EARTHBOUND CHAPTER ONE: DISCOVERY

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Submitted Date 07/03/2019
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Drea found herself sitting on the evening beach. It was a beautiful day to visit the ocean—Drea had been doing so for the past week. After a falling out with her now-ex, she needed some time away from the world and its troubles. Fortunately, she had a best friend willing to lend her a cozy beach house for as long as she needed.
The waves quietly crept closer to Drea's toes. The cool, misty air felt like a blessing on her sun-kissed skin. The large, crimson orb was halfway hiding behind the deep, cerulean horizon. Seagulls could be heard cawing in the wind.
What she wouldn't give to live this life every day. She sighed. Soon she would have to return to the real world with all of her real problems. She gazed up at the cloudy, fuschia sky and wished for just a little longer in this heavenly solitude.
After another sigh, she stood and began strolling along the shoreline. Every so often she would stoop to the sand and pick up a shell. Most of them were broken or chipped, but occasionally she'd find one untarnished by the harsh waves. She tucked those in a small yellow pail that she toted along with her.
The long day was coming quickly to its end. The sky's hue faded from pink to a deep violet. The sun was just barely peeking over the ocean. It was a gorgeous sight. Drea gathered her things and began heading back to the beach house.
As she walked along the shore, her mahogany hair wisped in the wind. She stared down at the sand while wondering how she was going to leave this beautiful scene. She still had a few days, but her mind couldn't stop wandering to the idea of departing so soon.
Lost in her thoughts, she didn't see the log until she was tumbling over it. Her hands caught her in the sand, but not before she ate a mouthful. She immediately began sputtering and spewing.
She turned to glare at the log that had just humiliated her, but it didn't quite look right. The thing was at least seven feet long (how could she miss that?) and was wide at one end but tapered into a cone on the other. She could barely make it out as the sun cast shadows over her.
Drea inspected the other side of the log. Something wasn't right. The thicker side was as wide as her chest, but at the end it was rounded, like a head? As the puzzle pieces clicked, Drea let out a loud gasp and dropped to her knees. A person!
Closer to the being, Drea was able to make out a naked woman. Her eyes were closed and her breathing was so shallow Drea wasn't even sure if she was alive. Something else was off… As she glanced down, she realized that instead of legs, there was a tail. She didn't understand.
At the end of her body the woman had long, delicate tail fins that were barely noticeable due to being covered in sand. Drea resisted the urge to touch the silvery scales.
What the hell was she supposed to do? Surely this wasn't actually a mermaid. Perhaps the woman had been performing a show and was taken by the undertow? Certainly someone would have helped her.
"Hey!" Drea cried while rubbing the woman's face. "Are you alive? Oh, God, please be alive." She leaned her head next to the woman's mouth. She heard the gentle hiss of a breath and breathed her own sigh of relief. Now what?
She gently tapped the woman's face trying to elicit a response. Nothing. Drea groaned. Should she call someone? Of course she should, but something stopped her.
She wasn't sure why, but it seemed awfully peculiar that this woman was all alone and stranded on the beach. Shouldn't someone know she was here? Was she in danger? Drea hesitated to call for help. She decided if she couldn't wake the woman up in 20 minutes, then she'd call an ambulance. She felt rather stupid for doing so, since the woman clearly needed help.
"Please, wake up!" She cried as she gently smacked the woman's hand. She noticed her nails were long and talon-like. Huh, she thought, what kind of work does she do that allows those claws?
Deciding she needed to move, Drea gingerly lifted the long being's shoulders to at least try to sit her up. As she did, the woman began coughing and sputtering. For a moment, Drea was relieved, but the girl never opened her eyes.
Red caught Drea's attention out of the corner of her eye. She gasped. On the woman's bare back was a gash about a foot wide. It lacerated horizontally along the vague line where tail ended and skin began as if someone had been trying to slice her in half. The garish wound looked deep.
Oh, Jesus. What do I do?! Her thoughts raced in panic. The girl clearly needed help, and although Drea had some medical knowledge, it certainly wasn't enough to repair this injury. It needed stitches. The woman let out a small moan.
"Oh, hey! Can you hear me? Are you ok?" The woman was still half-way in Drea's arms. She laid her down to assess. Her eyes were still closed, but she wore a grimace as if she were experiencing discomfort.
Night was upon them, and Drea felt as if she was running out of time. Her phone was back at the beach house anyway, so she decided she would cart the woman back and decide what to do in the comfort of inside. Abandoning her bucket, Drea hoisted the girl's upper half into her arms and began dragging her backwards to the beach house.
The cottage wasn't far for someone bearing no weight. After about a hundred paces, Drea could feel her shoulders screaming in protest. Her knees felt as if they would buckle if she didn't focus on putting one foot behind the other as she continued to drag the strange, unconscious girl up the beach.
Every five minutes or so she would lay the girl down and swallow large gulps of air. The breeze still felt nice on her sweat-dripping skin, but it was hardly noticeable. Every muscle pained her and demanded attention. Her back felt as if it was going to snap. She was so close, though. The house was only about 100 yards away.
It took every ounce of willpower Drea possessed to muster the strength to continue. Once again she hoisted the woman up and began dragging her in the sand. She nearly tripped as her knees began to wobble and she stumbled.
Finally, though, she found herself at the foot of the back door that looked out to the beach. Drea plopped to the ground next to the girl and tucked her head between her knees. Everything muscle was pounding with each beat of her heart. For a few moments, she could only sit there while catching her breath. She suddenly whipped around to the woman and made sure she was still breathing. Then, after what felt like too little of time, she continued to drag the woman into the house.
Fortunately for Drea, the couch wasn't far from the back door. She dragged the girl onto the large sectional as best as she could, but she had little energy left. She felt exhausted and accomplished. The girl lay peacefully with one arm dangling off the side of the sofa.
Now that they were in the light, Drea got a good look at this peculiar stranger. The first thing she noticed was how tall the girl was. Her long, silvery tail hung over the couch. She had to be at least seven feet. Her hair was also very long and curly. It was nearly white in color with just a hint of yellow bronze in the strands. Her skin was so pale it was nearly translucent. She looked so fragile, as if Drea could touch her and she would shatter. It was hard to age her, as she looked very young with no expression on her face.

Gazing down at her, she remembered the girl had no shirt on. Drea quickly strode to the hallway closet and grabbed an old brown comforter. She walked back over to the woman and draped it over her. Drea thought she saw the girl's brows furrow, but the expression was gone before she could analyze it.
After eyeing the girl wearily for a few moments, Drea eventually found her way in the kitchen. She poured herself a glass of wine and gingerly sipped on it between deep breaths. For a few moments she stood there, but eventually, as if her knees gave out, she hastily sunk to the floor. She didn't know if she wanted to laugh or cry.
What was she going to do? What should she do? Her brain told her she should call an ambulance to help the woman, but something in her fluttering stomach told her it was safer for them here in the beach house. Drea remembered the gash in the girl's back. What am I going to do about that? It probably needs stitches. Yes, she thought, of course it needs stitches. The ugly crimson wound flashed in her memory.
Drea took a large gulp of her wine and sighed. This is not how she planned her vacation. She stared up at the ceiling until her eyes grew heavy. She'd just close them for a minute, she thought, and then she could focus on getting this mess sorted out. Soon, though, she slumped over onto the kitchen floor in an exhausted heap, and sleep overcame her.

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  • Kiersten Felch 9 months ago

    I love the whole inner thought process so we can see as she realizes what has really happened.I would need a glass of wine too!

    • Natalie 9 months ago

      Agreed! I'm trying to imagine how I would feel and react, it wouldn't be easy to process for me xD