Sunday, March 4, 2012

Beyond the Sea

In less than a month, Beyond the Sea will be published! :) I really like this book; it was fun to write and I love the three main characters. Here is the first chapter! Enjoy!! :)

Beyond the Sea
a novel
by Emily Goodwin

-Chapter 1-

Jamie Forester was different. Always was, always would be. Like her two sisters, she had light brown hair and fair skin. Unlike her sisters, she dyed her hair dark and didn’t go tanning. Also unlike her sisters, Jamie was shy, quirky and a day dreamer. She preferred the company of books; she read more than she spoke. She wasn’t good at making friends; Lacey Parker had been her only friend since freshman year. And she didn’t like crowds. She spent Sunday mornings volunteering at the animal shelter and never stayed out late partying (as if she’d ever gotten invited).
She wasn’t athletic, she wasn’t artistic, and she couldn’t carry a tune to save her life. Jasmine, her older sister, was the star of the family. She was smart, pretty, had perfect hair, perfect skin and was an exceptional violinist; it made her parent’s dreams come true when she got that acceptance letter. And even with her off at Princeton, Jamie still felt the cold draft of her sister’s shadow lingering around the house. Only two years into her biophysical chemistry degree and she was already ahead. Plus she was dating, Andy, a ‘super hot’ junior majoring in neuroscience.
Jill was two years younger than Jamie. She was tall, thin, pretty and popular. She was the kind of person you either wanted to be friends with or hated. She was fun, flirty and good at getting her way. And she was cunning, never letting anything or anyone stop her from getting what she wanted. Jill had a new boyfriend almost every other month, and had racked up more dating experience in her first year of high school than Jamie ever had in her entire life.
It wasn’t the giant academic shoes to fill or being a forever caterpillar to her sister’s social butterfly that made Jamie feel so alone. In fact, she had a talent too, one rarer than anything her sisters could do. But it was that very talent that isolated Jamie from not only her family, but most of society.
Jamie had been six years old when her grandpa died. Her family flew out to Memphis, her mother’s hometown, to stay with her widowed grandmother. It was a day after the funeral, and Jasmine and Jamie were playing in her grandmother’s small flower garden when Jamie suddenly felt the atmosphere change. Screaming, she ran for the house thinking it would storm. The air always felt like that before a storm. She reached for her mother, needing a reassuring hug to make everything better. After some comfort and a promise that the clear, blue sky would not suddenly turn gray, Jamie pulled away from her mom.
“Why did grandpa change his hair?” she asked, causing her mother, aunt and grandmother to look at her with pressed lips and shake their heads. Of course, they all thought she was thinking of how strange he looked in his coffin, his gray hair plastered over his stiff skinned head, but Jamie protested.
“It’s black. And long.” She pointed at a detached garage, filled with old parts. Restoring cars was her grandpa’s favorite hobby. “He’s wearing a red shirt and keeps walking in and out of the garage. He won’t answer me.” She frowned, big tears welling up in her eyes.
It was amazing, comforting and a blessing then. To see the spirit of her grandfather after he had just passed brought closure to the family.  It was a curse now. A curse Jamie hated. A curse her mother no longer wanted to believe in. It was scurrilous, unfair and cruel. It followed Jamie everywhere she went. She tried to get rid of it. She tried to ignore it. But she couldn’t; it was part of her. It grew with her, evolving in an obstinate fashion. It suffocated Jamie, disturbing her sleep, distracting her studies, refusing to let her socialize…
The ghosts were one thing. Tolerable, even. After all, no one could deny that she saw her grandfather’s spirit. When The Dark Man started haunting Jamie night after night, her parents began to worry. And when she said faeries lived in the garden, they took her to therapy. She eventually learned to just keep her mouth shut. A year passed. She stopped taking the medication. Another year passed, everyone seemed to forget the whole ordeal.
Jamie’s mother blamed her shyness on the fact that they were a military family and moved frequently, just knowing Jamie would grow out of it, when she went to high school. When she got a boyfriend. When she went to college. But Jamie knew it wouldn’t go away. Ever.
