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we wrote the prelude to our own fairy tale

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At age 12, Amelia Watson has zero friends.

It has always been this way, it probably always will. She is used to it. She doesn't mind. She doesn't know anything else.

She lives.

It first changes with a fight.

"Alright. Explain to me what happened"

Little Amelia's eyes dart all over the room. The tears threatening to fall make it all the more difficult to meet the headmaster's imposing gaze, let alone answer to his commanding voice. Her arms hurt. She doesn't want to cry.

Seeking any kind of comfort, she looks at the teacher by her side, who brought her here by the ear. The teacher pays no mind to her.

The principal's office is blurrier than she remembers it. She can barely make out the shape of the girl on the other side of the teacher.

The teacher opens her mouth to talk, but the director interrupts.

"Let the girls speak, please", he tiredly asks.

Amelia gulps. The other kid whimpers.

She hates this. It wasn't even my fault! She bit me!, Amelia wants to scream. Instead, she clenches her fists. It agravates the pain on her arms. She can see teeth markings on them, turning red by the minute.

The headmaster sighs. "Come on, you two, I don't want to call your parents..."

"No...", the other kid pleads, voice weak. Amelia is shocked to see the girl's face covered in actual shed tears.

She is suddenly more determined than ever to keep her eyes dry. Only losers cry.

"We fought", Watson says, through gritted teeth. Her arms hurt. "I won"

"Hey, that's! ...That's not true!", the other girl says in between sniffs.

The professor in between the fighters facepalms. "Sir, if I may..."

"Yeah, yeah... Please do"

"I caught only the middle of it, but I clearly saw little Watson here", she hovers her hand over a blonde head, "pulling Gura's hair"

The headmaster sighs once again. He is not paid enough. "Is that true, miss Watson?"

"Uh.. yes, but-"

"This is your third time in my office this year. I didn't want to do it, but I'm gonna have to call your parents"

Watson wants to scream again. Why won't adults let her talk?

Gura audibly whimpers. "S-sir...", her voice comes out shaky.

"What is it, dear? It's your first time here, isn't it? Must be scary", the teacher pets her head.

"I bit her first...", she confesses in a whisper.

"What? Why?", the principal asks, surprised. But, really, he just wants to get this over with.

The teacher finally takes a good look on Watson, and touches the teeth markings on the little girl's arms. She flinches in response. Adults are so stupid.

Gura sniffs. She doesn't really understand what is the big deal. "I like her", she says, as she pointlessly tries to dry her face with her oversized hoodie's sleeves. "I wanted to see what she tastes like"

"... You wanted to see what she tasted like?"

"Yeah. I'm a shark", she opens her mouth, showing off her clearly human but unusually sharp canines. As if that proves it.

Amelia looks at Gura, frowning. "You're weird", she says. She likes weird.

She grins. Her arms don't hurt that much anymore.

The headmaster lets them go with only a warning, no parents called. The teacher makes Gura promise she won't bite other kids again.

The next day, Gura follows Amelia around during recess.

Amelia has one friend. Whether she likes it or not. Whether she expects it or not. Gura's full of surprises.

It continues with a misunderstanding.

The community pool is infested with children during the hot friday afternoon. It's a natural destination for the kids with free time and lots of energy after school.

Not Amelia.

Amelia wouldn't ever go there willingly - there's too many people, too many noises for her personal liking. She doesn't even like swimming that much.

But going with Gura isn't too bad, she supposes. Way better than homework, at least.

And it's not like the girl would leave her alone if she denied, anyway. Turns out friendship envolves a higher percentage of begging than she'd ever guessed before meeting Gura.

Amelia looks at one of her watches, the one on her right wrist. 2 minutes and 13 seconds, it marks. 14 seconds. 15. She keeps her left hand underwater, where it meets a white haired head. She gets ready to apply pressure against it at any moment.

Once the 43° second ticks, Gura's air bubbles become desesperate, until there is no one left. Underwater, she flails her arms around.

Amelia needs to use both of her hands to keep her from coming back to the surface. She frowns, losing count of the time. It makes her worried to not be able to see her watch - she's always found it hard to count seconds by herself. Time could be misleading.

