A Song Below Water by Bethany C. Morrow
English | 2020 | Children/Young Adult | ePUB | 3.4 MB
Bethany C. Morrow’s A Song Below Water is the story for today’s readers – a captivating modern fantasy about black mermaids, friendship, and self-discovery set against the challenges of today’s racism and sexism.
In a society determined to keep her under lock and key, Tavia must hide her siren powers.
Meanwhile, Effie is fighting her own family struggles, pitted against literal demons from her past. Together, these best friends must navigate through the perils of high school’s junior year. But everything changes in the aftermath of a siren murder trial that rocks the nation, and Tavia accidentally lets out her magical voice at the worst possible moment.
Soon, nothing in Portland, Oregon, seems safe. To save themselves from drowning, it’s only Tavia and Effie’s unbreakable sisterhood that proves to be the strongest magic of all.
There’s nothing like being in the water.
People ask me if it’s quiet, if that’s why I like it. It makes sense; I’m quiet, I must want the world to be the same way.
Tavia asks me that; Tavia is people.
The thing about being underwater is that it’s not—quiet, I mean. I can’t hear what’s happening above the surface, but when I’m totally submerged, I hear the water. I hear its song, the way it sings to itself and anybody who comes below to hear it. I love the way it never changes, and the way I’m always different when I’m here.
Sometimes I bring my head above the surface when I don’t need a breath, just so I can duck back under and hear the song start again. That’s all I mean to do when I crest between laps, but this time I feel a pair of eyes on me.
I can always tell when I’m being watched. I guess when you can never shake the feeling, you’ve gotta be right sometimes.
There he is. He’s leaning back in his seat, wearing a white community-center polo shirt with his red shorts, tanned brown hands interlaced on top of his buzz-cut hair. He lifts one my way and I can’t help but smile—even though I immediately hide behind my heavy twists when I wave back.
Last week he said his name is Wallace, and now I hear it replay inside my head.
We only just introduced ourselves (finally), but he’s been coming to the pool for the past several years and I feel like we’ve built up a rapport.
How’s it going.
The water feels fine.
Okay, a very vague rapport, but I’m not a great conversationalist—which he probably reads as disinterest like everybody else. (Joke’s on them, I’m just super uncomfortable.) Sometimes I don’t say anything at all, just make a nonverbal hello.
With the faire coming up, it’s the gesturing that makes me feel a little guilty. Like outside of me and Tav, signing should belong to my life in the mermaid tank. And to Elric, the boy I’m betrothed to when I play Euphemia the Mer.
Whatever. Wallace told me his name but nothing else. He’s the strong, silent type, I guess. Emphasis on the strong. I used to think he was a lifeguard (his arms are built for heaving people out of an unforgiving sea, trust) but despite being a walking ad for the community center, he’s never on the lifeguard stand.
When I climb out of the pool, he’s looking away, smiling with a mom who just got foot-checked by her overly enthusiastic toddler. A moment ago, it was just us—the way I like it. As if Tav knows the sight of a mother and child’ll be a trigger, she chooses that moment to look over, but I play it off.