“Hali! Stop that you know you’re not supposed to! Get back here!” cried Oceane, swimming after her sister.
“Don’t be so worried, there's no-one here,” Hali called over her shoulder. A head, draped in seaweed emerged from the murky depths of the lake. The rest of the head appeared, revealing beautiful sea green, almond shaped eyes. A joyful smile on her pink lips. Her black hair plastered to her chestnut skin.
Close beside her popped up another head that greatly resembled the first, except her eyes were a deep amber.
“Hali, you’ll be in so much trouble! You above all others should know that!” scolded the second head.
“Oh, right,” said the first, rolling her eyes, then said in a mock formal voice, “I Hali Princess of the Small Puddle of Water,”
“Oh stop it, you know your role is important,” said the latter in a stern voice.
“Right, my role is to sit and watch seaweed grow,” said the head called Hali.
“Well yeah, but that’s just because you were caught watching that human boy on the shore, which is against Naiad code,” said the second, shaking her head.
“Oh Oceane, you’ll never understand the meaning of true love until you’ve experienced it yourself,” sighed Hali.
“I’ll find love in the water thank you very much,” said Oceane hotly.
“That’s right, I completely forgot, you and that salmon had a connection,” gasped Hali, slapping her hand to her forehead. Oceane stuck out her tongue and dove back into the water, head first, leaving Hali’s head bobbing eerily out of the green water. Hali turned and swam to the other bank.
She rested her chin on the damp ground, wishing the boy would come. He usually came during this time, either to catch fish or else dance around with a little fox who comes and plays with him.
Hali had to stay hidden from this boy as it was against Naiad code to reveal themselves to mortals. She wasn’t careless enough to break the biggest part of Naiad code; Yes she’s broken smaller parts of the code, which had resulted in severe punishments and lengthy lectures from Hali’s mother. But she didn’t care, all she wanted was freedom, freedom from her mothers kingdom, freedom from her responsibilities, freedom from the water.
She longed to walk on the solid earth. To run and climb the trees. To soar with the birds. To follow the sun to find where it set. To feel the sensation of grass in between her toes. To feel the warm summer's breeze flowing through her hair.
A sudden rustling from the trees brought her back to reality. Sinking lower in the water as not to be seen Hali peered through the trees, trying to find the source of the sound. Out of the dense woods came a teenage boy.
Hali sank even deeper into the water while still trying to get a good look at the teenage boy. He had dark brown hair, a smile that warmed the coldest of hearts, his eyes were kind and loving. His skin was a soft chestnut brown. Hali wanted more than anything to be right next to him.
“Come ‘ere Ash,” said the boy, his voice was soft as clouds and as sweet as sea cucumbers. A small pup trotted happily from behind a bush. Its ears turned excitedly at all the new sounds. Its little tail moving back and forth. Its red fur gleaming in the afternoon sun. Its little nose in the air, smelling the world around it.
Hali let out a small laugh as she watched the fox run around the boy's feet. He sat down on the grass, stretching out and resting his head on a rock. The fox pup jumped up and layed down on his stomach. It was getting hard for her to keep herself concealed in the water, she longed to be next to him with the fox on our stomach.
She watched until the sun was near its setting point. A while ago the boy had fallen asleep. Hali slowly peered over the bank, she looked at the muddy soles of his shoes. He seemed to be in deep slumber. The boy started to stir and Hali sank lower into the water.
When the boy stood up he stretched and yawned, wiping the beads of sweat that had started to form on his head. He started taking off his boots and pants, Hali was confused by this, why would he be taking off his clothes if he was going to go home?
Eyes widening in fear Hali got her answer to why he only left his boxers on. She dove underwater before he could see and hid behind some seaweed. He’s a mortal, he won’t be able to stay in the water forever, Hali thought desperately, thinking of a way out. But time passed and he stayed underwater. No mortal could go more than three minutes without oxygen.
Things were getting strange, Hali had to get home but she couldn’t figure a way out. She looked around frantically but to no avail.