Lacey was overweight. She had stringy, thin hair; she was an easy target. And she was the most caring person Jamie had ever met. They became instant best friends, and she believed Jamie since day one. They spent countless nights holding séances, scouring antique stores for ‘magical’ items, sneaking into abandoned buildings in hopes of finding something haunted, and visiting every public garden they could in search of more fairies. 
Yes, the entire school thought they were weird. But it didn’t matter because they had each other. They understood each other, knew what it was like to be the odd one out. Aside from Jamie’s abilities to see into the Otherworld, Lacey was just like her. They liked the same food, the same movies, the same music. Both adored Harry Potter, both longed for a magical land to hide away in. Both had fathers in the military. Both had older sisters they would never live up to. They were both going to go to the community college and major in social work. They were going to make a difference in the world, to help unfortunate souls like themselves.
Their senior year would be the best one yet, they just knew it. They had elaborate plans for every long weekend and every holiday break. They saved up all summer to go on a road trip in the fall, to eastern Oregon to visit the Painted Hills. There just had to be magic hidden there, and they would find it.
Jamie should have known the trip would never happen. She started getting a bad feeling a week before Lacey came over crying in the middle of the night. Three days from then, her family was moving to South Carolina. The girls kept contact, promising to stay friends forever. Lacey made new friends while Jamie didn’t. Lacey got a fresh start, Jamie was stuck. Stuck being the school weirdo, stuck being alone.
Their internet conversations grew fewer and fewer until it was a rare occurrence. For the next two months, Jamie’s mother took her out on Friday nights. They went shopping, ate dinner at every restaurant in San Morado, saw movies together. They even joined a Tae Bo class. Jamie loved her mother and enjoyed spending time with her, but she knew how much of a feeble excuse hanging out with your mom on a Friday night was for a social life.
Even Jill had to point it out. “You know mom only takes you shopping in hopes you’ll stop wearing those ugly black clothes,” she stated one Friday night as she checked herself out in the shared bathroom mirror. Jamie knew it was true. Her mother felt sorry for her, was worried about her. She knew her mom was trying to make her happy. Jamie didn’t want to be that pathetic girl anymore. Little did Jamie know that what made her so different would be the catalyst to change everything.
It was Wednesday afternoon. Jamie sat in the back of Mr. Thomson’s chemistry class, tapping her pencil absent mindedly on the table as she tried to figure out her formula. Since Lacey moved, she had no lab partner. It took her twice as long to do the assigned projects, but she didn’t mind, as it gave her an excuse to not talk to anyone. She heard the door open but didn’t look up from her book. The class was nearing the end and everyone was chatting away.
Then the energy shifted. She shot her attention to the front of the room. She noticed her just before the rest of the class did. A hush fell over the room.
“Class, this is Melia VanBurren. Let’s make her feel welcome,” Mr. Thomson said, curiously looking at his new student.
Melia smiled nervously at the class. No one spoke.
“Well, Melia, dear, there are two empty seats in the back.” Mr. Thomson waved at Jamie. “Take your pick.”
At the table next to Jamie sat Peter Anderson. She glanced over at him, taking in the glossy eyed way he stared at Melia. Jamie used to have a crush on Peter. Tall, tan, blonde and muscular, it wasn’t hard to see why. A rim of navy circled his sky blue pupils, Jamie noticed a while back. Girls often spoke about getting lost in his dreamy eyes. He hung out with the popular clique but seemed different from them. Nicer perhaps, not so much of a follower. Peter’s lab partner and former girlfriend, Janet Williams, was out sick today, leaving the seat next to him available.
Jamie couldn’t stand Janet. Janet was overly tan to the point of being orange, wore too much makeup and really lacked all natural beauty. She dressed flashy and was overly confident. She tricked you into thinking she was hot, and never hesitated to put anyone beneath her-literally and figuratively. Jamie’s mother once told her bullies were really sad and lonely on the inside. Well, if that were true then Janet must have missed out on a lot of hugs as a child.
Melia slowly walked down the aisle of lab tables, her heels softly clicking on the cold, tile floor. Jamie looked down as Melia stepped in between her and Peter’s table, sure she would choose the latter.
