Walking down on the stairs, away from the castle and towards the lake where her beloved Nina was living had never made Ara as happy as she was now. She ran and ran, while her cat followed behind, anxious to tell her the big news. She was happy, for the first time in the last several months, she was truly happy. The time had come to leave this world behind and run off towards the unknown, guided by her beloved Nina.
The cat followed close behind, watching her master run so fast, it seemed as though her feet no longer touched the ground. However, she had placed her mother’s large hat on her face, a minor thing she hoped would keep the unwanted visitors at bay or at least make sure they would not recognize her face.
As she ran on, she couldn’t help but remember how she had met Nina for the first time. She was playing in shallow water one day when she was younger, when something happened (she still couldn’t remember or understand what had dragged her underwater) and she was struggling to breathe. It was becoming increasingly more difficult to draw air in her lungs and after what seemed like an eternity, she stopped trying to breathe. She let the water enter her and even though it felt as though her chest was on fire, she didn’t struggle.
And then, the miracle took place. She felt something grabbing her hand and pushing her towards the surface. The hand was firm and strong, yet gentle and she immediately knew that it wasn’t going to harm her. When she reached the surface, she coughed, let all the water out of her chest and breathed the precious life-giving air in. She was saved.
At first Ara didn’t know who was the person – or the thing – that saved her, but she was determined to find her. She returned to the lake several times, but had seen nothing. After several months, she made a desperate attempt of going in the water and pretending to drown to make the being come back. And she was right.
At first she felt cold hands on her back pushing her to the surface. Once she was back up, she grabbed one of those hands, but it was slithery and she dropped it. Ara turned around and caught a glimpse of its hand. She grabbed it again and began yelling:
“Wait, don’t go! Come back! I’m not going to harm you!” she said and upon hearing this, the creature slithered back in the water, but remained close to her.
“Go away, human, I am ugly” she said in a smooth and crystal clear voice. Ara couldn’t understand how the creature was speaking with her head under the water, but she didn’t want to ask now, that she had its attention.
“You’re not! Show yourself, please!” She didn’t expect to see the creature she saw. It resembled a fish, with fish scales on its arms and on the side of its face. Behind the scales was a beautiful face of a young girl, with black hair that fell down on her shoulders, covering part of her breasts filled with scales. She watched Ara with two little brown eyes in which she could see fear.
“My name is Ara. You’re not ugly, what is your name?” she asked.
The creature waited for several minutes before answering, in a fearful and small voice, that her name was Nina.
That was the first time the girls had met each other and it had been seven years since that moment. Ara was a beautiful twenty year old woman that was supposed to marry a prince chosen by her parents, but she didn’t want this. Instead, she wished to be with Nina, to be a siren, like she was.
She didn’t care about the scales, she loved the idea of being able to travel wherever they wanted and just be free. So when she heard by accident that there was a witch in the castle that could create a concoction for turning people into sirens, she didn’t think twice about it.
Tonight, she came to tell Nina the happy news. When she finally reached the lake, she saw Nina’s fish tail lazily splashing in the water and a grin instantly appeared on her face. This was their night.
“Nina! Listen, I got it! I got the potion!” she yelled. Nina raised her head out of the water and the look of surprise was immediately replaced by a huge grin that betrayed her happiness. Ara stopped on the land, took out the small blue bottle and without a second thought, she drank the contents.
The pain that hit her was much more powerful than what she expected. She fell to the ground and started screaming. As she looked down, she saw that her legs were fusing together and scales began appearing on her body. Her five fingers on the hand became three and her face was itching as the scales formed there as well.
Several grueling and agonizing hours later, she felt exhausted but again, she felt like she was drowning. She couldn’t scream for help and she felt like she was dying. She closed her eyes slowly, ready to go to Heaven now, when Nina saved her, again. She dragged her by the legs in the water and once she was in the lake, she could breathe again.
“Did it work?” she asked, but she already knew the answer.
“Yes, it did!” said Nina and she hugged her tight. Ara could feel the distinctive salt water the tears were made of fall on her shoulders. “It worked!”
The two sirens hugged each other for what seemed like an eternity, crying in each other’s arms. After the transformation was complete, Nina grabbed her hand and proceeded to show Ara the ocean and the mysteries it held that were invisible to the human eye.
Ara was never seen again.
You might also like: Night shadow ~ Fantasy Short Story