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Aimes & Pawson Dive In

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Aimes & Pawson Dive In

Written by Sophie & Pudding
Art & Characters by JuiceBox


Aimes & Pawson is an ageplay children’s picture book intended for adult audiences. You can buy the full version with pictures on Amazon or by joining our SubscribeStar.


Our goal was to create a book for story time or bedtime, with no sexual themes and maximum Little feels! Some of the words can be quite big - upwards of 10 letters long! - so you may need an adult to read it for you.

This story takes place in the summer, when Aimes and her teddy bear Pawson go to the pool.



Chapter One


Of all the quiet, charming towns in the world, none were quite as quiet and charming as Kingston. It was the kind of town where one would walk through and decide to live there forever. But Kingston was not a town of adventure. That was why the young woman named Aimes and her teddy bear named Pawson only planned to stay there for a few days.


The summer heat in Kingston made everyone lazy. The only place in the whole town with any excitement was the public pool. Aimes thought a public pool couldn't possibly be very exciting, but for once Pawson's insistence had paid off.


"There's nothing else to do until your shirt is fixed," the magenta teddy bear reminded his friend. "Or you could buy a new one."


"I don't want a new one," Aimes pouted. "That one is durable and easy to wash. And it's so short that it doesn't get in the way during diaper changes."


"Then we're going to the pool," Pawson concluded. Though his companion was always eager for the next adventure, Pawson appreciated slow moments like this, where he could relax poolside.


How much trouble could Aimes get into at a public pool? Pawson thought.

Aimes had some bad experiences with public pools. She once wore an ordinary diaper into the water and it ballooned up like a beach ball. She’d had to waddle all the way home to get changed. Another time, she thought she didn’t need a diaper. The water around her had turned purple and the pool staff had to drain the pool.


This time, however, Aimes was wearing a swim diaper and a one-piece bathing suit, with frills on the shoulders. Her arms were dressed in big inflatable water wings, though she knew how to swim just fine. It was Pawson's idea, something to keep her out of trouble.


Aimes also had with her a little bag of pool toys: a toy boat, a squirt gun, and a set of underwater crayons. As Aimes told Pawson: "You never know when you'll need to write something underwater."


Pawson wore his usual hat to keep the sun out of his eyes and that was it. Teddy bears didn't need to worry about modesty the way young women did.


The public pool was quite large, but it wasn't very crowded. A handful of people were swimming about in the water, but most of them were sitting in lounge chairs. Umbrellas shaded them from the sun and many side-tables had glasses of lemonade placed upon them. There was a diorama of underwater life along the far wall, complete with hand-painted manta rays, jellyfish, kelp, and even a little goldfish bowl. It looked like a community project.


Before Pawson could find a place to sit, Aimes leapt into the air over the pool and curled herself into a ball. She crashed into the water, splashing Pawson. When Aimes surfaced, Pawson stared down at her from the side of the pool, dripping wet.


"You could have warned me," Pawson huffed.


"The sign says no yelling," Aimes grinned, pointing at the sign on the wall by the pool.


No Running

No Yelling

No Diving

"It also says No Diving," Pawson reminded her, wringing out one of his paws with the other. Aimes flashed him a cheeky smile.


"Jumping isn’t diving," she said. "Diving is when you explore the bottom of the ocean. It’s when you look for shipwrecks and lost treasure. I don’t think there’s any of that here, and that’s why they say No Diving: because it lets you know that there’s nothing down there."


Then Aimes put her finger to her chin in thought. "Although… that is what someone would say if they were trying to hide something…"

"I'm going to find a place to sit down," Pawson muttered, heading over to the lounge chairs. Aimes shrugged her shoulders and reached up onto the side of the pool to get a toy from her bag: the little toy boat. For a while, Aimes was content to swim and splash and play. The water wings kept her afloat, so she didn't have to focus on anything but her toys.


She made up a story where the boat was full of criminals, trying to escape from the law. But the criminals were actually the good guys, and they were trying to steal an ancient treasure to give it back to the original owners. She sped around the water, dodging obstacles and other swimmers. Then, just as the criminals were about to get away, the boat slipped out of Aimes' hand and headed straight for the wall of the pool.


"Oh no," Aimes said out loud, trying to swim fast enough to catch up to it, but the water wings slowed her down. Then, just before the criminals crashed into the wall, a flicker of light appeared beneath the boat and a small wave steered it away. Another wave made the boat turn again, right into the filter: the escape route.


