Alex sat in the stillness of the sunset. His surfboard lay at his side, the bar of wax abandoned as he took in the flames licking the sky. The beach was deserted, not another soul in sight for miles.
He thought he was daydreaming when he saw the waves drop back, curl back as if forming a path from the mid waves to the shore. A shadow fell forward on the bare strip of the ocean floor. She seemed to rise up, as if she was formed from the waves and began to walk her way out of the water. Alex was now sure he was dreaming. She… she was breathtaking. The most confusing part was that she seemed bone dry. He wished he was closer, to see if there was water that clung to the blue dress that flowed down her slight body. He couldn’t stop staring, but she didn’t seem to notice that she wasn’t alone.
Maybe she went swimming before I got here, Alex tried to rationalize in his head. But he'd been surfing for hours, watching everyone drift back to the beach, to dry off and get dinner. He would've noticed her. Maybe I need to go to bed. Maybe I need to get in the water to wake up and stop seeing things. Alex shook his head, trying to free himself from the weird scene. He got to his feet and pulled his board to his side. A few more sets before it got dark, and to shake the weird dream out of his mind. Marching towards the water, he allowed himself one more look to where the girl was. She had vanished. Alex blinked, double checking before shaking his head and plunging into the water.
The cold water seemed to throw him out of his daydream, and he began to feel alert again. He emerged from under the silky sheen of the water and slid onto his board. He paddled hard, feeling that he’d wasted time being sleepy and dreamy. That girl was just a dream, a trick in his head from being tired and wishful. What a joke, he thought. He’d been at Cable Beach for the last week and never seen or heard anything about a dry girl emerging from the ocean. It wasn’t real, and maybe he needed some more sleep. The holidays and being alone most of the time was getting to him.
He stopped and spun himself around to get ready for the promising set of waves on the horizon. Alex got lost in the motion of paddling, popping up and catching wave after wave. He didn’t notice the dark and stormy clouds rolling in, the sunrise fading, and the eeriness that hung around the bay. The waves were getting more aggressive, but Alex wasn’t ready to call it a day. He glanced back at the waves hurtling towards him and threw himself into motion. His arms slashed into the dark water, propelling himself forward and pushing up onto his feet. He almost had it. Unsteady, unbalanced and the wave caught him and swept him off his feet. Alex was pulled into the belly of the wave, the leash of his board pulling him along as he thrashed around under the surface. He fought, Alex was a reasonable swimmer after all and tried to move out from underneath the waves grasp. It was a losing battle; Alex was struggling to hold his breath. Spots danced across his vision, he felt heavy and weak. Right before he slipped into unconscious, he saw her.
It was stupid really. Stupid how careless she had been to check the beach, stupid how she didn’t put more distance between this bay and her when she realized someone had seen her. Something had kept her here. She had slipped back into the waves and waited for the boy to leave. Instead, he drew closer to her, but she couldn’t bring herself to leave. She knew her father was pissed, furious as the sweet summery sunset had quickly switched to stormy. She knew she shouldn’t be this close to a human. Not today. Not when he had already seen her.
It was even more stupid to save him. She couldn’t help it. It would be her fault if he drowned, might as well be her fault he lived. Her father didn’t even know he had seen her yet, but he knew she was in the presence of a human and not leaving. She didn’t want to imagine his fury if he knew the whole story. The boy, well more of a young man she realized as she propelled him towards shore, there was something about him. He didn’t look like the typical beach blonde surfer boy that usually washed up on this part of the coast. His skin was fair, not deeply tanned which made her think he didn’t live here permanently. His hair was coppery, the tones of brown and red warming. He didn’t feel heavy to her, here in the water but she could see the outline of his taught muscles as she pulled him on the board. She couldn’t help but wonder what his eyes looked like, to put together all the pieces of the puzzle.
