Chicken bones and cranberries

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Eddie and the mermaids

Now, my dear, let’s get back to our Eddie. After parting with his friends, Eddie leaned over the bubbling creek, cupped his hands and took a sip of the sweetest water that he had ever tasted. Suddenly, he heard a jingling sound, as if someone was ringing miniature silver bells a few feet away. Eddie jumped up and looked around, but he could not see anybody. The ringing came again, but this time is was much closer and sounded more like a merry laughter of a little girl.
“Eddie! Eddie...” the laughing voice called.
Suddenly, Eddie spotted a young girl, dressed in a long white gown. She was rocking on a swing made of willow branches; her long brown hair cascaded down, nearly touching the ground. Eddie walked toward her in awe, but she disappeared just to call his name from another willow tree. As if he fell under a spell, Eddie kept following the beautiful girl until he came to a large forest clearing. There, under the bright sun, two dozens of girls, dressed just like Eddie’s mysterious new friend, danced in a circle, holding their hands together.
When they saw Eddie, they laughed but continued to dance. The first little girl appeared again next to Eddie, she reached out her hand; it was lily-white and icy-cold. “Come, Eddie!” she said. The girls’ dance mesmerized the poor boy. He followed the little lady into the circle. The long-haired girls locked him within and began to spin. They were spinning so fast, that Eddie’s heart began to race, he felt very dizzy, and the girls’ circle became a haze. Eddie fell down. Suddenly, the girls jumped onto Eddie and began to tickle him, squeaking “Eddie, give us your necklace! Give us your necklace!” The boy felt suffocated and lost his conscience.
***
Surprised to find himself alive, Eddie woke up surrounded by the cold black water of the lake. He sank and quickly swam up to the surface to take a big breath of air. The mermaids – yes, my dear, those were the mermaids – kept attacking him, trying to pull him down to the bottom. Eddie tried fighting, but there were too many of them coming at him. The boy thought he was dying, but suddenly a gleaming blue light came from underneath the water and the mermaids recoiled.
It was the Moon Lady. She emerged on the surface of the lake to see what was causing the commotion. Just one wave of her beautiful hand made all the mermaids obediently disappear. Tall and gorgeous, the Moon Lady took Eddie into her arms and carried him out of the water. She spoke in a deep, gentle voice. “Eddie, you are alive. The mermaids were after your necklace. Do you know that it has magical properties?” Eddie nodded. The Moon Lady smiled. “This necklace bears a very powerful enchantment, Eddie. It cannot be taken from you, other than by accident or by your free will. It cannot be stolen or taken away. I will punish the mermaids for dragging you into the water; thank goodness you wore the necklace. It saved you. Have you heard about my Jezebel?” asked the Moon Lady. Eddie’s words froze to the back of his throat; quietly, he nodded again. “May I take three cranberries off your necklace for my daughter?” asked the Moon Lady, gleaming. “Yes, of course,” whispered Eddie, slowly regaining his ability to speak. The Moon Lady took three cranberries off the necklace. “Thank you, Eddie. You are a kind boy. When you need help, just call my name and I will find you as the moon rays can find any one. Blessed be, Eddie!”
The Moon Lady kissed the boy on the forehead and slowly went into the lake. Tall and beautiful, in her shimmering silver gown, she practically melted into the black mirror of the water.
Eddie squirmed, trying to warm up in soaking wet clothes. He was too uncomfortable to sleep; walking in the dark made no sense, so he got under a large willow tree and just stayed there until the sunrise, staring at the lake.

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