Day 2

“Are we getting any closer?” Zane asked. He stomped in his the hiking boots he insisted on wearing everywhere. Alastair gauged their distance. They had already gone beyond the tree sprout Lila tied with her sparkly purple ribbon. That meant only one thing.

“Just a few more minutes,” Alastair said with a grin.

“I can’t wait to see the mermaid. Do you think it will be a woman or a man?” Gabbie laughed as she twirled around her sister. Ginger folded her arms, mirroring the disgruntled frown Lila was wearing.

“A mermaid is a woman and a merman is a man. If you’re going to believe in silly stuff like mermaids, you might as well get the terminology right,” Ginger sighed.

“It’s not silly, and I don’t think they’d care what I call them. Ali, do you think they care?” Gabbie trotted over to where Alastair took the lead. She blinked large brown eyes that matched her shoulder length shiny brown hair. Alastair didn’t believe in mermaids. If he did, then mermaids would certainly not be in a tiny lake cut off from the ocean deep in Colorado. However, Alastair’s mouth seemed to have taken a vacation from listening to his brain.

“No. No, I don’t think they’d care. If they’re that hung up about it, you can just call them merpersons.”

“See, Ginger? Alastair said merspersons.”

“He would,” Ginger grumbled under her breath.

“Hey, I think I hear the waterfall!” Zane grinned, rubbing his hands together. The group paused to confirm Zane’s acute hearing and were treated to the churning trickle of running water smashing into rocks. Zane whooped. Lila groaned, still upset over her and her brother’s secret being demoted into general knowledge.

The children picked up their feet, tumbling over one another like a litter of kittens in the direction of crashing water. A few ground squirrels chattered their dislike of the children’s activities as the tiny creatures jumped into forest undergrowth. Soon, the group were required to leave the cleared path that shot deeper into the forest. They veered to the right as Alastair moved a branch full of brown leaves out of the other children’s way.

“Woah!” Ginger exclaimed when they arrived at mermaid waterfall. She reluctantly dropped her arms to her sides. Alastair couldn’t help but feel a little smug. It was a rare event to see Ginger speechless, and that was all because of his waterfall.

About a yard away was a lake the color of a blue marble when someone shines a flashlight behind the spherical glass. Every now and then, the water would ripple, casting what seemed to be silver bracelets about like a game of catch between the flitting fish. When one looked into the icy waters, he or she would be able to see the very, very bottom far below. It looked as though the lake was a cave filled with tears.

Reddish brown and gray rocks cupped the east side of the lake, jutting up and up until those same rocks cascaded up into a nearby mountain. Tumbling down from the geometry of sediments was a torrent of bubbling white water. The waterfall careened into the lake like charging, ivory horses to battle.

“This is so pretty,” Gabbie said. For once, the twins’ dueling personalities matched, and Alastair could see how people thought Gabbie and Ginger were identical.

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