“Can I sit here?”
Jamie’s head snapped up. “Uh, s-sure.”
“Thanks.” Melia smiled. Her voice was smooth, alluring, calming. “I’m Melia.”
“Jamie,” she said nervously. She eyed Melia up and down. The girl was freaking gorgeous. She was tall and thin, but not wispy thin. Her breasts were large enough to make Jamie jealous and her white dress hung off her body in an incredibly flattering way, accentuating her flat stomach, narrow waist and curvy rear end. Her legs were long and lean; her feet nestled in expensive, silver Jimmy Choos. Melia sat, tucking her hair behind her ear and looking curiously at the chemistry book. Gold streaked her brunette locks, which, by the way, fell down to her middle back in loose curls. She smiled again at Jamie, flashing captivating sea green eyes and flawless skin. She only wore mascara.
She looks like an eff-ing Sports Illustrated swimsuit model, Jamie thought bitterly, already planning on calling Lacey to vent as soon as she was able, well, if Lacey would answer this time. Melia set her bag on the table. Jamie knew it was designer, like the rest of her ensemble, and knew it cost more than she made all summer.
Something seemed odd about her, and it wasn’t her very forced sounding introduction or the fact that she was wearing a tennis bracelet with diamonds so large Jamie was sure the thing was worth more than her car. It was the way she looked around the room, nervously, suspiciously, as if she wasn’t sure of what to do. She apprehensively touched the chemistry book, then put her hands in her lap, then nervously yanked on her necklace.
Jamie did what Mr. Thomson asked and shared her book with Melia. She explained the lab project to her and scooted the microscope in the middle. Melia looked at it like it was an alien. Strange, thought Jamie and was relieved when the bell rang. Too enthralled in her new lab partner, she hadn’t realized how fast the remaining time had gone. She jumped up, shoving papers into her folder. Melia sat calmly still, watching the class mill about.
“Need help finding your next class?” Peter asked Melia, smiling in such a charming way that Jamie felt her heart melt.
“Sure,” Melia said, returning his smile. As she rummaged through her purse for her class schedule, Jamie watched Peter look Melia slowly up and down. Melia followed in step behind Peter and paused, turning quickly around. “Bye, Jamie.”
“Uh, bye,” Jamie sputtered. She rushed to her English class and took her seat in the back. To her surprise, Melia walked in, spoke quickly to the teacher, Mrs. Leary, and took the seat behind Jamie. Every male in the room sat up a little straighter, ran a hand over their hair and smiled as Melia passed.
Jamie was jealous. This girl is gorgeous. And probably a total bitch since she looks rich too. It’s not fair, she mentally said with a sigh.  When Mrs. Leary told Melia to borrow someone’s notes to copy, she automatically turned to Jamie. Jamie reluctantly handed Melia her notebook, worried she might flip to a page filled with supernatural inspired drawings.
She followed Jamie down the hall after class. She stopped at a locker, staring at it as if trying to will it to open. Jamie’s heart skipped a beat: that was Lacey’s old locker. She knew the combination and doubted the school had bothered to change it. She also knew that particular locker was hard to open. Lacey struggled with it until she discovered you have to push the door in while turning the combination lock. Jamie’s own locker was right next to it. She quickly shoved her books inside, preparing to offer help, but was beat to the job.
Melia was whisked away by three cheerleaders. Kaitlin, a pretty red head, shot a disgusted look at Jamie. After complimenting Melia’s designer handbag for the fourth time, she said, “Ugh, I saw you talking to Jamie Forester. That girl’s a total freak. She thinks she can talk to the dead!” The cheerleaders burst into laughter.
Tears pricked Jamie’s eyes. She pretended not to hear and pushed her head inside her locker, pretending to look for a book. After the little crowd was gone, she grabbed her lunch and ate it in the bathroom. Jamie flew out of her desk at the end of the day. She wanted today to be over with. She didn’t want to look at Melia’s beautiful body or be around anyone who thought she was a ghost-seeing freak anymore.
“I’ll try to write this all down tonight,” a honey smooth voice came from behind Jamie. She jumped, turning to see Melia holding her English notebook. There had to be at least fifteen pages of notes to copy. It would take forever.