Now the boy was tired, he was starting to slow down, he had his back turned and Hali took this as a chance to get away. Unfortunately right when she turned to dive the boy turned and saw her tail disappearing. His eyes widened and he started swimming to the place where the tail disappeared.
Heart beating fast, adrenaline coursing through her body she propelled herself as fast as she could away from the mortal. But the boy kept swimming faster and closer.
Hali felt the boys hand grasp her wrist and yank her back. She let out a strangled cry and struggled to break free, but his grip was too strong. Struggling the both of them broke the calm surface of the water.
“What do you want from me?” cried Hali, still struggling to break his grasp.
“I’ve seen you before,” whispered the boy. This confused Hali because she knew she never showed herself to him.
“No you haven’t,” said Hali indignantly.
“Y-you’re the person in my picture,” insisted the boy, staring straight into Hali’s eyes. “What’s your name?”
They stared at each other for several seconds, Jacob slackened his grip on her wrist. There were thousands of questions forming inside Hali’s mind, but only one formed in her lips.
“How can you breathe underwater if you’re a mortal?” inquired Hali.
“I’m not sure, but what are you?” asked Jacob. She hesitated, knowing that she could be banned from the tribe. She felt a strange connection with this mortal, something that made him more than a mortal, but less than a Naiad. Sighing, she answered him with as little detail as she could give him.
“I’m a water spirit, we have been around longer than your kind,” the boy seemed thoughtful, his eyes wide in excitement.
“Have you ever been on land?” said Jake finally. Before Hali could reply a horrible screech met their ears. Spinning around Hali saw her sister, a furious expression on her face.
“What do you think you are doing?” screeched Oceane.
“I-It’s not what it looks like!” defended Hali.
“I don’t want to hear it, you have to speak to mother,” with that she grabbed Hali’s upper arm and left Jacob to stare helplessly at the two leaving sisters. Hali was in tears, or what seemed to be tears as they were rushing through water. Hali was terrified, if Oceane told their mother what she had seen their mother would be livid.
Growing closer and closer was an elegant underwater castle. It was from a fairy tale, it was camouflaged with seaweed and plants. It was made from rocks that seemed to form one solid building. Lights were floating all around the castle, lighting the outside and the inside.
The two sisters swam through the coral gate. Fear bubbly inside Hali, threatening to overtake her. Entering a smaller chamber there was a great coral throne at the far end of the room. Sitting on the throne was a beautiful Naiad, her brown hair flowing around her. A piece of coral was set elegantly on her head like a crown. She wore a tired expression. Along the sides of the hall were mean looking guards, each with a spear at the end of a long stick.
“Oceane, Hali, what is it?” asked their mother, staring down at her two daughters.
“I found Hali talking with a mortal boy,” explained Oceane, pulling Hali forward. This caught everyone’s attention in the room, the Naiad queen tensed.
“Thank you Oceane, you may leave. I wish to speak to Hali alone,” breathed the queen. Hali was now shaking uncontrollably. Hali’s mother nodded, saying that it was her turn to speak.
“I-I was on my way back w-when h-he grabbed me, I tried pulling myself away but he was too strong. He pulled us up to the surface and he said, ‘I’ve seen you before, y-you’re the person in my picture frame’ He can breathe underwater too, I’m not sure how though.” explained Hali. Her mother sat in shocked silence, her face wasn’t filled with fury, it was full of fear.
“Guards, leave us,” ordered the queen. They all left without a sound but they seemed reluctant to leave. Sighing Hali’s mother started to speak.
“When I was younger I was a lot like you, I wanted to be free from my responsibilities, to be on land and leave the water behind me. I fell in love with a mortal man, I showed him my true identity and he didn’t run, he said he could take me far away from here. So I agreed and we got married and had a son. But soon after I got word that my mother had died and the kingdom had no ruler and were about to go to war, I had no choice but to abandon my family and come back here.” said the queen. Tears were glistening in her eyes. All was quiet between the two.
