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Excerpt for Lovie and Bibs and the Mermaids in the Mud Puddle by , available in its entirety at Smashwords

Lovie and Bibs and the Mermaids in the Mud Puddle

Published by Alicia Ranney at Smashwords

Copyright 2019 Alicia Ranney

Smashwords Edition, License Notes

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Lovie and Bibs were having one lucky day: their mom and dad agreed to let them play out in the rain! That simply never happened. But because it was so warm, and there was no thunder or lighting (and because they asked so many times that their mom either had to say yes or her head would explode), they got the green light. So Lovie and Bibs threw on their bathing suits, and out the door they went.

They were both delighted by the number of mud puddles in their backyard. Ooh, squishy, filthy, muddy fun! They jumped in them, splashing themselves and each other. If they got really lucky, they'd happen across a puddle with a lot of actual mud in it, and then they'd let the mud squelch between their toes and delight in the wonderful yuckiness of it. It was a fabulous time.

There was a large tree next to two stairs that led up to a grassy patch at the side of their house. Their friend Agatha (who was a fairy) lived in the tree with her husband, Gerald (who was the king of the cockroaches). It was next to Agatha's tree that the sisters discovered the biggest mud puddle of them all. Lovie looked at Bibs and grinned. But just before Lovie could jump in, Bibs threw out her arm to block her.

"Lovie, don't jump! There's something in the puddle!"

Lovie looked where Bibs pointed, and she saw it too. Well, more of a them than an it, really: there were five greenish-gray pebble like objects forming a pile in the center of the puddle.

Lovie frowned. "They're just rocks, Bibs, let's keep playing!"

"No, Lovie, I don't think so. They look like eggs. We might ruin them."

"Fuh-ine, fun buster. Let's see if Agatha's home, and we'll ask her." Lovie went to the big tree by the stairs and did the special knock Agatha had taught them. Several seconds later, the small fairy appeared.

"Well, hello, girls! How can I help you today?"

Bibs spoke up. "Hi, Agatha! Sorry to bother you, but we noticed some strange things in the mud puddle here, and we were hoping you knew what they were. Lovie thinks they're just rocks, but I think they may be something else. Like maybe eggs?"

Agatha flew over to the puddle, holding a small leaf over herself so she wouldn't get any rain on her wings. "Very interesting," she mused as she examined the objects.

"So what are they?" Lovie asked impatiently.

"I believe Bibs is correct, Lovie, these are eggs! Mermaid eggs, unless I miss my guess."

"Mermaid eggs?" the girls asked in unison, skeptical expressions on their faces.

"Yep. Oh, I know what you're thinking, mermaid eggs would have to be much bigger, right?" Both girls nodded.

"Well, young ladies, there are different kinds of mermaids. There are ocean mermaids, which are large like dolphins. They have either blue or green skin. You know, I met someone once who claimed to have seen an ocean mermaid who had blue skin with green splotches, and-“

Agatha caught sight of the girls’ impatient faces and said, "Yes, well these appear to be the eggs of river mermaids."

"River mermaids?" Lovie asked doubtfully. "I think we would've heard if there was such a thing as a river mermaid."

Agatha puffed up, shaking her wings indignantly. "You know everything there is to know, do you? Why did you even bother knocking on my tree?" She began to fly back in the direction of her tree home.

"Wait!" Bibs shouted after her. "I'm sorry, it's hard to believe such things as river mermaids exist. But I admit that up until a couple of years ago, I wouldn't have thought fairies existed, either."

Bibs gave Lovie a stern look, and Lovie hung her head. Bibs continued. "Let's say these are river mermaid eggs. Agatha, there's no river very close to here. How did the eggs get here?"

Agatha flitted back toward the girls, mollified by the apology. "Well, Bibs, in clear water, mermaid eggs gather nutrients as they float along. But in murky water with a lot of stirred up mud, the eggs can't get enough nutrients. So mamas lay their eggs by the river banks. It's dangerous there, though, because a lot of animals like to eat the eggs." Both girls gasped.

"But birds are friends of the mermaids, so if a group of eggs is in danger, a bird will try to move them to safety. I don't know for sure, but my guess is a bird gathered these eggs to try to save them, and they ended up here for some reason."

"Huh," Lovie said. "Well, a mud puddle wasn't a very smart place to put mermaid eggs. I mean, what's going to happen to the mermaids once they hatch and the puddle dries up?"

"Good question," Agatha said. "I don't think this mud puddle was where the bird meant the eggs to end up. And you're right. River mermaids don't get very big, maybe the size of a tadpole? But they still need more water than this. And they would die once the puddle dried up. We have to get them somewhere they'll be safe."

"But Agatha, if they weren't safe in the river, where will they be safe?" Bibs questioned.

"The river's still the best place, girls. We just have to wait for them to hatch first. They'll be all right in this puddle until then. After all, they'll be hatching any moment!"

"How do you know?" Lovie asked.

"Because I can hear them, of course! Inside the eggs. Can't you hear them with your big ears?"

Bibs shook her head, and Lovie shrugged her shoulders.

"Silly humans! Why have big ears if you can't use them to hear the sounds around you?" Agatha shook her head in dismay. "Oh well. You have eyes to see, so get down here and watch the show!"

Lovie sat down on the ground next to the puddle so she could watch the eggs. Bibs, though, wanted a closer look. She laid down on her stomach, her face just inches from the eggs.

