Blood in the Water: Preview

This had become old. Shallow breathing permeated the atmosphere as I rolled onto my side. Next to me, a slight, freckled lump of flesh nearly gave me a heart attack. Had I gotten drunk and seduced Vail into my bed for another night? I glanced at the spiky back of their head shaved right at the nape of their neck. 

Ever since leaving Sindare, Vail was my only haven. I clung to them like the stars to the night. If only I could return, I would, but it was too late to turn back and save everything. At least I thought it was. I left when my kind needed me most. There was nothing to return to but a life of remorse. If anything, returning would be the most harmful thing I could do. One moment, the world was still and silent; the next, my kind’s words pounded against my skull. 

Stay, they said. No, such a word didn’t begin to describe the intensity of what happened. They implored that I stay, and I should’ve heeded to their pleas. If I hadn’t left, the screams wouldn’t daunt me every night. But it was too late. 

The duskiness bathed over me. There was a tightness in my chest, refusing to unwind. Pangs laced across my temples. A stabbing pain ambushed my stomach. Cold tears marched down my cheeks. Plaints rang against my throat. 

No. 

In the agony that hummed against my ears, I identified each voice. Then, I rolled onto my stomach. My sobs were at the top of my lungs. The tears streamed down my face like a river. I clung to my pillow and buried my face in it, and it muffled the wails. 

“Pisces?” I felt a hand on the back of my neck. At the same time, Vail said my name as if it was a piece of heaven given to them from the night sky. Pie-seez. Intense notes and apprehension filled their voice. I looked over my shoulder at them. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah,” I assured them, swiping a tear away as I turned to front Vail. “Everything’s fine.”  The stabbing pain ambushed my stomach once again, and I knew better than to fib to them. It had almost been a year since I left Sindare, and I had no reason to lie to Vail. 

They always were honest with their heart. When we met outside a club of neon lights, they were in tears with a gushing cut down their lower lip. Some jerk of a girl rejected Vail after finding out their pronouns. I told them the girl wasn’t worth it, that no girl was worth it. After all, I had seen the devilish desires in women’s hearts: pride and avarice, the worst of all traits to have.

“Are you sure?” Vail asked. Then, they tapped me on the nose. “You can tell me anything.” When tears started brimming my eyes, Vail leaned forward and flicked a tear away. Their warm smile was soothing; however, it wasn’t enough to calm the nerves going haywire in my flesh. 

My stomach twisted in knots. Would they still love once they knew the truth? I just had to know. I looked over my shoulder, inhaling the vanilla aroma from the candle that rested inside the nautical glass lantern. I watched as the flame flickered and waltzed, bringing a gothic ambiance to the studio apartment—it danced quickly like my pulse against my chest. 

I glanced back at Vail, who waited for me to speak with pursed lips. After drawing them to my bare frame, I locked my lips with them and positioned myself between their legs. Every second was heaven. 

Our mouths fell in line as the moment grew more desperate and sloppier. They wrapped their arms around my neck. Meanwhile, my hands laid on Vail’s cheeks dotted with faint brown freckles. As we took a moment to breathe, I breathed against their chiseled chest, “I love you, Vail.” Our eyes met, their ocean blues storming across my chocolate browns. They almost seemed to hold an aura of disbelief. 

Vail stammered. “Y-you love me?” As Vail fell into silence, I nodded. Sure, it took me months to say it, and I wouldn’t have said it without the alcohol in my system, but I said it. There was no taking it back. No taking it back. They furrowed their brow and repeated, “You love me?” 

“Yes,” I said with a heavy breath, “I love you.” For some time, I had known that I was in love with Vail and that I wanted a future with them. I owed them a lot, and this was the least I could do. “I’ve been in love with you for the past two weeks.” My cheeks began to feel like they were burning. 

How was I not able to say all of this in the past? It brought back memories of someone I knew in Sindare to whom I said I loved, and for my sake, he died. Everyone I loved died because of my decisions … well, her orders which rested upon me. And what if Vail didn’t love me back? It wasn’t that I was insecure because I wasn’t insecure. I just knew that Vail might pull away since we agreed to keep it casual when we began seeing each other—no strings attached.

Then, as I stroked their stomach, Vail planted a gentle kiss on my lips and said, “I love you, too.” Meanwhile, Vail caressed my cheek with a tender touch with a moan. “I’ve been in love with you since we met.” After a moment of silence, we closed the space between us. We entangled under the sheets. 

I breathed in their eucalyptus through my nostrils, and it enticed my senses one by one until I was dancing in a world that we made. Meanwhile, the warmth of the room caved in on me, soothing me until doubt seeped through my brain. 

Chaos.

“I love you, Pisces. More than the tides in the sea, I love you.” Then, I saw him in my brain. His eyes opened as widely as possible, turning to face the sky while a sword pierced through his gut. Blood percolated from his mouth. 

My stomach wrested into knots. It was like it happened yesterday, only it didn’t. It transpired a year ago. How could I forget? There was an aching in my chest, and my vision was blurred as I laid down on Vail’s chest, glancing up at the ceiling. The ceiling was like a kaleidoscope of dim hues that smeared together. 

They stroked their slender fingers through my hair and said, “I feel like I’ve known you forever.” My eyes fluttered. At the same time, my tears dried against my cheeks. My breath hitched, and my pulse increased its speed. I wanted to say something but I didn’t know what. At the moment, it appeared that I had forgotten how to speak, let alone think about anything but what they could say next. Still, they went on. 