“You can just photocopy it,” Jamie suggested. Melia’s eyebrows furrowed.
“Photocopy? Like take pictures of it?”
“Really?” Jamie asked incredulously.
Melia nodded. Cursing herself for offering, Jamie led Melia to the library and showed her the copy machine. But Melia didn’t know how to use it.  She knew Melia was staring at her as she copied page after page. She avoided looking up and made a bigger deal of stacking the copied pages neater than necessary. 
They walked in silence to the parking lot, Jamie fishing the keys to her Jeep out of her backpack as they went. A yellow Lamborghini revved to life.  A woman just a beautiful as Melia waved to her.
“See you tomorrow!” Melia called over her shoulder to Jamie and rushed to the sports car. Jamie shook her head. She wished she was old enough to drink. A glass of wine sounded good right now.


“Is it true you can talk to the dead?”
“What!?” Horrified, Jamie hushed Melia. They were sitting in chemistry the next day. The entire class was silent, busy concentrating on their lab assignment. That was the third time Melia spoke loudly, clearly not understanding the concept of ‘inside voices’. She had done other odd things as well, like sticking her finger in the Bunsen burner, asking, “Why don’t they build a really big pool for the elephants in Africa? I think they’d like that.” and flipping through a children’s picture book about the ocean.
“Can you talk to the dead?” Melia asked again, quieter this time.
Jamie was about to say no when she caught the look in Melia’s eyes. It wasn’t mocking or jeering. It was hopeful and desperate. “Yes,” she whispered.
“Can you talk to someone for me?”
Melia smiled. “Can you come over after school?”
“Yea, I, uh, guess.”
Jamie’s heart pounded at the end of the day. Part of her thought this was a cruel trick. Maybe Kaitlin and Janet put her up to it. But there was something in Melia’s eyes, a silent pleading that Jamie couldn’t ignore. She threw her backpack in the back of her car and waited.
Wearing another pair of designer heels, short denim shorts and a sheer, flowy light pink blouse over a tight tank top, Melia looked like she was walking out of a Vogue photo shoot. Her hair was stick straight today, half held back in a pretty gold clip that matched her gold bangles and necklace. She got into a silver and purple Audi R8, and led the way to her house.
The breath caught in Jamie’s chest. Her palms sweat. She swallowed. The heavy iron gates slowly opened. She nervously stepped on the gas, carefully navigating her way up the winding driveway to a mansion. Jamie remembered the day the construction started about two years ago. The entire school had been in an uproar, as the mansion was located atop a high, flat hill that jutted out at a sharp angle, overlooking the ocean. The view was amazing, and it had been a notorious party spot for years. Of course, everyone’s parents had been happy to give up that location.
The house was grand, with tall, floor to ceiling windows, fancy landscaping, and a winding brick drive. Jamie thought the house looked out of place in the modest town of San Morado. The yellow Lamborghini parked in the driveway belonged on the streets of L.A., not here. Referred to as The Ridge, it was still just as much a topic of conversation today as it was two years ago. She followed Melia inside, feeling sloppy and under dressed in a house so grand. Everything was immaculate. Jamie felt like she was in a museum.
A gigantic brown dog lumbered down the stairs. He pounced, putting his paws on Melia’s shoulders. On his hind legs he was taller than her. Jamie was horrified.
“This is my Irish Wolfhound, Wolfy,” Melia informed her.
“Wolfy,” Jamie said as the humongous canine greeted her with a slobbery kiss. “How original.”
“Don’t let his size scare you. He’s quite nice.” She opened the door to let Wolfy run outside.
The foyer was the size of Jamie’s bedroom—or bigger. A beautiful curved staircase with hand carved wooden railings welcomed you upstairs. Jamie’s eyes walked up them, curious as to what was behind the fancy balcony. Melia dropped her Louis Vuitton messenger bag and kicked off her shoes. She motioned for Jamie to follow. They went down a gallery hallway, through a butler’s pantry and emerged to the kitchen. Melia hopped up onto a huge island counter. Sunlight sparkled off the expensive granite. Jamie tried not to be obvious as she took in the enormity of the kitchen. The refrigerator was masked, covered with the same fancy wood that made up the cabinets. The tray ceiling was painted a pale blue, just a shade lighter than the walls. Everything was so elegant.
