This story is 18+ as it has swearing and explicit sex scenes, noted by ***
“Okay,” the older boy said, looking down at his brother Kai and cousin, Nerissa. “Let’s have a race!” he said. He was visiting his aunt and uncle with his family and was getting sick of having a little four-year-old follow him around. At eight years old, Pelayo was twice Nerissa's age, and because he was older than her, he felt like he was always lugged with having to look after her.
“Yes! Yes!” Nerissa said squealing. The boys and Nerissa ran down to the private beach that ran before Syreni Manor, dipping their feet into the cool clear ocean water.
“We’ll give you a count to ten head starts,” Pelayo instructed, “and then we’ll swim. We’ll race you round the buoy and back okay?” Pelayo said, smiling at his little cousin.
“Yeah, yeah!” Kai cheered. He was only six but loved being included in his big brothers’ antics.
“Alright, I’ll count you in, one, two, three, four!” Pelayo counted. Nerissa dived in and began to swim. As soon as she hit the water Kai was jumping about, ready to go but Pelayo held him back by the arm.
“Let’s go play Nintendo!” Pelayo said to his brother, his eyes brightening. Kai went to protest but Pelayo told him not to worry, she’ll be back soon.
“Race you!” Kai shouted, taking off towards the mansion. The boys raced away for the media room, forgetting all about their little cousin.
As soon as she hit the water, she felt her hair slick back and the webbing between her toes and fingers grow. Fine skin closed her nostrils and over each ear channel, and an extra, see-through eyelid closed over her eyes. Finally, three gills on each side of her neck appeared beneath her ears. Nerissa wanted to prove that she was a fast swimmer to her cousins and wanted to beat them to the buoy and back, so she didn’t slow down or look to notice that they were not following her. When she got to the buoy Nerissa stopped and turned to see if she could see them coming. They weren’t. She thought she may have been mistaken with the buoy that they had meant, so she decided to keep going. That must have been it. In her four-year-old mind she knew that they had meant a buoy further out and knew they must have already passed her.
I sigh. I open my eyes and look at the bright white ceiling above me. We moved into our new house three days ago, and although we still have loads of things to unpack and go through, I want to get back into routine.
I look at the time on my alarm clock. 04:32 it read. Smiling, I roll out of bed, changing into my costume and throwing my track-pants and hoodie over the top. I grab my bag which holds my change of clothes and checked that I have everything I need and walked downstairs with it. My parents are still asleep. They haven’t gotten used to the time difference yet- but I'm forcing myself into it.
Before I came to Portersmouth, a town on the coast near the inlet of Syreni, I had done my research. Syreni was a small village town that sprung up centuries ago. The village grew into the town that it is now- and it attracts people in the summers to its beaches and oceans. There's a main high school, called Undas High School, with a strong swimming, rugby and soccer teams. From my research it's also a very academic, very sports focused school. Portersmouth has a variety of beaches you can visit, some close to the township and some further away. Thankfully, my parents bought their home out in the suburbs, I am frightened of the ocean.
One thing I had insisted on before we moved was a house with or near the local pools. Knowing my love of swimming (I know right- I’m scared of the ocean, but I love to swim?), my parents quickly obliged.
I jump in mum and dad’s hire car. We had to sell their cars and mine before we moved- it was one of the sacrifices we made when we decided to uproot our lives and move here. Dad had been offered a transferring position at the Portersmouth University, he was a marine biologist and taught at the university in Meridian, near where we lived, but he finally gave in and accepted the job back in Portersmouth last school term. Yeah. My parents are originally from this area- moving to Meridian when I was little. I don’t remember my life here, and quite frankly, it didn’t bother me.
Our new house is a ten-minute drive to the local pools. Although we have a small pool at home, I want to practice swimming in a fifty-metre pool with lanes. So, I booked one from five to six for today, and am really looking forward to it.
I get out of the car and lock it, walking up to the very sleepy looking guy at the reception. I greet him, telling him about my booking, and gave him my booking number. He smiles and tells me I’ll be in the outdoor pool, in lane six. I nod and walk through the turnstile towards the outside pool. I find my lane and plonk my bag on the seat. I turn to look at the people already in the pool. There is a group of pre-teens with their coach, doing their morning training and there is another, older person swimming laps like me. I smile.
