A/N: This story was originally written for my creative writing class, but since i'm quite proud of it I decided to publish it here. I'd normally give you the prompt I followed here, but that would spoil the story. So enjoy and be sure to leave a review!
The first thing Devin noticed when she woke up on a warm saturday in June was that it was oddly hard to breathe. She tossed the covers off of herself and attempted to take deep breaths, to no avail. Her lungs simply refused to be satisfied. Feeling the beginnings of fear curling up from her abdomen, she leapt from her bed and ran out of her bedroom. Spots swam before the fifteen-year-old's eyes, and she coughed violently, her legs buckling dangerously. They were turning to jelly at a startling pace, and she crumpled in an undignified heap on the hardwood floor of the hallway.
"Devina Elizabeth Winston, what in the world is going on out here?" Her mother's voice could barely be heard over Devin's own gasping. She lay there like a fish out of water, desperately gasping for precious oxygen which was becoming increasingly harder to receive by the second. A shadow loomed over her, which she assumed [hoped anyway] was her mother. "Devin? Devin what's wro-oh no! Mathew! MATHEW COME QUICK!"
A second shadow, leaner and taller than the first. Her father.
"Honey? Are you oka-Devin!?"
"Quick, babe! Pick 'er up! We have to get her to the pool. Now!"
The pool? Devin thought dizzily. She was feeling quite light-headed now, presumably from a lack of oxygen. Her parents' desperate actions seemed miles away, as though they were being done to a different person entirely. Devin could barely tell what was happening at this point, but she registered being lifted, then flying through the air. She landed on something which immediately parted to let her through, before everything went black.
Devin was surrounded by nothing but shimmering blue when she awoke. Her entire form was blanketed with coolness, except for something rough and hard pressing against her back. Confused, the girl sat up, which was slower than it usually would be due to how thick the air was. No, not air. Water! She was sitting at the bottom of a swimming pool, and somehow, she was breathing! Devin was breathing underwater!
Inhaling felt quite different than breathing air, but not the least bit uncomfortable. In fact, it felt like exactly what she needed. When she exhaled, several bubbles escaped her lips, floating gently towards the surface. It was quite relaxing to watch, it and her watery surroundings filling Devin with a sense of tranquility she hadn't experienced since starting high school. But of course it didn't last too long, and soon Devin's brain was buzzing with questions.
How was this possible? Why was she able to breathe underwater all of a sudden? How did she get into the swimming pool? Did this have something to do with what happened this morning?
That gave her pause. Devin was pretty sure she knew the answer to that question already. In her mind, it was less likely this strange phenomena didn't have something to do with her shortness of breath earlier, for lack of better words. But no matter what was happening, Devin wasn't going to get anywhere without a little investigation. So, being cautious of the possible consequences, Devin pushed off of the bottom of the pool, floating slowly towards the surface.
With a bit of careful experimentation, Devin discovered that she was able to breathe easily as long as she remained submerged from the neck up. Curious as to why this was, Devin carefully ran her fingertips over the skin on her neck and shoulders. With slight surprise (nothing could shock her more than previous events of that day) she realized something strange.
For as long as Devin could remember, there had always been a pair of strange oblong swellings spaced equally on the sides of her neck. Devin had asked her mother about them when she was around four years old, to which she replied: "Oh, those? They're normal, look. I have them too, see?" She had then shown her daughter her own neck details, although instead of simple bumps, they were instead small thin slits. To Devin's young mind, this was a perfectly reasonable explanation, and she had never brought it up again. Now though, Devin wished that she had. Her neck-bumps were slits now, too.
"Gills?" Devin asked aloud, not speaking to anyone in particular. Then water dribbled out of the corner of her mouth, and she gasped in surprise, feeling the slight suction beneath her fingers as her newly formed gills took in the water around them. "Weirdness." She muttered, preparing to dive underwater again. She assumed the reason she had just coughed up water was because her body was now full of it, [it would explain why she was able to remain completely beneath the surface a while ago so easily) and risking near suffocation (drowning?) from the lack of it for a second time was the last thing she wanted.
A sudden splashing and disturbance in the water gave her pause. Her mother was joining her in the pool. Good. Devin had quite a lot to ask her. From what little she could remember from earlier, she seemed to know quite a bit about what was happening. But before she could say anything, her mother beat her to it.
"Let's go under before we talk just to be safe, okay?"
Devin was about to ask how her mother would join her, when she remembered that: oh yeah she had slits or gills or whatever, too. Then how come she never almost suffocated like I did? Add that to the list of questions I guess...Devin thought exasperatedly before nodding and returning to the still astonishingly breathable waters below.
The mother daughter duo went to the deepest part of the pool, sitting across from each other on the bottom. As her mother began to speak, Devin wondered how it would work. They were underwater after all, and the last time Devin had tried speaking underwater it had been a bubbly mess. Of course, that was when she'd surely drown if she dared to breathe before breaking the surface, not the other way around.
