Monday, January 21, 2013

Two Women, A Boy and A Fish

He heard them coming into the house laughing, saw the lights turn on and then through the window could see the two women kiss while one of them took off her shoes. The boy motioned to his sister to stay underwater, and then he stepped quietly off the edge of the pool and swam down to be by her side.

“Gracie, did you leave the pool lights on again?” one woman asked the other. Gracie shook her head and made her way through the living room, out the sliding door and turned off the light switch for the pool. Something caught her eye and she stepped over to peer into the water, and thought she saw odd shapes amidst the reflections of the house lights dancing on the surface.

The two children kept as low to the bottom as they could possibly go, and the boy reached out to hold his sister’s hand, realizing as he did that she was already changing. He turned to look at her and saw that, before his sister’s face began to shift into something else, she shook her head and mouthed for him to go. He nodded and pushed off fast from the bottom, and was out of the water and standing poolside, dripping wet.

The woman, surprised by his sudden appearance, fell back on her butt and screamed.

“Wait,” the boy reached out, silver scales dripping off his arm to reveal pink skin beneath. “Please, don’t be afraid.”

The other woman in the house came running out at the sound of her girlfriend’s scream.

“Holy shit,” she said at the sight of something she kind of recognized but didn't expect, then grabbed Gracie’s shoulders and moved them both back and away from the boy. He stood there, dripping silver scales as they watched.

“Stop it, Evie,” Gracie finally said, pushing Evelyn’s hands away and standing up, “he’s just a boy.” She stepped timidly towards him, but Evelyn grabbed her arms and held her back.

“Who are you? What are you doing here? And, what were you doing in my pool?” Evelyn tried to keep her voice strong and commanding, but she was feeling a bit more frightened than she wanted to be.

“We’re sorry,” the boy said, “we come in peace. We were only using the pool to ready ourselves for the journey home.” As soon as he spoke, they heard and felt a rumble, and they all turned to watch a bright and fiery light shooting up and disappearing into the night sky. The boy began to cry.

“It’s okay,” Gracie said, shrugging her girlfriend’s hand off her shoulder and taking a step towards the boy, “it’s okay.” She reached out to comfort him, but he pulled away and went to the side of the pool. Looking into the water he let his tears fall towards the other who remained below.

“It’s too late,” he whispered, “we can’t go home now.”

“What'd you say?” Evelyn inched closer but remained behind her girlfriend.

Gracie stood watching the boy, wondering what he was looking at in the water. She could tell something was there, swimming about at the bottom, but couldn't make sense of what it was she was seeing.

“What’s your name?” she asked.

The boy turned and looked at them both. When he spoke, it was an odd series of clicks and whirrs and singsong. The women stared at him, not comprehending.

“My name is,” he said, and repeated the odd sounds.

“Uuuuhhhhh,” Gracie shook her head, confused. Evelyn just got mad.

“Now listen here kid, you can’t just come and swim in our pool. It’s dangerous. We could get sued. Where are your parents? What’s their phone number? And for god’s sake, wrap yourself up.” She went and grabbed a towel from the pool cabinet and threw it at him, but he let it fall to the ground.

“Evie please,” Gracie waved at the other woman, “you’re just frightening him.” She inched closer, picked up the towel and wrapped it around the boy. She noticed the odd silver scales that lay at his feet, but sat down next to him anyway, letting her own feet dangle in the water.

“Um, well, how ‘bout we just call you Kevin, okay?”

The boy nodded.

“Can you tell us what you’re doing here? And, how we can help you?”

His shoulders slumped, then he sighed and wiped his tears.

“We came to investigate your planet. We thought we could escape our own dying world and come here to live on yours. Long ago others of our kind visited and mapped out your largest bodies of water, where it would be safest for us to inhabit. A few decided to stay behind, and we hoped to be able to join them. But... Your oceans have become garbage dumps. They're toxic.”

Evelyn raised an eyebrow, “Yeah, uh-huh. Glad they're teaching you about science and the environment.” She sat down on a lounge chair and peered at him. “So, you’re an alien and you came to take over our world.”

The boy sighed again and shook his head. “No, not ‘take over’. We just wanted to try to live here with you, in harmony. But our investigation has revealed the horror of what happened to those who had come so long ago, who remained in the selected locations of your oceans. They have become... dumb.”

“Hmmm. You know, your story’s kinda hard to believe,” Evelyn said, then tilting her head towards the water, "why don’t you tell me what you put in our pool.”

