Girl in the Mermaid Tail – Part 2
Some of you may have already realized I have reduced the frequency of my post to twice a week – Monday and Thursday. As much as I enjoy writing to you everyday, my writing time is limited and I have not been able to reach my personal writing goals because too much of that time is spent working on this blog. The up side is that my twice weekly posts will have “more better” content – I hope.
As I stated last week, Thursdays will be excerpts from my novelette Girl in the Mermaid Tail. Remember that this is still a little rough. If you would like to read from the beginning click on the icon “older or previous posts” to find it.
Until next week, Write On!
~ K. L. Parry
Girl in the Mermaid Tail – Part 2
by K.L. Parry
There was no missing the increased activity as nurses went about preparing for the 7:00 p.m. shift change. Jade dog-eared the page and closed the book then turned herself out of the recliner. She stretched across her father’s bed and kissed his fuzzy cheek.
She had forgotten all about her escort until she stepped out into the hall and found him waiting there.
“Sorry. Didn’t think you’d still be here.”
Guillermo grinned, catching the eye of a passing nurse. “I kept myself occupied. And so did you – reading to your father. You’re a good daughter.”
Jade dropped her eyes, ashamed for the undeserved compliment. Had Guillermo known what she had done, “good” would not have been the word he would have used. She refrained from any other comments as he escorted her out, except for a polite goodbye as they parted ways in the lobby.
Outside at the bus stop, Jade caught the 94 line that would take her home – home to the house where the screamers now lived – the Screamers being Sandra Tucker’s twin girls. Sandra was a third cousin – one of the “Georgia” Tuckers who had come over from Atlanta to claim Jade from the foster family. Sandra’s father was George Tucker: Jade’s mother’s first cousin which made him Jade’s second cousin – he was the one who had taken care of all the funeral arrangements.
Jade walked through the front door. 7:45 and the house was quiet, which meant the Screamers were occupied with their kiddy meals. That is what Sandra fed them: chicken nuggets and fries that came with a toy of some sort. Jade hated them – the kiddy meals. Her mother had taught her fast food was poison, full of preservatives and salt, and fried in cottonseed oil. “Moths eat cotton, people don’t”, she would say. That too was before the move and before her mother had grown too busy to fix a proper meal.
Still, Jade missed her.
Her pack dropped just inside the bedroom door, Jade shut herself in. She looked to the painting propped on top her dresser – a seascape. It had hung in the living room until the day of her mother’s funeral when Jade took it from its hook. She was afraid one of the visiting relatives would make off with it – a memento of Deanna Lang’s life works.
Jade had not loved most of her mother’s recent paintings: abstracts filled with angular shapes, but the seascape was different. It was one of her mother’s early pieces and Jade’s favorite because of its reflecting sunset, gold-capped waves, and the merman perched atop a rocky crag. She looked into it dreamily until a loud thud and the accompanying crash interrupted her thoughts. No doubt another treasured item had just met its end at the hands of the Screamers. Angry, Jade kicked at the wall, alerting them she had heard what they had done.
Resigned to the loss of whatever it was, she turned her attentions to her pack, retrieving from it the book report she had begun composing earlier that day. It was due the following morning. This had recently become a habit of hers to put off homework to the last possible moment. She took to her desk, placing the crumpled paper next to her laptop. The computer hummed softly as the screen sprang to life. Jade focused her eyes on the words in front of her, but she could not keep her thoughts from randomly wandering to finally settle on memories of a camping trip.
Her mother had planned it; a chance for them to get away for a couple of days – quality family time. Jade was thrilled at the prospect though she would not show it. How could she? She was still angry about the move and not done with punishing her parents for it. The truth of the matter was she missed their time together. But it seemed once the boxes were unpacked her parents had abandoned her. Jobs, galleries and late night meetings – they had resumed their lives and made new friends with hardly any effort.
Jade pushed those last unhappy thoughts from her mind to draw up the images of that crisp February morning. They came to her sharp as if it were only yesterday. Winter grasses sprouting through dollops of slow melting snow, water streaming down the faces of sheered rock walls that stretched up for miles above the valley floor: that was the scene that greeted them on their arrival to Zion National Park in Utah.
When Jade heard the Ranger speak of the Three Emerald Pools and its legend of spirits, she led the seven-mile hike to reach them. From atop a cascading waterfall, she thought of the ancient Indian Warrior who had once stood there weeping over the death of his beloved. His tears flowing from the cliff, formed the catch pools below and lured into them the spirit of the one he had lost, and too, after a time the Warrior’s own.
The day should have been perfect, would have been had she not lost the locket – her mother’s locket; a gift from her father before her parents had married, and a token of his “undying” love. Jade had come across it in her mother’s jewelry box and had taken to wearing the gold-plated locket on a chain around her neck. She had promised to be careful with it – which she had, up until then. But she had not thought to leave it behind, or take the necklace off before beginning the hike. She still could not understand how the chain managed to get caught up in her jacket zipper or when the locket had fallen off. And why she had intentionally sabotaged the day by telling her parents.
From the rear seat of their car, while they drove back to the campgrounds; that was when she informed her mother. Jade knew the loss of the locket would upset her. She knew her father would get involved – he always did. She did not realize to what end his involvement would bring or what would happen when he turned his eyes from the road to glare back at her.
Jade never saw the container truck; like her father, who never saw the “stop” sign. If he had not listened to her mother scream that he stop they might have cleared the intersection before the truck came barreling in. It struck the passenger side, dead center, then carried the car fifty feet further before coming to a stop.
Jade had been told, though she could not recall by whom, that her mother had died on impact. Her father’s injuries were thought minimal at first: a few cracked ribs and a broken collar-bone, until doctors discovered the artery hemorrhaging in his brain.
Still, Jade was lucky to be alive – that is what they kept telling her after the funeral service. It was not much consolation. If only she had not killed her mother and nearly done the same to her father she might have been able to tolerate all the well-wishers, back patters and huggers – but she had.