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Just One More

Just one more.

Just.

 

One.

 

More.

 

My intent must be obvious, my glare murderous. Seb is wearing a worry crease between his eyes. But he always worries; his face may have simply frozen like that. I have heard such human tales before; who knows if such things extend to crustaceans.

“There are no more, girl. You made sure of that,” Seb says. 

His eyes are downcast. Sadness? Fear? It’s all so hard to tell.

“There are more, Seb. I can feel them out there. Scurrying across the lands, hiding from the monsters of the deep sea.”

“From you.”

The two words from my best friend cut deeply.

“I am no more monster than they are.” 

Seb shuffles back. 

“You are frightened of me, Seb. Why?”

He bubbles a sigh. “I am not frightened of you, Thel. I am scared for you. For what you are becoming. You had your vengeance long ago. This vendetta against all humans will not bring back your people. It’s time to let it go. If you don’t, I’m afraid I’ll lose you.”

I flick my tail in frustration. The humans ravaged the land and then came for the sea. Their thirst for blood insatiable, indiscriminate. I could forgive the hunting – we all need to eat – but the sport? The merciless pursuit of my people. For what?

For fun. 

For trophies. 

For eradication of anything that could compete with them.

And then there was him. 

He was different. 

Kind.

Understanding. 

Beautiful.

Until he wasn’t.

That’s what Seb can’t understand. It’s not just what they did; it’s what he did. Betrayal. One that cut through her ribcage and squeezed her heart until it popped. It’s not because of the humans that she is the last merperson on the planet. It’s because of her. Her lovesick heart. Her trusting nature. Her belief in the goodness of people.

Of course, Seb could never understand - he doesn’t know. The part I played in all that happened is locked away in my heart, which is nothing more than ribbons now. It festers, coursing through my veins like sludge. I can’t let it go. Not until the guilt, the pain, seeps away.

 

“I can’t, Seb. I just can’t. But you should go. This is not your vendetta.”

Seb scuttles over and nips my tail. 

“Ouch! What was that for?”

“For being a dummy. I will not leave you, Thel. If you insist on this path, I can’t stop you. I won’t help you. But I won’t leave you either.”

I wrap my tail around him, and he snuggles into my iridescent scales. All my people were magnificent, but my tail was a rare beauty – the shimmer of it held all the colours this world could offer. It was a sight to behold in my realm, a treasure to be owned by the humans. Maybe one day they’ll mount my tail on the wall of their castles.

Seb was right that humans did not come to the sea anymore. I have terrorised them enough to push them back to their lands. But I know they are out there. Not just by the pull on my rotting, dead heart but by the call of the gulls. They are loud, annoying little things, but they bring knowledge from the inner lands and are not shy about squawking to any who will listen.

And that’s why I’m here. On this rock. Waiting. Sitting here was enough at first; my tail lured those close enough to see the sunlight dance off my rainbow tail, but now all have been given to the sea. 

With no one left to be mesmerised by my beauty, I use my other gift. My song does not need to be loud – my voice drifts across the lands, carried on the wind and into the fortresses the humans hide behind. They will give in to the melody one by one, gripped by an unseen force and pulled to the sea. And then into it. Under it. 

Just one more.

Just.

One.

More.

Maybe. Maybe one more will be enough to bring back one of my people. That’s what the sea enchantress said. It only takes one. The right one.

Just one.

One more. 

One.

One.

One.

Until.

I am not the only one anymore. 

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