My name is Angel… well, that’s as close to my actual name as most people on Dry Earth are going to get. I gave myself the last name Douglas because it means ‘dark river’ and I thought it sounded strong, yet poetic.
In my youth, I became fascinated with artists from this world who came to Sulani to paint and to commune with nature. I learned their art through watching, at first, and then by being taken in as an apprentice of sorts. A pupil.
I enjoy it. Creating art makes me happy.
Imagine my surprise when I learned from Elaine that we could sell our creations for … money? I am very confused about this whole ‘money’ thing, as a general rule. Merpeople do not use such a barter system. We do not have possessions as such.
Elaine explained to me that on Dry Earth, people use this money as currency to obtain the things they need to survive. Or the things they want to make them happy.
“What are these things you need to survive?” I asked her, once we had established that catching fish was nothing I wanted a part of.
“Food, shelter… clothing to keep us warm.” She looked around the barren lot we were living on. “We need to build a house, Angel,” she told me. “A dwelling so we aren’t exposed to the elements.”
I had grown up seeing it rain in Sulani, feeling the seas rage with primal storms. Elaine now told me about such things as snow and hail. Frightening ice that fell from the sky.
I agreed, then, that we needed this dwelling she spoke of, even if it did feel a bit confining.
We each found work at a local museum, and also began creating art of our own to sell. I will repeat again that this makes me happy.
Soon, we had money enough between the currency she called ‘our paychecks’ and that we earned from selling our own paintings to begin construction of our home. Elaine and I agreed upon a 3-bedroom, 2 bathroom home plan. I asked for a swimming pool to be built, as well. There is plenty of room for it on this lot, and I need the water. It is life.
Elaine agreed. For the just the two of us, it seemed spacious.
The pool came first. I am not the only who enjoys it, as you can see. Although why she would rather float on that plastic raft than soak in the actual water is beyond my comprehension.
Elaine baffles me at times, with the things she does. And at others… sometimes I cannot stop myself from staring at her, and find myself lost in thought while we paint… she is beautiful to me, but I do not know how to express those thoughts without ruining the friendship we have reached being… roommates, as she calls it.
Even though we do not share a ‘room’ at all. She sleeps in one of the little bedrooms in our new dwelling and most nights, I sleep in the pool, for better hydration.
One such night, when I was asleep in the pool, I was awoken by a strange light.
I had never seen anything like it before in my life, so I got out of the water and went to investigate. I found myself surrounded by a beam of light, rising into the air.
When I am returned, I speak to Elaine of my experience.
“Those were the Celestials,” she tells me. “Almost every generation of my family has been given a Celestial child to help guide them on their journey.”
“But I am not of your family,” I say.
Elaine looks thoughtful at my words. “There must have been a reason they chose you, Angel. You’re here and you’re helping me. Maybe that counts?”
It is not long afterwards that I begin to feel…
And my abdomen begins to grow.
I imagine if I did not know that many species of fish, the male carry the young until they can be born, I would be worried about what was happening to me.
But I am not. This, at least, of all the things life on Dry Earth has presented to me, is more normal than anything else.