“Are you hungry?” she asked, looking out the window.
“Uh, no. I’m fine,” Jamie lied.
“Oh, well I am.” She jumped off the counter, grabbed a glass from the cabinet and turned on the faucet. After staring admiringly at the running water for a full minute, Melia filled her glass. Just then a twenty-something year old man walked in.
“Hello Melia, how are you today?”
“I’m well,” she said, holding her glass up to the sunlight. “This is Jamie.”
“Nice to meet you, Jamie. I’m Charles. Would you like anything to eat?”
“Uh, no, it’s ok.” She smiled and flushed. Charles was cute. Very cute. He had short, curly dark hair and puppy dog brown eyes.
“Suit yourself,” he said smiled. “And Melia, my dear, what will it be?”
“Grilled cheese.” She took a sip of water.
“It’s my favorite.”
“It’s only your favorite because you refuse to try anything else,” he teased. “I’ll bring it up to you.” He turned to Jamie. “Are you sure I can’t interest you in my cooking?”
“Oh, you really should have something,” Melia spoke, her voice dreamy as she held the glass up again. “Charles is going to be a world famous chef someday!”
“Says the girl who only eats grilled cheese.”
“I eat other stuff!” Melia protested, laughing.
“Ok,” Jamie agreed, realizing that Charles wasn’t Melia’s attractive older brother. He was her personal chef.
Melia lead the way upstairs to her room. Mr. VanBurren was an investor from New York. Jamie heard a rumor that he owned his own plane to fly him back and forth for business meetings. She marveled at the chandelier in the foyer, thinking what it would be like to have him for a father.
“Wow,” Jamie blurted, unable to help herself when Melia opened the door to her room. The entire west wall was floor to ceiling windows, giving a breathtaking view of the ocean.
Melia sat on her bed. Jamie perched on the edge. The room was huge, way bigger than Jamie’s. The décor was a bit bipolar, Jamie thought, as she took in the ornamental white crown molding, and the intricate flowers carved on the white dresser (which matched the nightstands, bookshelf, desk and headboard). A beautiful framed picture of an ocean sunset hung above the bed.
Haphazardly taped to the wall next to it were pictures torn out of magazines depicting animals and scenery from Africa. Several stuffed animals sat awkwardly on the bed, sticking out from the sophisticated ivory bedspread. A huge plasma TV hung on the wall directly opposite, above a dresser that was covered in wooden zebras, lions, giraffes and elephants as well as a handful of sand and a cluster of sea shells.
“How do you do it?” Melia asked.
“Do what?”
“Talk to the dead?”
Jamie fiddled with a loose string on her sleeve. “I, uh, I don’t know. I just do.”
“Have you always?”
“Wow,” Melia said quietly, sounding truly impressed.
Jamie looked up. “You said you wanted me to talk to someone.”
“Yea.” Melia jumped up and flew to the dresser, opening it with such enthusiasm that several of the wooden figurines toppled over. She returned with a necklace. Jamie gently took it, fingering a sparkly pink shell laced with the most interesting kind of thread.
“It was my sister’s,” Melia said, biting back tears.
Jamie swallowed. “How did she die?” she asked gently.
“She was murdered. I don’t know why though.”
“What is her name?”
Jamie closed her eyes, feeling the energy of the necklace. Still afraid Kaitlin might jump out of the closet laughing, she let out a nervous breath. She shook her head, eager to end this when something ran through her.
It felt like water.
But it couldn’t be. Her eyes flew open. The shell felt hot. Melia’s eyes were so hopeful, so desperately sad…murdered…don’t know why…What if it had been her sister? What if she found Jasmine or Jill’s lifeless bodies? She closed her eyes again.
She was sinking. Going down, down, deep down. It was dark, but she could see. Her hair floated out in front of her. A fish swam past.
“Did she drown?” she whispered.
