AN: Great feedback guys! Anything you hate? Anything you dislike? Anything I could improve? Do tell me. As it is, I'm going to hand over to Sapphy for story time!
I kicked a stone as I jumped off the bus, waving goodbye to Mary as I walked into St Pirans. Rainbow said that she would meet me by the beach, where we first met but that was about a 15 minute walk from here so I had some time to think. The town was quiet, what with it being a Sunday. Mum and Conor were at church but Roger didn't really believe in God, so he was kicking around the water in his boat. He'd offered me a turn on the boat with him, but I'd declined.
The sun was shining despite it all and it warmed my skin. It was still surprisingly warm for December; usually by now, it would hit minus figures, especially since we were so close to the sea.
I breathed into the air and was once more surprised by another bright green plant, that didn't look in the slightest like an evergreen. It even had fruit on it! Something was seriously strange, even here in St Pirans. I did however know that it wasn't nationwide. Carol, the weather-lady on the BBC News had been out on the country in Devon and there, not a single plant was nearly as green as they were here in Senara.
I would have usually blamed Granny Carne for this phenomenon, but it didn't happen every year. Dad's garden always died in the winter and he had to replant in the spring, but this year, the elderberries were still growing and the gooseberry bush was bright green and exploding with leaves, to Conor's consternation (part of his chores were weeding and leaf clearing of the garden).
I couldn't see any factor that had changed this year...apart from Faro. He had said he'd been planning coming to the surface for two months. It had been 2 months ago that the leaves usually fell and hadn't.
But surely, Faro couldn't be causing the seasons changing to halt?
I shook the thought from my mind as I saw a shock of blonde hair that had to be Rainbow.
"Rainbow!" I shouted and she turned around and ran towards me, throwing her arms around me in a giant hug.
"Hello, Sapphire. I like your shorts. Very snazzy, especially in this weather!" she said, gesturing to my denim knee length shorts.
I laughed. "I'm glad you like them. I like them. "
She laughed and pulled me along to the town.
"How're Patrick and River?" I asked.
She shrugged. "Pat's as quiet as ever. He's got extra hours at the Green Room, so I barely see him apart from at school time. River's okay though. Mum and Dad thought that he might enjoy nursery, he's a bit more outgoing than Pat and I ever were. He's going to the St. Pirans one. Loves it there, can't blame him. Playing all day, sounds fun, more fun than studying at home. Mum's so strict about getting work done."
I shrugged my hands over her shoulders. "Well then, thank God for weekends!"
She chuckled and nodded. "What about you Sapphire? How was your week?"
"Interesting enough," I said. "You might be interested in knowing that Granny Carne's looking after her great-grandson at the moment. Faro. He's quite nice." I said. I knew that Conor couldn't lie to Rainbow, so it was best that I did it and Conor merely kept up the deception.
She threw me a look. 'Quite nice?" she asked slyly and I sighed.
"Yes Rainbow, that does mean that I fancy him. I met him in...Plymouth."
She suddenly sharpened and looked at me in the eye directly. "He's from the place that was in danger?"
I nodded. "Then the place is safe now? You won't need to return?" she asked again, her brown eyes widening.
"Not for as long, anyway. " She threw me a look, and I knew the issue would weigh on her mind until she figured it out. Rainbow was smart, she knew something was up. I'd leave it to her to come to her own conclusions.
"Onto other news," I said, grinning as we drew close to Costa Coffee shop. "Iced tea?" I asked her.
Rainbow grinned, her tanned face lighting up. "You just have to be contradictory, don't you Sapphire? That's a coffee shop, I'll have a mocha. You can be strange and have Iced Tea."
I faked indignation. "Who are you calling strange, horse-rider?"
She cackled and pushed me into the store.
As soon as we had purchased our drinks, we occupied a table outside. "You wanted to talk about other news," said Rainbow, as she placed her satchel on the floor.
"Yes," I said, "My friend Katie wants to hold a party on the beach but she's lacking on people. She wanted me to bring friends, so I'll bring Faro if his leg is good enough to walk properly by then but I think Conor would like you to be there. I know I do; who else could I have a proper laugh with?"
She threw a look at me. "Why are Faro's legs not working?"
"Car accident," I replied blithely, "And you're avoiding the question. Can you or can't you go to this party on Monday?"
She looked away, sipping at her mocha. "I don't know. Why didn't Conor ask me himself?"
I shrugged. "I don't pretend to know how Conor's mind works. All I can tell you is that my brother is pre-occupied, shy and probably insecure about your relationship. Seriously, if he thinks that you two holding hands is worth a freak-out from Mum..."
