Gabbi Rowe, Grade 8, Penguin High School
ELEVATE THE MIRROR TOWARDS MY FACE; ITS FIERCELY PATTERNED HANDLE IS CARVED ORNATELY, WITH unnatural coolness when poised in my fingertips. Its iciness is a soft, gentle caress from the immense ocean. My eyes flicker stonily to the left; I snag my reflection from my sharpened peripheral vision. Placed on my pallid skin are strikingly wide, curious eyes; the irises are deeply emphasized, an exotic turquoise. Enraptured by the wickedly lovely face that they gaze longingly at, my pupils dilate, along with my rapid distress. I carefully study the opaque pools of cerulean; they are intricately flecked with golden slivers of pain. An otherworldly, unattainable part of me sinks into tainted darkness. Perfect, exquisite; yet I detest them with a bitter, burning certainty.
The mirror’s glass sounds shrill as it shatters into millions of tiny shards. The sudden, eclipsing darkness it creates throws eerie shadows over my face. I delve deeper into the water until my palms are grazing past floury, paper-white sand. Momentarily, I allow the pristine perfection to fall through my fingertips, before I press the curve of my shoulder against its softness. Burrowing into the warmth, I clench my muscles tightly. Torrents of bubbles assault me every second. When sleep falls upon me, it’s hazy and gradual; I am shrouded with gentle warmth that wraps around me in slithering golden tendrils. Abruptly, I begin reliving the time I was chosen to be a mermaid.
It all occurred breathtakingly fast; one moment my bathing suit was clinging to my tuscan skin, the next; nausea was rolling over me in sickening waves. I could barely keep myself afloat. The sand which held my oblivious friends and family seemed vastly distant; even though my screams were piercing the air in choked, strangled cries, they couldn’t hear me; poor Ruesivelle. Something started tugging at my feet, which was roughly the time that I was consumed by a cold, fierce terror. My eyes, clouded with pain, flitted downwards, only to discover the tail that hung below me. I cringed and clenched my hands into fists, squeezing my eyes tightly shut. When they opened, I felt enriched; my breath left my lips in unearthly gasps; droplets of water clung to my body, giving the impression that waves were lapping underneath my skin. My silky hair fanned out around me; a dark curtain. I remained upright, effortlessly bobbing, until tugging tore me into reality. Tears pooled in my eyes and washed down my cheeks until I was struck by unconsciousness.
I awaken, frightened and slathered in sand. I glance pointedly at my hand, where a sharp pain pricks my skin. I pluck a shard of glass that pokes from the dripping wound before discarding it, so as not to catch my reflection again. I stroke the rainbow faucets of my tail, feeling surprised as I discover tiredness in my limbs. I sigh; what will the coming days hold? For now, I embrace the sweet, gentle pleasure of life and bask in its radiance.