The water was warm that morning, and clear. Clearer than it had been for several weeks at least. Summer was finally here.
“Faith!” shouted Mum.
“What?” I shouted back.
“Don’t go too far. We have guests round soon, remember?”
I ignored her and swam higher, into the warmer waters. A Great White swam into view. It scuttled closer with a few sweeps of its massive tail fin. It contemplated the look of me for a while before coming closer.
I reached out to her and gently patted her nose. She nudged my side as she pushed past. The wake threw me several metres.
“Faith, hi!” exclaimed Celeste. I turned with a flick of my tail. Emma was with her. I gritted my teeth and force a smile.
“Hi,” I said with faked cheerfulness.
“How are you?” asked Celeste.
“Oh, I’m alright. What about you?” I said.
“We’re okay, thanks for asking. So, I heard Eric proposed.”
“Is that what you’re here about?”
Celeste paused. “Maybe.”
I sighed before replying. “If you must know, he did.”
“What did you say?” asked Emma.
“You’ll find out soon enough.”
And I shot off. I tried to hide the bracelet on my wrist. Eric and I were engaged, as of yesterday. The hydrothermal vents appeared so I stopped. I’d gone way too far. I turned around and swam back the way I’d came.
I was caught by a current I must have somehow missed the first time. It carried me along in a ride of pure terror. I was jerked and pulled around all over the place. My head hit something hard and sharp.
I slammed into something I was all too familiar with... A net. My arm got stuck in the hole. I rolled around, still trapped in the current, trying to get free while fighting the fast water.
The net started to be pulled up and I fought harder against the mesh and the water current. I just became more and more tangled in the web, which made me fight harder. There was an entire shoal of tuna in the net with me. There was an octopus swimming frantically between all the tuna.
I looked up. The water was becoming brighter as I was pulled towards the surface. I squeezed my eyes shut and prepared to meet the air.
I felt the water level drop as I was lifted up. I heard shouting on the boat. The net hit the deck and suddenly I was pressed between wood and a load of fish. I felt something wrap around my arm. I opened my eyes to see the octopus. Its eyes were full of fear, almost as much as I was feeling.
I couldn’t breathe but I tried uselessly and ended up coughing. The shouting stopped. The only sounds were fish tails slapping against each other and my coughing. I strained to stop but couldn’t. I heard slow, wary plods coming towards me.
“Is that you coughing, Bob?” shouted a man.
“Not me either.”
The footsteps carried on. They were coming closer. My heart was pounding against my ribs. I closed my eyes again, not wanting to see a human looming over me.
“Bob, pass me that knife.”
Knife? My heart beat faster and faster until the sound filled my ears.
“There’s a weird coloured fish in there. It’s blue, and pink, and purple, and red.”
“Ever seen it before?”
The footsteps stopped. They seemed right behind me.
“What the hell...?”
I couldn’t hold back the cough. It burst out and my chest heaved.
“Bloody hell! It’s a bloody mermaid!”