Best friends and co-captains become enemies when swim star, Laurel, unexpectedly quits the team due to her escalating panic attacks, abandoning Sloane with no explanation. As rumors burn hotly through the hallways and cyberbullying takes center stage, the girls learn one of the hardest lessons of all: some friendships don’t sink or swim — they drown.
Laurie Devore meets TINY PRETTY THINGS.
I am underwater and the hands on me are iron. Unyielding. I cannot rise. I’m thrashing, chest on fire. Clawing at skin, at arms, at ribcages. Ripping at bathing suit straps.
I used to think I was a mermaid.
From my first swim lesson onward, my mother joked about it. How she had to drag me out of the water when it was time to leave the pool. I moved more swiftly, breathed easier while swimming. My mind cleared underneath the surface, the dull roar of water pressed against my ears.
Just me and the water. That was all I thought I needed.
But mermaids always swim in packs.
Fingers twist in my hair and shove me farther down, toward the black stripes marking the racing lanes at the pool’s bottom. I’ve stared at those lines through pinched tight goggles countless times. Today they blur, chlorine scalding my eyes.
I think about mermaids who lured sailors to the water with intoxicating voices and then wrecked their ships against the rocks. I should have plugged my ears the day a man in a Watson-Grant swim jacket approached me in middle school and said, “I hear you swim fast.” And again when my co-captain linked our high-five fingers and swore we’d be an unstoppable pair. Best friends.
I used to think I was a mermaid. But really? I was the prey they enticed closer. The thing they were waiting to drown.