Rilla’s Resolution

The day that she both longed for and loathed was fast approaching. The Seaside Festival brought finned fairies and winged fairies together for one day of celebration each year. Rilla adored spending time with her land and air-dwelling cousins, but each brief visit intensified her deep desire and growing envy of their wondrous world.

Last year Rilla perched on the smooth beach rocks as the sun dried her wet locks into silky, shining auburn curls. “Oh Rilla! You’re gorgeous!” gushed the twins, Zenna and Lu. They had flown to a meadow- whatever that was – and returned with armfuls of sweetly scented wildflowers. The twins gently wove the delicate blooms into Rilla’s hair so she could inhale their perfume simply by tossing her head. Nothing under the sea smelled as lovely and fresh, or even smelled at all. When Rilla returned to her watery home, the tiny flowers rinsed away and her soft, springy curls became a hopelessly tangled mop once again.

For several weeks Rilla had prepared for this year’s Festival by prying open reluctant oysters and plucking their pearls to give to her friends as gifts. She rattled the lustrous spheres inside an empty nautilus shell. The rhythmic sloshing sound could not compare to the lilting harp flute melodies that filled the air during the Festival. Rilla insistently hummed a fairy tune to herself, trying to block out the humpbacks’ constant booming moans and guttural squeaks.

When her stomach growled and pinched, Rilla swam to the bottom and yanked a puckered sea cucumber from the sand. She slowly chewed the slimy, tasteless plant. In just a few days, she would be savoring juicy red strawberries, licking sticky clover honey from her fingers, and crunching on crisp golden fairy biscuits. How she loved crunchy, crispy food! The memory of such gustatory delights made the sea cucumber even more unpalatable. Rilla released it in disgust, and watched it float upward toward the surface. At that very moment she resolved to herself, “This will be the year that I do it. I am never coming back to Atlantis.”

* * *

Resolutions are a popular theme in January, and as such they colored my submission for the First Page Prompt challenge at Kathy Temean’s “Writing and Illustrating” blog.  The rules are to draft 23 lines of a story to accompany this Adam Hunter Peck illustration of a thoughtful, petulant mermaid.  Should you prefer a different illustration, Kathy also offers a Dickensian prompt from Amal Karzai.  Read more about the challenge at and draft your own entry by January 20!  I’ve enjoyed the creative challenges and learned a tremendous amount from reading the monthly submissions and critiques.



About Cathy Ballou Mealey

Children's book author, repped by Liza Fleissig of the Liza Royce Agency. Wife, mother, daughter, sister, alumna, autism advocate, book reviewer. Reach me via email at or Twitter @catballoumealey
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4 Responses to Rilla’s Resolution

  1. Great entry Cathy. I love the image of the flowers and the tangled hair in the water. Good luck.

  2. Cathy, I really like your entry. Lots of showing, and it makes you want to read more. You write very well. Sounds like a great contest. Keep us posted with how you do. I am really interested.

  3. So glad you found my critique comments of help! Keep up the good work.

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