heart.
Before she left the beach Fearne liked to whisper a story to each of the stones and shells and then make a pretty pattern with them on the sand. She imagined that they were presents for the mermaids. She said when the waves came in over them at high tide; they would sing the stories to the mermaids. She liked to think of the mermaids swimming for miles to hear her stories. Today she whispered a story into each stone and made a big swirling pattern on the sand and placed a lovely white smooth stone in the centre.
Sometimes Fearne would ask the sea if she could take one of the stones home with her. She said if the waves came up a little higher along the shore and nearly touched her feet it meant that it was saying yes. If it was a really special stone that she wanted to bring home, just to be sure that the waves came close to her feet, Fearne would walk right up to the waters edge before she asked for the stone. That guaranteed the sea coming near her feet which meant yes. But being so close meant she would end up getting her feet wet and then would get into trouble.
When Fearne and her mother got tired of walking they sat on the rocks near the sea shore.
Fearne’s mother stood up and threw a frisbee for Odin “I hope this tires him out a bit” her mother said but Fearne wasn’t paying attention she was looking out to sea. Something glittery had caught her eye. To Fearne’s surprise it was a mermaid. The mermaid swam in closer to the shore.
“Hello Fearne” she said
“How do you know my name?” asked Fearne.
“The stones told us. We come every Sunday and wait for our story” the mermaid told her. “Sunday is our favourite day because of your wonderful stories”
Fearne was delighted, “mine too” she said shyly
“We want to thank-you for the stories and for helping to clean up the beach” said the mermaid. “It makes us happy to see that someone cares about the beaches. There is so much pollution in the oceans now, it’s not just the beaches but the waters of the oceans that are in need of help”
“What kind of help “Fearne asked?
The mermaid began to tell Fearne all about the state of the oceans, the sea bed and the animals that live in the sea and how their lives had been affected by the pollution. She told Fearne that the best help would be to stop the pollution and begin to clean up the waterways of the world.
Fearne felt very sad for the animals that live in water. “Imagine having to live in all that dirt and have your house destroyed” she told her mum on the way home.
“Well why don’t we start a clean up campaign?” her mum suggested
“Good idea mum” she said
The next day Fearne asked her teacher if the school could get involved in a clean up project in the town.
Fearne’s teacher thought it was a fantastic idea and asked the principal. All were in agreement and operation clean up began. The children made posters asking the people of the town to clean up the pathways, hedges and fields and areas near their homes. They put the posters up around the town in supermarkets, the library and shop windows and the health centre.
On the day of the clean up, hundreds of people showed up to pick up litter, sweep and clean the paths and do their best to make the town as tidy as possible.
The Principal of school said that everyone could come back to the school and have a cup of tea after the clean up. The local bakery made scones and gave them to the school to have with the tea.
When the clean up was completed, everyone was tired and hungry but they went back to the school to have a cup of tea and a scone. The principal made an announcement and thanked everyone for turning up and for doing their best to clean up. She made a special announcement to thank Fearne for idea for starting the clean up project.
Fearne was a little bit embarrassed when everyone clapped for her.
Fearne couldn’t wait until it was Sunday again. She was hoping to see her mermaid friends at the beach when she walked Odin with her mum. She wanted to tell them about the successful clean up event that the town had taken part in.
When Fearne sat on the rocks where she talks to the mermaids she found a beautiful white stone perfectly formed in the shape of a heart. She picked it up and held it in her hand.
“A gift from us” said a voice from the sea. It was her mermaid friend.
“Put it to your ear” the mermaid told her
Fearne did just that and would you believed it, she heard the sea, the dolphins and the mermaids sing and a little voice said “thank –you”
Fearne was sure the sea gave her permission to take this stone home.