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Meli ran
Jun 23, 2022
In Short Stories
It always felt strange to walk around town in the middle of the night. For years, I had my mother on my back yelling at me whenever I came home late, giving me something like “Reagan, do you know how dangerous it is for a pretty blonde girl like you to be out this hour?!” She drilled it into my head that the world turned into a version of hell after ten at night, and the only way for me to be safe was to hole up in my house until the sun was up again. She’d force me to read stories about girls who had been mugged, murdered, or raped in the middle of the night when nobody was watching; and then she’d spend a long time explaining why I’d be the next one. According to her, just because my bra size was above a C-cup, men wouldn’t be able to resist my charm. That was when I was in high school, of course. It continued a bit into college when I’d party with my friends during breaks, but once I had my own job my life was my own to live. So here I was, at two in the morning, strolling the streets and enjoying the crisp but still warm air of a mid-July night. “Where was I going again?” I had made up some excuse to get out of the house – still my mother’s house while I saved up money for my own – just to take a walk with nothing but the wind and the stars as my companions. Oh, right, we were down to our last gallon of milk. There was a convenience store nearby which was open this late at night, so I turned the corner to head towards there. The neon lights were green and red, inviting anyone in at all hours. Ding dong The familiar chime greeted me as the sliding doors moved on their own. The place was pretty much empty save for a sleepy clerk and some guy who was examining a stack of bagels. “Milk, milk,” I repeated to myself, moving to the back of the store. Anyone who had shopped at this convenience store for milk knew not to take the one up front. The refrigeration in the glass case had not worked in years, meaning any cool air the milk got came from the refrigerated room behind where they would refill the empty shelves. So I reached back as far as I could until I found one which felt cold enough to handle and— Another hand touched mine. I looked over. There was that guy who was looking at bagels before. At a first glance, he was quite handsome with his whisked back black hair, beady blue eyes, and muscular build. His skin was a darker complexion than mine, probably Italian instead of my pale German flesh, and the hair on his arms mostly blended in with the skin. This was the kind of guy my mother used to warn me about. “They’ll look all pretty, and as soon as they get all alone with you, you’ll find their hands up your skirt.” Sorry mom, but I was wearing a pair of pink knit shorts tonight. “Sorry,” I said. “I didn’t see you there.” “Oh, no, it was all my fault.” Seeing how he was reaching back, I knew where to take the conversation. “Shop here a lot then?” “Here and there when we run out of supplies. We’re usually well stocked, but when I have a craving for some milk and a bagel at night we always seem to run short.” “You’re telling me.” I grabbed my milk and pulled it out. “Well then, it’s all yours.” Instead of reaching for his milk, he reached inside of his wallet and pulled out four bills. “Your milk’s on me.” “Oh, really, you don’t need to—” “I insist.” His smile was to die for. I could feel my heart racing, and my breath getting deeper. Would I really mind it if this guy tried to take things a step further with me? Yes. Yes I would. I was a woman, and in control of my own body. Nobody got to take it without my permission. “Well then, I’ll see you around. Thanks for the milk.” I gave him a smile of my own: likely crooked and yellowed from the few years I had been hooked on tobacco. Thank God I gave up that habit only a few years after I started. As I turned to the cashier he said, “would you like to talk for a bit?” There were the dreaded words. This man was trouble. Just like mom said, he was only thinking below the belt. Yet, somehow, it didn’t feel that way. “There’s a bench outside the store,” I said. “Plenty of lighting and security cameras around. If you’re fine talking with me there, I’m game.” He cocked his head. “Sure?” Maybe he did just want to talk. Five minutes and a couple of dings of the cash register later, we were outside on the bench close enough for me to feel a bit of his body heat. He was really tall, now that I was close enough to notice. Sure, I was tall for a woman at 5’10, but he was still at least half a foot taller than me. “Ah, you can’t beat this weather,” he said. “Sure you can. It could be sunny and 85 with me lying out on the beach working on a tan.” “You? A tan? With that skin?” I looked aside. “Fine. Working on becoming a lobster.” He snickered. “Yeah, of course. I could see you just crawling around on that sand snapping your hands like claws. Snap snap~ Snap snap~” He made motions with his hands to mock me. “Oh, shut up. Fine, you win. I spend most of my time hiding under an umbrella reading a book. But the air always feels great there.” “Oh, so you’re more of a hermit crab than a lobster.” My eyes