Prologue, part I
Watching the tall buildings fade away from the scenery built an exciting anticipation within Santana. She couldn’t contain the growing enthusiasm knowing how close they were. With remnants of the city dwindling behind them, her family drew closer to the coast, the coast that bore crisp sea air and majestic waves. Her small sneakers squeaked furiously with each bounce and jolt her body created from pure ecstasy.
Her parents shared a loving look between each other seeing their daughter filled with so much joy. They took this trip to the California coast every summer in order to have quality family time, seeing as Mr. Lopez was becoming frequently more busy at work as well as Mrs. Lopez. Their five year old daughter would ramble for days about the adventures they would have at the beach, playing in the sand and sea, creating wonderful memories.
They slowly pulled their car into the lot and exited the vehicle unhurriedly, whereas Santana bolted from the backseat the moment the car was parked. She immediately ran towards the bluff where she could see the silent beach waiting for her. Her parents simply chuckled and shook their heads seeing their young child standing in awe every year they arrived. It was as if she found a miracle every time her eyes lay upon the vast hills of sand and walls of water.
They began their descent to the warm sands, flickering large amounts up with each step in their flip-flops. Santana ordered where to place the beach blanket, proclaiming it to be the best spot and in perfect position with the ocean. She dashed around while her parents lay out the days’ worth of supplies, including food, extra towels and toys to play in the sand with.
It wasn’t long before the magnificent Lopez castle was constructed by Princess Santana, with the help of Lord Lopez, of course. She ordered him to build the largest moat the coast had ever seen. He gradually worked up a sweat realizing his baby girl definitely dreamed big. On the other hand, Mrs. Lopez laughed at her husband’s willing ways to please his only daughter’s wishes.
Afterward Santana plopped down on the beach blanket absorbing the warmth the sands emanated and enjoying the feel of the sun’s rays on her face. She let out a deep sigh of content before rolling over and plunging into the food basket, claiming the cookies her mother packed. Shortly after lunch Santana desperately wanted to play in the ocean and jump waves, much like she had done the year before.
“Mama, can we go jump waves? Please, please, please!” She asked eagerly.
“Of course sweetie, just give mommy one moment.” She replied kindly.
“But hurry mom! I wanna catch that big one out there!” She said pointing out to the breathtaking waves.
“Santana, give your mother a few minutes, we just finished lunch. You practically inhaled yours, you silly goose.” Mr. Lopez chuckled.
“Fine.” Santana grumbled loudly, huffing in annoyance.
“Honey, can you take her with you?” Mrs. Lopez asked turning to her husband.
“But I have to take a business call here in a bit from my boss.” He replied looking guilty.
“I thought you told me you left your phone in the car?” His wife asked agitated.
“Well I meant to… but he said it was really important.” He tried to reason, however she wasn’t giving any sort of response, clearly suggesting she was upset.
He reluctantly got up and grabbed Santana’s hand walking slowly towards the water, looking over his shoulder at his wife one last time. She wore a scowl on her face and it didn’t seem to be going anywhere anytime soon. So he focused on his baby girl and having fun with her.
They leapt and bounded over the cascading waves that crashed over their knees, yelping in glee and amusement feeling the icy water chill their bodies. They awaited each new round of waves with delight, Mr. Lopez picking Santana up by the arms and swaying her back and forth as the waves continued. He felt the familiar buzz from his phone in his pants pocket, quickly placing Santana down.
“Baby, stay in the shallow end, I don’t want you go any further than your ankles. I just have to take this call really quick.” He said locking eyes with his daughter waiting for her to nod in understanding, which she did. He turned abruptly facing away answering the phone.
However, Santana had always had a rebellious side to her, feeling motivated to break her father’s rules. She ventured a few feet further, letting the water lap against her shins. Feeling brave she inched more into the wondrous water reveling at how daring she was. After reaching to her knees she was beaming with pride and turned around to gain her father’s attention. Before she could boast of her achievement a cold current collided into her, knocking her down.
She wasn’t able to scream due to the shock of the wave hitting her so hard, she could feel the water overwhelming her as she attempted to stand by couldn’t feel the sandy bottom. She struggled to kick her feet in the similar fashion demonstrated in swim class but found it did little to help her fight the tides. A rip current pulled her further out to sea, dragging her into rougher waves.
She beat radically against the water gasping for air as the salty liquid flooded her system. She could feel her body becoming weak as it strained itself to stay afloat. The waves crashed over her head submerging her underwater. She opened her eyes and saw the endless stretch of ocean. Panic began to settle as she realized her parents couldn’t help her. Her heart racing erratically in fear.
She emerged to the surface choking on the water around her. She could see from a far her parents waving frantically at her, but she could only hear muffled shouts before the water came crashing down again. This time it dragged her further under, past the point she could attempt to stay above the tremendous force of water.
Her body was spent, exhausted from fighting the strong waves. She could feel the oxygen being deprived from her mind as she gently closed her eyes willing her body to be swept away with the current. The edges of her vision began to blacken but she couldn’t help but look out and see how the sun’s rays penetrated through the clear water shining brightly below. It was but a glimpse she saw something flash in the sunlight. Confused she squinted harder but found it increasingly difficult due to the lack of air. Just as she began to close her eyes completely she felt a small hand wrap around her wrist and gently pull.
