Underwater Barbecue

Posted: September 18, 2014 by writingsprint in Fantasy
Tags: , ,


“Ariel! Ariel’s back!” someone called.

Yurri backed up—actually, he floated upward—and let the crowd swarm Aaron and Erica. Kids and adults alike smothered Aaron in hugs. Erica smiled. “Ariel? That’s your real name?”

“I would’ve kept it for my land name if it wasn’t for the movie,” Aaron said. “Hi! Hello! It’s great to see you too.”

Then Erica was surrounded too. She smiled and kept shaking hands, flippers, tentacles and claws.

“Are you his human friend?”

“You have beautiful eyes. Aren’t they lovely?”

“Hi! I’m Ariel’s brother Jory.”

“Welcome! I’ve been wanting to meet you.”

“Do you know how to play pufferball? We need a fifth player. We can teach you if you want.”

She would have been put off if she hadn’t been studying marine life ever since she was a little girl. It felt like a cross between a zoology study, a dream, and a family barbecue. In the back of her mind Erica tagged them with their animal selves — angelfish, butterflyfish, cuttlefish, blue crab — while the front of her mind tried to collect names and places on the family tree.

“It’s wonderful to meet all of you. I hope you don’t mind if I need to ask you your names again later.” She whispered to Aaron, “Nobody said they’re your aunt.”

“I don’t see her. I’ll ask uncle Yurri when he comes back.”

Erica looked above her. Then on her sides, then below. Remembering that she had to did it all the time when scuba diving, but not at family get-togethers. She didn’t see him. “Where do you think he went?”

“Probably to find her. She doesn’t like crowds.”

“Schools of fairy fish, a reef teeming with life, and she doesn’t like crowds?”

Some of the kids started trying to drag her over to play pufferball. Then they scattered.

The adults nearest the reef stayed still. Those in the open moved together. A barracuda circled the area. It looked bigger than any barracuda she’d ever seen. Was she smaller? Erica realized she didn’t care. In the field, she didn’t want to disturb the wildlife, but looking at the kids hiding in the reef crevices, she had family to protect.

She thought it looked at her. Did it sense the newcomer? Erica stared back. She wondered how she’d fight it. Grab a rock? She’d fight it any way she had to.

It finally moved on. People started breathing easier as it disappeared. “That’s right, fangs. Keep moving,” Erica said.

Jory said, “I like your girlfriend, Aaron.”

Aaron smiled. “So do I.”

Photo credit: “Great Barracuda” by Andy Blackledge at Flickr
Photo is unmodified
Shared under Creative Commons license


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