That's when she hears a commanding "HEY!", and a forceful hand makes it's way to her shoulders.

Little Amelia is so surprised that she lets go of Gura when she's forced to turn around, as a result of her loss of focus. Suddenly all the background noise of kids screaming and splashing themselves on the water invades her ears. She flinches. Leaving sounds nice. She considers going underwater too.

Gura emerges in seconds by her side, all coughs and struggles. She has to hold onto the pool's border for support, as she doubles over and gasps for air.

"What the heck were you doing just now?!", the same voice demands.

It belongs to a girl with pink hair, Amelia instantly notices. She has seen her around at school. It's hard not to recognize.

The stranger's question pierces through all the noises in Amelia's mind, and she remembers her watch. She clumsily presses a button, and the time stops.

3 minutes and 21 seconds.

"You've had higher times, Gura...", she informs, petting her head.

"Let's... go again...", Gura manages to whisper in between coughs.

"Are you sure?", Amelia holds her friend's arms above her head, to help with her lungs' circulation. "Want me to go grab your-"

The pink-haired-girl-from-school interrupts. "Uh... Excuse me, what the f-"

"Oh, right!", Amelia turns to her. "Why did you do that, what the heck?!"

Gura pants, "Who is she?"

"I'm Calli, but that doesn't matter!", Calli frowns. "Were you trying to kill her, dude?!"


Despite having essentially no air, Gura giggles. And soon enough coughs, still lowkey struggling to breathe.

"Why are you laughing, short stick?! I just saved your life!"

"You did not, brainiac! We're training!", Watson defends. She doesn't like being confronted like this. Especially with such serious allegations against her first real friendship.

"How is that training?! She was about to drown!"

"Hey!", Gura protests. "Sharks can't drown!", she proclaims, trying to stand taller. It's not the easiest of tasks when your feet can't meet the bottom of the pool.

"... What?"

Amelia stands proud next to Gura. "We're training so she can grow her gills! And eventually her tail too! But that one we still haven't really figured out..."

Calli stares at the duo like they grew two heads. (Or, better yet, like they grew two pairs of gills each.) She's horrified, shocked, and everything in between. It's never worth it talking with other kids around her age, she's constantly reminded.

"... Right", she eventually says. And, just like that, climbs out of the pool.

Gura and Amelia watch in silence as Calli leaves them alone. They exchange confused looks, shrug, and then resume their doings, as if nothing happened at all.

Their training happens regularly on the community pool. And every week since then, Calli joins them.

"It's for my own peace of mind!", she tells them when they ask, blushed cheeks and all. She has seen death a few times in her short lifespan, and she'd rather not see it happen again. Not when she could do something about it.

So, every week, Calli helps them. Intervenes if the situation gets out of control. (She also likes to throw Gura into the pool. And Amelia too, though she might whine a bit afterwards.)

Eventually, they start to hang out at school as well. It's easy to do. They meet by the basketball court and joke around during recess. Calli might be a bit stiff at first but not even that deep down she's a huge dork.

Amelia has two friends. It feels natural.

It happens again, somewhere as unpredictable as a hospital.

Amelia hates hospitals. Everything is too white, too eerie, too unsettling. Even the smell is unnerving, somehow.

Not only that, but everything also takes way too long. Which makes the experience all the more boring. She's been melting on this uncomfortable chair for... 24 minutes and 12 seconds now, she checks her watch, while waiting for the doctors to break her older brother's arm. Or maybe fix it. She doesn't know, she isn't paying attention.

It comes as a miracle when Amelia's mother asks her to go buy something to drink.

"Go stretch your legs", she says, as she hands money to her daughter. "But don't run!"

The little girl eagerly accepts the coins, and fumbles out of the chair. She chooses a random hallway and follows her instincts to find a vending machine, skipping her steps. She's just happy to be finally doing something other than sit around and look at her watch.