It didn’t take much force to guide Santana through the water because of her small frame. Santana noticed the small hand readjust before she felt a pair of arms wrap around her waist pulling her closer to the individual. As curious as Santana was of what was carrying her she couldn’t stop her eyes from closing, knowing she couldn’t hold on much longer.
Whatever had her must have noticed picking up the pace quickly to the surface. It didn’t take long, it was mere minutes, but to Santana it took an eternity. She felt her body shiver as the ocean breeze glided across her face, but she also felt her throat gurgle with the need to spit out the lodged water.
Santana was dragged upon shore and placed gingerly on the sand before a small hand pressed down on her chest, pushing down once, twice, three times before Santana turned on her side coughing hysterically all the water she consumed. Her breathing was ragged and her throat burned from the salt water, but she was able to take full breathes and revel in the warmth the sun radiated once again.
Santana lay limp on her back recovering from the traumatic event, until a sudden thought struck her. Who or what saved her? She opened her eyes, temporarily blinded by the bright sun, to view her rescuer. What she was met with was a small girl with flowing champagne hair, similar to the color of the sand. Freckles sprinkled her nose with a rosy blush covering her cheeks. Her eyes were strikingly blue and possessed a natural kindness, demonstrating concern and compassion behind them.
Santana scanned over this girl who appeared the same age as her. She found it strange that this girl was the one who saved her, seeing she was just as petite, but a little bigger. Santana examined the girl’s attire and noticed the lack of. She wore a shell-clad top but what struck Santana the most was the girl didn’t have any legs, but instead possessed a tail. A tail composed of rich blue and green scales that shimmered in the sunlight.
“Are you alright?” The small girl asked Santana. Santana just sat in confusion, staring wide-eyed at the girl in front of her. For several minutes she couldn’t response. The girl chuckled lightly before speaking again.
“Did you drink too much water? My daddy always tells me that’s how you get hiccups, do you have those now?” She asked curiously, completely missing the Latina’s disoriented state. Before she could respond, Santana’s parents could be heard yelling down the beach, turning both the girl’s attention towards them.
“Do you want to be friends?” The blonde girl asked Santana genuinely, focusing intensely on mocha eyes.
“S-sure.” Santana stuttered to shocked to really process anything.
“Great! Just know you’ll always have a friend in the sea!” She said excitedly giving the Latina a hug, stunning the young girl. Santana slowly raised her arms and returned the hug before pulling back looking at her parents rush towards her.
When she returned her gaze to the blonde girl, she was already gone, with the only glimpse of her tail vanishing under the sea as a reminder that she was real. Her parents wept seeing Santana was okay and prayed to the angel that had watched over her, even though Santana explained it was a little fish girl who saved her. Sadly her parents told her she was in shock and said it was all her imagination…
*BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP BEEP*
I slammed my hand down stopping the most annoying alarm ever. I reluctantly roll over and look over at the window and notice the storm hasn’t let up. Even though I live in California, we sometimes get freak storms during the summer, putting a damper on the beach season.
I rub my hands across my face in frustration. I lay looking up at the ceiling going over the same memory that keeps reappearing in my dreams. I have had it at least once a week since I was five. It’s been fifteen years since the near death experience, but it still haunts me. The way the water closed around my body suffocating me and dragging me down to the depths of the ocean. It sends chills down my spine just recalling the horrid experience.
After that summer I was terrified of the ocean, or any water for that matter. I couldn’t even handle baths when I got home, my parents enrolled me in some therapy to overcome my fear of water but it took several years before I could tolerate it. It wasn’t until the end of high school that I decided to overcome my fear, deciding that becoming a life guard would change all of that. I know it was awful experiencing it, I would never wish for anyone else to go through it.
As I mentally prepared myself for the day I grudgingly got up and made coffee extra strong this morning. It looked disgusting outside. I couldn’t help but notice the way the trees bent under the intense wind and the rain falling sideways. Most likely I would be helping Kurt and Quinn today in the shack, taking inventory of the rental gear.
I let my mind wander back to the dream though and continued thinking of the last fifteen years and how different my life has been since it. If the incident never happened I think mom and dad would still be together. They divorced when I was fourteen, they claimed it was for the best, but when I was caught in the middle I didn’t care what the reason was. I just wanted it to end. Of course though it was only the beginning. I was asked to choose which parent to live with and because my mother supported me and never pressured me for anything more than my best, I chose her. To say my dad was furious was an understatement.
It wasn’t until college that my dad and I started talking again. It was awkward at first but we have progressed through baby steps, granted it’s hard over long distance. I am originally from Ohio, but decided college in California was the best fit for me. I have always loved the beach, even after the near drowning. I live about thirty minutes from the coast which is perfect access for a summer job as well as surfing.
I wouldn’t know how to describe it to anyone, but I have this feeling like I am connected to the beach, but I don’t know if I am just crazy or insanely in love with the beach. I never talked to anyone about the “friend” I made at the beach that day; she’s always been at the back of my mind though. Anytime I brought it up my parents they always say it was a coping mechanism my brain made in the stressful situation I was in, but I was never convinced. I have never gone looking for her, but always question the possibility of what-if.
I walk to my room grabbing uniform, taking my time getting dressed, peering outside every few minutes getting lost watching the storm and thinking of old memories.