Tristin stood on the shore, watching the sun set. He had been given three days.
Just three days.
It shouldn’t have been so difficult. His face was still his face. She should have recognized him even without his voice.
She should have known that it was him.
She didn’t know him at all.
He had tried so hard and failed. Three days of trying. Three days of failing.
Tristin heard the sound of her laughter in the salted seaweed air. He glanced back.
She ran across the beach. Her bright red hair flowing behind her head like a horse’s mane.
The familiar pinprick sensation came over his legs.
The sensation deepened into a dagger’s stabbing.
Tristin winced and cringed as the pain worsened. He staggered into the water. His feet became clumsy. His legs became unstable. He tripped and fell face first.
He crawled through the waves, trying to get to the deeper water before she could see him. He didn’t want her to see him like this.
Time was up.
His legs fused together. His feet joined at the ankles and lengthened into graceful fins. His slacks dissolved into scales.
His arm fins broke through his skin.
He pulled the white shirt off and threw it into the surf.
He swam through the water.
The silken, familiar water.
It revived something inside him. He could feel it inside his marrow. He could feel it inside his throat.
Tristin opened his mouth wide and the music poured from his throat.
Music of sunrises and sunsets.
Music of waves and storms.
Music of mermaids and mermen.
Out on the shore, Ariel stopped running.
Music filled the air.
Music that tugged at her.
Music that she knew.
Music that haunted her dreams.
She looked to the sea.
Just as the sun fully set.