It doesn't take long for her to realize she's lost. She doesn't panic, though - if anything happens, she's already in a hospital anyway. Plus, she's sure to find her way back if she knows where to look. The place might be strange, but she doesn't rule out a good adventure.

She passes by white walls on a steady pace. She comes across a few doctors, nurses and patients, but no one seem to pay her too much attention. It's better this way, anyway. No authorities means freedom. So, she freely roams around and explores - but it's not like there's much to see. Hospitals are boring.

Amelia ends up on the maternity section of the hospital. She knows because there's a big window through which one could see a bunch of newborn's cribs and two nurses inside. There isn't anyone outside to look at the five sleeping babies. No one besides herself. It's a bit sad.

Amelia frowns. They look squishy. She wonders for how long have they been alive. How long have they been here.

It's weird how those questions are the same thing.

She plays with the coins inside the pocket of her jacket. She thinks of the soon to be hers apple juice from the vending machine. And hopefully it doesn't take too long to get home, as well. Maybe her brother would like to watch a movie with her tonight, if his arm is okay. They could make popcorn. Oh, and build a fort! He doesn't spend much time with her these days.

"They're so little, aren't they?"

Amelia jumps on her place when a sudden voice fills the otherwise quiet air. Her head snaps to the direction of the sound, and she almost drops the coins out of her pocket.

The voice belongs to a girl with orange hair. She wears the hospital's blue garb and chicken themed flipflops.


"The two boys on the right weren't here last week", she grins. "They're twins"

Amelia frowns. How long has this girl been here?

She checks the watch on her right wrist. 33 minutes and 56 seconds, it says. Even though that's not the answer.

"I remember you from last year", the girl goes. "You're the girl who puked in the middle of our school's sports festival, weren't you?"

"Ugh, don't remind me of that...", Amelia whines. The girl giggles. "I was already sick, ok? Plus all the running around...", she grimaces, and brings her gaze back to the babies, "... So you go to my school too?"


"I don't remember seeing you around"

"Eh, that's expected. I'm practically never there, anyway"


They resume their baby gazing in silence. One of the one week old starts crying... which sets off the others. The two nurses immediately scramble around to figure out what is wrong.

Only then does Amelia notice the handful of machines around the babies, connected to them. Are they sick?

Either way, their cries are loud. She fidgets with her hands.

"Do... Do you happen to know... uh, where is the nearest vending machine?", she asks, eager to leave. She mentally thanks Gura and Calli for honing out her previously unexistant social skills over the last couple of months.

The girl grins. "I'll take you there if you tell me your name!"

"Oh!", Amelia stands up straight, and awkwardly stretches out her hand for the other to shake, "I'm Amelia. Amelia Watson"

"I'm Kiara", Kiara grabs her hand. Instead of shaking it and letting go, she uses it to guide Amelia out of the maternity section.

True to her word, a couple of hallways and corners later, they approach their objective.

Amelia eagerly scouts the vending machine's contents through the glass. She wants her apple juice. She's pleased to find it costs only two coins. With one hand on her pocket, she counts how many coins her mother gave her. There's five.

An idea pops in her head. "Do you like apple juice, Kiara?"

"I do, but..."

"Want some?"


Amelia looks at her, now with a question in her head.

The girl hesitates before continuing. "I'm not sure if I can..."

"Why not?"


Before Kiara could finish the sentence, a doctor approaches the duo in fast steps. Seeing him, she freezes in place.

"Oh, there you are!", he says. He crouches to be in the same height as them. "I've been looking everywhere for you! You gotta stop sneaking out of your room, Kiara..."

Amelia decides she doesn't like him. Adults are stupid. Kiara doesn't look happy anymore. At least two minutes ago she was smiling.

Kiara looks at her feet. "I'm sorry...", she whispers, barely audible.

The doctor sighs. "It's okay, little phoenix", he says, standing up. He holds out his hand for Kiara to hold. "Come on, let's go back"

Amelia frowns. "Uh, s-sir?"

Only then does the guy notice her. He readjusts his glasses, surprised. "O-oh! Hello! Did you make a new friend, Kiara?", he smiles.