narrowed. “Are you done with the sea references?” “Yeah, yeah. Sorry.” I held my bag with the milk between my legs, feeling its cold outer shell pressing against my skin. “Still, I sometimes have to wonder what it’d be like to be a hermit crab.” “Oh?” “I still live with my mother. I’m 26 already! It should be time for me to move from apartment to apartment, or maybe settle down into a forever house. Right now I’m just a bird trapped in a cage.” “You’re not alone there.” He followed my lead and turned his head up to the glittering stars above – at least the ones not destroyed by light pollution. “I’m 28, and I don’t think I’ll ever move away from mine.” “What a life we millennials live, stuck inside forever straddled with debt.” “Well, hate to admit it but I don’t have any.” So he was a braggart without student loans. “I see. Well, I’m going home. See ya sometime.” “Wait!” He moved quickly as I got up. Here we go, the forceful grab, pushing me down, and my mother’s prophecies coming true. I turned ready to defend myself, but he wasn’t reaching for me. He had instead reached for his phone. “Share numbers, Princess?” he asked. The better part of me said I shouldn’t. Who gave somebody a pet name this quickly? Then again, I didn’t mind it. When we were in middle school and people wore shirts saying “Angel” “Princess” or “Bitch” I was always the princess. But I wouldn’t want him calling me that alone. “The name’s Reagan. But if you prefer, you can call me Princess Reagan. Never just Princess.” Sure, put me on a pedestal. I’ve never been on one before. “What’s your name?” Sticking his tongue out, he said, “Prince Liam.” As if I were going to call him that. We swapped numbers and called it a night. I put the milk in the refrigerator and went back to the same room I’d had for years now. I expected that’d have been the end of it, and I’d never meet this Liam person again. My hopes ended with my phone ringing the next morning, stirring me from my slumber. “Prince Liam” said the caller ID. Give me a break, he actually called himself that on his phone? I let out a yawn and turned around, trying to catch a few more hours of sleep. An hour later, it rung again. “Give me a break already!” I groaned and put my phone to vibrate. This was my time to sleep, not my time to answer calls from a guy I’d just met the night before. Bzzt, bzzt. Sometimes phones vibrated louder than they rang. “What?!” I finally demanded. “Don’t you know what time it is?” “Eleven in the morning, Princess Regan. I thought you’d be up by now.” “When I was with you at two in the morning? Come on now!” “And you returned home and went to sleep, right? It was pretty late, so I figured a good princess like you.” “Gah, stop calling me that! No, I went home and played on my phone until the sun rose. Call me tonight if you really care.” I slammed on the end call button and turned around. That idiot… Like clockwork, he called again, this time at three. Great, I had earned myself a stalker. Mom was right, don’t walk around at night or the wolves would come back to bite you. I’d have to block him, but for now I was just too lazy. I finally got out of bet at five in the afternoon and went downstairs to my mother who was busy with dinner. “Ah, good morning,” she said out of habit despite the time of day. “Enjoying your summer break I see.” “Yeah, yeah.” My phone buzzed again. Damn it. “Aren’t you going to answer that?” she asked. I pressed it to mute. “No. Just some guy I met last night who won’t stop calling me.” My mom frowned. “If you do that, he’s just going to call back. You can’t ignore his calls forever. You need to talk to him.” “And tell him what, that I don’t want him to call me?” “Exactly. Go for it.” The phone rung again. I tore it out of my pocket and pressed the speaker button in a whirl. “What is it, damn it?!” “Is this Princess Reagan?” The voice on the other line didn’t belong to him. My heart beat fast. “Um… who is this?” “Ah, my apologies, my name is Javier. I was told I could reach Princess Reagan through this line.” My jaw dropped. “I… Mr. Javier, I think you’ve made a huge mistake here.” “You met Prince Liam last night, did you not?” “Well, I did meet a Liam, yes, but…” “Oh, you’re on first name basis already? That makes this so much easier. You see, Princess Reagan, Prince Liam was curious if you’d like to go out on a date with him. The royal gardens are absolutely splendid this time of year if you’d like to take a stroll there.” Royal gardens… prince… some Javier who sounds like a butler… don’t tell me… “Um, Javier, I’m sorry to burst your bubble, but I’m not a real princess. I’m just a—” “You do know that lying about royal status is a crime punishable by death, do you not?” That wasn’t a real statement! No court ever maintained that law or there wouldn’t be girls with princess shirts in the first place! But, with my chest tight, I realized that this butler intended to use it on me if I didn’t make Prince Liam’s wishes come true. I was trapped. “I’m free tomorrow…” I whispered. “Good. I will pick you up at nine in the morning. Make sure to get a good night’s sleep and dress properly for your date, Princess Regan.” Mom was right. Never trust any man after ten.
