I sit with my toes dangling in the water, a sketchpad in my lap. Apricot colors of sunlight peal across the waves. The boats creak in the harbor, rocking only a little, as the wind isn't harsh.
Sea lions are swimming far out. I wish they'd come closer. I couldn't risk grabbing my swimsuit in case Dad or Mom noticed it in my backpack, so all I'd be able to swim in would be my underwear.
Of course, there's no one else on the dock. The boats that are out were taken out much earlier, and most everyone else is at work.
I could always claim my underwear's a swimsuit, too. It's not like anyone could really disprove that.
Biting my lip, I pull my shirt over my head. The sea air nips at my skin in the best kind of way. I ball up my shirt and shove it into my backpack, and do the same to my shorts, smiling to myself.
A dive, and I'm under the water, letting the ocean swallow me up.
I float on my back for a couple minutes, and then decide my backpack and things will probably be safe for a bit. So, I swim farther out, past the boats toward where the sea lions were playing. I don't see them anymore. I hope they're just hiding.
The waves are a bit rockier now. I keep opening my mouth on accident and getting salt in my mouth. It's disgusting. But the sun and the wind and the water make it so totally worth it.
I'm focusing on my breaths and trying to ignore the heaviness of my arms when the current wrenches me underwater.
My eyes widen. I kick to get back to the surface, but the current is damn strong. I've read about kids who get pulled all the way down or all the way out to sea. People sometimes find their bodies.
I gasp for air, still trying to get back up. Instead, the ocean fills my mouth. Fire in my lungs.
I kick. I struggle. I try to rise instead of sink, but the water weighs me down.
Laughter and bubbles seep into my ears. Seaweed fingers latch around my wrists.
My world darkens, but I still see them. The mermaids, with golden locks of hair and eyes shooting daggers. They drag me farther down, away from the sky.
Down into black.
And I give them a new name: kidnappers.
“Soon you will be one of us,” they whisper.