The Prince and the Mermaid fell in love, and the Mermaid cut off her tail. They married and lived in a big castle on the side of the ocean. The Prince loved the Mermaid, and the Mermaid loved the Prince. And soon they had a daughter whom they named Alicia. The Prince and the Mermaid loved each other. But the Mermaid was unhappy. First it was just a feeling, and she punished herself for it. She said to herself, "You live in a castle and you are married to a wonderful man. Can't you see that you have a beautiful life?" But her unhappiness grew. The Prince was aware that the Mermaid was unhappy, and it ate him inside. He asked her what was wrong, and she said, "I don't know. I'm unhappy. I am sorry." He held her and tried to comfort her. And though the Mermaid knew that he loved her - and that she also loved him - she just could not stop the pain and depression inside. As the years went by, they grew apart. The Prince was angry at the Mermaid, and the Mermaid was angry at herself. He kept asking her, "Why can't you be like other wives? Why can't you be perfect?" And she would just answer, "I don't know," and she would cry. The Prince's anger with his wife grew. In frustration he would insult her and hit her and tell her that she was not worthy of the life she had. And as he grew angrier, the Mermaid stopped seeing the man she had loved and saw a monster. She thought, "I've married the Prince, and he turned into a frog." And then she thought, "Maybe it was me kissing him that made that happen." Feeling her luminous life turned to darkness - and thinking herself at fault - the Mermaid ran out on the beach. Her magnificent blond hair rained on her shoulders and covered them with gold. Her elegant arms and legs scintillated in the light of the moon, as tears ran down her cheeks. She had come to the ocean - to the place from where she had come - to jump into it and drown and end all her miseries. Then suddenly from the ocean came an indistinct wail. The Mermaid felt something pulling to her, something tugging her on the heart and her lungs, something calling to her from the water. She came to the water's edge, and coming toward her she saw a face. It was a dolphin, moving in wavelike motion. At first she could not make out what the Dolphin was saying. Her memory of her days in the ocean was a blur, and she had trouble recollecting the language. Then she started remembering and understood. The voice said, "You have cut off your tail to be with the Prince. But because you have left a part of yourself in the ocean, you could not truly be with the Prince, and he could not truly be with you. You were out of your medium. You did not know how to live on land, and you were missing your home. You can't live like that any more. Go back to the ocean, put on your tail, and invite the Prince to come swimming with you." The Mermaid said, "I can't just leave him. I am married to him, and we have a child." The Dolphin spoke in return. "He loved you when you were in the ocean. The more you lived on the land, however, the less he remembered the person that he had loved. If you come into the ocean again, he will see you again for the Mermaid he loved, and he will again love you." Reluctantly the Mermaid waded into the ocean. She wrote a note to the Prince, and a seagull delivered it. It said, "My love, I cannot live like this any longer. You are destroying me, and I am destroying you. Come to the ocean, and swim with me. Do you remember when I was in the ocean and you loved me? We can love each other like that again." In the morning Alicia knocked on her father's door. "What's the matter?" asked the Prince. His daughter answered, "Where's Mommy?" The Prince asked, "What do you mean, where's Mommy?" Then, seeing his wife's side of the bed empty, he looked around and found the note. The Prince flew into a fury and sent for the archers. Surrounded by archers, he went to the ocean. The Dolphin swam to the beach. "What's this thing?" asked the Prince. As the Dolphin started to speak, one of the archers, named Atticus, started translating. "What have you done with my wife?" shouted the Prince. The Dolphin answered, "She was going to kill herself. I saved her life." "Saved her life?" the Prince continued to shout. "How about saving the family? I married her. She made a vow to be with me all her life. How dare you destroy our marriage?" The Dolphin responded, "She could not save the marriage that you had and still live. You loved her when she was in the ocean. But you made her cut off her tail, and she could no longer be the person you loved." "Does it matter that she could no longer be the person I loved?" the Prince continued to shout. "She is my wife! I decide what kind of a person she can and can't be. She is the mother of my daughter! She has responsibilities!" At which point the Prince ordered the archers to take aim at the Dolphin. The Dolphin looked the Prince in the face. He said, "You can kill me, but that will not save your marriage. You loved her when she was in the water, but in the castle she could not be what you loved. Your life was destroying her and destroying also what you loved. She was dying in that castle - that life was killing her - can't you see that? Kill me and your wife will simply die. Learn to swim with her, and you will again be with her." The Prince told the archers to put their bows down. He went back to the palace and brooded for days. On some days he wanted to kill the Dolphin; on others he wanted to kill his wife. He even thought of making huge chains and whipping the ocean. There were other women who wanted to be with the Prince. They comforted him, and he thought of being with them. But his thoughts always came back to the Mermaid. "I must bring my wife back," he decided, "whatever it takes." As he was walking along a river feeding into the ocean, he heard a voice that said, "Jump in the river." "Jump in the river?" he responded, "What do you mean, jump in the river?" "It means just what I've said," responded the voice. "Jump in the river and learn to swim, and then you can have your wife back." He thought that was a ridiculous thing to do, but he wanted to gain back his wife at all costs. So he did. He took off his golden robe and jumped in the river. The current carried him to the ocean. He did not know how to swim very well, but his determination made him stronger. He learned quickly how to swim, better than he had ever swam before. He swam like a master after a couple hours, and as he kept swimming in the ocean he saw the Mermaid. "What have you done?" he shouted at her. "What have you done to my family? How could you have betrayed me?" The Mermaid said, "I could not keep living like this. I am a mermaid, and I belong in the ocean. You loved me when I was in the ocean - can't you love me now that you meet me in the ocean again? Come swim with me, darling. I have so much to show you." She continued, "Please understand me. I don't want to leave you behind; I just have to regain what I was, or else I would die. I am asking you to come swim with me, and then we can at last be together completely." "I want to tear you to shreds!" said the Prince. "You are my wife, and you belong to me!" The Mermaid responded, "Tear me to shreds, and do not have your wife at all. Or come with me, and we'll regain what we had when we got married." A thousand thoughts crowded the Prince's head. He wanted to kill, he wanted to shout, he wanted to punch and hit and scream at the universe for having done this to him; but the more he saw the Mermaid swim, effortlessly, elegantly, beautifully, sensuously, and at last happily, in the ocean that was her home, love filled his heart for this magnificent creature, and he remembered their romance. He swam up to the Mermaid, and they embraced. They swam out to the ocean and frolicked for hours, looking at the beautiful fish and richly decorated coral reefs and the clear blue sky above them. And they kept swimming at night and going back to the palace during the day and loved each other happily for as long as they remained alive on the planet.