The mermaid called Cindy had left us. I looked up to see Fern looking at me with a concerned face.
"Are you alright?"
I nodded my head, pushing back the part of me that wanted to tell him. They were all going home now. Everyone had a place to stay, except for me. I'd just be a lonely soul in a huge sea.
"You don't look alright."
"I'm fine, truly," I said, finding a bit of voice to speak. I wondered how he could tell if I felt 'right' or not. I was sure my face betrayed no emotions. I made my face a mask of nothing. I stared out into the sea for good measure.
"Well, if you're sure you're right, then I have to go home. I don't want to be here when the storm hits. Do you know where you're going?"
Yes, okay! I wanted to scream at him. His concern was going to the point of infuriating, though I knew I shouldn't feel that way; all he wanted to do was make sure I was alright. Instead, I said calmly: "Yes. I should go now, actually. Thank-you for being so kind. Kindness is something I'm not used to, so forgive me if I seem non-responsive."
I swam off without even saying good-bye, which I knew I would regret. I would seem rude.
Then I found that I no longer cared if I was rude or not. Where was I going to stay? It was easy enough to lie about it, but in reality, I had no idea whatsoever. I decided that staying out at sea was my best chance, because even though I hated it, it was where I was most used to, and I would probably survive longer there.
I found a nice rock by a half-hidden cove and sat there, staring out at the gathering storm clouds. The storm would hit soon. When it did, I would stay in the cove.
My stomach rumbled. I hadn't eaten since my birthday breakfast. Used to leading a pampered life, I had no idea where to start. Perhaps I should follow the lead of that other mermaid, Owen, and catch some fish to eat. But that would literally be caniballism, since we mermaids are descendants of the first fish that ever lived.
The storm clouds started breaking apart now. The heavens were shedding their tears. Thunder rumbled and lightning flashed in the distance. I could smell the salty tang of the sea mixed in with the fresh-rain smell.
I started to make my way up to the cove, but it was flooding quite quickly. Since it was above water, to go into it would mean that I would have to change into human form, meaning that I wouldn't be able to breathe underwater.
Instead, I made a more sensible decision: to stay underwater. I swam down very deep. As deep as I could go. I touched the sand on the bottom of the sea before I stopped. I looked longingly up at the land above. The ocean was frothing and churning. Waves were going mad, making the ocean swell and move. Loose pieces of coral and small fish were being thrown around like crazy. I could feel the tug of the waves pulling at me, too, but I knew it would never get strong enough to pull me out to sea, where my parents lived.
I sighed slowly, watching the bubbles from my sigh rise up to break open on the surface. What I would give to be up there now.
Then a thought came to me: why not? It would only be dangerous for small animals and ships inhabited by land people, who knew nothing about the sea. I smiled. Perhaps my wish would come true after all.
I swam up to the top, taking a deep breath of outside air when I got there. How I loved the fresh taste of that air, unlike the saltiness of underwater air.
The waves churned and frothed, but I ignored them. I laughed, a loud, ringing laugh. How blissful it was.
Suddenly, pieces of rock came loose from my sitting rock that I was sitting on just moments before. Sharp shards of rock flew at me, making me dodge and twist and tumble. This was something that I hadn't counted on. More pieces of rock came at me. I dodged a small piece, skipped to the side of a slightly larger one, and turned forward to see a huge piece come at me.
It struck my shoulder, making a large gash in the skin. My blood leaked into the water, spreading. The salt stung it, making my eyes water slightly. I knew I had to heal myself before sharks or any other predator smelled it.
I kept my shoulder above water so that the blood wouldn't spread, then made a small ring of time around it. I manipulated the time so that it would speed up the healing process.
This was what my element allowed me to do. But it came at a price.
My vision faded just as the winds stopped whipping the waves to and fro.