Aimes watched in awe as the criminals escaped with the treasure, knowing that they would soon return it to its rightful owners. She swam over to the filter to collect the toy boat. It was like the boat had been steering itself!


"How peculiar," Aimes whispered under her breath, then she looked over her shoulder where Pawson was sunbathing in one of those banana lounge chairs. She yelled, which she wasn’t supposed to do.



The pool wasn’t all that busy and crowded, but Pawson didn’t respond. Aimes puffed out her cheeks and splashed the water in frustration. Then Aimes noticed that sign again: No Diving. She looked down through the bluish water.

Aimes was a great adventurer: she knew how to climb trees and scale rocks. She could swim and jump and run really fast. Something as easy as seeing underwater was natural to her. She took a deep breath and pushed her face into the pool, looking down at the bottom.


There was a shallow end with tiled floor on one end of the pool, but as the slant of the floor went deeper down, the water began to get murky. Soon, she wasn't able to see the bottom of the pool at all. Then, in the foggy water, she saw another glimmer, like a glare off of something shiny. Aimes tried to swim down toward it, but the water wings kept her afloat. With a huff, she pulled her head out of the water and brushed her hair from her face. There was something down there alright!


Aimes made her way over to the ladder and climbed out of the pool. Her swim diaper, full of water, sagged heavily between her legs. It forced her to waddle over to where Pawson was sitting.


"There's something in the pool. A fish or something."


"Fish don't live in pools, Aimes," Pawson said dismissively.


"This one does. I saw it. It steered my boat and everything."


Aimes had an active imagination, but Pawson knew better than to call her a liar. He sat up on the lounge chair and looked at the pool.


"Help me take these water wings off," Aimes said, tugging at the inflatable plastic triangles. "We're going after it."


"Well," Pawson said to himself, "at least I had an hour of relaxation. That was more than I expected."





Chapter Two


"Are you sure about this, Aimes?"


The two of them were standing by the water’s edge, and Aimes had her water wings removed. Pawson had pulled down a set of swimming goggles with a loosely fitting snorkel over his face.


"A hundred percent," Aimes said. "Think about what we might find! A sea monster? Or a sunken pirate ship?"


"It’s probably lost change," Pawson said under his breath.


Pawson's goggles and snorkel were merely decorative. Since he was a teddy bear, he didn't need to breathe. Aimes, on the other hand, still had to worry about getting oxygen. After getting into the water and trying to swim down as far as she could, she still couldn't see the bottom of the pool. She had to resurface for air.


"That's a lot deeper than any pool I've ever seen," Pawson said, pulling the snorkel out of his mouth.


Aimes was too lost in thought to congratulate herself. She was tapping on her chin, trying to think of a way to breathe underwater. In books, they had suits that were full of air, but Aimes didn't know where she could get one of those on short notice. Then again, why did she need a whole suit of air? She just needed one of those big helmets.


"One sec," she told Pawson, climbing out of the pool once again. She waddled her way over to the ocean life diorama. There was a large glass fishbowl with a little paper fish inside, standing on a stick. Aimes took the bowl and tipped it upside down, spilling the colorful rocks and the paper fish all over the deck of the pool. A few people in lounge chairs looked at her from behind their sunglasses.


"I'll return it when I'm done," Aimes assured them. Pawson, still in the pool, sunk down shyly so that the only thing anyone could see was his hat.


Aimes grabbed an elastic string off one of the jellyfish. It was sticky at the ends, so she stuck both sides across the top of the fish bowl. She took her new contraption with her back to the pool and slid into the water next to Pawson.


"What are you doing?" Pawson muttered, somewhere between embarrassed and annoyed.


"Making a diving helmet," Aimes said. "You see, air always goes up. So if I put the bowl in the water upside-down, it will stay in the bowl. As long as the bowl stays upside down, the air won't go anywhere." Aimes demonstrated by pulling the bowl over her head and tucking the elastic string beneath her chin.


"You look ridiculous," Pawson said.


"It'll work," Aimes assured him. And sure enough, when Aimes went underwater, the fishbowl was still full of air. It floated upward, but the elastic string held it in place over Aimes' head.


As a final thought, Aimes grabbed her underwater crayons, which she tucked into the side of her one-piece bathing suit.


