tides part 1

The salty breeze whisks my hair into my face and I dive beneath the surface to escape. I cannot risk being seen by any of the sailors above. It’s a looming ship, one that could kill me if I was in the wrong place at the wrong time. Exactly why I must be careful. The High Queen told me three boys would fall today, two of them slaves. The third one must be a stowaway, or else they would not toss him overboard. The young men on this boat are priceless, or at least that is what the captain thinks. 
Suddenly, I hear an arousing cheer echoing over the water. I poke my head up to see the sailors carrying two boys, younger than me by a few years, it looks. I can’t help but feel a twinge of guilt, knowing that I cannot save them. In fact, I am the reason for their death. But alas, my sisters must eat, and there is only one way for that to happen. 
“Toss em’!” a man with a scruffy beard and a bright red tunic yells. “Make it quick!” The boys are frozen in terror, their young faces contorted in pain. They are much too young for this. 

The men speak for a moment, and I only catch a few words, not enough for me to make out what they are saying. But then the thinner boy begins to walk along the edge of the ship, and I know what they want. I shake my head—-he is taking too long. Much too long. They will be angry. 
“Go, boy! Jump.” the red—clad man shouts. “Or we’ll stab this one, easy. No need for drowning.” That’s all it takes; the boy jumps off, and I swim quickly toward him. 

With a quick slash of my long claw, I kill him. He does not need to suffer any longer. I peer around for the other one and spot him drifting along the surface, blood spiraling from a hole in his jacket. Hastily, I do the same to this boy and lug them closer to the ship. According to the High Queen, there should be another. But he has not arrived—if he ever will. 

But she’s true to her word—a commotion has begun on the mast of the ship. A boy about my age struggles against the grip of a burly man. I spot the metallic sheen of a blade and my heart clenches. Before I think anymore, he’s flung overboard. I swim toward him, my eyes gleaming. He’s a fine young man with plenty of meat on him. It’ll be an easy kill. 

Then I notice who he is. 

“Anders?” I bubble, my heart beating like a catan drum. He’s half conscious, and a gash leaks thick blood into the salty sea. It must hurt like the devil.
His eyes open blearily, and his mouth works. I pull him above water, and he coughs and hacks like his life is ending. Maybe–maybe it is. 
“Nereibel, listen to me. I won’t be here long.” I nod frantically, but..my Anders, he will not die, surely? 
“You must save my brother, please. He lives on the Island of Koralli, but Thanatos is out for him, like me. Except…he does not deserve to die—-he is not sick, no symptoms.” My eyebrows furrow, and then I realize. A curse. “Ursa!” Oh, that witch!
“Ur-ursa, yes. I am sorry, Nereibel. I wish to be with you longer.” I press a kiss to his chapped, dying lips, and then he is gone. I want to cry, but the High Queen will ask too many questions. Instead, I slit his throat like the others, and swim to the depths like any other day. But this isn’t any other day, far from it. Anders, my human love, dead? The coincidence is heartbreaking. I always thought that when I was released from my siren form, I would come back to him. 

Now, I will never be embraced by him again, never comforted by him again. So I harden my resolve—-forever.




14 years old

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