Chapter 2

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Harper sighed into the conch.

"I don't get it.  Why are you so upset?" I wanted to scream at her.

"Because! Mum tells me everything! We're all the other one's got since I don't have a dad-"

"All the other one's got? Do I not exist anymore? I realize you're really close to her but you do have me!"

"Harper, I'm sorry. You know I didn't mean it like that. You are just as important to me as she is." I could practically see her doubting me.

"Swear on the trident?"

"I swear."

"Okay. I'll see ya at school, tomorrow, then?"

"Of course."

"Alright! See ya!"

I ran my finger down the lip of my conch and took the black scale out, hanging up. I love Harper to pieces, but she's kind of dramatic...when dealing with Maggie and the Pinks, though, it can be a good thing. It tends to drive them away, saving us from who knows what. Those girls are weird...they all have the exact same blonde hair and the same shade of pink on their tails. It's like they're all sisters. They creep me out.

The next day at school, I found Harper talking to our geography teacher about trips around the ocean and how long it would take us to swim to the Great Barrier Reef. We're located off Hawaii. I swam in and out of purple, blue, and green scales until I found the tail I was looking for. Plain and boring, like mine and a million more, but years of friendship had taught me how to identify him.

"Nathan! Where were you yesterday? Were you sick? Is something wrong at home?"

"Mel, I'm fine. Jade and Jordan are alright. My mum's doing fine, thanks for asking. I, erm, just kinda forgot about it." It sounded like a question.

"You forgot? It's been in the announcements every day for the last week! The Pinks have been freaking out about seeing the new 'royal hottie'! And you expect me to believe that you forgot?"

"Fine. I just didn't want to go. I was in the kelp forest, helping hermit crabs move. They get really attached to their shells."

"Hermit crabs?  Whatever." Before he could make another excuse, I changed the subject. "Have you seen pictures of the new royal? None of them are any good, because he was so far away. All I could tell was that he looked like us-plain and average, nothing special, especially next to those flashy fins. I wonder what how things will change for him now." When new royals are born, they grow up as regular citizens. It gives them a civilian's point of view on life. At the age of 17, they are claimed by the King and Queen again. Some royals, like the current princess, are easy to identify as royalty. Most of the time they have bright tails, easily identifiable. Only twice in history has the wrong tail been claimed. And that ended in disaster. But the moon spirit and the ocean spirit got us through.

"Yeah, it's weird, right?" He laughed nervously. "Let's get to class. We'll be late."

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"You need to get these signed if you want to go! Both parents and yourself must sign this!" Harper slid into the spot next to me.

"What'd I miss?"

"Just the Squid telling us the same thing four gazillion times over about the trip. Where were you?"

"Talking to Ray. About some calculations and stuff for the trip."

"Melanie, Harper, do you care to share with the class what you are discussing?" Stupid Squid. He wasn't really, he was just a weird-looking merman with a squid colored tail. None of the students liked him.

"Sorry, sir. I was just telling Harper here that I only have one parent. My dad left my mother and I, everyone knows that."

"Just get your mother to sign, then."

"Yes, sir."

"And don't let me catch you talking in class again." 

"Yes, sir."

Harper rolled her eyes. I glanced at Nathan, who was staring at Maggie with a vacant expression. From across the room, I couldn't do much, but I was going to slap him as soon as the bell rang.  I swear she's part siren.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Mum! I'm home! Can I go on a school trip for a couple weeks? Please?" I was calling throughout the house. No answer. On the table was a note.

"Mel,

I had an emergency at work. If you need help with any homework, leave it on the table and I'll help you in the morning. I heard about your field trip, and you have permission to go. There's a salad by the gorgonian. I'll be home before you go to bed, hopefully. If I'm not, don't worry. Go to bed.

Lots of Love,

Mum."

I swam slowly towards our gorgonian coral. Sure enough, a huge bowl of seaweed, kelp, and shark eggs was sitting at the base of it. Yum! My favorite. I grabbed it and started eating.

The next morning, my permission slip was sitting on the table where I had left it, but with mum's signature on it.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~

"Class, we leave in two day's time. You know what you need." The squid then proceeded to hand out a list of everything we needed. It read,

"You have all been to the beach before, even if you don't remember it." It's true. Everyone goes as infants, just to establish their legs, and their parents snatch human items.

"Your parents grabbed whatever human items you might need for this trip. Some things you will need are listed below. Others, you have to get for yourself.

-Money

-Sunscreen

-Clothes and Towels (They will be found at home, wrapped in kelp. DO NOT OPEN UNTIL YOU ARE ABOVE WATER.)

-Brush/comb

-Sunglasses

-PRACTICE. We will not be going onto a populated beach until you are ready to walk.

Have a safe, fun trip!"

 If you stay above for two months, you lose your tail. Three months, and you lose your gills. But if you don't go up as a baby, you'll never have legs. There's another thing about going up as a baby and not coming back, and if you're a royal taken by your adoptive family you'll get your tail when you turn 17. If you're not royal, then you won't have a tail, but you will be drawn to water and swimming. The most recent group that went up saw the "Olympics," a huge competition with swimmers and people who do flips and stuff. Missy Franklin was one of us, but her mom and dad didn't want Missy to be a mermaid. Same with Ryan Lochte. Huh. Maybe Dad turned human?

I want to find dad.

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