i have heard the mermaids singing 

My sister says it must be mermaids, but I don’t think the stream is deep enough for mermaids.

We get in an argument about how much water mermaids need and decide it depends on how they breathe and we agree they must at least be able to breathe air sometimes because if they couldn’t they wouldn’t be able to sing and we both agree that the mermaids sing.

We don’t agree about the rocks, though. I still say mermaids wouldn’t flop around our shallow stream just to build little towers of rocks but when she demands another explanation I don’t have one.

After a thorough investigation during which we accidentally knock one of the towers over we decide that mermaids must be nocturnal since the rocks were stacked overnight.

We ask if we can camp in the backyard and dad asks why and I don’t have a good non-mermaid answer but my sister says we want to commune with nature and he laughs but says it’s okay and we can come inside if we get tired of communing or if there are too many bugs.

The moon is bright enough to see fine from the yard but we put the tent in the shadows of a tree so the mermaids won’t be able to see us from the water and we take turns checking from the shore to make sure it’s properly camouflaged.

While we wait in the dark we whisper about what the rock towers might be for because we didn’t discuss that earlier and we decide they might be for directions, like a mermaid map signaling system.

We wait and wait and wait and nothing happens and my eyelids get heavy but I don’t realize I’m mostly asleep until my sister shakes me to get my attention.

She covers my mouth to shush me before I say anything and points to the water where a hand is reaching up from the dark surface and slowly re-stacking the rocks we knocked over and then I can hear the singing.

About flax-golden tales
. Photo by Carey Farrell. Text by Erin Morgenstern.

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