About the Author

Emma Hooper

Books by this Author
Our Homesick Songs
Excerpt

There was a mermaid, said Finn.

Yes, said Cora. She pulled an old towel up over her, a blanket. Out on the dark green night water, said Finn, there was a mermaid. And, because mermaids need to, it sang. Sad songs, homesick songs. Night after night, over a hundred thousand fish. And the only one who could hear it was a girl.

Lonely, said Cora.

Yes, a lonely girl, said Finn. Orphaned. But tying knots and listening to the mermaid sing made her feel a bit better. All through the night, she’d lie awake and knot and listen to the songs.

And then the storm, said Cora.

Yes, the storm, said Finn. There was a storm one night. And the girl couldn’t think of anything but her parents not being there, and the knots weren’t helping as much as they should, and the mermaid was singing and singing, not high and pretty, like you might think, but low and long, like she felt, so the girl got up, out of bed, and followed the song down to the water.

The sea.

Yes, to the sea. Where the storm was wild and it was probably too dangerous –

Definitely –

And it was definitely too dangerous, but she kept going anyway, the mermaid’s singing washing up to her, calling out to her. She walked all the way to the edge of the sea and then, even though it was freezing cold, she took another step into the water. She should have sunk down, but she didn’t. She stayed on the surface.

She what?

She stayed on the surface.

She did? I don’t remember this part . . .

She did. Because the sea was so thick with cod, brought out by the singing, hundreds of thousands of them, she could walk on them, right across their backs, out and out and out towards the song . . .

Oh . . .

And it got louder and louder until it was louder than the wind, until –

Until she saw it wasn’t a mermaid at all, said Cora. Yes, said Finn. Until she saw it wasn’t a mermaid. It was Dad. It was our dad. Singing.

Cora and Finn were on the ferry, going west. The sun had set and their parents were asleep, leaning against each other, surrounded by bags and boxes. There was no one else there. It was too foggy to see out the windows, to check for boat lights or anything else. Too quiet and late for music, too much pull of the sea for reading. There was nothing to do but tell stories. Tell this story.

And then? asked Cora.

And then everything, said Finn.

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