"I did!", she grins proudly. It's a harsh contrast comparing to the defeated expression from moments ago. "Her name is Amelia!"

Amelia blushes. The declaration of friendship takes her by surprise, so she ignores it. "Sir, can I buy her apple juice? F-from the vending machine", she points.

The doctor stares at her.

She feels the need to keep talking. She tries her best to copy Gura's pleading puppy face. "I- I have the money for it!", she shows it in her hand, taking it out of her pocket, "My mom gave me five coins, which is enough for two boxes of apple juice. Plus I think apple juice is good and Kiara seemed to think so, too, when I asked her a minute ago. And I was incredibly bored until Kiara showed up so I'd like to drink apple juice with her! Can she drink apple juice with me, please?"

Kiara backs her up with a convincing puppy face of her own. "Pretty please...?"

The doctor hesitates. He is still just a young intern, not used to child perseverance just yet. "Kiara... you know you can't... At least not today"

Amelia looks at the vending machine again, scanning furiously for other possible alternatives. Maybe Kiara is alergic to apple juice. "What if it's grape juice? Or maybe orange juice! Water? Or, or... maybe- Maybe soda! Though for that I'd have to ask for more coins to my mother... But I can do it! No problem!"

The intern pats Amelia's head. "Look, kid, if it were any other day, she could have anything. But she's going under surgery in about three hours, okay? That means no liquid, no food. I'm sorry, you two..."

Kiara looks defeated once again.

Amelia stuffs her coins back inside her pocket. "Okay", she says. "I will wait, then"

"Are you sure?", Kiara asks, hopeful. Hospitals are lonely. Maybe that's why they are so weird.

"Yeah", she grins.

And she does wait.

She goes home that day. Her brother's arm got fixed - well, kinda. It's in a cast, healing slowly. Amelia wanted to set up a chronometer to see how much time that would take, but she only has two watches, and they're both being used.

The one on the left wrist is for normal hour checking through the day, and the other, on the right, usually counts Gura's many attempts at holding her breath underwater. Currently, it counts how much time until Amelia finally gets her apple juice.

It takes 26 hours, 8 minutes and 19 seconds, in the end.

The hospital's recepcionist points the way to Kiara's room. Amelia takes a detour to the vending machine, and buys two boxes of apple juice, holding one on each hand. She pockets the one extra coin.

She enters the room, and finds a tired-looking Kiara inside of it. They don't talk much. Though they're happy to share an apple juice box. Amelia doesn't mind the silence.

Amelia returns again the next Saturday. She drags Calli and Gura along. They hang out all afternoon. Kiara shows them all of the hospital's secrets, including paths, hallways, unused rooms, etc. It's a fun tour, running from doctors and nurses.

The hospital doesn't feel weird anymore. Kiara grins like the sun. She seems to burn brighter each time they visit.

Somehow, Amelia has three friends. It feels warm.

Next time it happens, Amelia sees it coming. Better yet, she seeks it.

It's History class. Good old boring History class. Even the rain falling outside the window is more interesting. At least the sound is relaxing.

"Open up your books on the page 78. Read the chapter and then answer the questions on the pages 83 and 84. We'll discuss them next week", the teacher commands. He sits behind his desk and pulls out a bunch of exams from his bag, waiting to be graded. "Any questions?"

"Can we do it in pairs, sir?", a cheeky boy raises his hand.

"Sure. But try and keep it down, ok? Don't be too loud"

Amelia sighs. Her colleagues cheer.

The chaotic sound of tables and chairs scraping the floor quickly fills the classroom, as students move around the forniture. Amelia grabs the textbook from her backpack, and a pencil. She wishes Gura, Calli or Kiara were in her class.

She looks around to find the usual sight: every classmate already seated in pairs, while she is alone.

Well, every classmate except one.

Her name is Ina. The girl with hair so black that if you stare too long, it almost looks kind of purple. She always sits by the door - a strategic place, Amelia assumes. First to arrive and first to leave.

The thing is, Amelia doesn't mind doing the designated work by herself. She'd say she works better alone, even. But she's also feeling brave. And there's a difference in between having no other option but to be alone, and being alone by preference, she's come to realize.