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Meli ran
Jun 22, 2022
In Short Stories
Walking Ahead My name, Ayumi, is written with the single kanji of 歩. My mom admitted to me when I was old enough to understand that she chose to write my name like that because it meant “to walk.” She believed one day, I would be walking out of high school with a diploma in my hand – the diploma she could never get after getting pregnant with me. Life has a certain irony to it. I rolled my wheelchair through the hallways of the school, a belt across my lap to keep me from falling out of it. “Early as always,” I said to the emptiness. I had to arrive early to get to my locker without having to deal with the swarms of people rushing for their books. The halls were littered with paintings of our mascot – the Northern California Wildcat. There were so many articles of our basketball team winning the state championship against Los Angeles’s School 24 seven years ago plastered in the trophy cases, as if to remind us of how horrible we had been since then. All we had now were a bunch of shiny floors and losers on the court. I rolled over to my locker. Today was an A-day, which meant I’d need my books for math, English, and Japanese in the afternoon. My last period nominally was meant for gym, but having only one leg pretty much excused me from that for life. “Easy afternoon,” I said when I put my Japanese book in my bag, which would be slung across my chair’s handles all day. While I had only live in Japan for the first two years of my life, my parents refused to speak anything but Japanese to me at home. That led to a quick acquisition of biliteracy and a guaranteed A in school. I closed my locker. That was when I noticed a sticky note placed on it, and place a mere three feet off the ground: my eye level. “If you have a wish you want granted, come to room 204 after school. Magic exists.” I held it in my hands. Was this some kind of a prank? Somebody wanted to make fun of me for being the poor girl in the wheelchair, willing to believe in magic for any hope of getting out of my chair. I crumbled up the paper and was about to toss it into the bin when I thought better of it. If somebody wanted to play a prank on me, then I would prank them back. I simply needed to get all my eggs in a basket. By the time I got out to the commons area, there were students filtering in and choosing their favorite couches and tables. I rolled myself over to the one closest to the math wing. There was nobody near it currently, but that was quick to change. “Oh, hey Ayumi,” said Naomi, a girl of Indian origin. “How was the math homework last night?” “You mean you didn’t do it?” “Do I ever?” She stuck her tongue out at me. “Say, if you let me copy your work I’ll let you copy my Japanese homework.” I gave her a look. “Kidding, kidding! But you do remember the time I wrote that paper on handball for you, right?” I could have fallen out of my chair if I didn’t have a belt restraining me. “You wrote that after I wrote it myself!” “Oh. Right.” Either way, I was happy to let her copy. She was my friend, and not just a mooch. “Say,” I passed her the sticky note. “Do you know who may have written this?” She studied the note with a certain intensity. “I can’t say for sure.” She pulled it closer to her eyes. “If you have a wish you want granted, come to room 204 after school. The most I can say is that it’s a girl who wrote this.” “How come?” “Over the word wish, the author dotted the i with a heart. I don’t know about you, but I’ve never heard of a guy who’d do that.” True enough. “Thanks. That narrows the student population down by half.” “Yeah, yeah, I know it’s not much. That’s the definitive answer I have. The second part is a guess, but I’m thinking the culprit is an honors student.” “What makes you think that?” “All the words are spelled out. Only honors students put in enough effort with these kinds of notes.” It wasn’t enough for a conclusive decision, but it did narrow down the possibilities significantly. Whoever was responsible would have been in one of my classes then, and a girl, leaving about 10 possible results who— “Hey, hey, what’s that?” asked a cheery high voice. We turned to see Lauren, the captain of the cheer squad, and another one of our friends. Unlike Naomi and me, she was Caucasian, and a stereotypical blue eyed blonde. “A note.” I passed it over to her. “Do you have any idea who might have written it.” “Hm…” she examined it, turning her head. “Nope! But if you find out, let me know, all right?” She wouldn’t know anything. She wasn’t bright. In fact, I had seen her in one of my IEP meetings when they were discussing hidden extra supports she would be