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Honestly, I can't believe my parents are making me change schools in my senior year!

I love South Pacifica High where I'm the captain of the water polo team, a champion diver, and head of the debate team. Okay, I've never been out on a date, but now my chances for ever finding a boyfriend have dropped to zero.

You would think with my debate skills, I could change my parents' minds. But this is what happened earlier today:

I was lying on my hammock in my underwater bedroom cave, weaving seagrass into a basket for charity and daydreaming about Finn Reefcraft's perfect torso and bad boy grin, when my mom swam past the heart-shaped fissure in the wall of my bedroom. The last thing I wanted to do was endure another interrogation about why I wasn't doing my algebra homework, so I rolled out of the hammock to hide underneath.

As I twirled through the water, I managed to cut my finger on a sharp-edged blade of seagrass. The water tinged pink. I sucked on my finger to stop it, grimacing as the taste of metal coated my tongue. Of course, I gagged, though. Blood is so disgusting.

Suddenly, Mom swam into my room through the strands of shells in the doorway, appearing out of nowhere like a pop quiz. My heart raced, and my hair shot off orange sparks. (Uncontrollable sparking hair is so embarrassing. I'm the youngest of seventeen brothers and sisters, yet I'm the only Fishwater fingerling with this super-fun genetic anomaly.)

"Waverly!" Mom said in tele-speak. (Underwater, merfolk don't actually say anything aloud. We use telepathy, which is sort of like thinking, only more purposeful. Thinking just happens. With telepathy, you have to project your thoughts outward by transmitting brain signals.)

"Mom! You scared me," I whined, not immediately seeing how this might've made me look like I was hiding something.

(I must work on sounding innocent in front of parents at all times. See, we mermaids can modulate our tele-speak in any old way, and because I'm seventeen, I'm really good at 'whiny' and 'condescending.' Besides 'innocent,' I'm also trying to nail 'sexy,' but I think my inner sexy voice sounds like I've been swimming laps from the coast to the Farallon Islands for a week solid. It's all breathy and a little desperate too.)

The partially completed basket I was working on floated past Mom's face. She scowled. (But even with the scowl, my mom is so beautiful it's insane, partly because she's one-quarter fairy. She has glowing scales in shades of purple and aqua, and her hair is moonlight silver, barely tinged with green. It hangs past her waist and doesn't spark like mine. Ever. She has rainbow eyes, like all mers, but hers are mostly bright purple. Sadly, her beauty doesn't prevent her from making terrible wardrobe choices. Right now, she's wearing a ridiculously ancient shell bra, dripping with strands of pearls. The thing should be in a museum.)

She swam toward me, wrapped her arms around my shoulders, and kissed my head before flicking her tail and swimming in front of me with a pitying expression you might give to someone about to cage-fight a shark. Uh, oh. Something had to be wrong. (Moms don't hug you when you've been caught red-handed avoiding polynomials.) "Didn't mean to scare you, angelfish," she said, using the hated nickname she'd given me when I was two, as if I was some kind of fingerling and not a fully grown seventeen-year-old mermaid.

"That's okay, Mom," I said in an innocent tone. I wisely did not scoff at the odious nickname, because for some reason, Mom thought it was endearing, not infantile, and I could tell this wasn't the time to make her mad.

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