“My sister. And I didn’t ‘put’ her there. We came because we needed to begin the turning. Your pool is salt water and it triggers the metamorphosis. We needed to make a gradual change back into our natural form, so that we could make the journey home. But now the ship has left, and my sister's metamorphosis has gone too far. It can’t be stopped.”

Gracie and Evelyn both peered into the water.

“Yeah, uh-huh. His sister’s the fish,” Evelyn said, nudging at Gracie’s back, “and a pretty big fish I might add. You might wanna remove your feet.” But Gracie remained silent and didn't move. Evelyn decided she'd continue to play along.

“So, what's she going to become?”

“When the metamorphosis ends, she’ll be what you would call a Manatee.”

“We’re going to need a bigger pool,” Gracie said.

Evelyn snorted, "that's a good one."

"No, seriously."

“Hella yah," Evelyn checked her girlfriend, then turned back to the boy. "A whale of a tale. Really kid, uh, Kevin. Why don’t you just relax and tell us the truth so that we can get you back to your family.”

The boy turned back to the water, and raised his hand. As if by his command, a large silver fish leapt up and then back down, splashing water on Gracie as it swam to the bottom of the pool.

They’re not going to believe you. They’ll separate us.

“We won’t separate you,” Gracie said.

The boy whirled towards her, “What did you say?”

“Well, I mean,” Gracie stammered, “we’ll need to figure out how to get you both where you'll be safe.”

The boy blinked.

Can you hear me?

“Yes, I can hear you.”

You are hearing my thoughts.

“Wait, what?” Gracie saw that his mouth had remained closed. She stood up and began to pace.

“I didn't think it could, but this is getting weirder,” Evelyn remarked.

“Didn't you hear them, Evie?” Gracie’s pacing stopped in front of her girlfriend, and Evelyn took her hand.

“Gracie, I didn't hear anything.” Evelyn was trying to remain calm but was beginning to worry very much that maybe there was something in the water. Something that was making her girlfriend act very strange. Maybe some bacteria from the fish, or worse.

Gracie, you don’t need to be afraid.

“Honey are you okay? Should I call a doctor?” Evelyn was now up and peering into her girlfriend's eyes, checking her forehead's temperature with the back of her hand.

Gracie pushed Evelyn's hand away and went back to talk to the boy.

“I don’t hear you now. Are you saying something, I mean, thinking something to me?”

It is the water. She is connected to us when she is in the water.

Gracie stared intently at the boy, guessing that something was being communicated between him and the fish, but she was no longer able to hear it. She looked at her feet and saw silver scales dripping onto the deck. She stepped back but didn't feel frightened. Then, she jumped into the pool. An onslaught of thoughts and emotions between the boy and the fish came at her like a tidal wave.

“What are you doing?” Evelyn yelled. She ran and grabbed the pool buoy and flung it out to Gracie. “Get out of the water, it’s poison!” She tugged the rope but was helpless as she watched her girlfriend ignore the buoy, and something silvery and hulking came up and nudged the woman. Gracie reached out and began to stroke the thing, and both she and it began to descend to the bottom.

Evelyn, more frightened than ever, struggled to figure out what to do. She was a horrible swimmer, and it was Gracie who had wanted the pool, had to be coaxed out for dinner, or for bed. It was their standing joke that if Gracie stayed in the pool too long she would become a fish.

Suddenly and without thinking, Evelyn jumped into the pool and grabbed at Gracie's arm and hauled her back up to the top. Gracie was nearly unconscious, and Evelyn used all her strength to push her up and out of the pool, and then pulled herself out as well. She lay on the concrete, gasping.

“We're sorry,” the boy rushed to them both, “We didn't know this would happen. We're so sorry.” He was scraping silver scales off Gracie's skin as fast as he could. Evelyn watched in horror, then began scraping away at the scales that the boy hadn’t yet reached. They were everywhere, little drops of silver stuck to Gracie's skin as if glued there.

The boy pried open Gracie’s mouth and scraped out a handful of pink gooeyness and threw it in the pool. He pushed on her stomach and she spit up more pink, coughed and sputtered, and then finally began to breathe normal.

“My god,” Evelyn choked, pulling Gracie close and hugging her as tightly but as gently as she could. Hoping, wishing, praying that the love of her life was not going to die. She rounded on the boy, “What the hell have you done?”

“The metamorphosis. Somehow it must be affecting her too. But she’s out of the water now, she’ll be okay.”