receiving in class like calculator usage and prewritten study notes. Her IEP of course had everything to do with her lack of knowledge in math. Mine was physical, giving me three accommodations: no gym, all classes on the first floor, and extra travel time between classes. It was the same as I had since I entered kindergarten, and it’d remain the same until the day I graduated. More and more of our friends filtered in as the morning went on. And, as was an unfortunate fact in schools, we were all minorities in some way. A Filipino, a Jewish girl, and another of Indian heritage joined in with us. So why was Lauren, the Caucasian cheer captain with us? Because last year she had come out as lesbian, and we were the only people willing to accept her for who she was. Kids could be so cruel. The morning bell rung. “Well,” said Naomi. “If you figure out who it is, let me know. I’m curious now!” “Yeah,” Lauren responded. “And if the whole wish thing is true.” I gave them a salute and rolled myself over to the next class. None of my friends offered to push my chair, which was how I knew they were truly my friends. They knew if I needed help I would ask for it. I’ve been in this chair for 17 years, after all. Heck, it was the entire reason why I was in America instead of Japan today. The first class of the day was math, Calculus to be specific. There were four girls in that class. Naomi was one of them, and I was the second. That left only two options if the culprit planning to taunt me was in this class. One of them was a short girl named Samantha who hid in the corner studying the curriculum on her own. The second was a redhead, Jill, who spent her entire class period sleeping every day. Samantha was quiet, and the quiet ones were always the most suspicious. Jill on the other hand wouldn’t have taken the effort. One who didn’t take effort in classes didn’t take effort in anything in life. English was more populated. The four of us were still in there (with Jill still asleep), but there was also Liz and Yvonne. Liz wouldn’t do such a thing, as she had to spend close to a year on crutches after tearing her ACL and then having an infection after the surgery. She knew not to make fun of a disability. Yvonne was a possibility. Considering how today she always made a point to kick the wheel of my chair when she walked past, she seemed all too likely to want to bully me further. I gave her a glance, and she glared at me. She knew. She had to be the one. When lunch came, we gathered around the table. “It’s Yvonne,” I declared conclusively to them. “Oh?” asked Lauren. “How do you know?” “Process of elimination. It was between her and Samantha, but I had nothing to implicate Samantha. Yvonne was glaring at me and all.” Naomi folded her arms. “Why was she glaring at you?” “Why else? I just gave her a glance, and that was good enough to say that she was caught red handed.” To that, Lauren sighed. “Ayumi, if you glanced over at me for too long, I would have glared at you too. People don’t like it when others stare at them.” Oh, right. “Still!” I continued, “she’s always kicking at my wheelchair and talking about me behind my back. You saw her in cheerleader practice, right?” Lauren against sighed. “She’s like that to everyone. You can’t make generalizations about people, Ayumi. You know that.” Of course I did. If I were to stereotype people, even based off of their own behavior, I wouldn’t have a single friend. I accepted people despite their differences. “Sorry.” The rest of the lunch period was spent in deep discussion about the newest episode of Girl’s Paradise on TV. We were, after all, high school girls and into that stuff even if we were mostly honors students. The afternoon ticked away with an easy lesson in Japanese, and a free study period where I could finish all my homework instead of attending gym. Then, the final bell rang. My mom typically came to pick me up at the end of the school day while my dad was busy in his job at a bank. He makes the money, I make Ayumi a woman, was what she liked to say. Unfortunately, without a high school degree she didn’t have much chance to do so. Either way, I had texted her to come later. I rolled my chair past the exit, and went to the elevator. I was given first floor classes because of my wheelchair, but I also had a key to use it just in case. I put the key in, turned it, and then I was lifting up in the slowest elevator in the world. Room 204. I had to see who would be waiting for me. I had responses ready for Yvonne, who I still suspected, and Samantha. They wouldn’t get a laugh out of me. Yeah, they forced me to go upstairs, but I chose that – not them. “So,” I asked, pushing the door open. “Who