I open my eyes, and immediately a wave of salty water washes over it. I scrunch them closed again, then blink rapidly, trying to get the salt out of my eyes.
Finally, when I feel the salt rejoin the water, I sit up and gaze around at my surroundings. Sand, a lot of it. Hard shells digging into me. Where was I? Why was I wet? I could feel that I was wet, that's not right! Usually my mermaid skin would protect me from feeling that.
I look down at my tail. Or what I thought was my tail. There were two, long, slender legs in place of my tail, and instead of scales, there was skin, like the upper part of my body.
Then I remember the storm. I remember the thrashing of the waves, and the stone that dislodged from its mother stone. I remember it all, now. I can see that I'm on a beach, but further up than where I fainted.
I can almost see what had happened now. I must've fainted because I had to use my powers to heal myself, then gotten washed further upshore. Maybe I turned into a human because half of me was touching the sandy part of the beach.
I get up, feeling that strange heavy feel when one wakes up after having a too-long nap. I stagger up to the dry part of the sand using my human legs. The sand hurt, unlike the gentle caressing of the water.
The day had turned dark now, turning into night. The stars shone brightly, twinkling jeeringly at me, at the failed mermaid who had to resort to land. No mermaid should have to do this. Their home belonged in the sea.
I tried to remember something, anything, that the other mermaids had said. Maybe if I remembered where their house was, I could go there and maybe stay for a while. Apart from that, I could think of no other option.
I sift through the memories of me sitting in the circle of mermaids. What were we saying? Blah, blah blah, Cindy's born in a bath-tub.... Going to school, yes, yes, no from me ... wait a minute. If I'm the only one who said no, that means if I go there, I'll get to meet everyone else again, and devise a plan from there!
What was the name of the school? I concentrated as hard as I could, thinking. Seahorse High? Seahouse high? Lighthouse High? That's it, Lighthouse High. Now, where is it?
I stumble along the beach, reaching the path. I go along that, looking at all the funny little things with a slanted top on them. In some of them, bright lights are shining through these odd little holes in the wall. The odd thing about the holes, though, is that they are kind of ... dirty. Like it has a mirror of water over it that stops all the dirt from getting into the interior of that hut-thing.
The further in I walk, the more holes in the wall the hut-things have, and the larger they get, until I can no longer call them huts. Some of them tower over me like some colossal giant. If only I was underwater, then no heights could stop me then. I'd just swim up there.
Lighthouse High. I liked the name. I was unfamiliar with schools, because my parents had always kept me at home, but I knew they taught people stuff, so I peeled my eyes for any place that looked like somewhere where people taught stuff.
There it is: Lighthouse High, a tall, brick building with a sign proudly declaring its name. I enter it, and, finding some cold metal things barring my way, climb over them. Surely those things were put there by accident? I mean, why would a school stop people from going into it?
I find that weird water-sheet thing over a larger expanse of place, not just a small hole, but this time a bigger hole, one that I could fit through. I go around the school, finding those smaller holes again. I experimentally push one, and it falls open to my touch.
I climb in through there, thinking they should make the doors bigger. Inside, there is a bench-top, made with what looks like marble but doesn't feel like it. I read the sign outside the door, even if it's backwards.
I'm a good backwards reader, even though my parents kept me away from school. I find the floor a little bit hard, but, exhausted, I go to sleep, waiting for everyone else to arrive at this 'school'.