Girl in the Mermaid Tail – Part 3
Do you want to read something that will really screw with your brain? Check out a post: The Fermi Paradox. I just skimmed through it but I thought it was humorous in a geeky, science kind-of-way – I love that stuff.
It is thursday and time for another installment of “Girl in the Mermaid Tail”. Just a reminder that this piece is still a little rough – don’t hang me. 😉
Girl in the Mermaid Tail
by K. L. Parry
She flinched when the teacher called her name.
Thirty other kids here and she picks me? Just my luck.
Jade slipped out from behind her desk and made her way to the front of the room. She turned to face the rest of the 11th grade class.
“Misadventures and Merfolk by Kelly Reno.” She paused, then looked up from her book report and out onto her audience – a mistake, she realized as the butterflies in her stomach took flight. She turned back to her paper.
“The book is about a travel writer who finds himself on the Isle of Man in the British Isles. He makes the acquaintance of a girl named Christine who performs as a mermaid for tourists. What the writer doesn’t know is that Christine is not pretending. She is a mermaid.”
Of their own volition, Jade’s eyes fluttered up. Again, she glanced at the disinterested faces before continuing.
“But Christina is not the only merfolk on the island. She has a brother the townspeople have nicknamed Charlie the Tuna. He shows up once a year to shag the old ladies.”
“Excuse me,” the teacher interrupts. “What was that?”
Jade’s classmates began to snicker; one calling out from the back of the room, “Shag! It means….”
“I know what it means, Dorsey,” the teacher quickly responds.
Jade went on the defensive. “It’s not a cuss word.”
“It is inappropriate.” The teacher snatched the paper from Jade’s hand. “Return to your seat and see me after class.”
Jade was neither bothered by her teacher’s disapproval, nor did she care about the failing grade she received. Though after class she did put forth the argument that she had completed the assignment and therefore should receive a passing mark. Still, it did not matter; school had become just another way to pass time.
She stuffed the disciplinary note into her pack then boarded the bus.
The comment came from the seat behind her.
Jade could not bring herself to turn around though she knew the boy who sat behind her – everyone knew John Helm: founder and lead idea man behind Toe Jam Films: a student operated production company. They had risen to local fame with the short-short film, Zombie High, after it had received over 300,000 views on You Tube.
“The book report; that was epic! Too bad Mrs. Peterson didn’t let you finish.”
“Yeah, thanks.” Jade winced at the quiver in her voice. Even at 16 she could hardly manage two words with a boy she liked.
“Listen, Jade. Toe Jam’s working on a reality piece focused on people living on the fringe; the rebels, the outsiders – you know, those not part of what the rest of us consider ‘the norm’. After what I saw today, I think you’d be a perfect addition to the players. What do you think?”
Jade was horrified by the implication.
Oh my God, he thinks I’m a weirdo!
She did not respond – could not. Frantically she panned the crowded bus for an empty seat. She had to get away before she made a fool of herself with tears or said something – weird. Jade launched from her seat even before the bus driver announced the next stop.
“Jade! Think about it!” the boy called after her.
She threw up her hand in a parting wave as she bolted from the bus. Jade did not stop until the hospital towers came into view, then she slowed her pace, caught her breath and prepared herself for what lie ahead. It was not what she had expected.
“Where’s Guillermo?” Jade asked of the unfamiliar face stationed at the hospital lobby entrance.
“Working emergency,” the security guard answered.
Jade did not know what to think of that bit of news and wondered if Mrs. Azarian had something to do with Guillermo’s reassignment.
Pass the guard and through the door, Jade had no more than set foot in the lobby when the old woman was on her.
“Hold it right there, missy.”
Jade froze allowing the woman to make her way to her.
The receptionist wore a scrutinizing expression while she looked Jade up and down. “You’ll never be worthy – too self-absorbed. It’s the others you should be thinking of – they’ve sacrificed everything.”
“What was that?” Jade asked.
Is this is some sort of old folk craziness?
“May I see some identification?” The woman answered.
Before Jade could reply a stab of pain cut her short – ice pick headache; brief but immobilizing. It took her a few moments to form a response.
“Then, off you go.” The receptionist motioned for the security guard’s assistance.
An hour later Jade found herself on her own front porch with no real recollection of the bus ride or the four blocks she had walked from the stop to get home. It was not the first time it had happened, she had blacked out before – it came with the headaches.
The house empty, Jade went straight for her room and face first onto her bed. She lay there for a while before turning face up, a fresh batch of tears trickling down her cheeks. She reached for the tissue box on the nightstand and caught sight of the closet door that stood ajar. Jade made a point to keep it closed after finding several of her shirts dotted with moth holes. The fact that it was open, meant someone else had been in her room – a direct violation of her privacy.
Jade got up to close it and caught sight of something hung there; a bright green garment, wrapped in dry-cleaner’s plastic. She did not immediately recognize the mermaid tail her mother had gifted her on her 13th birthday. Jade thought it long gone; donated to the local thrift store before the move. She lifted the hanger for closer inspection. Constructed of Lycra, a flimsy fabric, it was a poor substitute for the beautifully painted latex tails she had seen movie mermaids wear. Still, she had loved it.
“You’re home early.” Sandra stood in the hall just outside Jade’s bedroom door. Her eyes drifted over to the bed and the tail lain across it. “It was in bad shape but I think they did a pretty good job of fixing it. Looks almost new.”
Jade exploded. “What were you doing in my room? You have no right to be in here!”
Sandra threw up her hands. “Calm down! I found that in with your mother’s things. I wasn’t even sure what it was until I saw a picture of you in it. Look,” she went on, “I was only trying to do something nice for you. That’s all.”
“Yeah? Well, don’t!” Jade slammed the door shut.
*Footnote: I met author Kelly Reno several years ago at a Mermaid Convention in Las Vegas. She was sweet enough to give me her book “Misadventures and Merfolk”. I have to say it is a well written, witty read. I really enjoyed it! It is no longer in-print, but second-hand copies are available through Amazon listings. This is Not a Children’s Book.
Until next Monday, have a great weekend and – Write On!
~ K. L. Parry