This is what I do every morning now, or day actually. Sneaking out into this beautiful, hidden beach...where--where it all began. As the wave crashes on the rocks in the distance, ripping the trees out of the bushes, so is my fragile heart crumbling away. It pounds frantically against my ribs, threatening to crack open from the overload of wanting. My uncontrollably shaky hands wander over my face, slowly petting away the few strands of my long, dark hair. As the moment passes gently, the desire subsides, leaving behind only a lingering chill on the back of my neck.
"This is too much for me. I don't understand this. Why am I feeling this way anyway?" I ask myself softly, letting myself sink into the cool water. It feels heavenly, yet it's hurting me in ways I can't explain.
The birds screech loudly around me, their harsh songs piercing my eardrums and causing my body to respond as if I'd been struck by a lightning bolt. A soft breeze sweeps by, and my hair flows into my face. I am now looking directly into my reflection in the water. The nausea deep inside me becomes increasingly intense as I stare back at my reflection.
"I think I'm going to throw up. I've never seen myself this way. What am I doing here again?" I find myself exclaiming. My voice is small, and filled with tremble, causing the sound to fade away.
I cry out to the empty sky. My tears are abundant, turning into large pearls as they roll down my cheeks, landing on my chest, and then splashing onto the sea, drifting away in slow motion. I hear the gulping sound of the water lapping against the shore, the gulls cawing and screeching in the distance, and the thrash of the waves against the rocky shores, reverberating through the air and surrounding me like an echo of my own confusion.
"You should stop coming here, Haniela. This isn't right. Father will scold you again when he finds out." This is what I always say to myself when I imagine that he'll see me again, and he'll yell at me for being disobedient, but my heart won't listen to my ears, and my body won't obey my mind. And today is no different.
The clouds seem a great pain in my chest as I look into them again and again, searching for some way out. I turn away from them, and force myself to look at the ocean. As the cold air slaps my skin, my heart freezes, and I gasp for air. I am only able to draw shallow breaths, let out the loudest squeals. And the violent thud of waves crashing against the shore grows louder.
"No. No, no, no, no. Something is happening to me, and yet I cannot see what. Something terrible is coming. I fear the worst." I cry softly as a howling wind blows upcutting through my frail body. And I realise, my mind is locked in horror.
"This is strange-"
The panic spread. My tail flops as I float with exhaustion. I start to sink in and out of the sea. My eyes flutter open and I look around, only to see the rumbling, and all the other fish swimming around me. And some, they swim in circles, only for a brief moment, and then swimming away. My mind searches for what is wrong with me, why can't I swim? But then it feels like my eyes are blurring, and my body is heavy. My skin prickles with pain as I gasp in the air. Slowly, I do start to move, but it feels as if I'm on a knife edge between consciousness and unconsciousness
"I am the water, a creature of the sea. How can I scream in the sea? I am the sea and it is all around me, pressing against my body and leaving me exhausted. I'm alone. I'm afraid, but don't know why I can't breathe."
My head is spinning, I'm in a panic, the sky and land seem to be changing, dissolving, becoming one. My chest feels like it's being torn open. I cry out and slap at the water. The water slaps back with equal force or slightly harder. Suddenly, the sound of a ferocious howl filled my mind, so loud, so intense, that the pain subsided and the tears began to flow. I keep my head above the water as the current rushes around me, and the sharp sound grows even louder. I hear more sounds as I struggle to keep up, gurgling, splashing, sucking on the current and shrieking.
The howl stops, but a familiar voice enters my ears. His voice still sends an electric shock straight to my heart, making it beat faster. He yells out again, the water is moving fast, pushing me in the direction he's facing. I gasp and hold my head high so I can still see him. But I can't see much of anything because my vision is cloudy with a heavy intensity. I just know he's moving toward me.
"I'm right here, Haniela. I'll save you just as you saved me. Don't let go of my hand, ok?" His voice is steady and unhurried.
I can hear him, his voice is so close as he grabs hold of my arm, and we're pressed together, pulling me in as close to him as possible. I clutch at his arm with a strength I don't even realise I have. I feel his breath rasp across my lips as his heart pounds against my chest, sending an explosion of sensation through my body. He softly whispers in my ear and his fingers lightly brush across my skin, the force of his body pulling me even closer.
"Is that--is that really you?" I whisper in disbelief. I can feel the heat from his body despite the air coolness.
"Yes, Haniela. It's me. Come on, we need to hurry out of the water, it's freezing to death in here. Now, grab hold of me, tight."
A dizziness comes over me as my mind goes completely fuzzy. Every part of my body is throbbing and buzzing with sensation. His strong, possessive arm is like a rock that keeps me rooted to his body as I attempt to piece together my broken mind.
"I--I can swim. You should-should leave. You will get hurt." My lips are trembling, and my voice is slurred as I cough for air. I try to shake him off me, but he has such a firm grip.
"Quit being stubborn! You'll drown if I don't pull you out now!"
My vision is clearing slowly, and I can see him in a hundred different ways, like a hawk viewing its prey. I feel his hot breath and it tickles my skin as I focus on the most handsome face I've ever laid eyes on, beating my father, which is rare. His brow is furrowed with worry, and his lips are set into a stern line. His eyes are so intense, they bore straight into mine. His eyes say everything.
"I won't drown. I'm a mermaid, remember? You-"
"Haniela!" The roar of his scream feels as if it breaks through the air.
I feel like my heart is being ripped from my chest. He can't breathe under the water like I can, or could... Well, um-- I can't bear to feel the pain he's inflicting on himself any longer.
"Hold tight now." He says. He breathes deeply, and I sense his entire body become calm and relaxed.
I try not to think about how weak I feel right now, but I fail. This cannot be real, but then it feels more real than anything I've experienced. He pulls with all his strength, dragging me across the waves. Every time I feel myself sink, he brings me back to the surface. With every breath I take, his grip increases on my waist. With each gasp of pain, the need to survive grows harder.