When Elyria found the black ring, she used it as an escape hatch from her own life, exempting herself from the toils of work & school & embarking on a vacation cruise around the world. She wanted a life worth taking pictures of, like so many others' lives she'd been following online. But after a few months at sea, & stops at more than a dozen tropical destinations, she found herself once again growing just as bored as she'd been at work & at school. She began to feel as if the very palm trees were mocking her, the rolling tides laughing at the flimsiness of her wishes. It was only then that random passersby began to snap pictures of her whenever she was out & about. Some were clandestine, or at least seemed to have intended to be, while others came right up to her & politely asked if she would pose for them in front of whatever gorgeous scene she happened to be passing through. Both flattered & flustered, at first she gladly complied, but soon enough this too began to wear on her nerves, occurring more frequently each subsequent day out. She was frustrated by her own frustration. Wasn't this exactly what she'd wanted? The ring, once the source of a persistent voice inside her head, remained silent. One night, sick of the endless loop of her own thoughts & lacking any good ideas regarding what to do about them, she went out & got drunk. Even this turned out to be less fun than she had been hoping for. Walking back to her room near the beach, dejectedly occupied with not tripping on the hem of her evening gown, she almost missed the miniature mermaid sitting atop one of the patio railings, its fishtail flapping gently back & forth in the evening breeze. At first she wondered if she'd been careless, & someone at the hotel bar had slipped something into her drink. But the mermaid regarded her where she had frozen in place & then spoke, with what sounded, quite improbably, like a Southern American accent: "We almost match."
Keeping her eyes on the mermaid, Elyria began backing away, which, in her current state (and long dress), was considerably more difficult than walking forward had been. The little creature hummed to itself, seeming neither particularly focused on her nor intent on continuing the conversation. When she had reached a distance she felt confident was too far for the mermaid to leap across (a confidence she realized she should not have felt at all, considering her tenuous grip on the entire situation), she turned around & bolted the short way back to the bar. There she found the last person who had pestered her for a photo, a white-haired man carrying around a sizable camera (either a professional photographer or a very serious hobbyist). She asked if he could come with her & take another picture, trying to avoid sounding insane, desperate, or drunk, & unsure on which counts, if any, she was succeeding. He was drinking with a small group of friends, but was not especially difficult to convince. He followed her back to the spot on the patio. The mermaid was still there, arms held up, hands in her silver hair. But she was no longer moving.
Elyria approached it, much closer than she'd been earlier, but it remained silent & perfectly still. She extended an index finger & poked the tip of its extended tail fin. The entire mermaid wobbled slightly at her touch, as if it was a painted plastic figurine. Confused, she got even closer, until she could see that was exactly what it was: a small sculpture, maybe even a toy, someone had left here; a child, perhaps? The photographer, obviously on another page entirely, was already snapping shots of her, and asked if she could turn to face him. Automatically, she did: despite nothing making any sense, posing had by now become an instinctive response. After a few more snaps, he waved goodbye & went back to the bar, having already given her his card during their earlier interaction.
She watched him go, feeling utterly lost. From behind her, the mermaid drawled, "You have no idea what you're doing with that ring, do ya?"
Elyria F6A7DE
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL0~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL0~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL1~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL1~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL2~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL2~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL3~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL3~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL4~)
Elyria F6A7DE (LVL4~)

Many girls in many dimensions, one mysterious piece of jewelry…

Zubaida, glowing and feeling at home on the playa…
Anya, directing a music video on her first night shoot…
Elli had been angling for an invite to the Gomiumi Genomics Compound for over a year, knowing from the get-go that adding her name to the waitlist would lead only to waiting. But armed as she was with confidence, knowledge, & several years of study in Berlin under a recent Nobel Prize winner, her nascent experiments with CRISPR had drawn the interest of numerous colleagues, to such an extent that she'd been able to secure her invitation before even having to consider resorting to less savory tactics…
Wren, wondering (or not wondering) what happened to her friend…
Selene, aboard her spaceship, riding the hyperspace zipline…
Augusta, haunted by the many ghosts of her childhood…
Quinne walked alone in the wilderness, initially in an attempt to forget her troubles—troubles acquired during her previous attempt to not be alone. But the further she wandered, the more she felt she was moving toward something unknown rather than away from anything she knew…
Flynne, assuring a potential customer that she would not have traveled nearly so far if she was just another purveyor of crystals that don't actually work…
Samara was charged with protection of the sacred forest. Since early childhood, she had been trained by the Coven in the ancient ways of her peoples' magic. The Dozen Mothers took turns guiding her through the dark woods, each imparting her own share of esoteric knowledge, gradually imbuing her with the power required to hear the breathing of the trees, to communicate in birdsong, to summon lightning from the clouds. Eventually, she began to feel the forest as an extension of herself, or rather, that she herself was an extension of the forest…
Despite having gone to the lake in the woods with a trunk full of costume changes and the express intent to be photographed, Arabella could not shake the eerie sensation that she was being watched by additional, unseen eyes.
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