Eve was the curious sort. The sort that had to frequently be told not to stray too far from the school. Unfortunately she was also the sort that was easily distracted, which meant what she’d been told didn’t matter very much when a distraction presented itself.
She’d been told countless times not to stray too close to the surface, but because she was too young, or at least her parents thought so, she wasn’t told why. Just that it was dangerous.
And where do we find her this time of not wandering near the surface? There’s just too many things here to catch her attention. It’s nice and bright compared to further down where there’s much less sunlight. It must be very sunny today because the water is clearly illuminated, all of the various particles stirred up by various creatures in the relatively shallow parts. This is the most interesting part of the lake Eve thought. Usually it’s difficult to see the bottom because of the lack of light, but here you can easily find all sorts of things. Creatures, junk, and stuff her parents called “Human things”, though Eve doesn’t know what that means exactly.
As usual she swims slowly along the bottom scanning for things to investigate, occasionally looking up at the beautiful shining sun above. She swims around the wooden columns that stretch from the bottom all the way up through the surface. She likes this area, this is where she tends to find the most things for some reason. She even has a small pile of things she’s collected near one of the columns.
As she looks up she spots something unusual that immediately catches her attention. Something shiny is swimming around further up. It looks like a tiny fish, and it’s unusual because it’s swimming very sporadically and seems to slowly make it’s way towards the columns. It’s probably injured somehow. Then suddenly it darts upwards and disappears as it gets close to them. As she loses sight of it she turns her attention back to scanning the bottom.
She finds a little red bowl thing after a while. She adds it to her collection because while it’s not very interesting it’s a new thing. She once again looks up and spots the shiny injured fish again. She’s a little hungry and decides it’d be fun to chase it.
She slowly makes her way towards it, circling around behind it slightly to avoid spooking it. It doesn’t really seem to notice at all, still slowly jerking it’s way in the direction of the columns. Eve doesn’t think much of it, with her dark brown spotted tail and dark skin she’s difficult to see in the murky water even with it being lit pretty brightly. She’s also a good hunter and have a lot of practice sneaking up on things.
She keeps approaching it slowly until there’s just her body length’s distance remaining, she then flicks her tail hard and darts forward, catching the tiny thing in her mouth!
A sharp pain immediately snapped her out of hunting mode! Her instincts made her swim down and towards deeper water, but she doesn’t get far before the pain intensifies and through the pain she feels something pulling…
She had little choice but to follow the pull, which takes her closer to the edge of the lake. Occasionally she tries to fight against the pull and it stops for a bit, only to return along with more pain and continue leading her on. It’s difficult to think through the pain and she obediently follows the pull to keep the pain away, keeping it at a dull burn in her cheek, even though she’s worried about what will happen.
After what seems like a long time she noticed the water getting very shallow. The surface is only an arms length above her. She should be very worried now, her parents have told her to stay away from the surface, but between the bursts of sharp pain she only feels curiosity. There isn’t much room left for worry in her mind.
Suddenly she feels her pelvic fin touch the bottom and rises slightly, only to unexpectedly breach the surface with her dorsal fin, quickly followed by her back. Before she has time to react her speed carries her onto the beach in front, her belly sliding over the sand. Once she realizes what’s happened panic and instincts set in and she starts trashing, and flopping in the barely ankle high water, unfortunately by doing this she only manages to beach herself further.
It’s only after the panic settles and she stops moving, now laying still on her side, she starts taking in her surroundings. She’s used to swallowing gulps of water, which pass through her body and is expelled through her gills, which extract the oxygen, located just in front of the pectoral fins, just behind where her tail begins. But right now she seems to just be breathing air.
Finally she notices someone looking at her, a bit further onto land is standing a boy. A human boy, of course Eve doesn’t know what a human is yet. She can tell it’s a boy though. They look similar enough. It has a surprised look on it’s face, she guesses it’s never seen a mer-person before either.
It starts approaching slowly as she notices it’s holding a long thin pole. She also notices a line shimmering in the bright sunlight. Her eyes follow it from the pole towards herself. She then realizes what happened. She puts a hand up to her cheek and feels something pointy jutting out of it. As she touches it the pain returns like a sudden bolt and she lets out a pained gasp.
The human boy is now right next to her, lower towards the ground, he reaches towards her, following the line from the pole now laying on the ground next to him. She watches what he’s doing curiously. He suddenly grabs her chin and squeezes so she opens her mouth, she feels a brief sting as he removes the hook from her cheek and then lets go. Her body tries to respond by jerking with her tail, but fails in doing much beyond a brief flop that splashes some water around her tail fin.
She suddenly feels exhausted, her tail feeling very heavy. Suddenly the boy speaks.
“My name is Tristan, what’s yours?” he says. Amazingly Eve understands him immediately, she tries to answer with her name, but for some reason he can’t hear her. When he spoke it looked like he was using his mouth, while mer-folk use some sort of innate telepathy to speak with each other. It seems humans can’t be talked to that way. Instead she tries to use her mouth to answer, only for a kind of breathing sound to come out instead and not much else.
It seems using your mouth to speak is not easily grasped, even if their languages are somehow practically the same. She wonders how she’d learn to speak that way when the boy, Tristan reaches towards her and puts his hand on the side of her tail and strokes her scales. She’s slightly surprised, but barely feels it as he strokes the thick scales along her side, until he changes course and is stroking the lighter colored, much thinner scales on her belly, where she feels a tingling sensation.
She shivers slightly and this apparently makes the boy realize what he’s doing as he quickly retracts his hand and looks back at her face, blushing slightly. She feels herself blushing as well as they quickly look away at the same time.
Eve tries to speak again, and after another failed attempt at producing any sort of usable sound she becomes aware of a strange sensation. It feels as if something is touching her tail, but not in a pleasant way like before (her blush flares up slightly as she thinks about that). She soon realizes that she’s almost entirely out of the water, her scales are starting to dry in the air and underneath the bright sunlight. She knows she needs to get back into the water to make the itchy sensation stop.
Tristan falls backwards from his crouching position as Eve pushes herself up with her arms and tries to turn towards the water. She attempts to pull herself towards the water, but her tail feels incredibly heavy, and she’s not getting much traction in the loose sand. Her arms give out about as quickly as she rose up and she collapses into the sand letting out a gasp. She looks up at Tristan who still looks a bit surprised by her sudden movements, but has stood up now.
He gets closer to her and crouches down in front of her with his back to her and says “Grab on!”
She grabs onto his shoulders with all her remaining strength. Once she’s gotten her arms around his neck he pushes off of the ground and stands up, stumbling slightly but regains his balance shortly. He then turns around and starts walking towards the water, Eve’s tail dragging through the sand behind them.
He wades out into the water, Eve now resting her head on his shoulder, until he’s more than waist deep. As soon as her tail starts getting into the water the itch in her scales disappear. He lets go and she slides into the water and beneath the surface. She swims around his legs quickly, almost too fast for him to follow with his head, then she gets in front of him and jumps up and embraces him in a wet hug, gives him a quick peck on the cheek and then sinks back into the water. He looks surprised, but smiles at her, and she smiles back while turning around and starting to swim out towards the deep part of the lake.
Now that all the panic had gone she was very excited about this discovery, of a new creature, and a new friend. On her way back she decided not to tell her parents. They couldn’t find out she’d been to the surface, which they’d explicitly told her to avoid at all costs. But she would absolutely go back.
On the way back she found a bit of sticky seaweed and put it over the wound in her cheek, hoping her parents wouldn’t think much of it.