Under a Sea of Mysteries // by Alyssa R (January 2019)

I breathed in the salty air as my hair whipped in the strong wind. I shivered in my hot pink bikini as I walked to the shore. I wriggled my feet in the sand taking in the scenery. The vast spread of beach and clear blue ocean seemed to stretch on forever with no one in sight. I opened my beach bag and carefully flattened a towel on the ground. I smoothed on some sun screen and basked in the sun. I decided it was one of my best ideas to come to my aunt and uncle’s house for the summer. My aunt and uncle lived on a tiny island they had purchased. They had built a big house and had at least 5 miles of land. My parents were so busy with work that they paid no attention to me, and all my friends were off on vacations so why not take advantage of this opportunity?

I lifted myself off the ground and strolled to the water after a long nap. It swirled around my feet, grasping them with cold tendrils. Enticed, I surged deeper until the water was up to my chest. I took a deep breath and plunged in, instantly cooling off. My breath knocked out of me, and I gasped for air but choked on water. Coming up for air was harder than I accounted for as the water took its cold icy claws and pulled me down. I tried to scream for help but only bubbles flew out of my mouth. My vision stung and blurred, I knew I wasn’t going to make it out of this one as I was plunged into dark, dark, water.

Heat flushed over my body, and I coughed and spluttered as air once again filled my lungs. I ached and shivered despite the warmth pressing my body. Lips touched mine soft and careful and then blew air into my lungs and strong hands pushed my chest and forced that air out. I peeled my salt crusted eyes open. Shocked, I stared into the face of a boy no older than I. He had striking cheekbones and a strong jawline with dark brown hair dripping to the right of his face. His eyes were a striking light green and his chest, arms, and abs were well muscled. He looked fit and concerned. He carefully brushed my blonde hair from my wet face, and suddenly tears of relief and fear streamed down uncontrollably. He pulled me to a sitting position and cradled me against his warm chest.

“We have to stabilize your body heat,” he explained gently.

“How did you find me? I was all alone on that beach,” I inquired. I was shocked when my voice ground and scratched. I wondered if I should even trust the stranger, but I was to tired to worry and curled up into a ball.

“Hush! You’re just lucky I got to you in time. We’re only a few minutes from your house. I’ll walk you there,” he replied. Swiftly he picked me up and carried me for what felt like an eternity in a second. I dozed against his chest finding comfort in the steady beat of his heart. I picked my head up when we stopped in cried in pain as my cheek burst in fiery pain. I reached to my cheek and pulled my hand away with hot, red, blood now decorating it. The mysterious boy set me down and attentively checked my wound. I stared at him wondering how on earth he could have caused that pain. Bewildered and wondering if I had lost my mind during today’s events, I gawked as I noticed that along his bare neck and chest were patches of smooth emerald scales glinting in the light.

“What are you?” I whispered.

“Please don’t be afraid! I only meant to help you,” he replied urgently. I studied him closer realizing that along his body were patches of scales and his swoosh of dark brown hair had remained wet despite the wind and time. All he had on was a tightly weaved pair of what looked like a loincloth made of seaweed. I backed away as fast as I could, stumbling in the sand. I was stupid to trust someone I didn’t know. He just looked at me sad and hurt.

“My name’s Fin. I didn’t mean to hurt you. In fact, I risked my life by saving you!” His bright eyes flashed with fear and compassion. My heart froze and melted at the same time. We locked gazes for what seemed like hours until he broke the connection stood and dead sprinted for the water. I leaped up and chased him. I had no idea why, but the day was weird enough anyway. For all I know, this was all a dream. This mysterious boy had me spinning, intrigued, and something I’ve never felt before. As I reached the shore, I watched as he dove into the water and I could have sworn I saw a bright green, emerald tail instead of legs. Then again it had been a long day and maybe nothing had happened at all. I just couldn’t shake the feeling that a whole new world had opened up to me though. I spotted my bag on the beach not far from shore. I slowly sulked back to it and grabbed my bag, rolled up my towel, and strolled home to get a shower. When I arrived at the door, my aunt opened it and strangled me in a hug so tight I gasped.

“Where have you been? I was worried sick!” She exclaimed in her little bird voice which fit her tiny figure and lack of height. She guided me inside and turned her dazzling blue eyes inquiringly on me. I considered telling her of my crazy day, but I would rather be in my big bedroom then an asylum.
“I fell asleep on the beach. How long have I been gone?” I asked. I really never meant to worry her. She was always so nice to me.