“No,” Melia whispered back. She put a hand on Jamie’s. Suddenly, Jamie was there, in Melia’s world.
She was swimming, she was free, she was happy. She turned, waiting for her younger sister to catch up. She dove down, deeper into the water. Corals and brightly colored fish passed by. She laughed in excitement. She couldn’t wait to show her this; she’d love it! Finally she slowed, twisting so she looked up at the surface of the water. It was sunny and clear today, making it easy to find. The dark spot loomed ahead. With a swish of her tail she was off again, zooming to it.
“Shhh!” she told her sister as they popped out of the water. “We don’t want them to see us yet.”
Melia nodded and followed, silently slicing through the water, her sea green eyes focused on the yacht. They circled around it, laughing.
“There she is!” the older sister whispered. She took the starfish from her bag and threw it like a Frisbee. It hit a woman square in the back. Both girls sank down, laughing. When the starfish whizzed past them, they laughed even harder. Melia popped back up first.
“Hi Mom!” She waved.
The water churned. Everything went black. Jamie knew her vision was changing. She was on the beach. She hurt all over. Blood dripped down her arm but she couldn’t give up. She had to find it. It would put an end to this. Waves splashed, echoing inside a cave. In there. It must be in there.
A maelstrom of confusion and cold water pulled her in. Images flashed before her. Teeth. Claws. Hands grabbing and pulling. Flesh tearing. Screaming, crying, pain…
She dropped the shell and fell backwards off the bed. Jamie lay on the floor, panting. What the hell…?
“Are you alright?”
Jamie struggled to her feet. “What are you?”
“You saw her?” Melia rushed over. Jamie backed away, hitting the bookshelf.
“I-I-I don’t even know what to say.”
Melia clutched the shell. “Did you see her?”
“Yes, I-I don’t know. What are you?” she asked again.
“It’s probably best if I show you,” she said, gingerly putting the necklace on her bed. Silently, Jamie followed her downstairs. The smell of grilled cheese hit Jamie, reminding her of reality. She shook her head. This was crazy. All crazy.
Melia stopped in front of a large pool. She unzipped her shorts and shimmied out of them. Gracefully, she dove into the water. She paused at the bottom. A normal person wouldn’t have felt it. But Jamie Forester wasn’t normal.
And neither was Melia.
She resurfaced, shyly smiling. Jamie sank to her knees, scraping her skin on the stone that surrounded the pool. “Oh. My. God.” She blinked. Melia didn’t change. “You’re a…a…mermaid,” she whispered. “No, this isn’t real.” She tried to stand. “Very funny. Ok, you can stop now.”
“You’re special, Jamie. You see things others can’t.”
Jamie crawled forward. “This isn’t real.”
“Yes.” Melia swam forward. It was as if she didn’t move. She glided through the water. “It is.”
“No way,” Jamie exhaled. Running a hand through her hair, she leaned closer. Melia still looked human, from the waist up that is. Her Chanel blouse clung to her bronze skin. Her legs and feet had transformed into a fishtail; her skin now a scaly purple and gold. Thin skin appeared between each finger, making her hands webbed. She splashed backwards, flipping her tail for Jamie to see. Fearing it would be too much, Melia changed back into human form. She put on her shorts and sat on the edge of the pool, kicking the water.
“Can you tell me what you saw?”
Jamie blinked. “You gotta answer some questions first.”
“You-you’re not human.” Ok, that was a statement, but Jamie felt she got her point across.
“No. I’m a merrow, well, half merrow technically, that’s why I can appear human when I want to. You humans refer to us a ‘mermaids’ and I’m afraid you’ve very much romanticized us.”
“Oh.” She nodded. “Why are you here?”
“My mother. She fell in love with a human. She likes the land,” she said bitterly.
“And you don’t?”
“It can be nice. I miss home.” She looked out at the ocean. “But I just can’t go back, after what happened to Lana. I need to stay with my mom.”
“Oh, ok.” Jamie stared at Melia. “Just tell me the whole story.”