Aimes & Pawson began swimming down into the deepest depths of the public pool. The sun flickered through the surface of the water, shining down in long, bright rays. But the deeper the two of them dove, the fewer sunrays came along with them. Soon, the surface seemed miles away, so far above them that it was almost like nighttime: muted and blue.


The tiled walls of the public pool started to look a lot more like rocks, decorated in colorful algae. As the light of the sun faded away, the algae glowed softly and lit up the path beneath them. Aimes grabbed a crayon out of her swimsuit and drew a big arrow on one of the rocks in a brightly-lit spot.


Pawson muttered something behind his snorkel. When he realized Aimes couldn't understand him, he motioned at the arrow on the wall.


"In case we get lost," Aimes said. She could speak inside the fish bowl, but her voice was muffled by the water. Pawson had to listen closely to hear her.


Aimes drew a few more arrows as they went further down — little signposts in case she needed to find her way back to the surface — until Pawson caught sight of a glint in the distance. It seemed to be going sideways rather than down. He tugged on Aimes' swimsuit and pointed.


"I think that's it," Aimes confirmed. She and Pawson swam toward it, into a little cave. Aimes stopped to draw another arrow and the pair continued onward.


Inside the cave, things were a lot brighter. The bioluminescent algae was more abundant and the water was full of little sparkling bits that reflected the light. A fish swam into view, and then another. Each one passed by Aimes and Pawson in sequence, but something looked odd about them. They didn't shimmer, and they didn't have scales. When another fish swam by, Aimes reached out and cupped it in her hand. It looked like it was made of plastic or rubber, and when she tickled its belly little bubbles spilled out of a hole where its mouth would be. The fish quickly swam away.


"They're like bath toys," Aimes said excitedly. She always wondered where her fish toys came from!"


Pawson tugged again on Aimes' swimsuit and pointed forward. There was a bright light at the end of the cave. Aimes drew another arrow in crayon and followed Pawson toward it.


When Aimes and Pawson got to the end of the cave, it was a sight to behold. High above, sunbeams bent through large holes in the cave, casting a glittering magical light over the sandy ocean floor. There were a few plastic boats - not unlike Aimes' own toy boat - but these ones were much bigger and broken into pieces.


But the most impressive sight of all was the massive underwater city made of glittering coral and shells. It seemed to go on for miles! Then, just as Aimes and Pawson thought they couldn't be more in awe, a glint from a scale caught the light. Swimming out of the underwater city was a woman with long blue hair and a long shimmering tail.


Aimes and Pawson had found a mermaid.





Chapter Three


Although Aimes was no stranger to adventure, and although she’d seen many fantastical things exploring the world, she had never seen a mermaid before. She had so many questions, so many things she needed to know. Taking Pawson by the paw, as though he might not swim fast enough, Aimes began to swim toward the underwater city.


"I can’t believe it," Aimes said, her voice muffled through the weight of the water. She was taking advantage of the fact that Pawson couldn’t interrupt her flights of fancy. "A real live mermaid! I can’t wait to ask her name and her favorite food and… do you think I can touch her tail? Is that taboo? Oh Pawson, this is amazing! And that city, it could be a lost city! Like Atlantis!"


Pawson cocked an eyebrow and looked at Aimes with deep skepticism. Atlantis was a legendary city that was lost in the ocean a long time ago. It didn't make any sense for it to be under a public pool in Kingston, one of the most quiet and charming places in the world.


Then again, Pawson knew that even if he could argue such a thing, Aimes would say: "But isn't that the best place to lose it? No one would ever look there."


Aimes and Pawson swam until the two had made their way to the front of the city. It was then that Pawson was glad he couldn't speak his mind only a moment before, because Aimes would never let him live it down.


The archway in front of the city gate read: "Welcome to Atlantis!"


Before Aimes could get out a smarmy comment, the mermaid - the one with blue hair - noticed the pair and swam over to them with incredible speed.


"Hello!" the mermaid said cheerfully. She sounded crystal clear in the water, like she had been speaking in water her entire life.


"Hi," Aimes said with a wave. Her voice was muffled but the mermaid seemed to understand well enough. "My name is Aimes, and this is my best friend Pawson." She motioned to the little bear, who predictably kept his distance. Pawson was always overly cautious; someone had to be.


"It’s nice to meet you both," the mermaid said. "I’m Verdana."


"It’s very nice to meet you, Verdana!" Aimes replied. "Your city looks gorgeous, and your hair and your tail… everything, actually."


