Previous Challenge Entry (Level 3 - Advanced)
Topic: Bridge (07/31/08)
TITLE: Granted Wishes
By Marlene Bonney
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One day, King Desmond and Ellafina walked through the courtyard to the cobblestone path leading to the royal cemetery. There, in a flowering arbor, stood a tall stone angel, spreading its great wings over the tombstone of Queen Shanta, who had died five years before. They sat together, memories of days gone by washing over them. Ellafina imagined what life would be like if the queen were still with them. Later, while her papa napped by the grave, she wandered about the large estate. The only place forbidden her was a deep lake hidden behind a high stoned wall. Being as curious as she was kind, this wall often drew Ellafina.
Today as she walked by the wall, she heard hauntingly familiar music coming from the other side. Mesmerized, Ellafina pressed her ear to the rough stone. Like the waning winds after a storm, the notes grew fainter. Intrigued, she found a downed tree limb that had snapped, leaning against the wall’s ledge. She scaled to the top, gasping at the fantastic scene below.
The shimmering lake was enwrapped by a dazzling array of thorn-less, fragrant multi-colored roses. On the opposite shoreline reposed a magnificently beautiful lady, running her long slender fingers over the strings of a brilliantly sparkling jeweled harp, her wavy, flowing, waist-length auburn hair caressing her picturesque profile.
Mesmerized, Ellafina watched as the roses sighed, gracefully extending and entwining their vines up to hovering bluebirds that caught up the cords, flying them to the lake’s center. From the other side came more birds with similar vinery, spinning them together in rapid intricate bonds, creating an elaborate bridge connecting the two shorelines. Ellafina unhesitatingly followed.
“Come child, and let me look at you,” the woman beckoned. “Oh, Ella, I have missed you so!” and tears ran down her lovely face even as she smiled through them.
“Ma’am?” A bewildered Ellafina paused while the creature before her swam to close the gap between them, her strong finned tail skimming the lake’s surface.
“You’re a mermaid! How beautiful you are! I am so happy to make your acquaintance,” curtsied the girl.
“Don’t you remember me at all?” and from her lips sprung a sweet lullaby so melodious, the bluebirds stopped to listen. Ellafina’s furrowed brow cleared.
“Mama? But—you’re dead!”
“As you can plainly see, little one, I am very much alive.”
“Oh, please, Mama, come back home with me! Papa will be so glad you didn’t drown after all!”
“I cannot, honey lamb. It is not allowed.”
“But, this bridge, it will take us both back together!”
“Alas, it is forbidden, Ella. I cannot survive on land—my tail, you see.”
“But, we need you, Mama! Papa is so sad and we are so lonely!”
“King Neptune took pity upon me and released me from your world’s death so that I could watch you, but always from a distance. In exchange for this privilege, I am bound forever here. Do not be sad for me. I have had moments of happiness. But I ache for my Ella and her papa,” she pitifully sobbed.
“Ellafina, where are you?” King Desmond’s voice echoed from behind the wall.
“Here, Papa—behind the wall--quickly!”
Spurred by his daughter’s frantic cries, the king feverously climbed the tree limb, jumping to the other side.
“Ellafina! How could you? It is not safe for you here,” the sound of his bellowing, deep voice frightening all traces of her mother and the bridge away.
“Papa, I saw Mama! She’s alive--a mermaid--so beautiful! She talked with me! She misses us! Please, Papa, command King Neptune to release her!”
“What are you rambling about? No, child, it is impossible. I told you, your mother drowned when you were just a babe. Come, now, it is getting late.”
They turned to go, but King Desmond, startled by a voice from his past, wistfully looked back. Ellafina, with her arms spread wide, had closed her eyes, beckoning her mother’s presence. And her yearning became so great, the roses sighed and slowly moved, gracefully extending and entwining their vines up to hovering bluebirds . . . And the previous scene reappeared.
This time, however, King Neptune emerged, waving his magic wand over the queen’s bowed head, releasing her into the arms and hearts of her loved ones.
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