“The Calling” Scene 18: “The Homecoming”

“Are you sure she’ll come back to this point?”

Leigh continued looking straight ahead, scanning the ocean horizon. “I’m sure.”

Kemena scratched at her cheek and bounced her knees up and down a couple of times. “How is she going to know to get here an hour before the sun reaches the horizon?”

“Because she will.” Leigh turned to the teenager at her right. “Mermaids have an excellent ability of knowing their spatial and temporal locations. They have to: when you’re under five hundred feet of water all the time, it’s necessary that we know where we are and when we are.” She patted her daughter’s friend on the shoulder. “I expect her along at any moment.”

Kemena wanted to believe Penny’s mother so much. She’d been waiting for this day ever since they returned to Albuquerque the day after watching Penny swim away, and in the seven years since that moment, Kemena never missed marking off a day on the calendars she kept in her room, reminding her of when she would see her childhood friend once more.

Leigh could understand Kemena’s worry. She hated to use the expression, but Kemena was only just a human and couldn’t understand every intricacy of the lives of she and her daughter. Theirs was a world that her daughter’s best friend could never enter or fully comprehend.

But she did hate to think of her as just a human, for in the year after Penny’s departure Kemena brought Leigh a great deal of comfort. Kemena would visit her at least twice a week and ask questions about what she thought Penny might be doing with the other mermaids in the pod. She wanted to know what Penny ate; she wanted to know how Penny slept; she even the once asked, with a furious blush in her cheeks, how Penny went to the bathroom. That last was a question that Leigh said Kemena should save for when Penny returned.

Not only did they act as a sort of mutual support group over the last seven years, but Leigh had the opportunity to watch Kemena blossom from a somewhat awkward eleven-year-old girl into a graceful, beautiful eighteen-year-old. And in watching her grow, Leigh imagined Penny going through the same changes—only with a tail instead of legs. Lee couldn’t wait to get Penny back to Albuquerque and see her magnificent tail in their swimming pool—

“What’s that?” Kemena leapt to her feet and shielded her eyes from the setting sun. A second later she thrust her left arm out and pointed. “There.”

Leigh stood and looked in the direction from which Penny should arrive. There were a few seconds where she didn’t see a thing, then suddenly a shiny tail fin broke the surface and slapped the water before vanishing. Three seconds later it happened again—and five seconds after that a human-like shape with a cobalt blue tail left out of the water and arched back in.

She couldn’t help smiling. “That’s her.”

Kemena nodded as she waved it Penny, who was about a hundred feet offshore treading water and waving back. “She’s not gonna have any trouble getting to the riptides?”

Leigh had explained long before that this stretch of beach was almost never used for swimming as the curtains here produced strong riptides. “A mermaid won’t have any problems negotiating these tides.” As Penny grew closer Lee grabbed her backpack. “Get the robe ready.”

Penny grew closer, breaking surface every twenty feet to gaze upon the shore. When she was within fifteen feet of the shoreline she went under and was under for about fifteen seconds before she rose slowly out of the water. She allowed a wave to break over her before walking slowly out of the surf and onto the surface.

Kemena ran forward and through a large white robe around Penny’s naked form. Up close she saw her friend was maybe two inches taller than her and that her hair had lightened considerably. What hadn’t changed, though, where her piercing gray eyes. If anything, they better relayed the emotions that Penny was feeling that moment—
She was deliriously happy.

Penny threw an arm around Kemena and gave her a quick hug before hopping the three steps to her mother. She threw her arms around Leigh and held onto her as if she was about to fall. “Mama.”

Leigh tried to lift her daughter off the ground and soon realized that a combination of weight and height prevented that from happening. Instead she buried her face into Penny’s shoulder and began crying. “Oh, my baby. I missed you so much.” She gave her daughter a long kiss on the cheek.

“I missed you too, Mama.” Penny wiped tears from her eyes. “Ha, I can finally cry again.” She returned her mother’s kiss and then turned to the friend she had not seen since leaving this beach seven years earlier. “Come here, you.”

Kemena fell into her friend’s arms and hugged her tight as the tears began to flow. “Your mother kept saying you were coming, and I kept thinking, ‘What if—’”

“Hey, I said I was coming back and I’m here.” Penny sniffed back her tears and spoke softly into Kemena’s ear. “I’m sorry I couldn’t be there to help you through high school.”
“Yeah, well, the couldn’t be there to help you through—mermaid school.” Kemena laughed as did Penny. “I have to say, you look really good.”

Penny wrapped the rope tied around her. “You don’t look too bad yourself, babe.”

“You too can admire each other later.” Leigh zipped open her backpack. We need to get you dressed and get up that cliffside, and we need to do it in the next hour.”

Not knowing the sort of person who was going to walk out of the ocean after seven years, Leigh brought a collection of everything: a half-dozen sports bras and tank tops, four pair of spandex bicycle shorts, and a half-dozen pairs of sports sandals. Within ten minutes they found the right combination and had Penny dressed and ready to move.