Charles cleared his throat. “Your food is ready, girls.” He set a tray down and hurried off. Melia stood, extending a hand to Jamie. They sat under a big, green umbrella. Jamie picked nervously at her grilled cheese while Melia took a bite. After she swallowed she said, “Edward VanBurren isn’t really my father. My real father was a merrow. My mother is an oceanid. Oceanids don’t favor the water as much as merrows. They look like humans and act a lot more like humans than merrows. They are happy on land as long as they are near the sea—any sea that is. Merrows prefer the ocean, only the ocean. Merrows can’t transform like oceanids can. A lot of oceanids prefer the land.” She took another bite.
“My parents’ marriage was arranged. My mother never wanted to live in the ocean. After my father died, she began coming up to shore, talking to humans. Then, six years ago, she met Edward VanBurren. He has a big boat. It’s called something but I guess it’s not important. One day, he fell overboard. We’re allowed to show ourselves, but it’s, well, frowned upon as your saying goes. You have to be careful with who you reveal the secret too. My mother saved him. He thought she was the most beautiful thing he’d ever seen and pleaded to see her again.
She loved him, almost as much as he loved her, but she knew they could never be together. Obviously, he can’t live in the sea. Lana and I knew she wanted to go the land. But for three years she stayed in the water with us, only seeing Edward every once in a while. Lana and I knew what she was sacrificing, so we agreed to sort of half live on land. Then, my mom and Edward got married. Lana and I spent the summer in New York with them, the rest of the time we lived in the ocean, only surfacing and acting human for special events. A year later, Lana… ” Tears welled in her beautiful eyes. “After Lana died, I moved to New York. But I hated it, so Edward built me this house as a compromise. My mom’s scared I’m going to go back to the ocean.”
Jamie dropped her sandwich back on the plate. “How long have you been on land?” she asked, her voice hoarse.
“Full time? A little over a year.”
That explains the oddity, Jamie understood. Melia finished her food.
“Want to walk down to the shore with me?”
Jamie just nodded. She couldn’t believe what was happening. Ghosts, yes. There are how many reality shows on about them? And faeries, well they were just spirits, nature spirits. But mermaids? No, there was just no way. This was a dream. She wasn’t really here, eating the best grilled cheese ever. She wasn’t sitting on the patio of a multi-million dollar house. The most beautiful girl in the entire school was not sitting next to her, with dripping hair and a ruined designer blouse.
Everything felt surreal as she made her way to the shore. Melia walked a few feet into the water and lay down. 
“Isn’t that sound wonderful?”
“It is,” Jamie agreed honestly. Questions buzzed in her head. She pulled off her shoes and stood near Melia. Water lapped around them. And Melia still looked human.
“How do you change? I mean, you’re in water and still have legs.” The question sounded ridiculous as it spilled from her mouth.
“I change when I want to. It’s a bit awkward to go leg-less on land,” Melia said with a smile. “I can stay human looking in water too.”
“Oh.” Jamie sank down on her butt, soaking her jeans. But she didn’t care. “So your body…it is human?”
Melia sat up. She put a hand above her right breast. “My heart is here. My lungs are different too, of course, my heart beats faster, I have more than one set of eyelids and my temperature’s lower. Other than that, I’m just as human as you are.”
Yeah, just as human as I am, minus the tail, ability to breathe underwater, and I’m sure a pet dolphin or two… Jamie thought to herself sarcastically. She was so overwhelmed. She wanted to know everything. How could she breathe underwater? Why change into human form at all? Did they talk underwater? What did she eat? Where did she sleep?
“Do you talk to fish?” she asked, unable to help herself.
Melia laughed. “Do you talk to dogs?”
“Oh, sorry,” she said, embarrassed. “I guess I’ve seen The Little Mermaid too many times.”
“I like that movie. It doesn’t do a good job truly showing the merpeople though.”
Jamie hugged her knees to her chest. “What happened when you decided to live on land?”
“I was ‘humanized’, with tutors and teachers, all telling me things they thought I should know.”
“Oh. They missed a few things,” Jamie said, and then she laughed, remember the photocopier incident. “What about school? I mean, what do you need to learn under the sea?”
Until the sunset, the girls sat in the water, Melia telling Jamie everything there was to know about her transition to human life.

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