A week after her psych exam Calista received a letter from Aquatic Future Inc. informing her that she’d passed with flying colors and that she should make arrangements to tidy up her affair, give her two weeks notice at her current position, and gather all outstanding expenses so AFI could settle up the balances–one of the perks they offered for those candidates accepted into the Special Assets Division.
Three days before leaving for her orientation and training prior to admission to SAD, Calista took Izzy out for a night of goodbye drinks. It was only fair, given that her best friend had worked so hard behind the scenes to get her admitted to AFI’s most special of special divisions. At the same time, Calista was sad that because of the road she was about to take, her connection to Izzy was going to not only fray, but might actually break in the years to come.
Isabelle Mundy was much like Calista. They were the same age, they were just as bright and intelligent, neither had siblings, and they were multi-ethnic. Where as Calista was the offspring of an Irish father and Japanese mother, Izzy was the end result of her Mexican father and Spanish/Kenyan mother. Izzy was the one who first pointed out that when you’re a “citizen of the world”, it was best to stick together with other citizens.
And they would–at least for a few more days.
Given they’d asked for a booth in the back of the restaurant so they could speak without being overheard, Izzy felt she could speak freely without giving away why they were celebrating. She raised her second gin and tonic in a toast. “To my best of all human friends, and to my first–and probably only–merfriend.” She clinked their glasses together. “You’re gonna make a hell of impression on your doctors, Callie.”
After taking a sip of her own Vodka Collins Calista set her drink aside. “In a way I kinda feel bad.”
Izzy gave her a quizzical stare. “Why?”
“Because I’m leaving you behind.”
“But you’re getting your live-long dream.”
“No buts, girl.” Izzy lay a hand upon Calista’s left arm. “You have been crazy about mermaids for as long as I’ve known you and before that. I told them about the mermaid pajamas you had from college.”
“You told them about that?” Calista went red with embarrassment. “Holy shit, I can’t believe that.”
“Believe it.” Izzy slid closer to her friend so she could speak confidentially. “This is the best thing that could happen to you, and you know it. This is like having the most perfect job and life in the world and there is no way in hell you’d ever walk away from something like this, friendships or not.” She patted Calista’s arm. “You’re goin’ Mer, honey. Be proud.” She reached up and gave Calista’s hard a quick tousle. “And you don’t have to dye your hair to fit in.”
“Screw you.” They both laughed as Calista fluffed her hair. “Are you gonna come and visit me when I’m going through transition?”
Izzy took another sip of her drink before speaking. “I didn’t tell you–”
“Tell me what?”
“You’re allowed one friend to be with you for the duration of your transition and Ms. Gillford asked if I would like to be that person.” She tossed her head to the side. “Of course I said yes.”
“Oh, Izzy.” Calista wrapped her arms around her friend. “So I won’t go through this alone.”
Izzy returned the hug and patted her friend on the cheek. “Hey, no way I’m letting my best friend head off into the wild deep yonder without a helping hand.” She shrugged. “Besides, I’ve heard so much about the transition that this is my way of being able to see it happen.”
Knowing what she knew about the transition from Homo Sapiens to Homo Aquatica, Calista was deliriously happy that she wouldn’t have to go through the process alone. She’ll be there to hold my hand though the difficult times—
Maybe even when I’m no longer human.