As a scallop, there are fewer more deadly creatures in the sea than the merfolk. Should we escape the clutches of our natural predators and live to the ripe old age of 5, we become susceptible to a new kind of predation.
The Shelling Ceremony.
The Shelling Ceremony is held once a year on the eve of the summer solstice.
This is the night when all the females of the merfolk gather for their first shelling and re-shelling ceremony.
On this night they will welcome young females into their womanhood by allowing them to select their first set of shells, which is an exciting time for a young mermaid. It signifies their coming of age and welcomes the new generation into the new phase of their life. Womanhood.
After the ceremony of the first shells, the teens will take a turn, followed by the elderly and then the middle-aged. Every mermaid will renew her shells until all have gotten the refresher they needed.
During the shelling ceremony is when mermaids are at their most violent, which is odd to see considering they aren’t known to be particularly cruel. At least not to sea life, humans are a whole different story for another day.
Mermaids will select their scallop victims and dismember us by ripping us apart at our ligaments. Then feed our innards to their fish and sea star friends before adhering our still-warm carcasses to their chests as some kind of trophy. Which they wear as badges of honour while they parade around the sea for another year, before trading them in once more.
At the end of the shelling ceremony, the retired carcasses of our friends will lay in a pile alongside what is left of us. Our numbers having been diminished greatly as few and far between are the mermaids who give up choosing a fresh set of shells rather than collecting from the discard pile and saving a life.
As violent and barbaric as this sounds, scallops are the only creatures that oppose The Shelling Ceremony. It is a highly celebrated event for all sea life, as they will join in on the festivities. Once the mermaids begin feeding them our innards it only increases their appetite. That’s when the true massacre begins. The moment the mermaids have finished their tradition
we will then be ravaged by sea stars, lobster, fish, and any other predator you can think of. Until their bellies are full and we are left to repopulate the best we can before next year.
Now, being that I have seen more than 8 Shelling Ceremonies in total, I am a rather sizeable scallop and find it hard to hide from the likes of these predators. Both mer and non-mer in species.
Often, I will hide below the pile of discarded seashells once the ceremony is done, as non-mer predators do not tend to look there. But during the shelling ceremony, it’s a little trickier, as I am now 12 and my shells are rather sizeable. Meaning I have a lower chance of being chosen since a very specific mermaid of a certain maturity and shape would choose me.
Not to mention that I have taken specific action to appear as unattractive to a mermaid as possible. One year, I covered myself in so much clay that mermaids couldn’t see my true design and colouring. Another year I used a discarded seashell and adhered it to my underside so that I appeared to have mismatched shells. But this year I feel that I have outdone myself, I found a way to create a chip at the end of my shell so that I now have two ridges instead of a singular one. Meaning my shape is forever changed which will secure my safety from selection in the Shelling Ceremony for-ever-more, as I should be undesirable now.
Or so I thought.
This year the Shelling Ceremony went as planned until the last round of selection. A young and shapely mermaid in her mid 20’s approached, scooped me up, and held me close for size.
She had no hope of filling my shell as her species had intended, but as she put me back another mermaid approached.
“Is that one heart-shaped?” She inquired with excitement in her voice.
That sent chills throughout my shell and before I knew what was happening, it was over. Everything, all my hard work had come to an end.
In hindsight, I may have made myself unique and more palatable rather than as unattractive as I had hoped.
A note from the Author:
A month or so ago, I saw this comic on social media and it was part of the inspiration behind this piece! I had touble finding it but Andrei Z. happened to find it.
Here is the inspiring comic:
Also, if you haven’t checked out Andrei Z.’s work I highly recommend his page! He has a great sense of humour and enjoys weird twists similar to this comic!