is—” It was neither of them. It was Jill, the redhead who was asleep all class. “What are you doing here?” I asked her. She was wearing a hood which shaded her eyes draping down as a long cloak to about her waist. “I told you,” she said, “I have a wish to grant. Magic exists.” Jill had always been a bit of a loner. Seeing her like this sent needles up my back, since the odds of her lying was infinitely smaller. “Why are you…” She pointed a finger out at me, bony and thin. “But, before I grant you your wish, I must ask you: Why are you in a wheelchair?” It wasn’t exactly something I talked about a lot. It wasn’t something I’d reveal to her either. But seeing her here, and her attitude, I felt like she might be telling me the truth. And there was a wish granted. A wish I’d wanted granted ever since I was a little girl. I pressed my hand to my chest. “I was barely 1,” I said. “My dad was affixing a mobile over my crib, and without his knowledge a screwdriver fell off his utility belt and into my bedding. Needless to say, that screwdriver found its way into my thigh, eventually causing an infection requiring amputation.” The girl showed no emotions. “This occurred in Japan?” “Yes.” I tried to recall what my mom told me. “We moved here soon after, as I was going to need accommodations in school. Japanese schools never have been too accommodating, so it was for my best interest.” Jill pulled down her hood, revealing her red hair. “You speak no lies.” “You needed to know this?” She gave a small smile to me across her pale face. “I was simply curious. It was a mystery I never knew about.” She reached down into her pocket and pulled out a sphere which seemed to glow of its own light. “Now, as I promised, this is a crystalized wish. It is truly a rare thing which you will never find again in this world. Name your wish and it will be granted, no matter how impossible it may be.” That thing was real? It sure seemed it. There was no battery, no cord, nor anything to make it glow like that. Its sphere shape was common in nature, and hard to make by human hands. If this was a prank, it’d be quite the elaborate one. I closed my eyes. There could only be one thing I would wish for. One thing I’d desired for so long. “I wish people in this town would accept each other, no matter what their race, gender, religion, or love.” The sphere glowed, and then in a poof, it disappeared, leaving an astonished Jill behind it. “What?” I asked. “You didn’t ask for healing of your leg?” “Oh, this?” I put my hand on the stump. “Nah. Why would I ask for that? Just because I have an injury doesn’t mean it rules my life.” Jill put her hood back on. “Then you’re a stronger girl than I imagined. I will see you in your new world tomorrow.” Of course I was strong. Why else would my mother name me Ayumi? For even if I cannot walk, that doesn’t mean I cannot move forward.
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Meli ran
Jun 21, 2022
In Short Stories
Under the Sea Ow, ow, ow. My tail was crying out in pain after that freaking shark thought I was just any other fish. Did he not see that I had a human torso? I laid out on a rock, my light blue tail wrapped around my front, and my hands bathed in light as I cast a healing spell on it. I was rather low on my magic reserves after having to fight off that shark, but healing magic thankfully didn’t take much out of me. My hands passed over each broken scale, resting but a moment as they cracks undid themselves, and the shattered pieces forged back together. The bloody underflesh was the worst, having to recreate muscle and sinew. “Sheesh…” I let out a groan, leaning my head back so my tail-length blond hair, wet as always, barely touched the water behind the rock. This was going to take a long time. At least I was old enough for my father to not yell at me when I was gone for too long. I returned to healing my tail, my body drenched in sweat from the high afternoon sun. “Need some help?” I almost fell off a rock as another mermaid with pink hair popped out of the water. “D-Don’t do that, Felicity!” I gasped, trying to catch my breath. “I thought you were a shark!” “Of course I’ll do that. Otherwise, how could I see my cute Marissa in a panic?” A snicker spread across her face. “Here, take your hand off the wound, I’ll take care of it.” What other choice did I have? I let her get to work. Any mermaid knew others healed you better than you could heal yourself. For the first time since coming up here, I could see over to the piers. They were usually empty, but today there was a guy seated at the edge with a fishing pole cast out. God, if he were a merman he’d be damn hot. Those muscle-bound abs, that square chin