"Why, thank you!" Verdana said with a gleeful smile. "Would you like me to show you around the city?" Pawson shook his head, but Aimes nodded hers. They both knew who was going to get their way.


Verdana swam much faster than Aimes and much much faster than Pawson. After doubling back a few times, she took Aimes by the hand.


"This will be a lot faster," she said. "Hold on."


Aimes took Pawson's paw and Verdana sped through the city. The buildings went by in a blur, streaks of beautiful glimmering color. Other mermaids watched in awe, but they were going too fast for Aimes or Pawson to get a good look at them. Pawson had only one paw free, so when the snorkel and goggles flew off his face, he chose to hold onto his hat instead.


Finally, Verdana stopped in the heart of the city, where coral buildings towered all around them. In the center of the plaza was a huge fountain, spilling bubbles out of the top. Dozens of mermaids had stopped to see the newcomers.


"Look Pawson!" Aimes said. "There are boy mermaids! Or, uh... mermen!"


Pawson was still trying to get his bearings. Now that his goggles were gone, it took a moment for his eyes to adjust to the shimmering water. But when they did, sure enough, some of the mermaids looked a lot more masculine than Verdana.


"Mermen?" Verdana asked, tilting her head.


"Like, mermaids," Aimes explained, "but not maids, because that's usually a girl word."


"Mermaid isn't a girl word here," Verdana explained. "It's just who we are."


"That makes sense," Aimes agreed. "Sorry, humans can be very..."


"Assumptive," Pawson finished, who had a lot of experience being misgendered. Most strangers saw a magenta teddy bear and assumed he was a girl. Aimes was always quick to correct them.


"Oh hey, you can talk!" Aimes cheered. Their words were still muffled by the water, but it felt like the water in Atlantis let more sound through.


"Well, I didn't exactly need my snorkel," Pawson explained, fixing his hat. "It just makes me more comfortable thinking I have air, and you aren’t the only one who can play pretend."


Verdana perked up at the mention of air.


"If you want air, then you should go to the pool," she said.


"But we just got here," Aimes whined. "I don't want to leave!"


"No no," Verdana said. "The pool is in the city. It's very nice, and you'll be more comfortable there."


Aimes and Pawson exchanged looks. Another pool? What good would more water do them? But if Verdana thought they would be more comfortable, then maybe it was worth a try.


"This is the quickest way to get to the pool," Verdana said, leading the way down an alley way. "I used to go this way when I was a little tadpole. Come on!"


Aimes made mental note that baby mermaids were called tadpoles, then her and Pawson followed Verdana. The paths between buildings weren’t very straight, but the layout was fluid and kinetic. The walls of the buildings were curved and bendy, usually made from large shells or reefs of coral, which let water flow quickly between them and made for fast turns in the currents. At the end of the alleyway, which led out onto another street, Verdana waited with a smile.


"The pool is just across the street," she said. "We’re almost there!"


Sure enough, in the center of an underwater coral park, there was a massive seashell low to the ground. It was the kind of seashell you imagine when you think of seashells, but this one was much bigger. It was lying horizontally so that you could swim up into it. Verdana did just that, with Aimes and Pawson close behind, until all three of them broke through the surface of the water.


Inside the shell was a huge pocket of air. It looked like a beach, but the sky was pink like a summer sunset. Aimes gawked at the mermaids sunbathing on rocks and curled up on the coastline. Pawson gawked at the mermaids resting on floaties, the kind that humans would normally use in a pool.


"Oh wowzers…" Aimes said in awe. When Verdana had talked about a pool in the center of town, she certainly hadn’t expected to find this. To humans, a pool meant a big area of water for recreation. To mermaids, it meant a big area of air for the same thing.


Aimes and Pawson swam to the shore and climbed out of the water. Pawson glumly shook out his very soggy fur as Aimes squeezed her thighs together, causing a torrent of water to gush from her swim diaper. She took off her diving helmet and looked around in a whole bunch of awe.


"Verdana this is so cool! I didn’t know mermaids liked stuff like this." To be fair, until a few minutes ago Aimes didn’t know anything about mermaids at all.

"We see a lot of humans relaxing by the water, so we started to do the same thing," Verdana explained. "It's very pleasant."


"It's pleasant for humans too," Aimes said. And then, almost as an afterthought: "You don't have any diapers, do you? I would love to change..."