And so, with her heart in her mouth, a frown on her face, and nervous steps... she reaches Ina's desk. She uses her textbook as a shield. Who knows what kind of magic other kids could have.

"Uh...", Amelia starts. All her blood went directly to her cheeks, it feels like.

Ina squeaks on her seat, not expecting anyone to come talk to her. She quickly closes her notebook, where she was drawing just seconds ago. She stares at Amelia, confused, asking questions but not voicing any of them.

"Would you... like to do the assignment together? Uh, w-with me?"

Ina slowly nods.

"Cool!", Watson goes, but doesn't move. She stands around awkwardly, not sure how to proceed now that the worst part was over.

Luckily, she doesn't need to think for too long.

The teacher scoffs, "Watson, either go back to your seat, or join Ninomae on the assignment. Right now"

The girl, caught by surprise, jumps in place, and into action. She clumsily carries an unused chair from the other side of the classroom, and places it next to her new acquaitance's desk. She goes back to her own desk to grab a pencil.

They naturally fall into a work rhythm. They read the chapter individually, no words intertwined. And then quickly discuss the questions afterwards.

Amelia estimates that it must've taken about half as much time as it would've taken if she were doing alone. She's taken by surprise when she checks her right watch, and the chronometer only marks 24 minutes and 7 seconds.

When she wasn't sure about the answer, hearing Ina's point of view helped. And when Ina didn't know, she shared hers. They came to a conclusion together. It was a nice experience.

But now they had about 15 minutes of awkward silence.

Ina itches to grab her sketchbook.

Amelia makes those weird sounds with her mouth to pass the time.

"So, uh, nice weather, huh?", she eventually says.

"It's raining", Ina answers, amused.

"Still nice...", she blushes. She forgot it was raining. "I'm Amelia, by the way. I don't know if I said it before..."

"You didn't... but I knew"

"I know your name too..."

Watson wants to bury her head into a hole.

At least Ina does too. She decides to finally grab her sketchbook and resume her drawing for earlier.

Amelia can't help but peek at it - she literally has nothing else to do. It's an anime style drawing of a face, in a 3/4 position. The mole under the character's left eye reminds her of Ina's. But the squishy orange bangs and the strange appendages on the top of her head suggest otherwise.

"Wow, you're a really good artist!", she goes.

Her classmate blushes. "Thank you...", she whispers.

"Is that you?"

"Kinda... It's how I wish I was..."

"You want an extra set of ears?"

Ina giggles. "It's not just that", she ruffles through her sketchbook to the first page. It has a complete character sheet. Amelia sees the tentacles, the weird book, the wings, the halo.

"Oh, wow! That is so cool!"

"Yeah!", the girl grins, "I hear stuff, you know. Stuff that feels like don't belong to my mind. I don't like it. It's because of this book", she points at the drawing.

"I see! It makes sense!"

They spend the rest of the class like this: Ina drawing, Amelia watching her. It's oddly entertaining, she finds. She checks her watch once.

When recess comes, Amelia drags Ina to meet Gura and Calli by the basketball court. It's nice. She fits right in.

Ina is a nice contrast to the three regularly rowdy kids. Four, when they visit Kiara. But that does not mean she also isn't fun. She is, in her own way.

Amelia has four friends. It feels right.


School isn't that boring anymore.

Sure, classes suck as usual. But that's not all there is at school. There's always something more to look forward to.

It's different, to not notice time go by, instead of always paying attention to it.

"Watson, can you climb this tree?", Gura goes, running around it. It's recess time. The basketball court is just behind them.

Amelia measures the tree. It's a big one. Provides a big shade, that Ina and Calli quickly make use of. "Probably...? I mean-"

"Oh?", Gura smirks, "Not so confident, are we? Bet you can't"

"Gura, you can't challenge people if you can't do it yourself", Calli laughs, as she picks grass off the ground and buries Ina's left foot with it. Ina hasn't noticed it yet, too focused drawing on her notebook.

