It was like clockwork: the rise and fall of her chest, the splash when she’d disappear beneath the water, and that frustrated sigh, which rang clear across the sand, straight into his attentive ears when she’d come up for air. Over and over again.
For months he had watched the human — so much so, he could flawlessly recite her daily routine, exact jogging routes, and favorite foods. He could describe with impeccable detail the three, smallest specks of birthmarks behind her neck, which were only revealed when she’d tie her brown waves back before a run. Yet it wasn’t until recently that he’d finally figured it out.
Centuries of unbacked rumors, of individuals anxiously awaiting even just the prospect of its return. None of the brutal rampages and bloody fatalities he and his kind had witnessed — or caused — in the past could come close to the chaos that would inevitably ensue should she be discovered.
Perhaps the wildest facet of all: she didn’t even know. The girl was entirely oblivious to just how much her life was about to change.
One, two, three, four… Cool, salted water dripped past my eyes as I silently counted down the seconds. Five, six, seven, eight. I inhaled sharply, preparing myself. Nine, ten. Now.
Water enveloped my face as I dipped myself beneath the waves, flipping my body and diving head first toward the bottom. I was already losing it, bubbles escaping through my nostrils, when my fingers flicked over the sand, and I raced desperately back to the top. The wind hit me sharply as I let out a loud gasp, clicking my stopwatch instantaneously. Still over a minute. I rolled my eyes up at the sky for the nineteenth time that morning. Enough. I was beat.
Heavy as a ton of weights, I forced myself to leave the comfort of the current and proceeded toward the shore. My fingers were stiff, making it difficult to wrap the burgundy towel around my body.
I knew I was slipping and not just physically.