"I'm so sorry, Devin." Her voice was loud and clear, save for a strange slightly wavering echoey quality that was hard to describe. A cloud of bubbles exited the woman's mouth as she talked, rocketing to the surface. It wasn't nearly as many bubbles as there should have been, however. "What happened back there was a really scary thing for all of us, I should have told you so you'd but more prepared."
"What, that I'm turning into a fish?" Devin joked nervously. It was something she was often prone to doing in an anxiety inducing situation.
"No... a mermaid." Her mother corrected her, (actually corrected her) sounding very serious.
"Wait, wha?" Despite everything that happened so far, despite the fact she and her mother were completely submerged in water and not frowning,and despite the fact her mother now had a long green and purple tail ... wait, what?
Making sure her eyes weren't playing tricks on her, Devin allowed her gaze to travel her mother's entire form. Her long platinum blond hair with lime and lavender highlights billowed out every which way in the floe of the water. Her forest green eyes [which were the same as Devin's] were full of concern, her cheekbones were high and regal like a queen's but also full of smile lines. She had changed into a deep blue bikini which Devin didn't even know she owned until now, and just below her toned belly, her soft human skin ended. From the hip down, glossy scales coated her mother's body in similar shades to the streaks in her hair. Sunlight filtering through from the surface reflected off of them, making them sparkle and shine. The long and admittedly breathtaking appendage steadily narrowed towards the bottom, gracefully ending off in a pair of large solid purple fins. Devin couldn't help but gawk.
"You ... you're-"
"A mermaid," her mother finished. "And so are you. Well, half mermaid actually, my parents warned me not to marry a human, but you know how it goes. You fall hopelessly in love, and there's nothing you can do."
"Mom..." Devin almost unconsciously reached toward her mother's fin. She pulled her hand back just before making contact though, not knowing if what she was about to do was the best idea. After all, she'd heard touching a fish could make them not waterproof.
"Oh it's okay, you can touch it." Her mother reassured once she broke out of her thoughts on her husband and noticed what her daughter was about to do. Devin did without another thought. It was smoothe and slimy like a fish, but unlike a fish, it was warm. Weird, but pleasant in a way.
Devin crossed her legs, scooting back to lean against the pool wall. "What happened this morning?" She decided that would be a good first question, and a good starting point for what would undoubtedly be a very long conversation.
"That was your gills opening up," her mother replied as though that explained everything. Seeing that it didn't, she elaborated. "That's the first thing that happens when a halfmer receives their inheritance. It usually happens near the time you go through puberty, but can also sooner or later. Could happen any time, really."
Devin gasped, slapping her forehead. A lightbulb had just gone off in her brain. "That's why you and Dad were always so protective! Homeschooling me, having me get swimming lessons ... it's also why you got this pool in the first place, isn't it?"
She nodded. "It is. Even though we live pretty close to the beach, there's no way we'd get you there in time."
Devin cringed. That was not a nice thought. "Have any ... halfmers..." the word was unfamiliar on Devin's tongue. "Have any of them ... drowned because of that?"
Us was now her mother's turn to cringe. "Deadly, yes. That's why there aren't many halfmers. Most merpeople don't want to risk their children dying like that, so they try not to have babies with humans as less as possible."
Devin was a bit tempted to ask how that would even work, but figured they must have done it while her mother was in her human form. "And you?"
"Like I said before, I fell in love. Your father is an incredible man. I couldn't ask for anyone else. My parents didn't like it, not because they were prejudice against humans, they just didn't want..."
"They didn't want me to die," Devin finished. "But uh, now that I've survived the beginning of the great change or whatever, what's gunna happen now? Will I still be able to have legs like you? When will I get my tail?"
Devin's mother smiled soothingly at her daughter. "Well, since this house won't be suitable for you for now, we'll need to go somewhere else while you finish your transformation. Once that's done you'll have a tail when you're in the water and legs on land like me. You'll need to be more careful about not getting dehydrated once you come back, but we'll cross that bridge when we come to it."
Devin's head was spinning. This was a lot to take in. She wasn't sure whether to feel as though this whole whole thing was a dream come true or a big ball of stress. Even though it was temporary, moving was always stressful. Especially when it's because you're an entirely different species than you thought you were. "W-where will we be moving to?"
Devin's mother put a hand on her shoulder. "Your father and I have discussed this a lot and we've decided that ... until you've fully transformed you and I will stay with my parents undersea. Don't worry, even though they didn't much care for my decision, they respected it and I'm sure they will be very happy to meet you." And with that said, the two grabbed hands and resurfaced.
Devin was just about to ask how they would get her to the ocean when she saw her father pushing a gigantic tank on wheels. It was full of water, and about the size of a car. Definitely big enough to hold her comfortabley until they reached their dinstination.
"Wait!" Devin gasped in realization as she was lifted into the tank. "I'm still in my pajamas!"
A/N: Aaaand cut! This took me forever to get done, you have no idea. But it was definitely worth it.