Continued from previous post. If you haven’t read the last one and wish to catch up, it is located here:
She was prepared to walk further down the beach, leaving this strange stranger to her own solitude, when the girl turned and smiled at her.
“Hey you,” she called. “Come here!”
Who could resist an invitation like that?
Hell, it was friendlier than most people had been to her on this trip so far. She made her way down to the water, stepping a few feet in, just next to the blonde stranger, so that the tide lapped at her calves.
The girl smirked up at her.
“Hi? That’s the best you got?” she asked. “And they say tourists are friendly.”
“Sorry,” she shrugged and plopped down into the water. “Didn’t mean to besmirch the good name of tourists everywhere.”
She glanced over at the girl, still sitting placidly in the water.
“How’d you know I’m a tourist, anyway?”
The girl gave her a critical look, lifting one blonde eyebrow.
“Well, you’re not 75, so….”
The silence was peaceable for a few moments, with the crashing of the waves between them, before she decided to speak again.
“So, what are you doing out here?” she asked.
Another critical look, like you’d give to a two-year-old trying to climb into the dishwasher.
“I live here.”
“Ohh. You mean…. You’re homeless?”
The girl gave a snort of laughter, fluffing bangs across her forehead.
“No…. I have a home. I live here.”
“You….. you’re a ….. oh shit.”
Her voice petered out as her gaze drifted downward and saw a long pair of fins rippling under the water, scales bright in the moonlight.
“Not exactly the response I was hoping for.”
“You’re a MERMAID!”
“Could you not shout it?”
Her voice was disinterested and flat.
“But YOU’RE A MERMAID!”
She managed to whisper-shout it this time – not quite as bad.
“Yes. That fact has been established. Can you not dwell?”
“But you’re a mermaid.”
“Pssh.” This was accompanied by an eye roll. “You say that like you didn’t know we were real.”
“Ah. Well… good for you then.”
The mermaid looked over her shoulder behind them, at the empty beach.
“Also, if you could not tell anybody,” she said. “I’d really appreciate it.”
“Not tell anybody? Why wouldn’t I tell someone? You’re a freakin’ mermaid. I’m talking to a freakin’ mermaid.”
The mermaid glared at her.
“So much for tourists being nice,” she muttered. “It’s no skin off my nose, anyway.”
“No skin off your nose? What would you do if I took a picture of you on my cell phone?”
The mermaid looked her up and down and shrugged.
“I’d probably chuck your phone in the water,” she answered. “But even if you got a photo, no one would believe you. They’ve been snapping pictures of Nessie for years.”
“Nessie is REAL?”
“Are we going to have to go through the whole shouting thing again?”
She took a deep breath and calmed herself down.
“No… no more yelling,” she said. “I promise.”
They sat peaceably for a few minutes, with nothing between them but the rush of the water.
“So…. Are you nocturnal?”
This earned her another scathing look. And nobody gives scathing looks like teenage mermaids do – believe me. She narrowed her eyes and her lips somehow managed to flatten into one annoyed pink line.
“Are you nocturnal?”
“N-no… I’m human.”
“Dumbest answer ever.” She rolled her eyes. “Of course I’m not nocturnal.”
She casually flipped her long tail in the water, making small splashes and, of course, showing off the brilliant scales to perfect effect, all in shimmering shades, ranging from pure emerald, to teal, to bright cerulean.
“Then why are you out here in the middle of the night?”
This received another eye-roll.
“Hello?” she said. “Have you heard of sunburn? Or skin cancer? No thank you. Plus, it’s quieter at night. Fewer annoying humans to deal with.”
“Mermaids can get skin cancer?”
“Honey, we can get whatever you can get,” she said, with some small attempt to look jaded. “Don’t even ask about the syphilis.”
The mermaid shrugged dismissively.
“Arthritis isn’t so bad underwater, though,” she admitted.
Preparing for ridicule, she took a long look at her neighbor. Fins and bikini top aside, she looked like she could be one of those old-fashioned porcelain dolls – all pale skin and big blue eyes. Or she might’ve looked like a doll, had it not been for the attitude pouring off of her.
This girl, she thought, if she were human, would be one of the girls who smoke cigarettes behind the gym during lunch, just because she can. She didn’t suppose you could smoke underwater. This girl would have thick stripes of eyeliner ringing her bright blue eyes at all times – and it would always look fantastic, even if she’d slept on it. Anyone else would look like a drunken raccoon. On her, it would still look cool. She would be the kind of girl who never got lipstick on her teeth, if she even wore lipstick.
In short, she was the kind of girl who would never talk to her in real life.
Except this was real life. And it was pretty frickin’ awesome.
The apartment building behind them had been completely dark. Now a light from an open window struck the sand behind them… And she would’ve been lying to herself if she didn’t know which window it was coming from.
She let out the air in one big rush. Moments later, she heard her mother’s voice drifting through the open window, calling her name. The increasing panic was painfully evident as the voice rose in pitch.
It was only a matter of seconds before her mother figured out she wasn’t in the apartment. And then only a minute longer before she ran down the hallways of the apartment building, screaming her name like her hair was on fire.
“Jeez,” the mermaid said. “Overprotective much?”
“Yeah,” she answered. “I guess I have to go.”
“Yeah,” the mermaid answered, looking at her coolly. “I guess you do.”
“It’s been nice talking to you,” she offered.
She made her way slowly up the stand, climbed the few steps to the sidewalk and slipped her flip-flops back on. No one had stolen them.
She looked back at the mermaid, still sitting in the waves. She resisted the urge to pull out her cell phone and take a picture – things were better as they were.
Releasing a heavy sigh, she made her way back into the building, heading back towards uncomfortable air mattresses, stuffy apartments and cranky old people.
She smiled at her reflection in the elevator on the way up.
“Best. Vacation. Ever.”
It was just for one night
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