My sister and I agreed that the house in the ocean, although abandoned by day, was used furtively at night. We asked Father and he said it was a place for fun magicky things. We wanted to pay a visit but he reckoned we could do so only if invited to.
We asked him if he could wangle an invitation for us but he sadly said he did not really know how one went about such matters but proposed that we whisper to the wind and hope the sea breeze carries our message to the owners of the place.
Seeing our crestfallen faces, he suggested we stake out the place for a night and see if we could find out more about it. And we jumped for joy.
Father helped us erect a little tent under the rocks by the beach. Mother filled a large picnic basket with sandwiches and cakes and ginger beer to last us all night. Caramel was tasked with standing guard over us all night, an undertaking he promptly accepted with a furious wag of his tail. My sister brought along Nutmeg, her stuffed unicorn toy, so he could keep vigil in her stead whenever she dozed off.
Father said it was quite alright if we began our stakeout after sunset; nothing really happens before then, he supposed. So we spent all day bathing in the sea and building sand-castles (with Caramel either yapping at our heels or chasing his tail or slumped in the sand, his tongue lolling out.) casting an occasional glance towards the house, which remained innocuously still.
Evening came and brought with it sunset and twilight, in what order we couldn't be precise. When night fell, Father came to tuck us into our little makeshift beds inside the tent where we lay on our stomachs, propped on our elbows, staring at the house, which now resembled a shapeless mass only slightly darker than the black waters and the inky skies that enveloped it. Stars burst into the night sky but the house remained dark and opaque.
I don't know for how long we had been asleep but we woke to the wetness of Caramel's nose and tongue urgently rubbing against our faces. Bleary-eyed we looked towards the house. It was still mostly dark but tiny points of light flew in from nowhere and came to rest on the house. We peered out of our tents and saw each time a lights in the city was turned off for the night, a small glowing sphere made its way from there to the house in the ocean, which by now had come alive, fully lit with colourful fairy lights draped all over it.
Strange creatures rose from the ocean depths to the surface (my sister said she spotted mermaids and whooped with delight, I thought I saw selkies but I may well have imagined them, there was no way to be sure as all we could see were their silhouettes) and climbed into the house, which was soon drowned in tinny laughter and merry chinks of glasses and mesmerizing music that drifted towards our tent.
Caramel was torn between keeping guard over us and tearing down the beach to join the midnight party, but he resolutely held his ground beside us.
Nutmeg stirred from the back of the tent and quietly trotted out. He neighed and grew four times his size, and with a sweeping swish of his tail he leapt over the beach and splashed into the water, and in no time disappeared into the house.
When we woke up again we were in our beds at home and the sun was high in the sky. Caramel lay flopped at my foot, Nutmeg lay at my sister's bedside table as stuffed and dry and toyish as he had been ever since Father had bought him at the store. Tied to his front paw was an invitation addressed to the four of us to attend a soirée on the waves tonight. I wonder what Father will say to that.