I tried to pick a non-romantic image this time, which was exceedingly difficult for me. I still made about relationship stuff, though. It's more fun that way, I think. It's also rather long, but I couldn't stop writing this character, so I just went with it.
Right now there’s only one thing on my mind, and it’s not how did I end up here? I know perfectly well who’s responsible for chaining me to a cinderblock at the bottom of the ocean.
Yeah. That part I totally get. But as I float weightlessly here, waiting for the air in my lungs to run out, I can’t help but think…it was worth it.
Something inside me – the cynical side my mother tried unsuccessfully to squash – screams that this thought is likely the most asinine to have ever crossed my consciousness. My cynical side is correct. To feel anything but utter loathing for the boy who tried to kill me is ludicrous. Unfortunately, however, I’ve always been a little off kilter. A fish out of water, so to speak.
And even as my chest tightens and my eyes fly wide with the realization that time has run out, I cannot hate him. Which is infuriating, and exciting at the same time. Mostly, however, it’s just sad. Sad that I let him gain that kind of control over me. Sad that he was a Fisherman. Sad that he didn’t love me…not even a little.
I cannot hold my breath any longer; the impulse to breathe is overwhelming, even though I know there’s no air to intake. My body convulses. I can hear the chains jingling, feel them biting into my flesh as it expands. Two sharp stings erupt on my throat, and a flurry of itchiness attacks my legs like a thousand mosquito bites. The chain is so tight it draws blood.
I am about to pass out when it’s finally over. I can breathe again. Cool, smooth water floods my lungs like a winter breeze and my tail swishes gently – a blur of amethyst and jade. I sigh.
I could call father, but I know what he will say. How could you be so stupid, Lisha? You let a Fisherman steal your heart? What did you think would come of that?
I seriously don’t need the lecture.
Which leaves only one person – the only siren in the entire ocean that I never want to see again. The reason I ran away to dry land to begin with: Coran. He’d hear me if I called, that much I can be sure of, but do I really want his help? If I let him free me, I’m in his debt. He’s going to want to…talk.
I shudder to myself.
For a moment, I weigh my distaste for lectures against my complete and total aversion to seeing Coran again. Before I can decide to who send my beacon to, I hear something overhead. I turn my face to the surface and see a shadowy figure floating above me. At first I think it’s just a dolphin or something, but then I realize what it must be.
That gutsy bastard.
Well, at least he plans on explaining himself. For the life of me, I can’t think why he’d throw me down here when I told him I was no longer a siren. If it wasn’t to kill me, I can’t see the cause.
I yell his name and the shadow stops. A flash of moonlight crosses his face and I can see it’s not Jason. Not even close. It’s a woman – a Fisherman for sure from the harpoon she carries – and she’s not alone. I’m being hunted.
At least Jason’s actions make sense now – he wasn’t trying to kill his girlfriend (which was terrible enough to contemplate), he was trying to kill a siren. He was working with the Fishermen after all.
We’re both liars, I guess.
The shadows converge on me, and – not knowing what else to do – I send out my beacon. To Coran. Its like a wave of light that passes from my being and straight into his. For one instant, I am him and he is me – we’re one creature. And he knows I need him desperately. In my head, I hear his scream within milliseconds, almost as if he’d been waiting for me this whole time.
A great pain erupts in my chest and I know it is his heart breaking. I immediately regret choosing him.
The Fishermen are close enough to fire – one shoots a harpoon at me, but I dodge, however awkwardly. The next harpoon is aimed my tail, and I only just manage to keep it from hitting me. I hear them yelling curses through their scuba gear. One comes up behind me and throws his arms around me, holding me still, as another drops down in front of me.
I have never seen the woman before, though something about her is familiar. I look around at the other two Fishermen. Jason is nowhere to be seen.
Unless he is the one holding me in place.
I squirm against him, trying to swat him with my fin, but the chain is too tight. Plus, whoever has me is very strong. My heart begins to pound, my movements are frantic as the woman aims her harpoon straight at my chest.
“Coran!” I scream.
And suddenly, he is there. He bashes head-first into the woman, throwing her aim off. She harpoons herself in the foot, and floats away, howling. Coran lunges at the man holding me, stabbing him ruthlessly with his spear. Something rips inside of me as the arms go slack and the Fisherman’s body floats to the ocean floor in a gush of scarlet. Was that Jason?
“Be gone from here!” Coran roars, positioning himself in front of me.
“They can’t understand you,” I grumble behind him.
He hisses at me to be silent, and I obey. He is saving my tail after all.
He jabs his spear at the woman and the surviving Fishermen. The woman appears to be out of ammo, and the others are, apparently, under her command. She glances down at the boy dying on the ground and gestures to him.
They want to bring him up with them. If they think Coran will let them, they are sorely mistaken. Coran is not what I would call merciful.
But, to my utter shock, he raises his spear and lets them haul the boy away.
“Coran,” I whisper, appalled.
He makes a guttural warning sound; he remains on total alert until the four of them are out of sight. Then he rounds on me.
“Why have you come back?” he demands.
I sigh. “I was thrown back.”
He sneers. “So the humans are not so wonderful, after all.”
I am silent.
“I did not save you because you mean anything to me,” he says a tad too defensively.
“Of course not. That would mean you have feelings.”
He swims around behind me and snaps the rope around my wrists. With my hands free – if a little numb – I undo the loop of painfully tight chain around my tail. Free now, I swim a few feet away from him. It feels completely wrong to swim…I miss my feet. Fins suck. Coran, however, cannot seem to take his eyes away from mine. His presence after all this time unnerves me. And – although I’d previously thought this was impossible – he has become even more handsome.
“You smell of sunlight,” he growls.
We float there awkwardly, not looking at one another.
“You will return to the surface,” Coran says, although I know he has asked a question.
I shrug my shoulders. “It’s not the full moon yet, so I can’t.”
He nods slowly. “I suppose you wish to come with me, then.”
Our eyes meet. His are hard and guarded, and mine reveal the joke I was trying to make. He doesn’t get it. He never did get me.
Coran stows his spear in the holster on his back and waves me toward him. “Come. I will take you home.”
He starts to swim away, and I wish so badly that I could tell him Aquanta is not my home anymore. But I just can’t hurt him again. Even I am not that heartless.
I look up to the bright white surface and think once more of Jason. Was he the one who had held me still as the woman tried to shoot me? Was he the one who was shot? Is he even alive?
And why…oh why, do I care?