"Of course," Verdana said brightly, still only half-out of the water. The fabric of her top - a slimming halter - was soaked through. All the mermaids seemed to wear clothes on the top half, by Pawson's observation, though the ones sunbathing had their shirts wadded up beside them on the rocks. "You should find a changing station behind that ridge."


"Thank you!" Aimes and Pawson waddled down the beach, each trying to dry themselves off in their own ways. Pawson kept trying to wring the water out of his hands and Aimes kept tugging at the leg band of her swim diaper.


Eventually, the two of them found a part of the seashell that acted like a privacy screen. There were thick cloth diapers stocking a nearby table. The whole changing room was full of water up to Aimes' knees, but she had changed a diaper standing up before.


"I'll wait outside," Pawson said, going to stand guard at the front of the changing room. After five or so minutes of waiting, Aimes stuck her head around the corner.


"You know... I might not have thought this through."


"What do you mean?" Pawson asked. Aimes stepped out from behind the privacy screen to show Pawson what she meant. Her one-piece swimsuit was unsnapped at the crotch, pulled up to her stomach, and around her hips was... well, it wasn't really a diaper. It looked like a thick towel that was stuck together in the front with two large baby pins. There was no protection between her legs because...


"Mermaids don't have legs," Aimes sulked.


Pawson burst out laughing. His companion looked more like she was wearing a cloth mini skirt than a diaper. Aimes blushed and crossed her arms.


"Hey, you didn't think about it either!" Aimes challenged, and she was right. With everything else going on, Pawson didn’t even think about how a mermaid wore a diaper. But he still couldn't stop laughing, and eventually Aimes couldn't help but laugh along with him.





Chapter Four

The cloth diaper the mermaids used was stretchy enough to pull up between her legs. Pawson helped pin it in place with an extra set of baby pins. It wasn’t a very secure diaper, but Aimes knew she didn’t have much of a choice. When Pawson was done, Aimes snapped up her swimsuit and shuffled side to side.


"It is comfortable," Aimes said. "It’s unlike anything I’ve ever worn, that’s for sure."


"I wonder where they get their clothes," Pawson thought out loud. "But we should be getting back. We’ve been gone a while."


The two adventurers hurried back to the edge of the beach, where Verdana was waiting for them.


"You have such a beautiful home," Aimes said, sitting in the wet sand and dipping her feet in the still water. Verdana was still halfway up the shore splashing her tail lightly in the shallows.


"Thank you," Verdana said. "It's a shame we don't have more visitors."


"You want more visitors?" Pawson asked. "Why would you want that?"


"It gets boring after a while," Verdana answered. "Sometimes I go up to the pool and move a toy around in the water. Sometimes I bring things back here for others to play with." She motioned at the half-dozen inflatables on the water’s surface.


"Why don't you talk to the people at the pool?" Aimes asked. "They would love to see a real mermaid."


"I'm... quite shy," Verdana admitted, blushing a little. "Many mermaids are. Haven't you noticed not many mermaids have spoken to you since you got here?"


Aimes and Pawson both looked at each other. They hadn't noticed, but it was true. Some would wave and smile, but none other than Verdana had approached.


"So we'll tell people where to find you," Aimes said confidently.


"No one would believe us," Pawson said. "Atlantis is kind of a myth to humans."


"Well it's hard to find an underwater city in the public pool of a quiet, charming town," Aimes argued. "It's quite literally the last place anyone would look."


"Well you found it," Verdana said.


"On accident," Pawson corrected.


"Well, no." Aimes tapped her finger to her chin. "I found it because of that sign. It said No Diving, and I thought maybe it was trying to hide something from me."


"Only you would think that," Pawson laughed.


"Hey, I was right! And maybe if the sign said Atlantis..." Aimes paused for a moment and grinned. “You know, if we made a big sign for Atlantis, I bet people would check it out! Other people always listen to signs!"


"We have some big lengths of cloth at the Tailers?" Verdana offered helpfully.


"That's a good start," Aimes said. "What about markers?"


"Ummm..." Verdana seemed stumped by the word.


"I have water crayons," Aimes thought aloud, but quickly shook her head. "I couldn’t make a very big sign with them though."


"On land, we usually use paint to make signs," Pawson said.


"Oh! Yes!" Aimes excitedly kicked her feet in the shallows. "Watercolors!"


"I think you mean colors," Verdana said with a smile. "We have those."

Pawson had only just finished drying off when Aimes pulled on her fishbowl helmet and took him by the paw. She pulled him into the water and followed Verdana out of the pool and toward the Tailers.