As they headed toward the path leading up to the parking lot Kemena noticed Penny walking gingerly. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?”

Penny looked to her mom before smiling at her friend. “You know the old tales about how to mermaids it feels like you’re walking on glass?”

Kemena nodded. “Uh, huh.”

“There’s some truth to that. I mean, my legs are fine because I develop the muscles swimming from my tail, but—” Penny shrugged. “I haven’t had feet for seven years. So, I’m going to need a little time getting them toughened up.”

“And you have all summer to do that.” Leigh reached out and took her daughter’s hand. “For now, we’ll head back to the hotel so you can clean up and then we’ll go eat.”

“That sounds good.” Penny stop so she could take a moment to see the sun for the first time in two-thirds of a decade. “I’m really dying for a hamburger.”

On Beyond the Curtain: The Other Family

Last night was a night of relaxation–who am I kidding?  Writing, baby!  Maybe not novel writing, but you know, between a TV recap and a mermaid scene, and thirty-two hundred words bit the dust before it was all said and done.

Like I said, however, no novel writing.  I’ll likely get to that tonight as I don’t have to start on recaps for another few days, so I got some buffer time.  I see to know my schedule better, so fitting in the time isn’t that big a deal.

I’m still torturing my kids with making them look into a mirror and see how… not perfect they are, though a lot of kids at school still think they are.  Phee’s pretty much done with Annie–which means…

 

(The following excerpts from The Foundation Chronicles, Book Three: C For Continuing, copyright 2016, 2017 by Cassidy Frazee)

 

Annie kept her emotions as much in the control as she had ever done in her life, for she didn’t want to give The Phoenix a chance to see what she was really feeling. “He’s right: it is a matter between my father and me. And I understand Kerry wants me to work it out my own fashion, because—” Her voice caught as she looked toward Kerry. “I try not to tell them how to fix things between his family and him. All that does is lead to trouble.”

The Phoenix nodded slowly as she glanced back and forth between both children. “Interesting.” She turned towards Kerry, evidently finished with questioning Annie. “Speaking of your family… Yeah, let’s talk about them.

“We know what you want, Kerry. We know all you’ve wanted your entire life is affection from your parents. Now, it’s true: you get all the affection you’ll ever want from your little Bulgarian Princess here—” The Phoenix motioned toward Annie. “—But you’ve never felt that same affection from your parents. Your father seems afraid to open up to you—maybe because, as he’s said, he has trouble understanding you—but when it comes to your mother there’s no excuse for her actions: she’s just cold as hell.

“It’s easy to understand why your father’s hesitant to express his emotions: he grew up in a household with an alcoholic father and an abused mother, so he’s developed some rather unhealthy coping mechanisms from before he was your age. But as far as your mother being way she is?” The Phoenix shrugged. “Even I can’t say. It’s not because she decided she didn’t want to be a homebody like Annie’s mother; she took to that part well after you were born. And she’s never had a problem juggling her professional and personal lives—though one could say been a bit neglect with leaving you home at an early age so she could go back to work.”

 

Not much has been said of Kerry’s father’s life.  Kerry mentioned at least once that he’s only seen his fraternal grandfather once, and now we know why:  the dude was/is a drunk.  Also, we know his fraternal grandmother is no longer alive, which could have happened for any number of reasons.

But like Phee points out, Kerry’s dad grew up in an even shittier household, so he’s got a lot of unhealthy coping mechanisms in his life.  And one has to wonder if he, too, considered the possibility he was going to be a shitty father–like, say, his own kid might do one day.  It’s likely that happened–

–But there’s a big difference between Kerry and Davyen, his father.  Kerry has a loving girl who does what she can to support him as much as possible and guide him when it’s called for.

And Davyen had…  Louise.

You know, when The Phoenix can’t figure out your mom–or is refusing to come right out and say, “Your mom’s a bitch”–there’s something really, really wrong in the household.  And Phee knows all about that six year old latchkey kid shit, ’cause she brings it up.  How does Kerry deal with that?

 

Kerry chuckled. “She hadn’t done that I wouldn’t have bicycled down to my tree to read. And if I hadn’t done that—” He cast a smile in Annie’s direction. “I’d have never gotten the chance to read to my soul mate.”

“True enough there. I guess the only thing we could say is that she’s a bit cold hearted in the emotions department—at least where you’re concerned, that is. And when she does show you emotion…” The Phoenix shook her head. “It seems to be a lot of anger of late.

“But that doesn’t mean you still don’t want that affection. You want it so much, particularly from her.” The Phoenix began walking around Kerry slowly. “Don’t you two make a fine pair: her with her daddy issues and you with your mommy issues. And when it comes to affection from your mother—” The old the elemental spirit leaned in close to Kerry, her face mere centimeters from his. “There’s an additional wrinkle you have to deal with, isn’t there?”

 

Yeah, it does seem as if my kids have issues getting attention/affection from someone in their family and a vexed for their troubles.  But what of this additional wrinkle?

You know I’m gonna get to that tomorrow…