The Fulton’s Cowrie

by Sky Stubbeman, age 10
The Fulton’s Cowrie Sky Stubbeman is ten years old. She lives in Encino, California. Sky enjoys art, reading, and writing. She swims competitively and lives with her parents and twin brother, Christian.

“Stala had never taken a swimming lesson in her life. When she looked down, she saw a shimmery, blue-purple tail beneath her. Somehow, she knew this had always been a part of her, and after all the surprising things that had happened today, Stala wasn’t very surprised.”

She had never seen anything so blue. It was Stala’s first time seeing the ocean, and it amazed her. The salty sea breeze blew across her face, whipping her shoulder-length, chocolate-colored hair back from her face. The sand was soft and warm under her bare feet, having been warmed by the sun’s hot rays. Stala’s almond-shaped, bright, green eyes could not believe what she saw. She was wearing a thin, sapphire-blue dress, the weather being too sunny for anything else. Still mesmerized, Stala stepped forward until her feet touched the dark, sea-blue water. The refreshing water lapped up and across her feet. It wasn’t windy, and so the waves were not big. She stayed there until her hair was damp and tangled with salt from the sea breeze, just feeling the relaxing water cover her feet, then fall back again. Stala just simply enjoyed the wonderful touch of the water.

The sea washed up different shells and pebbles. Stala leaned down and examined them before the sea washed them away. A big smooth cream seashell with wavy brown lines covering it landed next to her feet. Stala grabbed it before the sea could pull it back into its depths.

Stala heard someone calling her. The sounds seemed strangely muffled, as if was being said from behind a curtain. She didn’t want to leave the overlapping waves that tickled her feet.

“STALA!” came the call.

“Five minutes,” Stala said quietly, not wanting to ruin the sounds of the waves crashing onto the shore.

“No, come right NOW!!!” said her mom.

“Just one more minute.” One more minute to absorb the sight she would store deep in her heart and never forget.

Slowly, letting the hot sand warm her feet, Stala reluctantly walked up to the beach towel her parents were sitting on. She had inherited her mother’s bronze complexion and her father’s emerald green eyes.

“What took you so long?” her mother demanded. “We were waiting for you.”

Stala walked towards them in a daze.The bluish-green sea entranced her, entwined her, motivated her in ways she couldn’t imagine before. Her brother Sylvestre left a few months ago unexpectedly, during the night, leaving only a small note. It said something about joining a business that helped the ocean from being completely polluted. Her parents didn’t want Sylvestre to leave, and they did not like the ocean much anymore. All she wanted was to see her brother again. She wasn’t sure if the note he left was true. Sylvestre was not the type to sneak off. Stala would do anything for the sea, and she knew it.

The ride back to their house in the Queamard was bumpy. A big tsunami swept over the town just a week ago. The road was rocky from the huge tidal waves that swept in from time to time. In the past year, they had become more and more frequent. Stala’s house was in the hills, and the tidal waves did not reach her town, Tystor. When she saw the wreckage, she came to believe the ocean was destructive. But when she saw the ocean, Stala’s opinion changed, and she saw that the ocean was beautiful and full of life. After today, she loved the sea.

Their house had the typical wooden walls and wooden roof. There were nine rooms, two bathrooms, Stala’s parents room, Stala’s room, Sylvestre’s old room, a kitchen, a living room, a room filled with a collection of books, and a dining room.

As soon as Stala got home, she washed all the salty spray out of her hair and changed into a new outfit. The blue dress was wind blown and also covered in the sea’s spray.

Once Stala finished, she took the seashell from the beach and immediately ran down to the room full of books, and took a book called The Seashell Encyclopedia down from the top shelf. She needed a ladder to reach it. Stala sat down in a green chair and opened the book. Halfway in, she found an illustration of the seashell she found. It was called the Fulton’s Cowrie and was very rare. The book was interesting, and she poured over it until her parents told her to go to bed.

The sound of the waves crashing to the shore streamed out from the depths of the shell. Stala pressed the Fulton’s Cowrie to her ear and heard the call of the ocean pulling her, fascinating her, enticing her. The alluring sounds dragged Stala forward, telling her to come and enjoy the sea breeze. Stala fell asleep with the ocean’s sounds in her ears.

The next morning, Stala ate breakfast without really knowing what she was doing. Her thoughts were filled with the sea and only the sea.

Someone shouted, “Stala! Stala!” and woke her up from her daze.

“Did you hear me?” her mother asked.

“No…” Stala mumbled and immediately, fell back into her daze. She vaguely remembered her parents saying something about not letting her go to the ocean again. The rest of the morning went like this until after lunch, when Stala took the Encyclopedia of Seashells down again and started reading. She read the book for the rest of the day and only put it down to eat dinner. Stala got into bed, and went to sleep. She woke up at 10:45. She couldn’t fall back asleep and so Stala tiptoed out of bed and walked down the twisted road to the ocean. She had unwittingly memorized the path to the sea.

When she reached the place where the water crashed over your feet, Stala was pushed towards the ocean by the wind. It seemed stronger than usual, and she could almost not resist it. Stala cautiously put a foot into the water. Strange enough, she had no idea what she was doing.

The wind surged forward. Stala face-planted into the water and was pushed further and further from land. Her whole body tingled, as though it had been stuck with pins. That’s how Stala felt all over. Her brown hair floated in a cloud above her. She was underwater. And she was breathing normally. Stala was already quite shocked, and she was even more shocked that she could swim easily. Stala had never taken a swimming lesson in her life. When she looked down, she saw a shimmery, blue-purple tail beneath her. Somehow, she knew this had always been a part of her, and after all the surprising things that had happened today, Stala wasn’t very surprised.

Laughing, she flipped her tail and shot down under the water. Once she got away from the polluted areas, the sea was a mixture of turquoise blues, hints of green, and tints of purple. Stala didn’t see any fish yet. Giddy with excitement, Stala zoomed further into the ocean. Strange enough, there was a warm sensation coming from what would have been her pocket. There was a faint light shining through her scales. Stala reached towards it and yelped when a pocket opened up in her tail. The seashell was glowing. A soft golden light illuminated the mass of blue surrounding her. It was getting early, and she had to get back soon. As soon as she swam an inch towards home, the glowing dimmed a little. Stala wondered where the shell was leading her, but that would have to wait another night.

As soon as Stala saw her bed again, she crashed and slept like a rock. “I’ll find out the secrets of the ocean soon,” Stala promised herself. “Soon…”

The next morning, she took a shower to get the sea out of her hair. Today was a school day. Stala said goodbye to her parents, walked out the door to go to school, and immediately went in the opposite direction, towards the ocean. With no hesitation this time, she dived in. Stala swam out of the polluted shore and checked the seashell for guidance. Stala wondered if Sylvestre was like her and had turned into a merman. Today the sunlight filtered through the water, making her fully formed tail shimmer. A coral reef appeared below her, and Stala dived down and swam with a school of fish, their silver scales bumping against her. The cowrie was glowing like crazy.

Stala saw a ledge in front of her. As she peeked over it, she saw an illuminated city below her. And standing in front of the town was a merman. Stala asked one question. One question that would change everything.




Stala had indeed been reunited with her brother. She came to live with him in the ocean, or sometimes she lived with her parents who believed she worked for the same company Sylvestre worked for. She studied the ocean, tried to help Sylvestre clear out pollution, and always wanted to explore the wonderful species that lived in the water.


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