“Stupid chicken!” they could hear the siokoy shouting, as they settled in for a landing on the sandy sea floor. “Useless, stubborn, ugly, stupid chicken!”
“Don’t call my chicken names!” cried Menggay, jumping out of the boat and running to pick up her pet--which was looking mostly scared and lonely, but also a bit insulted as the merman continued to yell at it. There were hundreds of pearls, rice grains, and other tiny bits of things scattered messily on the sand all around the chicken.
“I’ve scattered feed in front of that animal,” said the siokoy angrily. “I’ve scattered rice and seaweed and flower petals and even pearls, but it doesn’t tell me anything! All it does is eat some chicken feed and move things around on the sand!”
“Maybe you’re just not reading the messages right,” Menggay said reasonably, trying to get a proper look at the mess on the ocean floor.
“No, it’s just stupid,” snapped the siokoy. Then his watery blue eyes lit up greedily, as he spotted the gold ring Menggay was wearing on a string around her neck. “I’ll tell you what: if you want this chicken so badly, you can have it back... if you give me that gold ring you’re wearing.”
“What?” Menggay had completely forgotten the albularya’s ring, in her excitement at finding her chicken. “But it’s a magic ring--” she started to say.
“Even better!” said the siokoy, rudely snatching the ring right off Menggay’s neck, breaking the string that held it. “There, now it’s mine.” He was so busy staring at the golden ring that he no longer bothered to look at Menggay, her chicken, or the fisherman. “Go on, take your stupid chicken and go away.”
“Now, wait a minute,” said the fisherman, still in his boat. “You can’t just--”
“You mustn’t put it on!” cried Menggay, as the siokoy slid the ring onto his blue finger, already turning his hand this way and that to admire it.
As soon as the ring was firmly in place, there was a great whooshing and gurgling sound, as the siokoy began to lose his solid human shape, and to quickly turn into the water that he was really made of.
“What’s happening to me!?” the siokoy tried to say; but as his toes, knees, shoulders, and finally his head melted away into salt water, what he really ended up saying was, “What’s happening to mumble bubble burble.” And just like that, what was left of the greedy, selfish merman spilled down onto the sand like rain, and was quickly swallowed up by the spinning waters that once protected his home.
“What a foolish creature that siokoy was,” said the fisherman, climbing out of his boat, and nudging Menggay to help him collect the pearls that lay scattered on the ocean floor. “All this time that your chicken was becoming famous for its magic, we townsfolk knew that you were the only one who could read its messages. You were the only one who would have known to use carabao milk to find a safe path to the ocean floor. You were the only one who would not have been tempted to try on the magical ring. I don’t think it’s really the chicken that has magic, Menggay; I think it’s you.”
At first, Menggay was too amazed at this idea--and also too busy hugging her pet chicken--to know how to answer the fisherman. But before she had started using magic and long before she went off on an adventure, she had been brought up to be a very polite young girl; so she simply said, “Thank you.”
Then she and the fisherman finished picking up the pearls, and went home to share them with all the townspeople; and everyone was happy except for the greedy, selfish siokoy, who really didn’t deserve to be.
Check out the rest of the posse!
Andre Mischa Cleofe
Cathy delos Santos