With one last flash of royal blue, the amber eyed mermaid was gone, and, with her, all the feelings of bitterness and anxiety that had been stirring up my stomach.
It's only when a weight is taken from you that you realize how heavy it truly was. Being rid of such a burden, I felt relieved, but also worried and shocked at how much hatred that mermaid had bottled up inside; too much to be considered even remotely healthy.
What did she hate so much, I couldn't help but wonder.
"I'm sorry about that," I looked over at the red head, Cindy. She had on a sad apologetic smile and was rubbing her right arm in a gesture of discomfort. "She's not always like that..." she defended her friend, catching the blonde merman's gaze.
What are you saying? That we've only caught her on a very, very bad day? Why do I doubt that? That ever-present resentment ... it can't be just-
"So, Fern!" Cindy suddenly turned to me, startling me out of my thoughts. "Looks like you're the last one. Tell us your story!" she beamed up at me, doing her best to dissolve the awkwardness floating around us.
I almost made a face but contained myself. The sigh proved harder to restrain thought.
It was one thing to tell your story to one mermaid, but telling it to four merfolk was a test to my character. No matter how much I fought against it, my own nervousness and discomfort crept in, and, unfortunately, these feelings of mine were probably very obvious in the way I held myself, my posture and my expression. Nonetheless, I complied.
I told them my story. Using more or less the same words I used when I told it to Aya, maybe even less, and without nearly as much effort, I told them about how I was born in the sea, grew up in a pod, learned about humans and chose to spend most of my days on land with my guardian.
Like with Aya, I didn't tell them about my powers. Over the years, I figured out that telling people that you could read their thoughts and emotions, and possibly control them, was a not very good way to make friends. Aya was different in the sense that she had figured it out on her own and still chose to stay.
When it has to come out, it will, I thought.
"Your guardian sounds cool!" the brunet merman commented as soon as I finished my story, flicking his sapphire tail as he broke out into a grin. His simple but positive emotions mingled with my own, and I actually felt the corner of my lip turn up at his words.
"He was allowed to become a full human?" the blonde merman next to the brunet murmured, his moderate excitement contrasting greatly with his friend's. There was also a trace of disbelief in the ruby tailed merman's mind, but I couldn't tell at what exactly.
"Wow, Marina would love to hear that! I have to remember to tell her..."
Sitting close to me, Aya gave a very small, barely there, kind of smile as she watched the others' reactions.
"Aya..." she whipped her head up to me, surprised at hearing her name. "I do know how you feel, to some extent," she furrowed her eyebrows at this, clearly confused, but I continued before I could lose my nerve. "I've had similar experiences,"
I don't know from whom I got my powers and why... After all, I'm not exactly the most social person out there...
"Though I have to admit, I've never experienced that kind of isolation before. I thought you were brave for doing what you did, as strange as that may sound to you... You ran away from everything you know and every comfort you had, from the only life you've ever know, to look for answers."
Sometimes I wish I could do the same. But I'm chained and can't break away...
"No one here has judged you," I risked, having searched everyone's mind already. "No one thinks less of you for doing what you did, right?"
Aya swept her hesitant eyes around the group. They all smiled at her, confirming my words.
"You can-" the words suddenly died in my mouth, eyes widening.
With a gentle sweep of a tail, I turned in the direction of the shore. In front of me, silver hair swayed, weightless, in the current, catching the sun rays that passed through the water. I watched as a colorful figure emerged from between that grey mess, a Surgeonfish's blue scales grazing my cheek as it sped by.
The little creature swam between Aya and Cindy and towards the open ocean before disappearing into the dark blue.
Everyone fell silent as an eerie calm surrounded us. A tickle crept at the back of my head and a quick check was all it took to realize that everyone had also tensed up.
"Did you feel that?" Aya's whisper reached my ears.
"There's a storm coming..."
"And a big one too."