She giggled for a bit, before looking pensive. "I don't know Sapphire. Whenever I go into town alone, I'm usually made fun of for not going to proper school. They think I'm strange. They laugh and point, and I know its shouldn't bother me, but it does. I don't want to be the excluded girl at this party. I don't want to be the butt of the joke."
"You won't be!" I exclaimed. I had never known that Rainbow was bullied for being smarter than us. "I'll be there and so will Conor. If anyone so much as looks at you funny, I'll hit them like I hit Josie in Year 5. You are my friend and Conor's girlfriend and you deserve respect, and I promise you that you will get it."
She smiled at me, nursed her disgusting mocha and smiled a rare, shy smile at me. "Well then, I think we need to go dress shopping."
I lay my head in the grass and listened to Faro rant about how strange aeroplanes were and how only humans with their strange need to be like birds would want to fly. He also ranted about credit cards and how useless they were, money and how obsessed humans were with it and the pointlessness of government.
While I loved Faro with all of my heart, I couldn't agree with him about half of the things that he said about the world of the air. As he launched into a rant about how silly hair-dryers were, I silenced him with a kiss and pulled him back down into the green grass around me.
"Just look up," I whispered, as he settled onto his back and we stared at the clouds, our hand entwined. The sun was setting and the trail of a jet faded across the sky. Tendrils or red and pink snuck across the sky, meeting the barrier of darkening blue.
"This is air. This is summer. This is the life." I said to him. "Forget your impressions about how useless we humans are and wonder at the marvels of the air. The open sky with the soaring red kites. The bluebirds that nestle in the trees. The squirrels turning in for winter hibernation. The lazy cats sleeping by an open hearth. A dog flopping itself down at the foot of your bed at the end of a long, hard day at work." As I told him this, I spun an image in my head of each and showed him via our thoughts.
I hadn't been surprised when his access of my thoughts was just as easy in the Air as it was in the water. We were in sync and I knew the tone of his mind and he knew the tone of mine.
He smirked. "But you humans didn't make all of this. This was Nature's doing."
I sighed. 'Fine. Let me show you the good that humans have done, be it for themselves."
I showed him the vague memory of the vaccinations that I had had as a child and the clip of how they worked that we had been shown in Year 8. I showed him the treatments for cancer and the stopping of the volcanoes that thundered in their might. I showed him the carving of beautiful buildings like the Leaning Tower of Pisa, the Red Fort, the Taj Mahal and other such pictures and movies I had seen. I showed him the music we created, the earthy, folky music along with the rock and techno at which Faro physically winced.
I showed him the lights of the world as shown from space and close up pictures of the stars and planets I had seen in a Year 13's Physics project. And Faro looked at me, with a wry look. "So maybe you humans have done something of worth. But was it worth the consequences?"
And I knew the images of the sea burning, the animals covered in oil, the machine refinery pumping sewage into the sea. A dolphin caught in a fishing net, a fish trapped in plastics bags, sharks without fins. I knew that e would show me these images and I was ready with the clips of the WWF, the Greenpeace organization, the daily things we did to help our environment, the people resolutely wading through mud and sand to clean some filthy seagulls from the oil.
"The human race is trying to stop what we did. The younger generations are hoping to make things better, Faro. I'm trying to make things better. Or did you forget that I was human?" I knew what I was asking was cruel. I knew he hadn't forgotten, but he definitely had acted like her had forgotten.
He scowled before kissing me hair then my cheeks then my lips.
I leant on his shoulder until the sky went black and white. Then I lifted him up and got ready to escort him back to his home. But the question I still hadn't answered was whether or not Faro was causing the temporary weather pause.
"Faro?" I asked.
"Hmm?" he murmured as he hopped along resolutely, without my help.
"What do you think about attending a party tomorrow?" I asked him, my mouth not being able to ask him about our weather.
He looked startled. "What if they ask me questions I don't know?" he said, his face looking like a deer in the headlights.
I shrugged off his fear of socializing with normal people. "Borrow the answer from my mind or make it up. I'd suggest the first over the second."
He smiled, and sighed. "Okay then, Sapphire. If you insist. But I insist that you accompany me there. I will not know anyone, and to be perfectly frank, I don't think your brother is appreciative of my presence here in his world. He would happily see me fail, for I have not truly failed in Ingo. I don't understand his animosity, but, I am not human."
I kissed his cheek gently, before tucking my hands into the pockets of my denim shorts and started the walk back home.
I ate my cereal ravenously and across from me, Conor pulled a face.
"It's only school, Sapphy. No need to rush."