"Hey!", Gura protests, stopping on her tracks. "That's unfair though, you're asking a fish to climb a tree!"

Calli rolls her eyes. She moves on to Ina's right foot. She's starting to run out of grass in the vicinity.

Despite the controversy, Amelia still has her focus on the tree. She has never climbed a tree this big before, so it worries her. But Gura never did specify just how much of it she would need to climb.

She decides on a plan and jumps into it's trunks. Her feet and arms hold her afloat, as she gets higher. With a lot of grunting, soon enough she reaches the first branch.

"There, Gura", she huffs, after securing herself a seat.

"Amelia, I swear, if you fall I'm letting you writhe on the floor", Calli grumbles.

"That's not even halfway through the tree, Watson!", Gura crosses her arms.

The blonde sticks her tongue out with a loud BLEH, "You never said I had to go all the way to the top!".

"It was implied!", the other girl BLEH's just the same. "You're cheating!"

"It's not cheating! It's a loophole!"

"There are no loops! It's a tree, dummy!"

Ina giggles on her spot. She stops midway through a drawing of a random anime face in a 3/4 position, and starts sketching the tree. She realizes she doesn't know how to draw trees. She draws Amelia's face in a 3/4 position instead - resolving to draw the rest later.

Calli sighs by her side. She's running out of grass. "Are you sure you can't climb too, Gura? Just push her off the branch, easy"

Gura grumpily sits down next to Ina. "You're so silly, Calli. Sharks don't climb trees, they can only swim"

"Ok, remind me again of the scientific explanation. I think I can finally debunk you guys this time"

"It's the fourth time this week...", Ina reminds her.

Calli starts covering her knee in grass. She doesn't notice the death patches she's creating.

"It's all in the evolution, Calli", Gura lays with her back on the grass. "I don't breathe on air, so if I train I can breathe underwater", she smiles cockly. "Naturally. We've been over this"

Amelia jumps down from the branch. "Think about it this way: since she has asthma, her lungs are defective by nature, right? Meaning her organism would benefit greatly if she had another respiratory system - which is a fact, by the way. If we follow Lamarck's evolution theory, we can estimulate her gills' growth through exposition and time"

"Exactly!", Gura agrees. "And then the tail... Uh..."

"Don't mention the tail!", the blonde shushes, sitting down. "I'm still thinking. I'm not sure what we could estimulate since it envolves a shark's entire motion. But it should follow the same principle!"

"Yes, yes, yes. Here's the thing though!", Calli clicks her tongue, "Yesterday I looked up this Lamarck dude you keep mentioning on Google and turns out he sucks!"

"What?!", Gura abruptly sits up. "How?!"

"His evolution theory or whatever is total BS!"

"No, it's not!", Amelia protests.

"I also asked my mom about it and she said something about Darwin", Ina comments, still drawing away.

"Yeah! That's the one guy who's right! Lamarck is dumb"

Her friends look at Amelia, looking for answers. She blushes. She wasn't gonna admit defeat. "Yeah, well! Y-you know what else your mom says?"

Groaning, Calli doesn't let her finish. She throws grass at the blonde's face.

Ina giggles again. She starts a new drawing, her pink haired friend as the protagonist this time.

"How was I supposed to know?! We haven't learned that in Science yet!", Amelia whines. There's grass on her hair.

"You know what?! It doesn't matter! I believe in Ame and we believe in Lamarck!", Gura throws her hands in the air, sure of herself. She doesn't even need a scientific explanation for believing it anyway - sharks are cool, and her pointy teeth are proof enough to her. Amelia seems to have fun trying to figure it out though. "All we have to do is ignore David. Easy, already done"

"Darwin", Ina corrects.

"Same thing, same thing!"

Calli closes her eyes, in deep thought. She even stops picking on grass, hugging herself instead. She thinks of having to go alone to the community pool on Fridays, like she used to before. It scares her to think that she doesn't want to be by herself anymore. She inhales.

"Yeah", she exhales, "Who cares about these old dudes, anyway... They're all dead"

Ina leaves yet another drawing for her to finish later. She can't help it, when she has ideas faster than she can put on paper. She starts drawing Gura - with a shark tail and a mouth completely full of pointy teeth.