She ran her fingers through her chestnut hair and replied, “5 hours! I was worried you had drowned!” She gazed at me with such compassion and worry, I felt guilty.

“I am so sorry!” I apologized. “I was really excited about my own personal beach, but I should have realized that I was still very tired from the trip and time change.” Her worry seemed to melt away. She hugged me one last time.

“Dinner will be ready in 30 minutes,” she chimed sweetly. I trudged up the huge case of stairs that were right in front of the door. The house was so big that I could get lost. Aunt Wren and Uncle Robin had stumbled upon a small fortune and decided to start a business on it. Through that wealth, they built an island mansion. Don’t ask what the business is or where they got the fortune because I have no idea. All I know is that I have never met a nicer couple. I got to the second story and made my way down to the room designated as mine. I opened the door and breathed in the smell of lavender and vanilla.

The room was rectangular and had fireplace along one wall and across from it stood a plush, king sized bed with white thick covers and plush pillows. The room had an airy feel to it with the walls painted light grey. I made my way into the bathroom. There were big mirrors connecting to two sinks and lots of counter space. The room had one big window revealing the big blue sea. I made my way across the room to a huge walk-in closet. The walls were all mirrors. I had stored my clothes at the far end of the room. I grabbed my tank top and leggings.

After my warm shower, I got in my selected clothes and went to go downstairs. As I left the bathroom, I stumbled back at what I saw. Standing behind the big glass windows and French door to my balcony stood a tall, wet, and chiseled figure.

I rushed to the door and locked it. I gave my head a shake, but he still stood there with a crazed and fearful look. How he even got up to my balcony I’m not sure. He knocked franticly on the door.

“Please! I helped you now help me!” I heard his muffled beg. Fear and guilt tumbled around in stomach. Then before I knew what I was doing, I thrust open the door and pulled him inside.

“What are you doing here?! Who are you? How did you get up there?” I bombarded.

“Look, I didn’t mean for you to see me today, but I couldn’t just let an innocent human drown!” He snapped tiredly. I was taken aback by how he called me human.

“I’m sorry!” I quickly apologized not wanting to hurt him. “I just…. you kind of…. I don’t know!” Frustrated, I huffed, stomped my foot, and crossed my arms like a child.

“I’ll explain later. I just need you to help me now,” he insisted urgently. I should have known not to help a complete stranger, but I agreed and made the first step onto a trail never walked before. I couldn't wait for answers though so I sat him in a fluffy gray fabric chair in the corner near the fireplace where the warm fire crackled. He gave me an apologetic smile.

“Spill!” I demanded. No more trusting a non-human seeming stranger who acted like at any minute the world was to end.

“Well… It’s kind of illegal for me to tell you anything, but I kind of crossed that line by letting you know I exist. What do you want to know? By the way, I could get executed or exiled for this,” He put in stonily. I shivered, but he can’t just barge in and expect me to play along with no explanation.

“What are you? Where are you from? Why did you save me? What are you scared of? Who are you? Why me?” I blurted.

“Woah!! One question at a time,” he sputtered. “My name is Fin, Prince of Atlantis.”

“Prince of Atlantis? Do you think I’m an idiot?” I accused.

“Look… a Brylee? That’s your name?”

“Yes, and don’t change the subject," I reprimanded. How did he know my name though?

“I wasn’t…whatever…look I was just off patrolling a border when I felt a disturbance. I can’t explain it, but I knew someone, you, were in trouble. Letting a human see me, you know even as a merman, I could get executed or exiled for letting my, our, existence be discovered. So maybe lay off with the questions.”

I lowered my head guiltily. He lifted my chin smiled at me. My life was worth more than his?

“Why would you give up all you have to save an insignificant human?”

“You’re not just any human, Brylee. Plus, now I need your help,” he whispered compassionately. I had never felt so pulled to someone. He was so mysterious, handsome, and charming. I felt like I could sink in his beautiful emerald eyes. We locked gazes and he smiled dreamily. He took his hand and ran it through my now dry hair. I closed my eyes starting to feel fatigued, and when I opened them he was gone. My french door was creaking open in the wind. I thought I saw a glimmer of green in the sea beyond. Where had he gone? How had I helped him? Would I ever see him again?