I pulled a face back at him. "I want to catch a ride from Mum. I haven't apologized to her properly. I'm sure you had the time, but yesterday I was whizzing around with Rainbow shopping and teaching Faro human things, using the telly as a guide."
He shrugged. "Your call. I'll see you at break time, its photos today. Don't forget to do your tie properly, I think Mum wants to buy this one because it's my last year. I don't want my scraggly sister making my look bad!" he said and I shoved him friendlily, as I dumped my bowl in the sink and rinsed it quickly.
He quickly caught my hand and sat me down on the chair in front of him. "Your hair is a mess. Mum will take her own time today, because she needs her appearance done right. She's at a job interview today, a job out in St Pirans in marketing. More money."
I sighed. "For your university fund?"
He nodded grimly. "I can't believe Uni fees rose again. It's only been a year since the last rise. Mum's working so hard for this, and I can't get a job to help."
I tuned to hug him but he pushed me back down into the chair and started braiding my waist-length hair.
He had learnt how to do this because Mum never had the time when I was little either and Dad used to try and braid daisies in my hair, to frustrate Mum into combing my hair. Conor learnt to do it as well, and she had looked at him in disappointment, saying that he was supposed to be the mature one because Dad could never be mature. Those were the good times.
As he finished my hair, I smiled. "Conor, I know that you're angry at me. Just... don't take it out on Faro. He didn't mean anything by coming up here. He was curious and he doesn't understand our world, just like we don't quite understand his. He doesn't understand the fuss and the paperwork and the trouble he creates by being here, because in Ingo, they don't leave a paper trail. You know that Con."
Conor scowled in frustration, but not anger, to my surprise. "I'm not angry with you Saph. I don't even think I'm angry at Faro. I'm just...angry that it happened. Faro was ignorant and we can't do anything apart from wait, but..."
"But it ruins your idea of separation, doesn't it?" I asked and he nodded, looking glum. "Conor, I'm going to use something that's probably Chinese; everything is interconnected. We're all linked in some way, sort or form, and that includes the Mer. You can't expect things to separate just for you. It's like what happened when the Tide Knot broke; the sea flooded the land and they were connected for that moment. Everyone in Senara and St. Pirans are now connected with the sea in some way. Conor, whatever has happened, has happened. Just flow like the sea. Don't stand still now. You need to know when to flow and when to stand your ground. I know that you don't like having blood of Ingo, but you do, so you need to learn when to bend and when to stand your ground."
Conor looked surprised at my speech and I crossed my arms, certain that my face was a bright red. "I can give out gems of wisdom sometimes!"
He smirked. "Yes, I just wasn't expecting it. You're usually so... slow."
I rolled my eyes and stood up. "All I'm saying is, give Faro the chance that he gave you and I when we were in Ingo. Give him the chance to grow into this place. Give him a chance to be less prejudiced."
He sighed. 'Yes mother." He said sarcastically, as he finished his cereal.
I flipped him the bird and grabbed my rucksack form the front of the staircase as Mum thundered down with an extra layer of make-up on and a raincoat in a classy style. I groaned as I looked outside, after all of the great weather we'd been having, it had to rain on the day of the beach party. It was a wet drizzle, but still rain that would ruin my image for the photos Conor was so worried about. Even with a raincoat, I was doomed if I walked to school like I usually. Best weather ever.
"Mum, I said, as I quickly slipped on my shoes. "Can I grab a lift in your car?"
Mum nodded absently and grabbed her keys. I put on my raincoat, tucked my plait inside the coat and flipped the hood up. I darted across the gravel, slamming the door behind me, dived for the car door and swung myself inside.
Mum looked at me. "Oh Sapphy, don't look so moody."
I rolled my eyes. "Mum, it's pouring it down with rain on Photo day! Why would I be happy?"
Mum threw a look at me. "Because I'm giving you a lift?"
I decided to go over the top. "Oh, kind and gracious nurturer, I beseech thee to let mine body stay inside the warm dry car so that my lustrous hair will not look like a wet rat when I approach the highest institute of learning!"
She laughed. "I think you've been reading too much Shakespeare, Sapphy!"
I laughed and relaxed back into the car seat.
"Sapphy," Mum started and by the tone of her voice I knew that something was troubling her. "You never tell me anything about your life anymore. What are you doing today?"
I smiled, that I was happy enough to answer. "Today, Leah and I are doing our Drama piece on World War 2. In Geography, we're doing the last bits of research for our Marine Ecology project. And then, afterschool, Katie's holding a beach party down at Senara Beach to celebrate the last day of school. That is, if it ever stops raining!"
Mum looked unhappy at this. "A beach party Sapphy?"
