Tails

What if you've been a mermaid all your life- but only just found out? Gaia has just turned 17- and wakes up on her birthday to find herself underwater, with a tail. Great. She's a fish. Just what she wants to know. But she finds herself entangled with adventure, love, and courage she never knew she had. A tail (see what I did there?) of love and hope that will make you want to read more.

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1. School

Emmie throws her arms round my neck and just about strangles me to death.

"Happy birthday Geegee!" She beams, shoving a wrapped present in my face.

"Um, thanks, Emmie, but one- it's not my birthday yet, and two- don't call me Geegee! It sounds like a seventies pop star or something gross like that." I accept my present anyway, and tuck it into my already full school bag.

"Grumpy pants," she mutters. She tuts as she pulls a stray piece of hair from my face. "And learn to take care of yourself too! You'll never get a boyfriend like this!"

"Good!" I say. "I don't want one."

She rolls her big grey eyes. "Oh Geegee-"

"Gaia!" I correct her. She ignores me.

"You really need to realise you will actually die alone at this rate."

"Emmie's words of wisdom," I tease.

"No, I'm just speaking the truth, you need to be more..." She searches for a word that she doesn't manage to find. She beams a pearly smile as she sees Eddie walking down the corridor, her eyes following his every move. "Eddiiieeee!!" She calls out, waddling over in her too-high-heels. He presses his lips into a smile when he sees her, but  there's something about his eyes that make me uneasy. Thin, dark green little cracks above his high cheekbones. I preffer when they are hidden behind his floppy blonde australian curls. He gives Emmie a brief hug, then walks past her as if she's thin air. Her perfect skin crinckles up into a frown, and she looks slightly lost as she watches his figure slip through the ajar double doors down the coridoor. I shuffle awkwardly over to her side and pat her back uselessly.

"Hey," I say with a shrug, "it's the end of the day, he's a guy, who blames him?"

She twists her mouth, her eyes burning into the double doors.

 

"How dare he?!" She blabbers. We've been walking for fifteen minutes, but it seems life fifteen years. "Mmm.." I muffle. She looks over at me with a bewildered look on her face.

"Does he think he can just, what, brush past me like that? Just a vague hug, and leave me alone in the coridoors?!"

Okay. I just took slight offence.

"You were with me, Emmie. Remember?"

"Yeah, but you don't count." She sees my expression. "No offence."

"Hey look," I sigh, tired of talking to her. "We're at your place."

"So we are!" She says smiling. "Well, happy birthday, Geegee!" I wince. "I hope it's as good as mine always is!"

I fake a smile, and wait till she slips through that delicate stain-glass-windowed door, then run, relieved to be free from her company.

 

I slam the door, and mum hears it.

"Hey, honey, I'm in the kitchen. I made you some coffee."

"Great," I say, facing the newly tiled kitchen. I slump my bag onto the table. "But I'll just have water."

She sighs and looks at me. "Gaia, sweetheart. This obsession with water...what is it a new kind of diet or something?"

"No mum!" I laugh, getting a glass out the cupboard. "I just...like it. It makes me feel..." The sound of water running from the tap makes me smile, "...alive."

She laughs like a mad woman. "Call BBC, get the newsreporters in! I gave birth to an alien!"

I sip at my water, and feel it flow through my body, and it lightens me up. "Wow. So much better."

"Well, now you're in a good mood, you won't moan as much if I tell you some news."

I roll my eyes. "Oh god here we go. Spit it out."

"We're moving. To England."

"You mean...not in Australia? Out of Perth?!"

She nods slowly.

Let the arguments begin...

 

I love staring up at those glow in the dark dolphins blu-tacked to my ceiling. I close my eyes and pretend my duvet covers are the ocean waves, tugging me along the water. If dad hadn't drowned, I'd be in water everyday, all the time. But mum hates the stuff since dad died. It was tragic, but it shouldn't stop me from swimming. Well. Tomorrow I'm 17. I could always ask to go swimming as a treat? I'm practically snoring like a pig in seconds, fast asleep.

 

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