I take my Havaianas off and strip to reveal my swimming costume, before gathering my long hair into a bun and shoving a swimming cap over my head. Finally, I place my goggles on my head and take a step up to the edge of the pool. I push off the edge of the pool with my lead foot, entering the water with my fingertips first. Once I slip into the water, I begin to swim- pushing each arm in and up, out and in a backward motion with a back sweep. I lift my head up to breathe in, breathing out through my nose every now and then. I have to remember to lift my head up and breathe, otherwise I’d freak people out- I can go without oxygen for quite some time before needing air. As I propel myself forward, my mind calms. I relax and enjoy the water slide around me. I flip turn at the end of the pool and swim backwards- keeping my strokes at an even,steady pace. I could go faster- but I never do. I keep going, flip turning once I get to the end of the pool and heading back again.
After about seventy laps, I stop and look out. I look at my Fitbit and smile. I’ve swum for thirty minutes. Kicking off the side of the pool I put my body into a plank and flutter kick, moving my arms into fluid, straight motions. I smile as I feel one with the water.
My body feels energised, my lungs whole and strong. Once I finish my laps, I jump out of the pool and wrap a towel round my body, grabbing my bag and walking to the change rooms. I shower, washing the chlorine off me, and then I work on my hair. I notice that this change room has a hairdryer, so I lightly dry my hair, twirling it into a loose, messy bun. Then I put on my underwear and redress into the track-pants, shirt, and hoodie before shoving my feet back into my havaianas.
I walk past the group who were training with me, and I hear them talk about me, going quiet as I pass them. I smile at myself as I continue on, their voices picking up once more as I leave.
When I get back home, I walk into the kitchen. Mum and dad are both there, looking tired and out of sorts.
“Hi,” I smile as I walk towards them.
“Hi Lissa,” mum says, smiling at me. She’s making a coffee for herself and dad while he cooks us a big breakfast.
“How was your swimming?” dad asks.
“Good,” I smile back, “the pool was really busy this morning. It was nice,” I continue. Mum and dad smile. Undas has a strong swim team, funnily enough- swimming and ocean activities seem to be popular around here.
“So, what’s the plan today again?” I ask.
“We’re going into your school today and sort your things out- then we’ll go to the car dealership- we need to get some transport.
We eat our breakfast and talk. Dad starts his job next week and mum is looking for work in the government sector. She had to give up her position for this move- but it was obvious how much she loved dad; how much we love each other.
The drive to school is another twenty minutes away- closer to the ocean. Hopping out of the car I take it all in. You can hear the sound of the ocean from where the school is, and the air smells strongly of salt.
I walk with my parents into the school, and we walk to the school administrative offices. Dad tells the receptionist we have an appointment and five minutes later we are greeted by the school principal, who ushers us into his office.
“Mr. Wenderson, thank you for meeting with us,” dad says, shaking the man’s hand. Mr. Wenderson smiles, asking us to sit.
“Mr and Mrs Fletcher, thank you for coming in today. And Alyssa,” Mr. Wenderson begins, looking at me, “it’s nice to meet you. According to your file you are rather talented at English and Mathematics, is this correct?”
“Yes sir,” I reply.
“And you’re also an exceptional swimmer- you won your state’s senior championship last year, and the year before- as well as the intermediate championship the year before that. Is this correct?”
“Yes sir,” I agree.
“But you didn’t go to Nationals,” he says, looking at me.
“Mr. Wenderson, Alyssa was unable to due to family circumstances at those times,” mum interjects. I look at her and smile. I hadn’t wanted to go to Nationals, I love swimming, I'm good at it, and fast- but it's a fun activity for me. I have nothing to prove.
“Well, I don’t know much about swimming, but Mr. Drake is our coach, so it would be up to him if he would take you on the team. Obviously, you can take swimming as an elective- next term maybe, but this term, in the meantime, you’ll have to do physical education with everyone else…”
“But the state championships are this term Mr. Wenderson,” dad begins. He looks at me, but I shake my head. We had had this conversation before we had left Meridian- I had spent the past three terms training for state, moving here with the possibility of not competing was a sacrifice I was willing to make for my father.
“And like I said, it’s not up to me, until then, she will need to prove herself. She may need to talk to Mr. Drake personally but it’s up to him,” Mr. Wenderson explains. I nod.
“That’s okay, I’m fine with that,” I say.
We talk some more before Mr. Wenderson finally gives me my timetable and list of stationary requirements for my classes. Mum and dad thank the principal before we leave. I can tell dad is visibly unhappy as we sit in the car.
“It’s okay dad,” I say, trying to reassure him.
“No honey, I took you away from the thing you’re good at, I’m sorry,” he replies. I smile.
“It’s okay. Maybe I could do with a break. I can still swim at the local pool once school starts anyway,” I say. Dad nods once before pulling out of the car park and going to our next task for the day.
Nerissa - Greek origin meaning Nymph (a spirit of nature)