Amelia looks down at her left watch, briefly avoiding the conversation. There is still about a minute left of recess, she realizes.

She covers her mouth with her arm, smiling and blushing behind it. She likes it when her friends believe in her, no matter how stupid she may sound after any quick Google search.

The other three notice her red ears.

The bell rings.

The hospital's garden is cozy.

Amelia's been trying to keep Gura off of swimming in it's fountain for about seven minutes now. Something like that would be bound to attract any adult's attention. Which is the last thing she wants.

Calli and Kiara aren't helping.

"Come on, shark, you're not afraid of running water, are you?", Calli provokes.

"I'm pretty sure there are coins at the bottom! You should try and grab them!", Kiara induces.

Amelia groans, holding Gura by the hood. "Stop!", she pleads. To any of them, really. The white haired girl is surprisingly strong, despite her small stature.

It's a good scene to draw, Ina instantly recognizes. She gets to work, despite the chaos and the danger of water splashes from the fountain.

"Let go, Watson! Come with me!"

"Gura, think! The fountain is too shallow to swim, dummy. What are you even gonna do in there?!"

The girl suddenly stops. Amelia thuds into her, and falls on her butt.

Calli lets escape a hearty laugh. She ends up sitting on the pavement.

Kiara has the decency to try and conceal her giggles, but she fails miserably. She does help Amelia get back on her feet, though.

Amelia grumpily sits by Ina's side, after accepting the help. "You guys suck", she mumbles. "Ina's my only friend"

The dark haired girl giggles. "That's not true"

"You love us", Gura throws herself at her feet. She sits there, using Amelia's legs as cushion. She feels her soon-to-be-grown shark tail wagging.

Kiara sits next to the blonde. "Come on, Ame~", she pokes the other's arm. "We love you!"

Calli approaches the group, standing right in front of them. "Yeah, Watson, I'll give you apple juice", she goes. You can still hear the hint of laughter in her voice. "Though I'd have to actually look for coins in the fountain"

Amelia blushes. She didn't mean to grab everyone's attention like this. She just wanted to joke around.

Ina puts her out of her misery. "Will you be able to leave tomorrow, Kiara?", she changes the subject. "Like we planned?"

"Oh!", Kiara exclaims. "Yeah! I got the okay!", she grins. "Though I'd have to be back by 19h. And I can't forget the bajillion things i need to put in my backpack, in case something happens, as my mom made sure to remind me"

The other four cheer. It's always good when the five of them are together. They can't wait for when Kiara joins them at school, too.

"Which house are we going, anyway?", she asks, when their cheers faulter a bit.

"Mine!", Gura throws her arms in the air, a toothy grin on her face. "It's my grandma's birthday, and my parents let me invite my friends! I didn't even have to beg!"

"That's really nice of them", Ina comments. Her attention is already back on her sketchbook.

"They're probably just glad we can keep Gura occupied", Amelia whispers.

"Why's Watson so mean today?", she punches the mentioned girl on the calf.

Calli giggles, "She's right though. We've all met your parents, sharky"

"Oh, that reminds me, Calli", Gura goes, "When are we ever going to visit your house?"

Calli freezes. She's been dreading this question ever since she became friends with them, which wasn't even supposed to happen in the first place. Maybe she should leave.

"You okay, Calli? You look pale", Kiara worries.

"There's nothing to do or to see at my place", she robotically replies.

"What about your parents?", Gura insists. She's curious, and does not notice the shift in the mood.

"They're not there either"

"Then where are th-"

"Gura", Kiara calls.

"Have I showed you guys how I drew Gura the other day?", Ina changes the subject one more time. She shuffles through her sketchbook's pages to find the one she drew during recess that day.

Gura's attention immediately changes. "Oh my God, Ina, you drew me!", she's awestruck.

"You gave her a shark tail!", Amelia points out. "And fins! And, and cool teeth!"

Kiara praises. "That is awesome!"

The shark reiterates, with stars on her eyes. "That is me!"

