Swimming Away

Skylar Hollingberry

‘You can’t leave the castle, you have responsibilities.’
‘You can’t, you are going to be queen someday. You have responsibilities, young lady.’
Responsibilities, responsibilities, responsibilities…
Really, if one more person told me I have ‘responsibilities’, I would have sent my pet shark at them. You’d think being a mermaid princess was fun. Well, wrong. Imagine having to spent your entire childhood locked up inside an underwater castle with only fish and sea mammals as your friends: that’s what being a mermaid princess means. What being the heir to the throne means anyway. I have five sisters and three brothers, who can come and go as they please. You want to go the shore and meet people without a fishtail? Sure honey, have fun! You want to swim to the other side of the world? Why not! Really, it was ridiculous. They are younger than me and far more irresponsible, yet they trust them more than they trust me. The king and queen of the Pacific Ocean only care about their kingdom, which means keeping the heir safe. I told them countless of times that I didn’t even want to be queen. I have eight siblings, for Poseidon’s sake. Surely one of them wants to rule our kingdom and is actually capable of it? But no, it has to be me.

When they told me the day after my eighteenth birthday that they were going to find me a husband however… That was the last straw. I was ready to run - well, swim, but you know what I mean - away, when I noticed how picky my parents were. ‘Too tall’ or ‘Too short’, ‘I don’t like the colour of his tail’ and ‘They say that merman with orange eyes can’t be trusted’. I would’ve rolled my eyes at these comments if it hadn’t meant that I wouldn’t be wed anytime soon.

After a search that took over a year they finally found me a man though. He’s ‘perfect’ according to my mother. ‘If I was younger and not married to your father…!’  She even giggled. My mother never giggles. So, that’s my life so far. Engaged to a merman I’ve never met and who my mother seems to have a crush on. Great.

And hell no that I’m going to accept that. I’m nineteen years old and I haven’t even left the Pacific Ocean, when my little brother who is seven has visited three out of five oceans and has been on the shore twice. Talk about unfair. I want to go see the world, so that’s what I’ll do. If they expect me to go along with all this octopus crap, than too bad. They should know how the brain of their own daughter works by now, even if they hardly ever spent any time with her and they have eight other kids. So, unlike last year, I really swam away this time. I just prayed to Poseidon that they wouldn’t notice until I was long gone from this place.

When I stepped out of the ocean I had hardly any time to admire my surroundings before my face met the sand. Nineteen years and I had never walked on human legs before. This would be fun.

‘’You alright, miss?’’ someone asked me. I looked up and spit some sand out before I met the person’s eyes. Or you know, eye.

I quickly got up and made sure that I was close to sea so I could swim away- since running wasn’t really an option when you can’t even stand on your feet.

‘’What are you?’’ I asked horrified.

The man with one eye looked hurt, but also a bit confused. When I noticed how big the guy was I immediately regretted how rude I had been.

‘’Never seen a cyclops before, little mermaid?’’

‘’Cyclops?’’ I guessed that was what the man was, but I had no idea what that even meant. Wait a minute… ‘’And how do you know that I’m a mermaid?’’

I looked down to make sure my tail hadn’t returned and sure enough, I was looking at a brand new pair of legs. No wait, brand new sounds really creepy. Like I just bought them or something. I looked at the strange clothes that I was wearing. Mermaids didn’t wear clothes. We had our scales to cover ourselves up, so we didn’t really need clothes. I had no idea what to call what I was wearing, but when I looked around I noticed that all the women on the beach were wearing it.

The cyclops shrugged.

‘’You walked out of the ocean, yet you’re completely dry.’’

Oh yes, I guess I didn’t notice that.

‘’Are you going to apologize or what, fish girl?’’

‘’Fish girl? Excuse me?’’ If I had been able to get up, I would’ve. I didn’t like the fact that he was literally looking down on me. ‘’I’m sorry that I hurt your feelings. I’m sorry that I’ve never left the Pacific Ocean and have never in my life seen someone with one frickin’ eye. I’m sorry that that bit scared me a bit!’’

I glared at the cyclops with all my might, though I doubted that I looked at least a bit intimidating to the guy. I mean, he was huge.

The cyclops just glared back and turned away.

‘’That’s right! Just walk away, you coward!’’ What are you doing? Shut up! Shut up, shut up, shut up!
‘’Can’t take on a little mermaid, can you?’’

I noticed how the one eyed man tensed, but he ignored me. Thank Poseidon. Me and my stupid big mouth.

I desperately tried to get up and just get away since everyone was staring at me, but the fact that I had trouble getting up wasn’t really diverting their attention away from me. Finally, I decided to crawl towards a palm tree and pull myself up. After a while I  got used to standing and gave walking a try. In the end I managed to actually walk like a regular human being. No one had to know I was a mermaid, let alone the heir to the throne of the Pacific Ocean. If the wrong people found out and reported me to my parents. Like hell I’m going back there. Not yet. I wasn’t even sure if I was ever going back. What was there to go back to? Parents who hardly cared about me as long as I behaved and didn’t put myself in danger? Siblings that I hardly see anyway because they’re busy doing whatever they want? No, I was never going back.

Some people on the beach were still staring at me, so I decided to walk into town. As I made my way towards an ice cream parlour - my sister Ellis, who was only two years younger than me, had told me all about ice cream and I was desperate to try it for myself - when I noticed a flyer on the ground. I picked it up and looked it over. ‘Adventure Club’ it said. It basically meant fighting and protecting people. I wasn’t sure if I could do any of that, but if it meant I would be able to see the world, I was definitely up for it. I quickly made my way down the address for the interviews - with some help, obviously - hoping I wasn’t too late. When I arrived, I noticed a dejected kid leaving the building.
My gut told me that he was the one I was looking for and since my gut is almost always right (that might be a slight exaggeration) I made my way towards him.

I hold up the flyer and waved it in his face.

‘’I’m here for the Adventure Club?’’ 

The End

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