“Ever since we met, you left me in awe at your attractiveness. I feel like our souls are entwined.” Vail paused for a moment, and I could feel the words about to come off the tip of their tongue. My heart drummed against my chest. And when Vail said it, there was no taking it back. “Pisces, will you marry me?”

Before a second could pass, I rolled over onto my stomach to take in Vail’s ocean blue orbs that seeped into my core, and I shouted, “Yes!” slamming my lips into theirs. Every moment was magic. Indeed our souls were entwined. I could feel the need for forever aching in my bones. Yet, part of me was unsatisfied. So, as we pulled away, I propped myself up on an elbow and said, “I’m a mermaid.”

Vail went pale in the face. They rubbed at an eyelid while laughing. “Impossible. Mermaids don’t exist.” I could see in their eyes that they weren’t giving up without a fight. So, Vail left me no choice. 

I crawled out of bed and called out to them as I threw on some clothes. “Are you coming?” After a moment, I glanced over my shoulder to find Vail sliding into their jeans on the other side of the bed. Still, no answer. I repeated myself, “Are you coming?” 

“Of course,” Vail filled the atmosphere with these words. I sighed in relief. At least Vail was accompanying me. “I wouldn’t let you wander the streets or go swimming by yourself.” I pursed my lips. Sure, Vail was my fiancé, but they wouldn’t be for long if they didn’t believe me once I gave them proof.

I brushed off my flowing, white polyester blouse and told Vail point-blank to leave their phone on the nightstand. A voice inside me posed a query: what if Vail rejected me once they knew the truth? After all, in the time we’d known each other, I had never once mentioned my homeland or the fact that I was a mermaid. “The ocean is a dangerous place,” was all I said until Vail cleared their throat. ‘’What?”

“If you’re a mermaid, then why wouldn’t you tell me before now?” asked Vail. I looked over my shoulder to see them pulling their medium-sized women’s pink tee-shirt over their head, and their following words were incoherent.

A moment passed, and silence fell upon the room. My chest ached from all the lying. I was ready to explode. As I opened my mouth to say something, a familiar voice interjected, “Perhaps I can elucidate?” My heart skipped a beat.

No. It couldn’t be her. I was almost sure I sealed the portal when I fled Sindare. How was she here?

I pivoted on my heel to face my worst nightmare. Captain Kinsey. Her brown skin had a sapphire glow to it, and she was fluid in every move she made toward. “Pisces.” Kinsey made a deep pout with her plump lips. “Did you not tell your fiancé that you were running from me?” 

“I wouldn’t have to if you stayed out of my life!” I glared at her as I let out the words like venom. Why did she have to follow me? Why did she have to show up now? I shook my head and asked, “What do you want? My soul?” I glanced at Vail, mouthing, “Run,” only Vail didn’t. Instead, they stayed put. 

“Who is she?” Vail asked, pointing at my foe. My cheeks burned with anger. 

Kinsey strutted over to Vail, and my heart began to race. What if she killed him? I couldn’t lose Vail. “Leave Vail alone!” She glared daggers at me as my words engulfed the room. I lowered my voice into something as hard as steel. “This fight is between us.” 

“Do I look like I care?” Kinsey put her hands on her wide hips. As silence fell between the three of us, she smirked and continued, “Well, I don’t,” brushing a black braid behind her ear.

“Leave them alone, Kinsey!” I propelled towards Kinsey as she traced Vail’s neck. She breathed a spell into their ear, and I could translate her ancient tongue into English. 

Betrothed to my foe with skin that glows, you shall perish before your marriage. 

My heart crumbled into a million pieces. Meanwhile, my knees gave out, pulling me face-first to the floor. Sobs tore through my chest. “I hate you!” I pounded against the tiled floor. My stomach tightened as I began to fade away. “I hate you, Kinsey!” 

Kinsey marched over to me, her shadow hovering over me. I looked up into her eyes and saw those of a killer. How far would she go to ruin my life? First, him; now, Vail. “Consider it an engagement present.” I glanced at the nautical glass lantern, and the flame died for a moment. Then, I returned my attention to Kinsey. 

“How do I stop the bane?” I pulled at Kinsey’s dress, imploring for clemency. My vision, once again, was blurred, and I trembled with every inch of my soul. Meanwhile, I kept pulling at the skirt of her dress as I wiped my eyes clean of tears with my wrist. “Tell me how or else I’ll obliterate you!” 

Kinsey let out a laugh. “You can’t stop a curse.” She bent down and tapped me on the nose. “You can only pass it down to your offspring to allow your fiancé to become your spouse.” She laughed and veiled herself in a thick cloak. “Good luck getting them to sleep with you.” Kinsey began to spin with these words, and she disappeared into thin air.

I looked at Vail, who said with a weak smile, “Guess we better make a baby.” I nodded and climbed back into bed, where their juices filled inside me for the first time. We exchanged sighs, and everything fell into place. With every kiss, Vail left me wanting more. Their eucalyptus interspersed in their cotton tee-shirt and the sheets we tangled in. 

And that’s how you, my child, my darling Dolma, were created. My child, my firstborn, you will have to find a way to break the curse one day. There’s blood in the water, and it’s all on your shoulders.

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