Amies and Pawson were both curious about the clothes worn by the mermaids. It looked like a light cotton with a satin-like shine. When they arrived at the Tailers, they realized why. Dozens of mermaids were having their tails cleaned by other mermaids, who were taking thin strings out of their scales and setting them aside.


"When we swim around," Verdana explained, "we catch these little fibers on our tails from some of the local plants. We come here to get our tails cleaned and they use the fibers to make cloth. If you go too long without getting your tail cleaned, swimming feels a lot harder."


Aimes was positively beaming. She wished she had a tail in that moment, not only so her diaper would fit properly, but also so she could get her tail cleaned.


"Once we get the fibers," Verdana went on, "the cleaners put them in those funnels there. They go through a little vortex and create strings. Then we use those strings to weave cloth.

"That is the coolest thing I've ever heard," Aimes said in awe. "Do they make banners? We need the biggest one so it can’t get lost, since a lot of stuff gets lost around here."


"Well, let's see if we can get a sheet of cloth," Verdana said. She swam down toward the bottom of the building where a few other mermaids were weaving strings together into cloth. Some of them were doing it upside down, and some were doing it sideways. No matter how Aimes tried to orient herself, her helmet made sure she stayed right-side-up.


"Excuse me," Aimes asked, waving to one of the mermaids.


"Oh... hi..." The mermaid looked more masculine than Verdana and he spoke timidly.


"No need to be shy," Aimes said brightly, which probably didn't make the mermaid feel any better. "We were wondering, what is the biggest cloth you have?"


"Um..." The mermaid thought about it for a moment. "We have a full sheet no one has claimed, if you want it."


"We do!" Aimes didn't know how big a full sheet was, but nor did she care. She would make it work. The mermaid swam a ways away and came back a moment later with a folded cloth. Aimes took it from the mermaid with a bright smile. "Thank you!"


"You're welcome..."


The mermaid went back to work and Aimes went back to her project.


"Good job," Pawson congratulated, when Aimes returned with the cloth in her hands. It felt like it was soaking wet, even underwater.


"Now for the colors," Verdana said, leading her charges to the edge of the city, toward the botanical garden.


"Swimming is a lot more work than walking," Pawson lamented, but Aimes waved her hand dismissively.


"That can't be true," Aimes said, "because we weigh less underwater."


The bear sighed and muttered to himself: "That’s easy for you to say; you’re not waterlogged."


The water muffled Pawson’s complaint and Aimes never heard it. But even if she had, she would have been too distracted by the sight of the botanical gardens to say anything. A whole city block was full of colorful plants and flowers.





Chapter Five


Underwater vegetation sure was different than land vegetation. Everything was very floaty and twisty, unbound by something as silly as gravity. On top of that, the gardens always aimed to get the most unique and colorful flora from the area. One of the flowers was taller than Aimes and it seemed to sway in the currents. Aimes watched the plant dance to unheard music, lulling her ever closer, until Verdana pulled Aimes away.


"You don't want to touch that one," Verdana urged. "Or you might need another diaper change."


"Oh..." Aimes blushed a little, feeling a little silly. When she noticed Pawson smiling, she stuck out her tongue at him.


"Come on, this way." Verdana led the way toward a series of heavy looking boxes. She opened one up like it was a treasure chest and pulled out a handful of colored pearls.


"Are those the colors?" Pawson asked.


"How do you use them?" Aimes asked, a much more pressing question.


"They are concentrated from some of the local flora," Verdana explained. "The surface of these pearls is permeable, so you can put your finger in and take it out again without breaking the seal. Then you draw with the color."


"That's incredible!" Aimes said, grabbing for the pearls.


"Ah, ah," Verdana laughed. "We should do this outside the city. Colors get everywhere."


"Especially with Aimes painting," Pawson added.


"I'm an excellent painter," Aimes said, "especially with my fingers!"


With the cloth and the colors, Verdana led Aimes and Pawson back to the front of the city. She couldn't pull them along this time, and by the time Aimes saw the city gate, she was starting to understand what Pawson meant about swimming taking a lot of energy. It was exhausting!


"Is swimming easier with a tail?" Pawson asked Verdana.


"I don’t know," the mermaid said, laughing a little, "I’ve never swam without a tail."


"That does make me feel foolish for asking."


"Don’t feel silly! It’s a good question!"