It didn’t take long for her to get to shore and deposit him and his board onto the sand. She got to work pumping his heart to make him splutter up what he had swallowed of the sea. She turned him onto his side as he coughed weakly. She sat back, knowing she should leave, now. Right now. Before his eyes opened, before he saw her again. She stayed. Tucking her feet under her legs as she sat a few metres away in the sand. He continued to cough for a few minutes, which made her wince. He went silent, and she knew he was almost awake. She watched as he slowly rolled onto his back and pushed himself up to sitting. His eyes flicked around, taking in his surroundings and stopped when they landed on her. She saw mixed emotions flick across his face as he shook his head.
“I must be dreaming,” She could hear him mumble quietly, “Or dead.”
She resisted the urge to laugh, “You’re not dreaming,” She said gently.
He froze. She swallowed, holding her arms around herself tightly as his sea green eyes fixated on her.
“I must be dead then,” He finally spoke, confusion knitted between his eyebrows.
“Not today,” She chuckled, “Maybe if I hadn’t been there.”
“How…who…what,” he spluttered,” Who are you?”
She was pulled to him, felt anchored and knew there was no point lying.
“I’m Kaia,” She answered, “Poseidon’s daughter.”
He laughed, “Poseidon? The god, c’mon. What is this, a joke?”
“No,” She said quickly, “I’m serious.”
He looked at her. Realization dawned on his face, “I saw you earlier.”
“And you casually walked dry out of the ocean,” He looked dazed.
“One of the perks,” Kaia gave a wry smile, “Only no one is meant to see me.”
“But I did,” The boy said.
“You did,” She agreed.
“You disappeared,” He shook his head, “I thought I was going crazy.”
“I’m sorry,” She bowed her head, “It’s against our law for a human to witness us coming out of the water like that.”
He nodded then paused, tilting his head curiously, “But you rescued me?”
“It was my fault,” Guilt bubbled inside her chest as she knew she had just made her and his life a whole lot harder. “The storm. My father was angry at me.”
Alex shuffled towards her, still looking fatigued.
“Well, I was the stupid one who went surfing alone in near dark,” He sat next to her, “Don’t give yourself all the blame.”
It made her smile. She bit her lip, “You believe me?”
“I guess I would’ve drowned if you weren’t real,” He reasoned, “Right now, it’s the only logical explanation.”
“No billions of questions?” She asked, confused by this human boy who seemed so easily accepting.
“I think it’s your turn to ask me some,” He grinned.
“You really shouldn’t be here, with me,” She tried to warn him, to remind herself but it was useless.
“You are the most interesting thing that’s happened to me all summer,” He said, “I’m not going anywhere. Not after I’ve met a girl this pretty.”
Her cheeks flushed, “This is putting you in danger,” She pleaded one more time.
“I think it’s worth the risk,” His eyes on her made her heart race, “Now why don’t you ask me something, like what’s my name?”
She knew this was dangerous and probably forbidden but something bubbled inside her for this boy, something anchoring her to him. She gave in.
“Whats your name?” She smiled softly.
“Alex,” He grinned at her, his confidence and energy restoring from the evening’s events.
Alex, she thought, playing his name over and over in her head.
“Alex,” She breathed.
“Kaia,” He chuckled and leant his hand on her knee.
It was like a white-hot pulse went through her body. Not white hot painful but intense, heat. It made her heart skip a beat, her brain blank like a clump of seaweed and desire pool up in her body. Her body was heightened to his touch. This was all too fast and too real.
“Alex,” she said shakily, “Tell me about yourself.”
They lay in the sand, fingers inches from touching as they talked about one another’s worlds. The stars blinked above them, a shimmering world of constellations that reminded her she had a reality to go back to after this. One evening, one dreamy night with him, that’s the most she could wish for. Alex began to yawn as it got later and the shock and stress of the day caught up with him. She curled on her side, murmuring back and forth, hands now intertwined and electric. He dozed off to sleep, his sea glass eyes fluttering shut and hand becoming heavy and warm in hers.
Kaia knew this was her time to leave. To keep him safe, to keep him out of her world and away from the horrors of the ocean floor. But she lay there, allowing herself one more hour, squeezing his hand tightly, gazing up at the stars. Not wanting this, whatever this was, to end.
Poseidon’s daughter watched him rest.