Right before their eyes, an egg cracked wide open, and a tiny little mud colored mermaid swam out of it, trailing a tangle of tan hair along behind her. Lovie clapped her hands and gave a little squeal of delight. Bibs preferred to marvel quietly and continue watching.

A second egg cracked soon after, and out popped a slightly larger mermaid with mossy skin and dark green hair. Bibs was fascinated at how the two little mermaids swam toward each other, like they knew each other instantly.

In short order, all the mermaids were loose of their eggs and swimming elatedly in the puddle. Bibs thought, What a strange sight to see five little mermaids, the largest no bigger than half my pinky finger, swimming around in a mud puddle in my own backyard!

"Hey, Agatha, will the mermaids get any bigger than this?" Lovie asked the fairy.

"Maybe a little, but river mermaids stay very small their whole lives."

She allowed the girls a minute more to look at the mermaids. Then Agatha said, "All right, ladies, it's time to get these beauties back to their home."

Bibs sat up. "Agatha, we can't drive, and there's no way my mom or dad will believe that we need to get to a river to save a group of newly hatched mermaids..."

Agatha thought for a moment. "I have an idea," she announced. "First, you girls need to find a container, something small, to put the mermaids in. It needs to be tall so the water doesn't slosh out, but light enough that a group of birds could carry it."

"Won't someone see a bunch of birds carrying a container?" Bibs asked.

Agatha looked at Bibs patiently. "I'm a fairy, remember? I can make sure no one sees it."

While they talked, Lovie went into the garage. She returned and triumphantly sported her find for Bibs' and Agatha's inspection. It was a small container that had previously housed coffee grounds.

"Wow, that was fast!" Agatha exclaimed.

"Yep! I thought we could poke some holes around the top and tie some string through so the birds have something to hold on to."

"That’s a wonderful idea! Let's work quickly."

So Agatha helped the sisters to get the container ready. Lovie wanted to use her scissors to poke the holes, but Agatha objected. "That sounds dangerous. Let me see if there's something I can do." She focused on the container as if she might poke holes in it with the power of her mind. The next thing Lovie and Bibs knew, there were holes!

"And how did you do that?" Bibs asked.

"I just asked the plastic if it might be nice enough to develop some holes. It's happy to be used again, so it did as I asked."

"A fairy in the tree by the stairs, mermaids in the mud puddle, and plastic that can hear. This is officially a weird day," Lovie said. But she was happy with the progress.

She produced some twine from the garage, and they tied it through the holes. They tied the knots nice and tight. Agatha instructed them to gently dip the container into the puddle. Then she herded the mermaids into the opening. After they were done, Agatha helped the girls to add a little more water so the mermaids would be comfortable as they traveled.

Now it was time to find some birds. Agatha called, and Henry the sparrow came along.

"Hello, Henry!" Lovie and Bibs said to their friend. He chirped affectionately back at them.

"Henry, we need your help," Agatha said. "Do you have any bird friends that might help get this container to the river?"

He chirped again and flew off. A moment later, he returned with friends.

"That's perfect!" Agatha exclaimed. "Now, I'll need to tie some strings to your feet. Any objections?" The birds indicated that would be all right. Agatha insisted she be the one to handle this part, as humans should never tie twine to animals.

When she was finished, Agatha said, "All right, birds! Your mission is to safely transport these mermaids to the river! Do you know the way?" They did. "When you get there, let the bottom of the container touch the water. Then half of you fly a little lower so that it tips. The mermaids will know what to do from there!"

The birds had their orders. They worked as a team, slowly lifting the container up and into the air. Agatha used her fairy magic so that no one would notice birds wheeling through the sky with a container between them. Just before they flew out of earshot, Agatha hollered, "Don't forget to stop back by so we can untie the twine!" Henry dipped one wing to show he heard the fairy. Then they were off.

"Agatha, I wish we could make sure those little mermaids are safe." Bibs sighed. "I know Henry will get the job done, but I still worry about them."

"Also, it's just exciting to find out how it all goes!" Lovie said.

"Back to the mud puddle then!" Agatha said. She flew tight circles over the water until the surface began to change. Instead of reflecting the stormy sky overhead, it now showed an image of the birds carrying their precious cargo. Several minutes later, they arrived at the river. They followed Agatha's instructions to the letter, and Lovie and Bibs cheered as the mermaids found themselves safe in their new home.

After a small time, the birds returned. Lovie and Bibs carefully untied all the twine so the birds could fly free once more. "Thank you for your help! See you later, Henry!" Bibs shouted after them.

Agatha was ready to go back to her tree home for a rest after all the excitement. The sisters thanked her as she flew back to the tree by the stairs and slipped inside. Just then, their mom opened the door and hollered at them that it was time for dinner.

Bibs looked at Lovie. "Are you sad we didn't get to finish playing in the puddles?"

"Maybe just a little. But how cool was it that we got to see real mermaids hatch? That was so much fun!"

"Maybe next time we come outside to play, we'll have a nice normal time of it," Bibs said.

The sisters looked at each other and busted up laughing. Together they ran into the house to change and wash for dinner.

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Thank you so much for reading my book! This began as a series of bedtime stories I told my then two-year-old to help get her excited about becoming a big sister. Here we are several years later, and little sister loves the stories as much as big sis does! If you enjoyed this book, please share it with your friends, and check out the rest of the Lovie and Bibs series. Also, please take a moment to leave me a review at your favorite retailer!

Thank you,

Alicia Ranney


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