"It's not that bad, Mum! Conor and his mates are going too. So's Rainbow, Patrick and Faro." I knew my Mum liked Rainbow and Patrick, they were very reliable and very polite. Of course, Mum had never really forgotten what Rainbow had done for her when the Tide Knot broke and how the four of us were close when she and Roger were in Australia.
But for some reason, she looked even more worried. Then I realized that I'd mentioned Faro. That wasn't going to sit well with her. "Sapphy..." she said, her tone disapproving.
"Mum, I really like him. He's funny, smart and so charming. And he loves the sea just as much as I do." I said, as I admitted most of the reasons I loved Faro.
Her face crinkled. 'That's what I'm worried about..." she murmured before looking at me directly. "Sapphy. I don't want you to go to this party."
I nearly exploded. After all the dress shopping effort and the coaxing of Rainbow, my mother wasn't going to ban me from this. I didn't fail to notice that she'd left Conor out of that sentence. "So, it's okay for Conor to go have fun on the beach with Rainbow, but it isn't okay for me to have fun with my boyfriend?"
She looked frustrated as, she pulled to a stop as the traffic lights switched to red. "I know Rainbow! I don't know Faro at all, and then I come home to you both kissing each other away! I'm understandably worried, Sapphire!"
I felt angry now. 'That's how you and Dad met! He always said that for both of you, it was love at first sight, despite your parents!"
She looked at me angrily. "LOOK WHERE THAT ENDED UP, SAPPHIRE! HE DIES, LEAVING ME ALONE1 WE WERE ALWAYS ARGUING! IT WASN'T LOVE, IT WAS LUST AND FADED!"
I stared at her. I didn't know she'd felt like that about Dad, our dad. I just gaped at her, because surely...surely, she would have said something. But, I knew it to be true. How else was Dad so easily pulled away by Mellina and Mordowgri? If he'd truly loved Mum with all of his heart, he wouldn't have even been able to think of straying.
She deflated. "Sapphy, I don't want that for you. I want you to be happier than I was. I don't want you rushing into something you'll regret."
I failed to see how the two correlated however. "It's just a party Mum. I'm hardly likely to sign my whole life away to Faro on a whim!"
"I just don't want you going, Sapphy, and that's final!" she snapped.
"Roger would let me go!" I yelled, and I knew this to be true as well. I'd wanted to paint him as a villain when I was younger, but really? He was far better at knowing my feelings and what I needed than Mum was.
Mum threw me a cold look. "Roger is not the father of two children, one of whom is too impulsive for her own good! Roger is inexperienced at handling children. He's being so nice because he wanted your approval, yours and Conor's. He loves me and I took it slow this time."
I felt my anger bubbling and boiling and seething, like Ingo when a storm was raging. "He's a damn sight better parent than you are!" I yelled at her. "It's just a party! It's not like the sea is going to rise up and drown me!"
She clenched her fists around the steering wheel. 'The sea is unpredictable. It can do anything and Senara beach is more unpredictable than St Pirans. You'll go swimming and you'll get caught by a current, because you think you're invincible. The tide will come in unexpectedly and pull you with it. And loving the sea too much can be a curse Sapphy."
I clenched my first around my rucksack. "I'm not you Mum! I'm not going to half-drown in water! I'm not going to feel like its calling me! I'm not going to get a fortuneteller saying that the sea was the worst thing that ever happened to me! The sea is everything! I'M NOT YOU! AND I'M GOING TO THE PARTY WHETEHR YOU LIKE IT OR NOT!"
With that parting statement, I grabbed my rucksack and slammed the car door as I walked into the school, despite being metres away from it. I let the rain drip off my skin-tight raincoat and I felt my anger cool and dissipate like a summer squall when the clouds pass inland. Then I realized my fatal error. My mother thought our encounter in Australia was just a dream. In foolishly lashing out at her, I'd just revealed that it wasn't.
What would happen now?
AN: So this is really much shorter than some other chapters but I decided that if I shortened the chapters and extended chapter length, I'd be able to satisfy demand for my stories. Is that okay with you guys? It means that the 'chapter per day of story' structure I was going to introduce goes out the window, but I don't think that works from a storytelling angles. It means I can't get the cool cliff-hangers in the right places! Thanks for all the feedback and please, if you write and read Ingo fanfiction and have an account, check out the forums, we have some cool discussion going on that I'd like some newbies in!
Also, if you draw or do any kind of media, please go to #Away-In-Ingo on DeviantArt and submit an entry to the Stormswept challenge! I'm offering prizes, even though that wasn't originally planned by SapphireLovesTheSea. This is because there are only 3 entries so far, one of them, mine. Come on guys!