“Damnit kid, stop with the fucking story!” Evelyn regretted not putting a phone by poolside. “I’ve got to call 911 Gracie, get you a doctor. And the police.” But Gracie reached up and took Evelyn’s face in her hand.

“No,” she whispered, “just let me rest a minute.” She wrapped her arms around Evelyn so that she wouldn't leave, and the boy continued to scrape away at the few remaining scales on Gracie’s legs.

“I could hear them. I could feel them. So much sadness, so much loneliness." Gracie coughed up something again, and Evelyn was relieved to see it was clear.

"They’ve been abandoned here, they will die here unless we find a way to help them.” Gracie looked into Evelyn’s eyes. “ I could hear you, feel you too. You rescued me.”

Evelyn began to tremble, afraid of events she couldn't control and were happening too fast. “Damnit Gracie, don’t die on me.”

Gracie smiled, "no such luck," she said, and then rested her head on Evelyn’s chest. She lay there a few moments, then finally patted her girlfriend's shoulder and untangled herself. They both stood up, and Gracie approached the boy slowly, gingerly.

“If I touch you, what will happen?”

“I don't know,” the boy answered, he looked to the fish in the pool and then back to Gracie. “Human touch should be harmless. I've not yet begun to turn, but with the water's effect on you I... I just don't know.”

"To hell with it," and Gracie grabbed the boy and pulled him into her arms. “I am so sorry for what’s happened to you and your sister, to your world. I know everything now, and I sincerely hope that there is something we will be able to do for you both.”

For a moment, the boy held back, then finally wrapped his arms around her.

Evelyn began to sputter, shaking her head no and trying to pull Gracie away from the boy.

“Didn’t you hear them Evie?” Gracie asked, releasing the boy and turning towards her girlfriend. “When you came into the water, didn't you feel them? Such heartache, such infinite sorrow. I don’t feel it now, but I was drowning in it when I was in the water.” She turned back to the boy.

“How long till your sister reaches her full size?”

“Not long now. We think she is already nearing mid stage.”

“And she can't come out can she?" He shook his head no.

"And if you go in the water?”

“I will turn."

Gracie moved to the pool, shushing Evelyn's protest, and then placed her hand in the water, swirling it slowly around and around and around for what seemed far too long for Evelyn's comfort.

"We'll need him to stay in human form for awhile," Gracie said, standing up and shaking the scales off her hand. She turned to face her girlfriend, "at least until we figure out what we're going to do."

"No no no no no," Evelyn said, but Gracie pressed a wet finger to her girlfriend's lips.

"Their ship will not return. They all knew what would happen if any of them were left behind, and Kevin and his sister are resigned to what they have to do. What they will have to become." Gracie looked sorrowfully back to the boy, then returned to look at Evelyn.

"Manatees live off the coast of Florida, it's as near to their own kind as we can get them. But, it's days from here. We'll need transportation big enough to carry a tank that will fit his sister full size. Kevin can ride with us until we get them were they need to go.”

“Gracie, we’re not driving them to Florida.” Evelyn stumbled backward and sat on the lounge. "I can't believe what I'm hearing. You're effing crazy."

“No Evie. I’m fine. See?" Gracie said, turning around in a circle. "All the scales are gone. There’s no lasting effect. For me at least.” And Evelyn remembered what the boy had said, and realized what her girlfriend would be thinking. If they went to Florida and into the water there, what happened to the others of their kind would happen to them.

Gracie turned back to the boy, “Do you know anything that will help us to help you?”

The boy stood silent for quite awhile, looking back at the pool. Gracie imagined the conversation that occurred between him and his sister, who splashed near the surface several times to smack her fins on the water. As if they were arguing.

"They could stay here?"

Gracie slowly turned around towards her girlfriend, unbelieving what she had just heard.

"I guess we really will need a bigger pool," Evelyn said, giggling at what she was hearing herself say, but glad she found her girlfriend, her Gracie, coming over to hold her as if she were the most precious thing in all the universe.

"But," Evelyn mumbled through the shower of kisses, "you can't go swimming anymore."

<word count: 2634>


Parabolic Muse said...

This is beautifully written, charming and funny. But I think if it's between you not swimming, and them... they'd have to go.

Parabolic Muse said...

I'm not sure, but now that this is private, do you need the Captcha moderation? Those codes drive me nuts and I don't usually comment on blogs that have them. I'll comment on yours, of course. Because I have important things to say here.