“S-so that boy is my brother?” asked Hali finally, breaking the silence
“Yes, he’s half Naiad and half mortal. But please don’t go back to the surface, I don’t want him knowing his true heritage,”
“But I want to see the world, not just here,”
“You have responsibilities here, you can’t go prancing around with mortals,”
“You went prancing around with mortals so I don’t see why I can’t,” snarled Hali.
“I don’t want you on mortal land and that’s final.” concluded the Naiad queen. Absolutely furious, Hali swam off to her room.
She saw Oceane sitting on her shell bed, a nervous expression on her face.
“So…. How’d it go?” asked Ocean hesitantly
“Horrible, I’m not in trouble I don’t think, but I’ll be long gone before she has a chance to band me,” grumbled Hali. On the swim over she had run it all through her mind; If her mother wasn’t going to let her leave then she had no other choice but to leave herself and nothing could stop her. She started throwing items into her seaweed bag.
“Hali! What do you think you’re doing?” cried Oceane, pulling the bag away from her.
“Give me my bag,” said Hali, reaching for her bag.
“Not until you tell me what you’re doing,” repeated Oceane.
“Give my back my bag,” insisted Hali, raising her voice. Oceane looked defiant, but knew that her sister would not budge. Grudgingly she handed over the bag and watched helplessly as her sister packed her things.
“Goodnight Oceane,” mumbled Hali as she laid down on her shell bed. Oceane nodded, but did not lay down to sleep, instead she paced around the room wondering whether or not to tell someone what Hali was doing. Finally when she could no longer keep her eyes open she retired to her bed.
Hali rose early in the morning, too excited for the day to come. Scooping up her bag she took one last sweeping look at the room she grew up in and was about to leave forever. Fighting down the guilt growing in her stomach she swam out of the underwater castle.
She swam all the way to the same spot where she was the day before. The sun was coming up over the horizon, sending a warming glow through the trees. The smell of fresh earth filling all those willing to see the beauty of the morning.
Emerging from the water she found Jacob walking around the edge of the water. When he spotted her he rushed to the waterside.
“What happened? Who was that person who took you away?” questioned Jacob.
“That was my sister Oceane, we’re not supposed to be talking to mortals so she freaked and took me to my mother,” explained Hali, stopping herself from saying that they share a mother.
“But I wasn’t doing anything wrong,” defended Jacob.
“I know you weren’t, but we’ve had wars with mortals and it has led us to not trust them,” said Hali, “Look I need to ask a favor from you, I don’t want to be here, in the water, I want to walk and run on land like you. Now I can change my tail into legs but I’d be hopelessly lost without you. So would you please show me the ways of your life?” Jacob was silent, he was taken aback by such a request.
“I- yeah sure,” agreed Jacob finally. Hali’s eyes lit up, an excited smile on her face. She pulled herself out of the water and what once used to be a flowing tail was now a pair of legs.
“Look at me! I have legs!” exclaimed Hali, clumsily getting to her feet. She was off balance and fell once more to the floor.
“You need to put one foot in front of the other so you don’t fall,” laughed Jacob, helping her up. Slowly Hali got the hang of walking and soon was jumping and running through the grass.
“Can we go to your house?” asked Hali, out of breath. Jacob shook his head sadly and said, “Sorry I can’t go back there, my dad threw me out because I had asked who my mother was, he’s very touchy about the subject,”
“Oh, where are we going to go then?”
“There’s a small cabin not too far from here, we can stay there,”
Hali nodded and started through the trees, closely followed by Jacob and joined by Ash the fox pup.
“Thank you Jacob, you’ve made a Naiad’s wish come true,” whispered Hali, hugging Jacob.
They reached the small cabin which was run down in many places but it felt like home. Jacob showed Hali the mortal world, which she blended in just fine. Sometimes Hali wonders what happened of her mother and Oceane, but never dared go back.