Story Saturday: Operation Little Mermaid

"Operation Little Mermaid"

I woke up with butterflies in my stomach and eager sense of anticipation, just as any girl would have on her wedding day. Despite years of being confined to isolation in a temple, I had found my prince. Being a princess wasn't all it was cracked up to be, at least not until now. Finally, I could move into a castle and live the life I deserve. Sure, I felt a little sorry for his mute companion who was obviously in love with him, but that wasn't my problem. I leapt out of bed a twirled around with excitement to the mannequin that was modelling my beautiful wedding dress covered in layers upon layers of lace and petticoats.

"Princess Helena!"

I was so startled by the voice of one of my maids that I twirled straight into the mannequin. It fell directly on top of me, burying me under fifteen pounds of crinolines, petticoats, and lace. I hit my head so hard that the maid came bolting into the room to check on me.

"Oh no! Not today of all days! Can you hear me, Princess?"

I heard her voice somewhere in the back of my mind, but I couldn't find the strength to respond. While my body was swimming in a sea of fabrics, my mind was somewhere else entirely. Memories flooded into my head. My name wasn't really Helena. I was a girl named Kayla who had drowned in a scuba diving accident and got reincarnated into this body, just like many characters from some of my favorite anime shows. Not only that, but I suddenly realized what story I was trapped in. I wasn't just any princess, but the one who prevented the little mermaid from gaining her soul in my favorite fairy tale! Now that I knew the truth, I could save her. It was time to begin Operation Little Mermaid!

I shoved aside fabrics and ribbons until sunlight entered my field of vision. When I crawled out of the pile and saw half my train crumpled into my maid's arms, I realized she had been helping as well.

"Thank goodness!" she cried. "You're not hurt, are you?"

"I have to speak with Prince Aiden immediately!" I exclaimed, ignoring her question.

"Today is your wedding day, Your Highness. It's bad luck for the groom to see the bride before the wedding."

"It'll be worse luck if I don't!"

"How hard did you hit your head?"

When she realized I wasn't going to give up, she brought me to his room. For one sickening moment when I looked into Aiden's loving eyes, I almost considered giving up the entire operation and claiming my own happy ending. That was when I noticed Coralie, the tragic silver-haired maiden with a look of sadness in her big blue eyes that was deeper than the sea itself. I had to do this. There was no choice.

"I'm sorry, but I can't marry you," I blurted out.

"Helena," said Aiden with so much concern that I nearly burst into tears. "Don't be afraid. You saved me. We were meant to be together."

"You're wrong," I spat, marching to the corner of the room and pushing Coralie to her feet. She winced as I remembered too late that each step she took was like walking on broken glass. "It was her. She saved you. She's the one you love."

"Coralie?" asked Aiden, perplexed. "It couldn't have been her. The girl who saved me sang to me with the most beautiful voice. Coralie can't speak."

The mermaid's big eyes stared me down with confusion, curiosity, and the tiniest hint of hope that I would have missed if I hadn't been looking for it.

"That's because she's a mermaid who traded her voice to walk on land! She sacrificed everything for you, and if you marry me instead of her, she's going to die!" I shouted, realizing I probably sounded like a lunatic.

"I heard about your accident this morning," said Aiden, wrapping a comforting arm around my shoulders. "You must have hit your head pretty hard. I'll get you to a doctor. We can delay the wedding if we need to."

As much as it killed me to resist his warm touch, I yanked his arm away. "It's true! Ask her!"

Aiden sighed and rolled his eyes as though he was doing me a favor.

"Is what she said true?" he asked the girl who was now paler than sheet. She looked at me as though searching for permission. I nodded toward Aiden.

In a gesture that was so delicate it would have made a ballerina look clumsy, Coralie nodded her head and closed her eyes as though she was afraid to see his response.

"Is this some sort of joke?" asked Aiden.

"Of course not! Why would I sabotage my own wedding?"

"Then maybe you're both mad. Have you been conspiring together?"

"With all due respect, Aiden, the poor girl can't talk. How could possibly have been conspiring with me?"

"How would you know all of this even if it were true?"

I swallowed. "I... can't explain it. I just know."

"Right," said Aiden. "You just know. Well, unless you can prove what you're saying, I fully intend to go through with the wedding and get you the help you need."

An idea flashed in my mind. "Wait! I can prove it!" I exclaimed.

I placed my hand gently over Coralie's. "There's a balcony nearby that overlooks the ocean, isn't there?"

She nodded.

"If you go there, you'll find your sisters. They traded their hair the sea witch for a magical knife. Aiden and I will watch you somewhere they won't be able to see us. Then he'll have to believe me."

"What would she need a knife for?" asked Aiden.

"That's not important. If you see that her sisters are mermaids too, you'll believe me, right?"

"Fine," he said, "but if your ridiculous theory doesn't work out, then you'll marry me?"

"Yes," I sighed. "I'll marry you."

Coralie raced to the balcony as Aiden and I crouched in the shadows. At first, the ocean glittered with nothing but seafoam. Then five beautiful figures appeared with sort hair and long glistening tails. They looked warmly upon Coralie as though they were very close and threw her a sheathed dagger that glistened in the afternoon sun. Though we weren't able to hear their words from this distance, Aiden was entranced by the vision. After the five maidens disappeared into the ocean, Coralie turned around and handed me the dagger.

"I don't want this!" I cried. "I'll send it back where it came from."

I tossed the enchanted knife back to the sea, where it landed with a splash.

"Now do you believe me?" I asked Aiden, but he was already holding Coralie's frail form gently in his arms just as he had once held me.

"So it's true? You really traded your voice to find me?"

Coralie nodded, tears filling her eyes. Aiden gently brushed a strand of hair out of her face.

"It was you all along! I don't know how I didn't see it earlier! You're the one I want to marry."

"Finally!" I exclaimed.

Aiden turned around as though he just remembered my presence.

"Helena," he said, taking my hands in his. "I'm so sorry. I've been terrible to you I thought you were someone else, and then I didn't believe you, and now I have no choice but to call off our wedding."

"Are you kidding? This is great! Now Coralie doesn't have to die, and Operation Little Mermaid was a complete success!"

"Operation what?"

"Never mind," I smirked.

As I watched the man of my dreams exchange vows with someone else, I had a feeling of complete and utter content. I had changed the ending of my favorite fairy tale for the better. Maybe I Iost a prince, but there are plenty of fish in the sea. After all, I was still a princess. The world was now my oyster.

If you enjoyed this story, check out my retelling of "The Little Mermaid," Of Land and Sea, which uses the same characters minus the isekai element.


Lisa Dawn said…
Oh, cool! I recently watched the Grimms' Fairy Tales anime, but I didn't know about that one!
Sugar said…
I'm happy for Coraline but I admit I don't really like Aiden, he's willing to love any girl who saved him!
He doesn't seem to care about anything other than that... I love Hans Christian's Mermaid but I always found the prince a bit stupid letting the little mermaid sleep on the floor with a cushion. But I love the ending where she can win a soul eventually.

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