After a few rough years, Californian mermaid Cora moves to the Gold Coast, sensing a danger to others of her kind. But when Cora tries to befriend Emma, Cleo and Rikki when they assume she's another Charlotte – without even knowing she is a part of their secret – trouble arises for Cora and she must make a deadly choice.
It may have been 5 years ago, but I doesn't feel like it's been any more than a few minutes. Despite everything I've gone through since then, it still feels like it was yesterday.
Flashback, 5 years ago - Cora
We descended the slope of the mountain, following the path that we had hiked so many times before. My older sister and I could see our destination now; the beautiful waterfall that crashed down into a huge crystal pool. It was dark; the moon was full but the lush trees blocked out most of the light, but we didn't need it – we had come here so many times with our parents that we could have been blindfolded and made it. We started climbing the steep grassy path that led up to the mouth of the waterfall, and I felt a smile creep across my face as we neared the small cave that fresh water ran through from the top of the mountain and fed out into the waterfall.
As we approached the entrance to the cave, my older sister Mattie stepped in front of me and reached her hand back to take mine. I smirked. She did not need to protect me, but since our parents died two years ago in the accident, she took on complete responsibility for me, like the second coming of our mother. She put her college years on hold and held a full time job to support us both, and the minute I was old enough to work in our home state of California I have worked waitressing – in the restaurant belonging to my friend's parents. She is 5 years older than me, a beautiful sweet 20 year-old woman, and my best friend. Mattie has never been one who knows what she's doing in the kitchen and she's a little messy, so I handle our food and cleaning: we are a well-oiled, functioning 2-person unit.
I know she doesn't like that I work. I know that she wants me to be a teenager, but we have the same wants: I want her to be taken care of, and she wants me to be. My big sister is my whole world, she'll learn to deal with my helping out.
I took her hand and I followed her lead, walking a bit slower as we approached the cave. Out in the open now, the full moon lit everything a pale blue. It was lovely, just like how it was when our mother and father would bring us here when we were small. Mattie peeked her head into the entrance and took a quick look around the place. Finding it empty, she gently let my hand go and stepped inside and I followed her.
We stood quietly for a minute and I could feel in the air that she was thinking about our family visits to this exact spot – I was too. But we did not cry now. Now, we smiled, as we knew our parents would want us to on this beautiful night.
I stepped carefully over the small river that ran through the cave and up to the other end of the cave where the waterfall dropped over the ledge of the mountain and into the pool below us. My eyes grew wide; the full moon made a perfect huge reflection right over the center of the pool, making my face bright as I stood at the edge of the waterfall looking down at it. It was absolutely breathtaking.
"Mattie, come look at this!" my voice was excited and I heard my sister coming up at the other side of the waterfall.
"Be careful by that edge, Cora," She said half under her breath, knowing that I would be. She reached the other side of the waterfall's edge and looked down at the pool. I looked over at her and beamed; she was smiling, and I saw the look on her face that I loved to see; she was thrilled. Nature made us happy, and this was incredible. The breeze blew a little and I saw her pulling her dark copper hair back into a ponytail. I knew what this meant and I pulled up my brownish black ponytail into a knot on top of my head.
"You first." She said, grinning at me. I squirmed sheepishly, looking at the water.
"Hmm." I smiled a little; I knew we both wanted to, we hadn't dived here since our parents passed away. But, it was time now, and we both knew it. I stretched my hand out across the waterfall, and Mattie took it. With a mental count to three, we stepped back a little and jump off the edge of the waterfall, landing feet first through the beautiful reflection of the moon in the pool.
It took us a few seconds to surface and we were both beaming. The large freshwater pool felt just like it used to.
Except for one thing.
I felt a little bit of movement against my legs and for a moment thought it was a small school of freshwater fish until the movement was going up my legs, not across them…
"Mattie, do you feel that?"
"Yeah, look, it's a bunch of little bubbles! This pool must have a hot spring at the bottom, I remember reading about there being a few of those in our area…"
I nodded and smiled a little, staring up at the moon. It just felt so safe, so comforting, and then I heard Mattie gasp. My head snapped in her direction immediately. I could see in the moonlight that she was groping around under the water and hoped she hadn't dropped anything, or worse, been hurt by something underwater.
"Uh… Cora… do you feel different?"
My smile faltered a little bit. I was happy, I was comfortable, but something was a little…off.
"Well, now that you mention it…"
"Cora, sweetie. I need you to reach down…and touch your legs."
I looked at her strangely in the moonlight and lowered my hands in the water to my legs. I froze the minute I touched them. They were gone, in their place was one, scaley tubey thing under the water. I tried pulling my legs apart – no dice. I blinked at Mattie, who had the same blank expression on her face – we were freaked out.
"Uhh, Mattie? I think it's time to get out."
A smile comes to my face every time I think about it. It helps me reassure that what I'm about to do is the right thing.