with a slight stubble, and his piercing sharp eyes were enough to send any mermaid’s heart aflutter. “How’s your skin?” asked Felicity. “I’ve got enough mucus for another hour out here.” I stretched my arms up and let out a yawn. “Good. I’m almost done anyways.” She passed her hand over another broken scale. “Say, why were you this far from the kingdom anyways? If I hadn’t seen you leave you might’ve been sunk.” “I just wanted to watch the humans a bit.” As a mermaid’s eyesight was a dozen times as strong as a human’s, I could see them doing their everyday activities without them noticing me. “I do it every so often.” “Oh?” She put on the finishing touches. “Well, no doing that again for a few days. I’ve healed the wounds but if you put too much strain on your tail the new flew will just rip right back open.” “Yes, mom~” I teased. Felicity put her hands on her tail-hips. “What kind of a thank you is that?” “Sorry, sorry.” I dove back into the waters with Felicity and swam down at a relaxed pace until we came back to the kingdom. --- Humans were always interesting to me. They would waste hours upon hours of their lives fishing, basking in the sun, or running around. How did they balance themselves without water to prop themselves up? It’d always been a curiosity to me, but one I’d never want to find out. All mermaids knew the price of gaining legs: find true love or turn into sea foam the first day after he married someone else. Still, ew. Loving a human? Who would ever want to do that? That would be like… loving a fish or something. Mermaids were to love Mermen… or other Mermaids if they were into that. Other special were just bestial. I floated around in my room, resting wherever the waters would take me. “What to do today…” I asked. The merman doctor took a better look at my tail and gave me my prognosis: Four days of bedrest and I’d be as good as new. While it was easier than tending to the corals and gathering seaweed for dinner, that didn’t make it fun. In fact… “Damn it, this is so boring!” I groaned. What was a mermaid to do alone in her room? We weren’t supposed to be bound to one place. We were supposed to go around exploring the depths! And I wasn’t going to stay here. I just needed to take it easy. Maybe I could play around with some of the guppies – the merpeople who hadn’t quite come of age. Knowing they could get rough I chose a sturdier and less fashionable bikini and headed out of my coral house to the village. The guppies were there playing reccos: a game where they could only use their hands in an attempt to get a ball into a net. I’d heard of a rumor of humans having a game like it where they could only use their feet. How would that work? All merpeople knew their tails were unfairly strong. I was just about to say something when I caught a flash of pink out of the corner of my eye. Felicity? She was heading out of the village, and not in the direction of the corals or seaweed. “Interesting…” I whispered. Pumping my fin, I turned to follow her. We were going the same direction as the day before. In fact, we were heading to the same rock? Why? She popped out of the water to lie on the rock, facing the pier again. Oh crap! I couldn’t pop out and talk to her here. I was supposed to be in my room lazing around. Still, why was she here? Some mermaids did enjoy the feeling of their skin when their mucus had mostly evaporated, but she didn’t seem like that kind of a girl. So why was she… Her eyes were transfixed on the docks. That man from yesterday was there again, his legs dangling off the edge as he fished. And her cheeks were flushed. It didn’t take a genius to put two and two together. “Is someone there?” she asked, turning her head around towards me. I dipped underwater before she could catch me. This was bad. Mermaids falling in love with humans was a hundred times worse than them falling in love with a fish! I couldn’t let her become sea foam! Dinner that night was supposed to be seaweed. Imagine my surprise when Felicity came in with a freshly sunbaked lobster. “Whoa!” My jaw dropped. “How many sand dollars did that cost?” “None. Caught it myself.” She broke the tail in two and gave me the other half. “Thought it’d be a good idea to have a treat tonight.” My heart raced. That wasn’t good. Every perverted mermaid who gave up her legs for a chance at love with a human had always had elaborate meals the night before. Was she really thinking of going ahead and doing it? She dug into the meat with a clam shell. “Say,” she said, “I have a question.” I squirmed in place. “What is it?” “Um… it’s about love.” Here it came. The big reveal. She wanted to tell me she loved that man, and I had to step in to tell her not