Girl In the Mermaid Tail – Part 1
So, I thought over the course of a few weeks – on Thursdays in particular – that I would post pages from a novelette I wrote and am editing, again. It is written for middle grade/ young adult audiences. It is a little dark, though it does have a happy ending. There is a plot twist that lead into a bit of science fiction – along the lines of a Twilight Zone episode.
I hope you enjoy it.
Though, maybe you won’t. Not everyone will.
Until tomorrow, Write On!
Girl In the Mermaid Tail
by K. L. Parry
Jade looked out from the window seat on the city bus as the driver announced the next stop.
She adjusted the backpack that hung from her shoulders; it had crossed her mind to get rid of it. The decaled image of the Disney mermaid had elicited comments from her 11th grade peers; most of which were unkind. Still, she did not care what they thought; she would not be drawn into their hive mentality.
Jade had always had a fascination for mermaids. It was her parents’ fault, really. They were the ones who made use of the television to entertain her as a child – she could not count how often she had watched “The Little Mermaid” but at one time she knew most of the dialogue, line for line. Of course, she was too old for cartoons now.
“Canter,” the bus driver called out.
Jade left her seat, shuffling her way to the front of the bus. The door popped open.
“See ya tomorrow,” the driver called. Then she muttered a prayer. “Lord, look after that child.”
“Why would he!” Jade snapped as she stepped off the bus. The door clapped close behind her.
Though it was only mid-May, the desert sun was intense. It beat down scorching the Nevada metropolis. It made Jade miss the moist cool temperatures of her Manhattan Beach home. Not that she didn’t already miss it terribly; every day in fact, since her family had made the move. She even missed the rusty old swing her mother had kept in the yard – “a tribute to childhoods past,” she had named it. Her father called it a hazard and shortened the seat chains so no one could swing from them.
Jade bent her head to the sidewalk remembering how she pleaded they stay, but she had been over ruled by circumstance. The loss of her father’s job had brought them close to destitution. There just wasn’t much work out there for a Marine Biologist; so her father had said. When the Silverton Casino in Las Vegas offered him the job of maintaining their aquariums, he took it.
Jade resented him for that.
From the bus stop, she forced herself forward, afraid that if she remained stationary for too long she would be stuck there forever. She willed her feet to move, mindful of the cracks that would trip her if she did not pay close attention.
Only two blocks to the crack free zone.
The security guard posted at the hospital entrance greeted her with a smile.
“How ya doing, little lady?”
“Good to hear it,” he said.
The glass pane door slid aside to allow her entry. Jade passed through and onto the lobby’s smooth polished granite floor.
“Can I help you?” asked the woman at the desk.
Jade dismissed the questioner. “I know my way around.”
“Well, that may be true but you’ll first need to check in with me and, I’ll need to see some identification.”
“Stupid,” Jade thought out loud.
“Hospital policy,” the woman offered up with a smile.
Jade rifled through her pack. She could not remember the last time she had seen her school I.D. card. She did have a learner’s permit to drive, issued by the Las Vegas DMV, but had thrown it away; the accident having robbed her of any desire to get back behind the wheel of a car.
She looked up from her pack to read the woman’s name tag, “Mrs. Azarian. I know you’re new, but everyone else knows me here.”
“Miss, my job is to see that policy is followed. All visitors must have identification presented when entering. Since you seem to be under the age of eighteen, you are welcome to come back with a parent – providing they, of course, have the proper identification.”
What is wrong with this woman? My parent is here!
Jade choked back a deluge of obscenities that begged to be unleashed, knowing it would do her no good to explode.
“The other gals on the desk don’t usually bother her,” a voice interrupted. It was Guillermo’s. Jade guessed he had seen she was having trouble with the new attendant.
Nice, that he would come to my rescue.
The receptionist puffed up. “Mister Rodriguez, policies are in place for a reason.”
“I realize that, Mrs. Azarian.” He leaned over the desk, lowering his voice. “But the kid just lost her mother. She could use a break.”
The woman huffed indignantly then turned her back to him. “Rules are rules, Mister Rodriguez.”
“Alright then. I’ll take her in myself.”
The wiry grey head snapped sharply around to face him. Jade thought the woman’s head should have flung from her shoulders; the movement so forceful. She envisioned it bounding across the floor like a loose bowling ball.
“Mister Rodriguez, I will have to report this!”
“You do that.” Guillermo replied motioning Jade to follow as he moved away and down the hall.
“Wait!” the woman called. She leapt out from behind her desk, flailing a paper badge. “She still needs a pass.”
Jade’s heart raced while the elevator climbed, thumping in a frenzied rhythm. She closed her eyes and focusing on the beat, willed it and her mounting anxiety to slow.
“You ok, kid?”
“You sure?” Guillermo pressed.
“Uh huh,” Jade answered.
A chime sounded as the elevator slowed to a stop.
“Ladies first,” Guillermo prompted.
Jade stepped out into the corridor. She wondered how far the security guard meant to follow her and then was relieved when he stopped at the nurse’s station.
Inside room 612, Jade checked the monitors. She had been shown how to read them that first night she visited. That was a week after the car accident that killed her mother – two days after her father’s transfer from the hospital in Utah to the facility in Las Vegas.
Jade had suffered only a mild concussion, nothing serious enough to keep her in hospital for more than a day. After that, authorities brought her back to Nevada then shuffled her off to a foster home until a relative could collect her.
Though she knew they existed, she had never met the “Georgia” Tucker’s. In fact she did not know any of her extended family, except through old photos. She had just supposed that was how it was when you were the only child of two only children.
Jade fought to bring to mind the faces of the couple that fostered her. But, like everything in that week after the accident, they were blurred. What she did remember was they had been kind enough to leave her alone.
Satisfied with the monitors’ readings, she turned her attentions to a countertop shelf and it’s only resident: a book. She had brought it in from home; one in a collection of old classics her father kept.
Jade settled into the room’s recliner, opened the book at the place last marked then began to read.
“Journey To The Center of The Earth: chapter twenty seven.”