Author's note: This story is inspired by the ending of the Anderson fairytale in which the mermaid is transformed into an air spirit. In Anderson's version, the mermaid is given a choice at the end: to kill the prince in order to become a mermaid again or jump into the waves and perish as sea foam. She still loves the prince and chooses not to kill him but as she jumps to her death, she is transformed into an air spirit for her kindness. Gifted/cursed air spirits wander the earth as each child's smile brings them closer to entering an immortal life whilst each tear they witness has them remain as an air spirit.
She held her breath as her hand touched Jonah. The child shuddered as if a breeze had kissed his cheek, warmth gradually dwindling into the air. She stirred the child's hair in a familiar, ruffling motion. Sia bit her lip, watching him was not necessary. Still, she could not move her hand away.
The moon weighed heavily above. She could hear her new sisters whistling over the waves, hurtling back into the sea, only to find themselves pulled back, repelled by what they had become. They could only skim the waters, twist them through their weary dance and song.
No mortal skin to tear. Wryly, she realised she had already thrown herself into the sea for an eternal gift, an eternal torture more like. He slid next to her, not stirring the air to interrupt her and Jonah's companionship. She eyed him warily. He gifted her with a rare albeit sardonic smile.
"Extending your watch." Sia nodded once.
"They encourage us not to visit the ones we knew." Her hand stopped. She looked at him. He realised that she was barely containing a glare. He backed away from the harsh gaze, taking in the objects of the moonlit room. Fine, sepia drenched maps hung on the bedroom wall. She heard him scoff over the drawings of their people.
"We look rather hairy (he gestured towards the figures draping the marked seas and gave another huff that whipped the objects in the room) like humans waving forks about to declare our authority. Such odd imaginations. " Sia imagined that Coal frequently flushed red in his time as a human. She continued to look on balefully. The force of her gaze having cooled as she resumed watching over Jonah. When one cannot speak, many of her company seemed content to over run the conversation. Her hand moved to touch her throat expectantly. The autumn season had run in and out as fast as the oldest wind. Once the ice fell, her voice would return.
"The others move about quite a bit...I fancy a run at it myself."
Sia sensed this was a clumsy attempt to warn her about the older spirits who were closer to breaching the unknown. Gradually, her hand stopped and her gaze left the child's face. Turning away, she began to run, her body sliding sideways through the cracks of the doors, treading as lightly as the cold wind that woke the people in the morning. Coal followed her, lazily expanding and dragging his feet so that the doors and winds rattled from within the castle. Sia threw him an annoyed look that chastised him marginally.
"It's not like the humans cared much for me when I was alive," he whispered. Sia rolled her eyes in response. The sooner her voice returned, the better. Still, she wondered if it would come back as easily as the other air beings. She could try asking Coal later. Though, he wasn't very good at interpreting hand gestures.
Motioning through the light of the morning, Coal frowned as Sia's hands moved towards the trees, flicking their branches with ease before pointing to the bell tower and her own throat.
Luckily, Coal wasn't acting dim today. He smiled.
"Most likely tomorrow." Sia's eyed widened in surprise, her mouth tipped upwards with a skeptical smile. Coal motioned back to the trees, their bare branches held scarce amounts of dripping snow. Perhaps, it was a warm enough day for a voice to return.
The elder beings flew down, shaking the thick grass plain with their arrival.
"You should be flying whilst you watch, dwelling amongst the people is not encouraged," one commented absently, obviously more concerned with rejoining the flight of a morning wind. The thawing winter was of no concern to those with a voice.
Another being skimmed the plain with an additional sweep, creating a waving current of air.
"We need the young ones to accompany us in the wind bringing."
Both Sia and Coal contained themselves. One could not argue with those who have tread and danced with the winds for this long. Drawing themselves upwards, they chased after the elder beings, causing a fresh cold wind to wash over the morning inhabitants. Over fields and then the ocean. Her body felt the familiar ache for the feel of water. Their ceaseless flight rocked the sea below. Sia heard the cacophany of voices that blew out at the meeting point of the ocean. Most were of the air realm, the elder beings singing the wind into being. Though some Mer voices trickled in, lapping over the sirenous howls in a murmuring sound.
One note held her still. Her older sisters' heads broke through the air as they once did the day of her mad dash towards the water. Their coral coloured eyes raked the air above as they sang, voices chiming in unison, normally unheard unless they sang for a sorrow shot with a memory of joy. So suddenly had the change been enacted. Their longing held greater sway over the sea than the sirens of the air. The elder winds has passed. Coal had hung back, watching Sia stay with sympathy. She longed to brush their hair with a breeze but she knew could not touch her first life without finally creating foam with this one. She listened until the sun blared harshly above and her sisters eventually dove back under the waves.
He had not cried once since her death. Nor had he smiled. She refused to increase or decrease her time until that moment. Coal said her loyalty was obsessive. She needed to move on to watch over another batch of small human beings if she wanted any chance of changing her condition. Though Coal knew better than to try to rush that change. It was hers to know and shape.
Jonah crouched near the edge of a rose bush, eyeing a red dragonfly that seemed to be content with riding on his shoulder. Though, it flitted and buzzed away at any attempt by him to touch it. Sia watched, hoping his expression would change. It had been months since her disappearance. The sudden thud of foot steps took her by surprise. Jonah's father had tackled him from behind, Jonah looked a little big like one of the fish with his mouth shaped in a large 'o'. Sia smiled. Her heart drawing upon another ache. Jonah tugged at his father's tunic, drawing him to the wall. The man smiled down with warm eyes. Sia watched them move towards a cracked bit of the wall. The man frowned when he saw the sea.
The other air beings squeezed through the hole, carrying the salt and grit of the sea, drifting past the boy and his father. Jonah looked at him once before crawling into the wall. His father sharply called him back to no avail. Sighing, he made his way through another gate to cross the path to the sand. Jonah was testing out the water with his feet. The man edged towards the water, trying not to wince as the tide washed his feet gently every few steps. Slowly, he scooped a cup of salty water with his hand. Jonah copied him before raising the cup and throwing it at the crouched figure of his father. He laughed in surprise, flicking some of the water back. It stung Jonah's eyes causing a tear or two to trickle out along with a laugh. Sia watched them until they tired of the game and made their way back to the shore. She had learnt that Jonah wished to learn how to swim. Cautiously, his father agreed that they both could learn that skill from the ship folk. Sia smiled, she knew her child would be a natural.
Author's note: Makes me wonder if I should of called ths story "Son of the Sea."