Ina giggles, slight blush on her cheeks. "Yes! That's why I'd like to ask you guys what kind of being would you like to be!". She starts looking for another specific drawing. She stops on the very first page. "This is me"

The drawing looks like Ina, the four of them instantly recognize. But with tentacles around her, squishy orange hair, weird ears on the top of her head, and wings by the waist. She holds a book.

Ina points to the book, "This is AO-chan, some type of entity. It knows everything about the universe. It merged with me. That's basically it"

Amelia stares. "Are you a God, Ina?"

"No, no!", she giggles. "AO-chan is. I'm it's priestess"

"That's so freaking COOL, Ina!", Gura vibrates on her seat.

"It looks sick", Calli smiles. She managed to hold back the flight instinct when concentrating on the new conversation. Hopefully it doesn't come back.

"It totally does!", Kiara agrees.

Ina bashfully waves her hand, the blush growing on her face. She opens a new, fresh page on her sketchbook. "So, I'm a priestess, Gura is a cool shark. What about you three?"

Kiara chirps. "That's easy! I'm a phoenix!"

As soon as she answers, Ina takes note. She doesn't know how to draw birds. She starts simply by drawing Kiara. Maybe she could add feathers, somehow. And wings. Yeah. It could be cool.

"Didn't that doctor call you that on the day we met?", Amelia recalls.

"Yep! Pretty much everyone here does"


"They say I'm a warrior. I've died before, but I came back to life!"

"Really?!", Gura reacts, surprised. The other girls gasp too.

"What was it like?", Calli asks. She's curious, more than anything.

"Don't remember!", she grins.

"Fair enough", Calli smiles. "You know, I've strangely thought about this before", she blushes. She sits on the edge of the fountain. "I'd be a grim reaper. Guiding souls in the afterlife sounds nice. Better than watching them die"

Ina immediately starts sketching. She obviously didn't finish Kiara's, but she has to keep up with her ideas somehow. Ina also doesn't know how to draw a skeleton, she realizes. She begins drawing Calli normally.

"Plus, having a scythe would be SICK"

Ina adds a scythe.

"Oh, oh! Can I have a sword, Ina? And shield!", Kiara asks. "I'm a warrior, so it makes sense!"

Ina quickly comes back to the phoenix's drawing to add the weapons.

"If they get a weapon, can I have one too, please?!", Gura pleads. "Something like, uh... What do ocean zombies have in Minecraft again?"

"Fishing rods?"

"Yeah, a fishing r-", she instantly agrees. "What? No! A trident!"

Ina comes back to the shark drawing from a few pages before.

During the whole back and forth, Amelia stares at the ground, frowning. She doesn't know what she'd like to be. It seemed everyone had something who they could identify yourselves with. She isn't like that.

"What about you, Ame?", Kiara asks.

"I don't know... I'm not sure I want to be anything other than... human"

"Lame", Gura whispers.

Kiara smacks her on the shoulder.

"That's ok too!", Ina begins an Amelia drawing. "I can make you a cool clock!"

"Oh, really?!"


The blonde looks at her two watches. An insight crosses her mind. "I wanna time travel with it!"

"Also, isn't that detective guy's surname Watson?", Calli proposes. "It's a coincidence, but I think something like a detective fits you. You like figuring stuff out"

Amelia doesn't care if Calli thought about the wrong guy. She immediately likes the idea. Maybe she could have a gun. And punch adults in the face. And figure out why Darwin is wrong.

Ina notices Amelia's excitement, and begins sketching away a deerstalker hat for Detective Watson.

They spend all afternoon hunched over Ina's sketchbook, throwing ideas into the air. Molding them. Playing with them. Holding them close.

It's one of those days, where they blink and it's already night. And they go home with a big smile on their faces, because they feel as if they found themselves in between graffiti and paper.

By age 13, Amelia has four friends.

Against all odds, she has four friends. She can't imagine not having them in her life anymore. And she wouldn't trade them for anything in the world.

Despite it being a sudden idea, the girl really wishes she could time travel, if only to visit her dear memories with them one more time.