to do something stupid. People don’t love those they just met. Sure, she may love him, but he’d never love her back, and she’d be foamed. “What do you need?” Looking aside she said, “Well… I think I might have a love which might be a little outside the mainstream. And I really want to take the next step in our relationship. It’d cost some money, of course. I’ve got plenty of sand dollars saved up, but I keep wondering, what if it doesn’t work out?” This was where I was supposed to tell her no. But in that moment, seeing her pinkened cheeks, her heaving chest, and her closed eyes with long eyelashes, my own heart twisted. Who was I to judge her life? Wasn’t it true love to risk one’s life for a slim chance of being with the one they desired? There was only one answer. “Listen, Felicity.” I clasped my hands around hers. “I will support whatever you wish to do. But please, think of the risks before you do it. Is it really worth possibly losing everything you have?” Her pink eyes seemed soft and sad as she looked into my own. “For my love, it is.” “Then you have your answer.” It hurt to say that. I was pretty much sending her to her death. What else could I say? We spent the rest of the night reminiscing on good times we had as guppies. She and I had been close for as long as I could remember. And now, I was about to lose her. My only prayer would be that she wouldn’t suffer both when her tail became legs, and when her heart broken. The following morning, I swam out of my house early. Keeping my distance, I watched as she left her own coral house and swam to the black market district of our village: the home of the great witch. Everything was happening too fast. She went into the witch’s shop, and came out five minutes later with a small bottle of a white liquid. Felicity… you were too important to me growing up. You always were the voice of reason when I wanted to do something wild. You were the one who gave up your role as the chief fish in our 5th-grade play so I didn’t have to play a barnacle. I remembered the time we explored the shipwreck hoping to find interesting human tools, and only found a couple of shiny golden-colored rocks and thousands of wet papers with words like “In God we Trust” and numbers like 100 on them. Total junk. She swam up to the rock again. The fisher was seated at the edge of the dock again, hanging his rod out. That was the guy she’d go after. If I hadn’t been bitten by that shark she’d have never seen him and— “I know you’re there, Marissa.” A shiver went up my back. “Come. There’s room enough on the rock for two mermaids.” I pulled myself out of the water and took a seat on the rock, placing my tail next to hers. There was a cool wind out here, but with how wet our hair always was it didn’t make it flutter like a human’s would. “Listen, Felicity,” I said. “I know what you said last night. But… are you sure? The odds are so low.” “Low?” She put her hand to her chest. “I think I have a really good chance. I mean, I feel like they love me back and…” I put my hands on her shoulders. “You never met them before. It won’t be as easy as you think, and you’ll turn into sea foam!” “Never met…? Sea foam…?” “Take that potion and throw it away,” I closed my eyes, letting my tears flow. “I don’t want you to become a human. I want you to stay in the sea! That man doesn’t love you!” She blinked. “Him?” She turned to the docks. “Ew! You really think I’d love a human?” What. “Felicity, what are you—” “God, Marissa, you’re so gross! How could you suggest such a thing!” “But you came up here and—” “Of course I did. I knew if I didn’t you’d be up here instead of resting, so I was keeping guard against you.” “But… that potion…” “This?” She held it up. “Yeah, it was pretty expensive. But I’ve decided. It’s all for you.” “I don’t love that man either!” She shook her head. “It’s not that kind of a potion. It’s a speedy recovery one. I don’t want you stuck in your home for weeks since you won’t stay in one place.” “Then… your love…” Her eyes sparkled as she looked at me. “Why, it’s you of course. If you’ll have me, that is.” Her face was pink again. “I know two mermaids loving each other is a little out of the mainstream, but it’s not like the old days when people frowned on it!” Oh. So that was what this was about. “Felicity,” I said. “I never loved anyone but you.” “Marissa!” She threw her arms around me, pressing her chest against mine. “Oh God, you had no idea how afraid I was you’d say no!” The man on the docks stood up and put her fishing rod away. As he did, Marissa and I shared a kiss under the hot sun before falling together in each other’s arms back into the sea.
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