A Tale of Two Sisters
Too Many Tail Flips!
ECHO REEF TUCKED IN HER fins and flipped two times in a row.
“That was tails down the best flip I’ve ever seen!” Shelly Siren told her. The girls floated outside Echo’s shell in the early morning before school.
Echo grinned as she stretched her pink tail. “Thanks! I’ve been practicing a lot lately. The Tail Flippers are performing a new routine for Parent Night, and Coach Barnacle wants it to be perfect. If anyone misses even one practice, they won’t be able to perform!”
The Tail Flippers were Trident Academy’s gymnastics and dance group. Echo was thrilled that she had made the team this year, and she couldn’t wait to show off her new moves on Parent Night.
Echo and Shelly were in the third grade at Trident Academy, a prestigious school for third through tenth graders. They both lived close to the school, but merstudents from faraway waters lived in the dorms. Many families would be crossing the ocean to visit for Parent Night. Besides the Tail Flippers, the Pep Band and the Trident Chorus would perform, and there would even be a student art show.
“Coach Barnacle wants the Shell Wars team to play a scrimmage that night too,”
Shelly said. “It will be strange playing in front of so many merpeople.” Shell Wars was a game where players took turns whacking shells with whalebones. Echo knew that Shelly was proud to be part of the team.
Echo grinned. “I’ve never flipped in front of so many merpeople before! It sounds so exciting.” Like Shelly, Echo was used to performing in front of her fellow merstudents, but not strangers.
“I just know you’ll be totally wavy!” Shelly said.
“Maybe I’d better practice even more,” Echo said. “There are only a few days left before Parent Night.”
Echo’s sister, Crystal, stuck her head out of a window of their family’s shell.
“Echo, you’d better hurry. It’s almost time for school.”
Crystal had the same dark hair and eyes as Echo, but she was two years older. Crystal stared at Echo’s sparkly T-shirt. “Hey! Isn’t that my shirt you’re wearing?”
Echo groaned. Lately Crystal was always telling her what to do.
“No, it used to be yours,” Echo told her. “Mom gave it to me because it doesn’t fit you anymore. And I’m just going to do one more flip.”
“Fine,” Crystal replied, “but don’t blame me if you’re late.” She paused. “Oh, hi, Shelly. I like your necklace.”
Shelly waved. “Thanks. Yours is pretty too.”
With that, Crystal swam off in a burst of bubbles.
“You are so lucky to have an older sister.” Shelly sighed. “Crystal is the coolest. She’s always so nice to me.” Shelly’s parents had died when she was a small fry, so she lived alone with her grandfather.
Echo shook her head. “I wish I was an only child like you, for sharks’ sake. You never have anyone bossing you around. Plus, you don’t have to wear someone else’s old hand-me-downs! I hardly ever get anything new of my very own.”
Shelly shrugged, and Echo shook out her tail. She was tired of talking about Crystal! Instead she took a huge leap and
flipped in a loop three times. Echo was going so fast that she tailspinned into a rather large rock.
“Argh!” she shrieked, landing with a thud.
“Are you all right?” Shelly cried, rushing up beside her merfriend.
“I think so,” Echo replied. She checked her tail and didn’t find any loose scales.
“Thank Neptune you aren’t hurt!” Shelly said. “But Crystal was right. We’re going to be late to school. Shake your fins and let’s get swimming.”
Echo nodded and pushed back her hair, only to discover that her glittering plankton bow was missing.
“Just a merminute,” she said. “Can you help me find my bow? It must have fallen off.” Echo rarely went to school without something sparkly decorating her dark curly hair.
Echo and Shelly searched the ocean floor for the bioluminescent plankton.
“I found it!” Shelly said, holding up the glowing creature.
But Echo had found something too.
“Sweet seaweed!” she screeched as she lifted a rock the size of a small jellyfish. “Check this out!”