This doesn't match the prompt, and it's also above the word limit, but. . . here you go, a story after SUCH a long time! (Part 2 will be in another entry)
It was the time of day when the sky had almost finished sweeping up the remains of the sun’s light, and the world was fading into night, when I first tasted water from the middle of the ocean. My fingers trembled with a certain kind of exhilaration as I swallowed the last of the salty potion. My lips puckered in disgust, and I could feel the rest of the group’s eyes on me. The swaying ship didn’t help.
Today was the first day of the second month, and I had volunteered to try the saltwater mixture. I was, much to my surprise, excelling at the regular, clean water, but I still had a long way to go. Even so, with some sort of notion to try this, I had decided I could attempt consuming the much more difficult saltwater. Of course, it was just for demonstration purposes, to show the difference between salty and regular water, but nevertheless, I was afraid of being humiliated.
A wave of regret swept upon me as I attempted to do something with all of the water that was now inside of me. It was a funny concept, one that I never thought I would never try. In order to move water, you had to be able to taste it. The better you could taste it, the better you could move it. The only problem was, to move ocean water, you’d have to drink it first. Same with pond water, and all the undrinkable types out there. That’s why you need practice and get yourself accustomed to the changes.
I had wished with all my heart to get air when I learned I could manifest, because all you had to do for air was feel it. You could just carry around a fan. Unfortunately, I got water. The marking the Water Muse -- Aquen -- gave me to show it (a black spiraling water graphic) was stark on my wrist and I felt quite uncomfortable when people looked at it, so I covered it with a long glove.
“Try making motions with your hands. It helps your mind get in the flow.”
That was when I remembered that Azia and the others were still there. When I first showed a sign of being a Water Mystic, her parents had signed up for a short training program with Azaria Adoka, Azia for short, a Mystic who also happened to be a deep-sea diver. She was quite harsh, which you wouldn’t be able to tell from her appearance, a soft, round-looking build. Even her voice sounded soft and round, honestly.
One girl snickered at the unintended pun Azia had made. I tried to ignore it. I needed to focus. Embarrassing myself in front of the rest of the group was something I didn’t want at any cost.
Lifting my arms slowly, I tried to lift a drop of water from the bucket before me. I’d practiced many times on regular water, but the ocean water was just so much more restricting, so much more poisonous. I couldn’t focus on anything else but the sickening taste inside my mouth that burned my throat. I needed to get it out of my system as fast as I could. . . but how?
I did the last thing I wanted to do that day. I threw it up.
I didn’t feel anything else, not even the utter humiliation and embarrassment I was supposed to feel. Only relief that the saltwater was out of my gut.
“Mira, hun, you okay?”
I didn’t look up for a while, trying to take in everything. At least the saltwater was out.
No, I thought. No, I don’t think so. This is too difficult.
When I looked up, she was busy cleaning up the mess I had made. She would have been able to do it easily if the saltwater wasn’t mixed with my saliva, but since she couldn’t taste it (to this day, I don’t blame her), she had to do it manually. I stumbled in an attempt to help her, but she told me to clean myself up first.
The bathroom on the ship was terrible, with dirt and grime everywhere, but it was all Azia could afford at the moment. Not many people had come for the program this time. Other than me, there were only four others.
When I came back, the regular lesson was already under way. Had I really taken that long? I probably wasn’t alright. Azia looked up from helping one kid who was slightly younger than everyone else and was having a little bit of trouble. I could tell from the way she looked at me that what I was fearing was probably true.
“I don’t think you should do anythin’ else today, sugar.” Then she gave me a strict look that told me she expected me to make up for the loss of practice as soon as I got better.
“Also, have this. It’ll help you deal with the dehydration a little better. Spare your kidneys.”
She passed me a water bottle full of a greenish liquid. I didn’t know what it was exactly, but the drink tasted sweet in a sickening way. It did make me feel a little bit better, though.
I sighed and went into my room, which I shared with one other girl. During the time everyone else was practicing, I did work I had from school. Some history, mathematics, and political stuff. My fingers trembled as I thought how difficult all of this was. How was I ever to get the hang of it?
I tried to ignore the thoughts rushing in my head. My grades were already not so good. I had gotten a 9/10 on my last test, and I had to make sure I wouldn’t make the same mistake again.
It was dark enough for me to have to use a candlestick to read the dusty leather volumes by the time Azia came by the door.
I looked up.
“See, there’s a trick to it. You gotta concentrate on the taste, but not too much. It’s all about concentrating, you see?”
I thought for a while, not sure what she was talking about.
“For the saltwater?”
She was gone by then, busy with her own stuff probably. Oh well.
Ripples of water rocked the waves as yet another day passed in which I made no progress. Images of land, so, so far away at the moment, swam in my mind. I missed my family greatly, and seeing nothing but rope and wood was driving me away from my sanity. I wrote stories in my free time, waiting to go back home.
It wasn’t until the next week that anything really eventful occurred. I was starting to feel better the very next day, of course (thank you, Ma, for all the greens).
We had sailed to land again. I had (figuratively) passed out in joy. How long had it been? More than a month, at least. The humid grass was absolutely heavenly, and I just. . . I didn’t want to go back on the ship after.
