Just beyond a beautiful coral reef, laying against the drop-off below fish passing overhead was a woman. She was asleep, her black hair floating in the water like seaweed. A few fish swam too close, mistaking her hair for just that, and tangling themselves in the mass, before wiggling their way out and swimming quickly away. The girl’s eyes fluttered open, both pupils a deep pool of black - save for one speck of gold. Her skin was ghostly pale, as if she had died in the sea she slept in. Maybe she had, but it was so long ago that no one remembered, not even the girl.
She observed herself, patting down her ragged and torn red skirt. Her abdomen was exposed to the cold of the water, her chest being covered by the remains of a beige blouse. She pushed back her hand, though it was of no use, as the pull of the current dragged it back in front of her face. She glanced up, smiling at the fish swimming overhead. All an assortment of blue, red, and green scales. Some bigger than others, some smaller than most. All moving together in the same direction. Towards the reef.
The girl propped a leg up, her eyes widening at her webbed feet and hands. She looked them over, bubbles of air flowing over her head. She wiggled the tips of her fingers, captivated by the skin that connected her appendages to one another. Then, she noticed the fins along her calves and forearms. A short giggle escaped her, the fish overhead scurrying faster to the safety of the reef. She pursed her lips together, and rubbed the back of her neck. She hadn’t meant to scare them.
Then she stood completely on her legs, glancing up at the long swim to the edge of the drop off. It was high up, and she pushed back strands of hair and wiggled her toes. She wasn’t entirely sure how some webbed feet were meant to help her swim, though she felt grateful that she had the fins on her arms and legs. She pursed her lips again, and blew a raspberry, scaring more fish away from her. She looked up, trying to see past her strands of flowing hair. It pulled out into the ocean, and pushed into the reef. It was the current, pulling and pushing. Rising and falling. The fish above her moved with it, using the current to their advantage to swim to their new home. She stared down at her webbed fingers, then back up to the fish. She would also have to use the current if she wanted to reach the reef.
She pushed off the ground in a jumping fashion, and kicked her feet around. It was ungraceful, and she fell back down to the floor of the ocean. She huffed, and tried again, using the same motion to try and propel herself faster. It did nothing but drain her energy and keep her at the bottom. Finally, she pushed off again, this time propelling her body with her arms and swinging her legs back and forth against the water. It still wasn’t as graceful of a swim as she wanted, but it pulled her to the traffic of fish above her. That was all that mattered.
They scurried from her, creating a large opening for her to swim alongside them. They stayed beneath her, and behind her. She giggled and kicked her feet, swimming closer to the reef. This time, she kept her arms locked to her sides, only pushing forward with the current, and kicked her feet only when it tried to pull her from the reef. Another kick and she was pulling over the drop off and to the edge of a coral forest.
It was beautiful. Twisting red, purple, and green coral layered the floor of the reef. Clownfish, starfish, and crabs hid in all corners as she pashed. A manta ray swam beneath her, then around, and stopped above her. The girl twisted around and giggled at the silly face of the animal. It flapped it’s wing-like fins and swam away. She smiled.
Seaweed grew from the cracks of rocks, and algae stuck to the stone. Seashells littered the bottom, and the girl reached down to pick one or two up and gaze at them. One of them was closed up, and the girl sat down on the sand and tried to open it. It wouldn’t budge, and she blew a raspberry, setting it back down in the sand where she had found it. The other shell was white, but little pink stripes lined it. The inside had little specks of sand stuck to it, and she dusted it off, and clenched it in her hand.
A blowfish shimmied it’s way toward her, and she smiled at it. The clownfish came out of their hiding spots, and the crabs crawled along the seafloor to meet her. The starfish clambered out from between rocks, and nestled themselves under the moonlight near her feet. The manta ray swam gracefully above her, and a few coral trout circled her head. She stared in wonder at the fish, reaching out to touch the starfish and the coral trout circling her.
Then, the moon caught her eye. Shimmering against the surface of the water, barely visible in her new world, save for the reflection of light from the sun. She stood slowly, allowing the fish above her to part and swim away. To which they did, and scurried off into their hiding holes once again. The surface of the water was a lot closer than before, though her legs were tired from fighting the current. She looked off to her right, and noticed a slight incline. She supposed it met an island somewhere and decided walking the ocean floor would be better than swimming to the surface.
It was a bit harder than she had imagined, but the fins along her calves and forearms made the journey easier than the fight against the pull of the ocean. She made it to the surface in just a few minutes, her hair dropping flat against her head and arms as she did. Another minute later, she found herself at the beach of an island. The sand felt grainy against her feet, and she found herself appreciative of the webbing. She wouldn’t have to pick sand from between her toes.
The island was large, and behind the trees, she could see a mountain. It stretched up and met the sky. She turned around, and stared out at the ocean. The moon’s reflection danced across its surface, and she glanced up to wonder at it. Her eyes drifted from it, wonder filling them once again at the millions of stars light years from her planet; Earth.