“Mom, can you tell me a story, the story about the sticks and the world?”
“I don’t really know that story; that’s a story you told. Do you want to tell me that story?”
“No, I want you to tell me one. Don’t you know any stories? Will you tell me a story please?”
“Well, alright. Once upon a time…”
Once upon a time, there was a little mermaid –
“A mermaid! …what’s a mermaid?”
“A person whose top half is like a human’s and whose bottom half is like a fish.”
Once upon a time, there was a little mermaid, who lived in the ocean. She had a strong tail she swam everywhere with, and she was clever, and beautiful, and so curious.
“What’s curious mean?”
“What do you think it means?”
“I’m curious! Sometimes, when there are invisible-pretend monsters, and they attack us, I attack them back, and I get my sword, and I kill them!”
“I think perhaps you mean courageous.”
“Oh. Why? What’s curious?”
“Curious is wanting to know why, and what things are. It’s knowing a little bit, and wanting to know more.”
“Yes, you are.”
This little mermaid was curious about the people who lived on land: there were so many things she didn’t know about them. She didn’t know what shoes were for, because she didn’t have feet, or legs. She didn’t know what streets were, or cars, because she swam everywhere. She didn’t know what she didn’t know, and she wanted to learn.
One day, she met a powerful and wise witch, who offered her the chance to change her shape and grow legs like the people on land. But she was a fair witch, and warned the mermaid that to do so would cost her her voice, because all magic has a cost.
“Why did she have to lose her voice?”
“Because that was the cost of having legs, because all magic has a cost.”
“Well MY magic doesn’t! I would just give her legs, and she could keep her voice!”
“Well too bad your magic wasn’t there then! The mermaid only had the witch’s magic, so it cost her her voice.”
The mermaid was a little scared, but she wanted to learn all she could, so she agreed. The witch cast her spell, and the mermaid’s tail split it two, forming into legs, with feet. She nodded her thanks to the witch, because she could no longer say it, and went to live on land with the people there.
She stayed many years with them, learning about shoes, and streets, and wheels, and so much more. The people of the land liked her and welcomed her, even though they couldn’t talk, because she had no voice –
“Why didn’t they use their hands to talk?”
– and none of them knew any sign language.
The little mermaid loved it on the land, but she missed her own people, and one day, she decided she had learned enough. She had worn shoes and walked on streets and although she now knew she could never know everything about these people, she was ready to return home. So she dived into the water, and her legs melded together into her powerful flipper once more, and she regained her voice, and went home to tell her people all that she had learned.
“I love that story. Will you tell it again?”
“Maybe some other time. For now, let’s get you ready for bed.”
“Ok. Thank you for the story. I love you.”
“I love you too.”