We were on the shoreline city of Sageshore, a small but heavily populated place. I had never been here, but I heard it was pretty warm compared to other cities in my country. At least it wasn’t frozen in ice like home. We had chosen to set sail during the summer so that we wouldn’t have to worry about all the ice. There was still some further south, but none here.
I didn’t know for certain why we were here, but I was happy. We stayed at an inn for the night. It seemed as if Azia had to deal with some sort of a problem in the ship.
I was getting quite skilled by now. At least, for my level. I could move a whole cup of regular water. Of course, nothing was possible with salt just yet. I hadn’t touched it since that day a week or two ago. As of water already inside of us, something that we started yesterday, well, getting the hang of that felt like a century away.
That entire day was spent roaming around, buying things, enjoying the scenery, and overall, being tourists. What was on the ship stayed there. Every bad memory, everything good, it was all left behind, just for that day. I would like to say I made a new friend, but I’m not so sure about that. . .I never even got his name. Was it Arran? Or Araan? Something of that kind. He was very nice, we talked for a while. He had gone to the Manifestation Center hoping he’d get the Muse he was hoping for, and he did. We had a long discussion about Azia as well. He said he didn’t really love the way she taught, it was a little confusing. I had to agree with him on that point.
I stayed up until midnight roaming the city alone, despite knowing that I would have to wake up early tomorrow to go back to the ship. I had found an enchanting clearing where the lush bushes were stringed with fairy lights and a path led to an area with mossy stone benches and stained glass lamps. The entire place had a scent of petrichor, and a soft kind of music played in the background of my mind as I sat on the cool rock. . . like a harp at the bottom of the ocean, soft but muffled in a way that made it all the more peaceful.
Maybe it was just my imagination, but I also thought I saw some sort of a strange blue light coming out of the glass circle at the base of the circle of rocks. No, it wasn’t just a hoax. A faint glow was peeping out. I stood up and walked up to it, realizing there was a small pool of water underneath the glass, and it seemed as if some sort of lights were lined along the inside edges as well.
“Neat, am I right?”
“Sorry, didn’t mean to scare you. I’m Breccan.” A boy probably three or four years older than her stepped out from behind a tree. He held out a hand from the darkness, but I didn’t feel safe enough to shake it. I looked down at his pale wrist. He had a mark too, just like me, but it seemed that Breccan was a Fire Mystic
“B-Breccan. I’m Mira. Do you live here?” I made every effort to attempt to sound formal, but it seemed like I was at a loss for words.
“Well, not in this clearing, but yeah. Nearby. My dad has a restaurant. I help around.”
“Anyway,” he prompted. “What brings you to this part of town? I’ve never seen you before.” At that moment, he stepped out into the light, and I could examine his face more closely. He had a tall, skinny build and light skin covered in freckles and acne. His spiky brown hair was dyed blue at the tips and his brown eyes glinted amber, dappled with the light from the lamps. He had longer than normal eyelashes that touched his round spectacles every time he blinked, which was quite distracting to look at.
I must have been up with my bad habit of staring again, because he cleared his throat.
I struggled to remember what he had asked.
“Oh, um. I’m from a little farther south. We --- me and the group I came with --- are learning how to use water energy. I’m just a beginner though. I can barely do anything,” I stuttered, shrugging. “According to my teacher, I’m supposed to concentrate. I’ve been concentrating, but it’s all just really hard.”
“Oh, I feel you.” He sighed, sitting down on the stone bench opposite to her in a casual and relaxed pose, as if he came to this place just about every day.
Then, he said, “I remember when I was in training. My teacher-dude was the worst. He kept telling me to concentrate like my life depended on it, while keeping track of my surroundings. But honestly, when I found out what he meant, it was much easier. It’s all so abstract. You gotta know that it’s gonna come when it comes.”
I sighed. “That’s what everyone keeps telling me.”
“That’s because it’s true. It’ll take at least a few years for sure to really get the hang of it. You know, change the direction of the tide and stuff. Water’s so cool. I’d always hoped I’d be a Water Mystic, but I got stuck with Fire, the dumbest one.”
“That’s not true!”
“It is,” He sighed. “There’s nothing much you can do with fire except burn stuff. Anyway, you were talking?”
“Oh. Yeah, the program’s ending in a few more weeks. I suppose I’ll have to learn most of it all by myself.”
“True. I have an uncle who can help me, luckily. I’m still learning though.”
Foliage rustled somewhere behind me, and both of us jumped. I glanced at Breccan’s face, and his flushed cheeks told a story different from what I had assumed had happened in the bush. What it was exactly, I couldn’t figure out. He stood up nervously, and his tall, lanky frame trembled as he began to pace.
He ran his hands through his hair and said, “I, I have to leave.”
By now, I had stood up as well. “Is everything alright?”
He looked in my direction, but his gaze went right through me. “No, it’s okay. It’s just. . .I have to go.”
And with that, he disappeared in an outburst of flames, leaving me shocked and all alone.
(Part 2 is a continuation, the story is about 2/3 of the way done here.)