Lea’s little sister had spent nine tenths of her life with her head tilted back, sedately keeping a watch on the stars. She would anchor herself with the tops of the kelp beds, like an otter, and float on the swells as she searched for patterns in the sky. Lea had tried floating with her once, looking up at what she thought of as the sky’s scales. It had bored her after a short time and she had gone down to explore the depths.
It wasn’t like her sister was obsessed with humans, like some of their shoal mates. They could read the sky and tell you if a ship was coming, the wind to tell you how far and how fast, all to so they could watch the crews. Lea’s only interest in humans was when they were sinking below the kelp, if they would swim, if they would sink. Their faces when they saw her. The thought made her smile. Lea loved the sea. The sea was mother, home, and mystery all dressed in rippling blue. She spent her time exploring the bright and the dark of the ocean and came up to share her treasures with her little sister. Seren would smile at some of them and go back to looking at the stars while they spoke. Some days it angered Lea that she was less interesting than slow swimming dots on a dark current, but mostly it didn’t. Seren was Seren.
A slender shadow crossed over Lea and she looked up in surprise at her little sister. Teach me to race? Seren signed. I want to be as fast as you.
Of course, Lea signed back. But why?
Seren worried her lip for a moment. I’d like to be better at it. There is something I want to catch, but I am not fast enough.
Lea could have demanded more. But she liked cutting through the water more than prying secrets out of her sister. Top side, I assume?
“What is it?” Lea asked. The sun had set and the rest of their sisters had swum down to the caves to sleep. Seren was treading water and watching the sky with bright anxious eyes.
Lea asked again when Seren showed no sign of answering her. “Is there something wrong, Seren?”
Seren laughed. “Is change wrong?” She took her eyes off the sky, briefly, to look at her older sister. “The stars haven’t been steady for months. And soon… tonight, I think they are going to come tumbling down. And I want to catch one.”
Seren looked back up to the sky and Lea looked at her. Her little sister was not so little anymore, and if anyone knew the stars, she would be the one. As much as the ocean changed and stayed the same, why couldn’t the sky? She watched the stars as they flickered into view, treading water at her sister’s side. Softly, Lea began to sing. She sang to the stars, lifting her voice gently to the sky. Letting the notes linger as the final stars glimmered in the night sky. She sang, and sang, and then the stars rushed from the sky. Not one after another, but all together like a shoal of fish rushing away from a shark, they stars streaked out of the sky. Lea kept singing as her sister shot out across the water chasing stars. Lea followed more slowly, trying to keep her in sight. She finished the song and struck out after her sister, diving beneath the water to get a clearer view of the ill lit night. Seren was just on the edge of her vision when she leapt out of the waves, reaching for a bright glow. Lea saw her sister glow, and then she did not see her at all.
Months later, Lea explored a narrow channel between two islands. It was deeper than it looked and the currents were slow but strong. But she was drawn by the faint blue light that shone intermittently near the bottom. She pulled herself down the rocky wall and knelt on the seafloor near the light. She brushed through the sediment until she uncovered a stone about twice the size of her fist. Brushing off some of the hardened muck, she saw a blue shine. She tucked the stone to her chest and kicked herself slowly out of the channel. Once out of the depths, she swam to a rock near the inlet where she and Seren had talked. Slowly, she picked and chipped at the layers of dirt until she uncovered an irregular blue stone, shining star like in her hand. Lea sighed. “Seren, you better not be a rock.”
“Lea, oh Lea, can you hear me?”
Lea almost dropped the rock. She brought the stone close to her face, looking inside the blue for any sign of her sister. “Seren? If you are trapped in this rock, I have no idea how to get you out.”
Seren’s answering laugh definitely came from the rock. “I’m not in the stone, Lea. Look up. Please. Look up.”
Swimming across the sky, body made of stars, was the shape of her sister. Since the stars had fallen, Lea had avoided the surface. The others had told her that the sky held few stars, none of them consistent. “You look great, Seren.”
“It’s good to see you Lea. I’m glad you found another star. I missed you.”
“I missed you too.”
Lea asked her sister about the heavens and Seren asked her about the sea. Both where they wanted to be, they had much to talk about. They both travel, and they both spend periods away. But on the dark of the moon, when the night sky is full of stars, Lea swims to the surface, carrying her treasures, and Seren circles in the sky and they share all the things they have learned and discovered through the fallen star Lea wears around her neck.