The moment Leigh walked through the door she knew something was wrong. Both girls were sitting on the sofa in the living room, still dressed in a bathing suits but with the wraps around them. There was a bandage on Kemena’s forehead and a serious look on her daughter’s face. She set down her purse. “What’s wrong? What happened?”
Penny stood and took two steps from the couch. “Mama, I want you to know—”
She never had the chance to finish her statement as Kemena bounced off the sofa with a wince and hurried next to her daughter’s side. “Is it true you’re a mermaid just like Penny?”
Penny looked at her friend, rolling her eyes. “Kemena.”
“I’m sorry.” Kemena looked down for a moment then back up to Leigh. “Is it true?”
Lee wasn’t certain if she should be angry or not: she figured she had better hear the full story before she spoke. “Both of you, sit.” She sat in her favorite chair and turned it so it face the sofa. “Penny, tell me what happened.”
Penny relayed the entire story of what happened with Kemena’s accident and subsequent rescuing. She didn’t leave out any details and even told her mother what she told Kemena after her discovery. “If I didn’t do what I had done, Kemena would’ve drowned.” Her eyes were filled with sadness. “Mama, I made you a promise I wouldn’t say anything. You have to understand, I didn’t mean this.”
Kemena pulled her wrap around her. “Mrs. Coffey, Penny’s telling the truth. I would’ve drowned if she hadn’t did what she did. And I’ll tell you the same thing I told her—” She leaned slightly forward on the sofa. “I promise, I won’t tell anyone. I won’t even tell my mom. You have to believe me.” She glanced at Penny then back at Leigh. “She told me what could happen to you both if I said something.”
Leigh did know her daughter and felt she knew her well. She believed her story that she needed to take the action she did to save her friend’s life. At the same time, however, she had led an outsider into their world, and any type of exposure ran the risk of discovery.
There were several ways she can handle the matter: she decided to take the course she felt would be best.
She left her chair and sat on the sofa next to Kemena. “I believe you. I believe you wouldn’t say anything because you know it could hurt Penny or me. I have no choice but to trust you, Kemena, but I believe you can be trusted.
“But I need you to understand: if you ever did tell someone, people could come and take Penny and me away—and they may even take you with us. I don’t believe anything would happen to you, but…” She looked across the young Mexican girl towards her daughter. “I can only imagine the worst would happen to Penny and me. And you don’t want that, do you?”
Kemena started to shake her head then thought better. “No, I don’t.”
“Then neither of us have to worry about you, correct?”
“You don’t have to worry about a thing, Mrs. Coffey.”
“All right then.” Leigh stood and faced the girls. “Here’s what we going to do. Kemena, I’m going to take you home now. I’m going tell your mother that I came home about thirty minutes ago and that you slipped getting out of the pool and hit your head. That way, she won’t get upset by you being hurt. I’m also going offer to take you to the ER in case your mother wants you to get professional treatment.
“You’re still permitted to come over anytime you want. Now that you know what we are—” She looked at her daughter. “Penny, you can swim anyway you want. I don’t see the harm.” Leigh walked over and grabbed her purse. “Well, come on, you two. We’ve got a story to tell.”