• The light that shone down from the moon’s rays that night would have been beautiful. The calming sound of the lapping waves as the sand sparkled and the sea slept would have been beautiful. The lighthouse on the shore whose light had died out centuries ago still stood in its beauty despite erosion and decay, the white bricks walls spotted in moss reflecting the moons glow. The cloudless sky drizzled with a million specks of light that promised adventure far beyond Earth’s reach. This all would have been beautiful.

    If someone had been there to see it.

    But someone was. Someone long forgotten and left behind. In 2116, there was only one creature remaining on Earth to see its beauty. And she sat now, curled in on herself on a large rock towards the shore. It was too cold to be here. The water would freeze any normal creature. But tell me this; if you were the only creature left in the world to observe the nights beauty— Would you care?

    Perhaps that was why she’d swam here to begin with. Perhaps she was tired. Perhaps being lonely had put her in a place that was too broken. She watched when they left. Years and years ago. When every human being that called this planet home, or at least had until that moment, climbed aboard a machine she could never put a name to, and left. She knew where they’d gone. She watched them every night and pondered them herself. Even now, as she curled in on herself, sun-bleached blonde hair scattered across the rock and her cold, wet tail pulled in towards her chest, fins resting delicately, brokenly, in the water; even in this moment, she looked at them. The stars that were a lifetime away. She knew that’s where they’d gone. It was the first place she’d go too. If she could.

    She breathed softly now, her breath making mist with each small exhale. Where her fins were worn and rotted, she felt a dull pain that never went away. But it didn’t compare to the pain in a place in her chest where she vaguely recalled there being a warmness at one time. She’d felt it still after they’d left for a long time. She always thought they’d come back, it was just a trip, another exploration as she’d observed them do since the dawn of ships and machines. But they never did come back.

    And as she felt the emptiness where her warmness once was and felt breath slipping away, she imagined the star they’d flown to. A dazzling array of light that filled your bones and soul with a euphoria she could only dream existed. She imagined the people there to greet her if she came. It didn’t matter to them that she had a tail, was not fully human, was a folklore and fairy tale in the lives they’d had before. Her scales would reflect the light and they would find her beautiful. Would take her soul with theirs and let her live in the stars. What she didn’t know is she was already born of stars.

    And she took her place in the sky that night.