The Storm – 1093
The storm tossed waves battered the rocks. Ricki could see no way to get from the cove she was trapped in back to the main beach. She sighed as she wandered back into the cave. The storm had come up very suddenly. An hour ago, the sun had been shining hot on her back as she had left her mothers side and wandered around the rocks, poking sticks at the sea anemones to watch them close. Ricki had not realised how far she had gone until it had suddenly gotten very dark. She looked up and saw the greenish black thunder heads rolling up the bay. The tide was rising and the waves were getting larger. She wanted to go back, but the waves would only knock her fragile little body off the rocks and into the stormy sea. Ricki was not confident in the water, she couldn’t swim. Instead she had kept going until she found the cave, but even in her young mind she knew that it was not a safe place.
She sat down, feeling very alone and sad. A tear slid down her face. What would her Mum do? Surely she would be worried about her. She had been gone for a very long time, where was her Mummy? Why didn’t she just stay with her mother?
The roar of the ocean got louder as the waves grew in height, pushing the frightened girl further up the beach into the cave. It was only just above the high tide mark, but with storm surges, the waves would easily breach that and water would come flooding in.
A large spray splashed on her face, catching her by surprise and she gasped as she saw the wall of water coming for her. Her heart starting beating faster, there was no escape! She screamed as the water flooded over the small bank and into the cave, washing over her, tumbling her around in the wash before sucking her out into the bay. She tried to push her head above water, but she inhaled water into her lungs, causing her to cough out, allowing more water to enter. She was drowning!
Her eyes open wide in panic she pushed against the waves and the water which was pulling her out, tumbling her around but she wasn’t sure which way was up. She resigned herself to her fate, although she was angry with herself for having gone so far from her mother. She wanted to cry, but she was unable to, she just wanted her Mummy. She closed her eyes and gave up, not feeling the tender arms grasp her and pull her close.
Ricki awoke with a start. Staring down at her was a beautiful creature, her skin faintly green, but with blue hair that shone and flowed around her like a halo. “Are you an angel?” She asked. The creature laughed. It was like bells tinkling.
“No, I am not an angel,” the lady replied. Ricki tried to sit up, but she didn’t have the strength.
“Just relax little one, you have had quite a journey.” The lady gently pushed her back down. Ricki’s young mind became fascinated by the strange bedding she was on. It was thick and leathery, but at the same time soft and comforting. She would never have considered seaweed as comfortable.
“Who are you?” Ricki asked. A blanket of soft coral colours was pulled over her by the strange woman.
“My name is Pearl.”
“I’m Ricki, and I am lost,”
Pearl laughed. “So you are Ricki, but if you relax, we will make sure you get home safely. Just rest little one.” Pearl said.
Ricki put one hand behind her head and contemplated the woman standing in front of her. She was not naked, but she was very scantily clad with seaweed rapped around her in the most appropriate places. Her hair was adorned with gems from the sea, pretty coral hung from her ears and around her neck. It was while Ricki was watching her hair float around Pearl’s head that she became aware of where she really was, and panic made her jump up.
“It is okay Ricki, you are safe,” Pearl pushed the girl back down onto her bed.
“But I am underwater? How can that be?” She asked.
“You have taken a lot of water in, you have been brought here to the city at the bottom of the ocean to recover. You will be alright.”
“Will I ever get home?” Ricki asked. She saw the flash in the older woman’s eye and knew that she might not make it back.
“You are a long way under the sea, if the water didn’t kill you, the pressure probably would,” Pearl said gently, patting Ricki’s arm. Tears sprang to the little girls eyes.
“But I want to see my Mummy, I want to go home,” her bottom lip trembled before she gave in and with a howl, cried loudly.
“There, there little one, we will see what we can do,” Pearl said as she gathered the little girl in her arms. She hated it when Poseidon took the innocents; there was so much life and love in them. She was determined to find a way to reunite this one with her family.
“Where did you come from?” Pearl asked. Ricki looked up at her, tears tracking down her face.
“I live in Nelson,” she replied.
“Mmm, that is a long way from here,” Pearl said to herself, but when she saw the fresh tears on the girls cheeks, she knew that she had said them too loud.
“Don’t worry your pretty little head, why don’t you try and get some sleep, hmmm.” Pearl said, gently rocking the girl in her arms. Ricki’s head got heavier as she was soothed by the motion and she drifted off to sleep.
Ricki woke with a start and a large gasp. Air, fresh air! She opened her eyes and found herself on the beach next to her Mum.
“Mummy!” she called out, leaping to her feet and throwing her arms around her mother. “I missed you!”
“You missed me? But you haven’t been anywhere?” her mother said, perplexed. Her little girl had fallen asleep in the shade of the umbrella only half an hour ago.
“I love you Mummy, I promise not to wander off on my own ever again,” Ricki said, snuggling in tight to her mother. She looked down at her daughter, looked at the sea and winked.