Eathelin was trapped in the midst of a vicious whirlpool. She rowed and struggled with all of her strength, but the swirling vortex was much too powerful. At any given moment, she would be sucked down into an endless abyss. The tang of the saltwater entered her nostrils as she was pulled to the center of the pool. Her dark brown hair billowed behind her. Her blue-green eyes shone with pure terror. The rushing water was the last thing she heard before she was pulled under.
She felt a sharp pain in her legs. It felt like they were being sewn together. Then, as abruptly as the pain started, it stopped. Eathelin looked down at her legs. However, where her legs once were, there was now a strong grey tail.
“How is this…” she trailed off. Somehow, she could breathe underwater. She started to panic. She felt like the air was being squeezed out of her lungs. She just couldn’t catch her breath. She saw a dark shape in the distance, quickly moving towards her. As it came into focus, she saw it was another young woman with a lavender tail and a strawberry blonde pixie cut with two white streaks.
“Hi,” she greeted. “My name’s Lyrika. What’s your’s?”
“Eathelin. What just happened?”
“Oh, forgot you were new for a second there. You just turned into a mermaid.” Eathelin stared at Lyrika in shock. She couldn’t be a mermaid. How was that even possible? Lyrika’s sterling grey eyes locked with her blue-green ones. “You must have a lot of questions. Let me take you to Pacifica City so you can get some answers.” Without a warning, Lyrika swam away, leaving a trail of bubbles behind her. Eathelin experimentally flicked her tail, quickly cutting through the water.
She followed Lyrika’s trail of bubbles, leading to an undersea metropolis. Fortunately, Lyrika had stopped on the outskirts of the city. She made a wide, sweeping gesture with her arm and said, “Welcome to Pacifica City.” It looked a lot like what she could remember of Los Angeles. The main difference was instead of steel, concrete and glass, the buildings were built into a huge coral reef. Eathelin was in awe of everything around her.
All of a sudden, the two girls heard a loud whirring sound.
“Fishing boat,” Lyrika murmured. A look of horror crossed her face. “Quick, follow me.” They darted through the coral skyscrapers and bustling streets as fast as possible. They saw hundreds of fish getting scooped up by nets, but they kept swimming. They sped into Lyrika’s home. She tried to look around, but couldn’t focus on anything but her labored breathing.
“What just happened?” Eathelin asked between breaths.
“A fishing boat just passed by,” Lyrika replied. “They scoop up merfolk occasionally. And they never come back.” Eathelin was in shock. She couldn’t believe that humans would do such things.
“You seemed mare scared than most of the others I saw on our way here. Why?”
“I don’t really feel like telling right now.” A few tears ran down Lyrika’s face. “Anyway, welcome to my home.” The room they were in was decorated in a rainbow of colors. The walls were a light green. A lot of the furniture was either pink or blue, with hints of yellow sprinkled in. “You’ll be staying with me until the next Ceremony. It determines what you’ll be and where you’ll live.”
“When is the next Ceremony, if you don’t mind me asking?” Eathelin didn’t want to offend Lyrika again.
“It’s in about a week,” she said. “And I don’t mind. I was the same way when I became a mermaid. I’m just here to help you until the Ceremony.”
The next week was spent pretty much the same way. Lyrika was teaching Eathelin all of the ins and outs of being a mermaid. They went to parks and zoos, window shopped, even got pets. Eventually, the day of the Ceremony came. Eathelin put on her new periwinkle dress and braided her hair so it would stay out of her eyes. She never felt comfortable in front of large crowds, and all of Pacifica City was going to be there. She was trembling because of the nervous energy.
“Ready for today?” Lyrika asked. After a week together, she felt comfortable enough to tell Lyrika anything.
“Not really.” Her voice was barely audible.”I hate when everyone is just focused on me. Scares me half to death.”
“You’ll be fine. I promise.” When Lyrika promised something, more often than not she was right. This comforted Eathelin a little, but not much. She was still extremely nervous. Once Lyrika got ready, which probably took much longer than necessary, they went to the palace.
By the time they got there, the palace was already packed. Unfortunately, Lyrika had to leave Eathelin with the others about to go through the Ceremony. Everyone was in various stages of emotion. A girl with platinum blonde hair was almost in tears. Another with auburn hair seemed overly confident. A boy with mousy brown hair was trying to keep his breathing steady. Eathelin just kept a calm facade, but she was panicking on the inside. She was worried that she would fail. Amazingly.
Eventually they called in the first one, the blonde, to undergo the ceremony. She returned after a few minutes, her tail turned from grey to an icy blue. The confident girl went next. She took a bit longer than the blonde, and her tail was dark green, almost black, when she returned. One by one, the new merfolk went out and returned, their tails a rainbow of colors. Every color but one. There was no sign red. It made Eathelin realize that she would be the last one to go through the ceremony.
When it finally came to be Eathelin’s turn, her theory had been realized. She was indeed the last one. Once she was out in the courtyard, she was in awe of the sheer amount of merfolk that had come. She scanned the crowd for the familiar strawberry blonde mop that was Lyrika’s hair, but couldn’t find her anywhere. She was escorted to a pedestal where a merman with a lemon yellow tail was, well he wasn’t exactly standing, but he was doing whatever merfolk consider standing. When she approached him, she noticed him say a few words, but couldn’t hear what he was saying from her distance. She got to the pedestal a few moments later.
“What is your full name?” he asked her.
“Eathelin Morgan Brooks,” she replied.
He began talking about how she became a mermaid, what she had done with Lyrika, and other things about her first week. He then approached her again.
“You just need to put seven drops of blood in the potion,” he whispered to her. She then noticed the potion with a knife near it. She made a small cut in her palm and watched as seven drops of her blood fell into it.
A bright light shone around her. She couldn’t see beyond the brightness. Once it faded, the murmurs began. Eathelin was confused until she looked down at ther tail. Instead of the dull grey it once was, it was crimson. Soon everyone started bowing to her. Everyone except a mermaid with raven hair and a rose red tail. She swam to Eathelin.
“Hail Eathelin, new princess of Pacifica City,” she said. Everyone in the crowd repeated her words. She motioned for Eathelin to follow her instead of going back to join the other new merfolk. That was when she heard a familiar rumble. Two mermen with matching orange tails approached the two of them.
“Princess Koralie, Princess Eathelin, you need to take cover,” one of them said. The four of them were swimming as fast as they could. A net dropped. They swam. Merfolk disappeared. They swam. They entered a passage that led to a small bunker. All, that is, but one. Eathelin’s tail was trapped in a net. One of the orange-tailed mermen cut her free, but he was scooped up by the net instead. She swam to the passage only to find the other red-tailed mermaid, Koralie, waiting there for her.
“I’m so happy you’re safe,” she said. “This is the worst incident we’ve had in a long time.”
“You were a lot more proper earlier,” Eathelin said. “What happened?”
“Do you know how much braining it takes to make the words go? Being a ‘proper princess’ is a lot harder than it looks.” Eathelin couldn’t stop the laughter that came from Koralie’s question. “The question was really funny,” Koralie said. Eathelin smiled. Maybe this would be a lot easier than she thought.
Aubree Guymon, 18, currently lives in a small town in Utah. When she is not writing she enjoys performing in musical theatre and ballet, watching superhero movies, and spending time with her best friends.