“Why do you want to live with the pod?”
Penny didn’t since anything malicious in her mother’s words: she was simply curious as to why she had made this request. “I want to learn about this other part of my life.”
Leigh set her arms on the table and leaned forward slightly. “I can teach you that?”
“Can you?” Penny glanced at Kemena then turned to her mother. “Correct me if I’m wrong, but you’ve been away from the pod for about thirty years.”
Leigh glanced around the room several times before taking a deep breath before answering. “You’re right; I have.”
“And if you’ve been away from the pod for that long, what you going to teach me about them now?” Penny slid her right leg up underneath her left. “I’m afraid if I don’t go and do this now I’m just going to keep thinking about it the next few years—”
“Which will make you want to go there even more.” Lee sat back and crossed her arms. “What’s your idea of living with the pod for a while?”
Knowing her answer wasn’t likely to be popular, Penny stared at the center of the table for a few seconds for speaking. “Maybe until I’m eighteen?”
Though her mother said nothing Kemena seemed almost ready to jump out of her chair. “Eighteen? Are you serious?”
Penny didn’t want to look and her friends direction. “Yes.”
“You want to go away for seven years?”
“Wouldn’t you want to go away as well, Kemena, if you discovered something new about your family? Something crazy?” She twisted around to her left so she could face her friend. “This isn’t just about getting to know my grandmothers and great-grandmothers, this is to learn about a completely different way of life.” Penny closed her eyes and shook her head.” The only way I can to do this is if I go live with them for a while.” When she looked up her eyes were misty with tears. “I know I’m going to be leaving you behind as a friend, but you have to to know, I’m not going to forget you.” She turned in her chair to face her mother. “And I’m not going away forever.”
Leigh took a sip of her drink as she considered her daughter’s words. “You want to stay until your eighteen, correct?”
“I figured that would be best. That way you can tell people I went away to a private school.” Penny shrugged. “It’s not a good excuse, but if you tell them I’m in a private school in like Oregon or Washington or somewhere like that, people will believe it. Also…” She gave her mother a weak smile. “You could probably afford it for real, so there’s that.”
“There is that.” Ever since revealing her daughter’s true nature to her, Leigh had feared this moment. She knew her daughter would be passing up a formative part of her life—though, she would also be learning about the formative part of her life to which no human could ever relate.
But she knew what was ultimately driving her daughter: the call of her true nature. There had been many times in her past Leigh wanted to return to the sea and be with her pod once again. But business and family responsibilities had subdued that call to nothing more than a faint whisper.
That wasn’t the case with Penny. Just as land had called to Leigh when she was a young mermaid, the ocean was calling to her daughter, telling her she needed to become one with her natural environment.
And when that call became too overwhelming, one was foolish to act as if it didn’t exist.
Leigh drummed the fingers of her right hand on the table for a few seconds before smiling. “So, when do you want to leave?”