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Capricorn in Her Corner

by Belinda Brady

The breeze does nothing to hide the shouting. If anything, it carries it my way. My best friend Luna is down on the beach arguing with her boyfriend again. They’ve been together for one year, and I don’t know why she stays with him. He’s jealous, controlling, and I have no doubt he’s hurt her. The pretty sundress she is wearing tonight has put the bruises on her arms on full display. Bruises she quickly dismisses as an accident. But I know the truth hidden in her denials, and I feel utterly helpless. My sweet, innocent friend is completely under his spell.

We are at our end of year party for school. We have finally graduated and are at a friend’s house on the beach celebrating when he storms in, grabs Luna roughly by the arm and drags her down to the shore, his voice raised in anger. I look around at my classmates; none of them seems concerned about the fight going on in the distance.

“I can’t believe you guys are doing nothing about this!” I seethe to the blank faces gaping back at me as I jump out of my seat and walk down the stairs and onto the beach, my feet sinking in the soft sand.

“What’s her problem?” I hear a bemused voice ask as I head towards the noise. My head is aching and my legs feel like jelly but, when I realize I can’t hear yelling anymore, panic races through me, and I start to run.

I have to stop this.

I see a long, dark silhouette on the sand. At first, I think it’s a log, but as I approach, a light from the house illuminates the object. I scream and come to a stop before it.

He is on top of Luna, straddling her, his hands around her neck. Luna is desperately trying to loosen his grip, her hands clawing and scratching at his skin, her pleas for him to stop coming out in a raspy cry.

My rage is fierce and uncontrollable. I feel it burn through me. I scream again, a primal yell that echoes across the sea. The water grows choppier; the waves grow bigger, the wind howls. The change is quick. “Get off her!” I roar.

He scrambles off Luna and looks up at me. “You’re a freak!” he screams, a look of horror on his face when he sees my curled horns and long fishtail at the end of my now naked body, my short jumpsuit torn to shreds by my transformation.

I grab onto Luna as the monster wave crashes over us, protecting her from its pull, as it washes the beach away.

His face is frozen in fear as he is pulled out to sea, his cries for help lost in the waves. The cries quickly stop and the ocean is calm, back to what it was, the sand moving back into place around us. Within seconds, everything is back to what it was.

I am on the sand; Luna is sitting next to me, the scales on her light blue tail glistening in the moonlight, her long, black hair flowing around her bare torso.

“You’ve changed,” I note gently.

“You didn’t really give me a choice, did you?” She chuckles softly, staring directly ahead. “Even though I was about to change and kick some butt, I swear.”

She sighs wearily and rests her head on my shoulder. “What an absolute jerk! I feel like such an idiot. I tried so hard. I tried so hard to help him.... I can’t believe it took me this long to see it. Thank you for having my back, even if you did go a little over the top.”

I let out a small laugh. “I’m just glad you’re okay, and you know me. I’ll hold it in until I can’t anymore, and then I’ll explode. Typical Capricorn really.”

We sit for a moment, her head on my shoulder, the sound of our fins slapping the sand breaking the silence.

Luna looks up at me and places a hand on my head. “Your horns are showing,” she whispers as she gently taps them.

I laugh again. “Consider it a warning.”

Her belly laugh fills the air. “Duly noted.”

She moves her head from my shoulder and looks at me, biting her lip. “I’m sorry I dragged you up here, my dear friend. I thought it would be different, thought it would be fun being a human, playing house and all.” She gingerly touches the angry welts on her neck. “Turns out it was not so fun. I don’t know about you, but I’m ready to leave this place and go home. What about you, do you want to go home?”

I look over my shoulder to the party still going on behind us, completely oblivious to what had just taken place, and turn back to her. “Home or home?”

Home,” Luna replies, her tone is serious.

“I thought you’d never ask.” I smile.

Luna winks at me as she rolls over onto her belly and wriggles her body, her tail pushing her towards the shallow water. She quickly disappears under the waves, before re-emerging, her hand waving at me to follow, her face beaming.

I follow her lead and, seconds later, I am swimming in the warm ocean, my fishtail propelling me, and I catch up with my childhood friend, the mermaid. I burst to the surface, right next to Luna, and together we bob up and down in the current and stare at the dim lights of humanity flickering in the distance.

“Freaks,” Luna murmurs before she disappears under the waves, her fin slapping the surface loudly.

“Indeed,” I dive and follow her into the darkness, toward our home, deep on the ocean floor.

Copyright © 2019 by Belinda Brady

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