"Is here good enough?" Aimes asked impatiently.


"A little further," Verdana insisted.


The three of them went past the entrance to Atlantis and stopped near the ocean floor. Aimes put her bare feet in the sand, but it was hard to keep from floating upward. Verdana unfolded the cloth. It was maybe six or seven feet long and two or three feet tall. It was a good size for a banner.


Verdana taught Aimes and Pawson how to paint with the colors. The banner would float in the water no matter what they did, so it was important to float along with it. If they dipped their finger in a color, they could paint with that color. The colors liked to run, because the whole banner was wet, but they could draw lines by rubbing the pearl on the fabric like a crayon.


It took Aimes and Pawson a long time to learn the tricks, and they still weren't very good at them. But each time they dipped a finger - or paw - into a pearl, it left a little splash of color in the water. Eventually those colors started to grow into wispy clouds, coloring the whole fabric in whirls of faded pastels. When the banner was complete, it was shimmery and magnificent, like no other banner in the world.


Aimes loved to learn things: she loved learning how to climb rocks, she loved learning how to count to a million, she loved learning how to travel through time, and she loved learning how to finger paint with Atlantian watercolors with her new mermaid friend. But like all good things, this adventure - just as all of Aimes and Pawson’s other adventures - had to come to an end.


"I’m going to hang this up," Aimes said to Verdana, "and you’ll get lots more visitors! I know you’re all very shy but do your best, okay?"


Verdana nodded nervously, and Aimes swallowed her sadness. Goodbyes were always the worst part of making new friends.


"I’m gonna miss you," Aimes said. "But we’ll come back to visit."


"We will," Pawson said in agreement. "Thank you for showing us around your home."


"Thank you for visiting," the blue-haired mermaid said with a smile. "I will miss you both." Then, as an afterthought, Verdana asked: "Are you sure you don't want a ride to the pool? It's a confusing path."


"We can do it," Aimes said confidently. "I left arrows to mark the way back."


"Alright then." Verdana waved. "Goodbye Aimes and Pawson."


"Goodbye Verdana," they both said in unison, and started swimming up toward the surface.


Aimes' arrows proved to be a good idea, but halfway through the cave she started to regret not asking for a lift. She didn't have the same mobility with the banner under her arm, and Pawson was struggling with a lot of upward swimming.


"Almost there," Pawson encouraged, noticing the exhaustion in his companion.


"It feels like forever," Aimes whined. The two of them were using the rocks to help them move, jumping from one end of the cave to the other. The strap under Aimes' chin was starting to chafe and Pawson's paws kept slipping off the rocks.


"Almost there," Pawson said again, a few minutes later.


"I don't even see the light yet," Aimes complained.


The glowing algae that had been so pretty on the way up was dim and sleepy now. Both of them felt like the could lull off to sleep at any moment, but falling asleep underwater was never a good idea. That’s Adventuring 101.


"Almost there," Pawson said once more, and just as he did, both of them broke the surface of the pool. There was no light to follow because there was no light out: the sun had gone down and the sky was growing crowded with stars.


Aimes crawled to the ladder and managed to pull herself up onto the deck. She collapsed on her back, soaking the cold concrete. Under the full effect of gravity, she struggled to move her arms and legs. Pawson sat at her side and patted Aimes on the arm for support. He tried to wring out his hands, but he was as waterlogged as Aimes' diaper.


"Do you think the mermaids come here at night to look at the stars?" Aimes asked. They were pretty tonight.


"I would if I were them," Pawson said.


"I can't believe we met a mermaid," Aimes laughed.


"I can't believe we found Atlantis," Pawson laughed.


"I'm glad we did though," Aimes said.


"I'm glad too," Pawson said. "I can always count on you to lead me to another adventure."


It was a long while before either of them felt capable of doing anything, but all that ended when Aimes spoke.


"One more thing to do," she said.


She didn't want to move, but she made a promise. Aimes returned the fish bowl to the diorama and strung up the banner over the top of it. No matter how much time seemed to go by, the fabric of the banner always felt a little bit wet.


Before leaving the public pool, Aimes and Pawson stood in the entryway and looked up at the banner, shimmering in the moonlight above the ocean life diorama. On the magnificent fabric was a rather juvenile painting of a mermaid with blue hair, a messy cityscape, and some splotchy colorful words: "Atlantis!!! Yes Diving".


The three exclamation points were Aimes' idea.



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