Technically the bungalow Calista and Izzy shared was a two-story structure, with the sleeping loft directly above the kitchen and bathroom area, giving the dining/living area on the ground floor a high, vaulted ceiling. This meant that upon waking, both women had the same stupendous view of the lagoon as seen the night before while sitting on their patio.
But there was a third level to the bungalow that both women were not only aware existed, but had spent perhaps twenty minutes examining before heading to bed. It was the lagoon access, a channel carved from the island that flowed through the seawall, skirted the patio, and extended a good ten feet into the ground floor.
Though neither woman wanted to discuss this area, both knew why it was there.
And this morning, Calista’s first full day at the marine center, they expected to see it used.
Both were finishing breakfast when a slight ding-dong-ding emanated from the direction of the patio. Since they knew the bell on the front door played a soft chiming sound, this meant their visitor was at the other door. Izzy looked at Calista. “You wanna let her in?”
Calista nodded. “Why not? She’s here for me–right?”
Calista went over to the control panel next to the lagoon access and pressed the buttons that opened the doors, one at the sea wall and the other set in the foundation of the bungalow. Calista watched as a few seconds later a mermaid swam into their living area, lifted herself out of the water and on to the water-absorbent padding around the edge of the access area, and then projectile vomited a tremendous amount of water.
After a couple of deep breaths the mermaid spoke. “Sorry about that.” She cleared her throat. “But that’s the only good way to expel the water from your lungs fast.”
Calista nodded, mesmerized. “You have to do that, otherwise you can’t breathe or talk, right?”
The mermaid nodded. “Got it in one.” She held out her hand as she looked from Calista to Izzy. “I’m Harmony.”
Calista walked over and shook Harmony’s hand. “I’m Calista.”
“Ah, so you’re my mentee.” Harmony smiled up at her. “Why don’t you sit next to me, dangle your feet in the water?” She waited until Calista was sitting next to her to continue. “There you go. Comfortable?”
“Yeah.” Calista nodded and tried to examine her visitor without appearing to gawk. Above the waste Harmony was a slightly tanned Caucasian women with blue eyes, now-matted dirty blond hair, long thin fingers, and wearing a green bikini top with a clam shell imprint over her rather large breasts–
But it was everything below the waist that really drew Calista’s attention. Right about where Harmony’s belly button should sit her skin morphed into layers of sparkling green scales over a thick, flexible peduncle that flowed into the water and terminated in a set of flukes perhaps three feet across. Calista watched a Harmony’s flukes–tail, really–moved slowly up and down in the water below–
“Mesmerizing, isn’t it?”
Calista snapped out of her daze and immediately blushed. “Sorry.”
“It’s all right. Just about everyone who encounters a mermaid for the first time acts that way.” She chortled, her voice soft. “It’s perfectly normal to ask that way–” She leaned in and whispered. “Even when you know you’re gonna have a tail of your own one of these days.”
“Um–” Calista wanted to change the subject to something else. “Do you really wear a top when you’re underwater?”
“More times than you can imagine.” Harmony’s smiled seemed permanently affixed. “Normally we go boobs-free out at Down Below, but when I’m on a job I usually wear something over them because one, you might be doing something that could damage them, and two, you never know when you’re gonna run into someone with an easily blown mind who’s gonna freak over free-swinging mammaries.”
Izzy laughed. “You don’t have to worry about that with us.”
“Good.” Harmony looked at Calista. “So I can dispose of the bra from here on out?”
She nodded. “Sure.”
“That works for me. Okay, then–” Harmony patted Calista on her leg just below the cuff of her shorts. “How’s about we get started?”
This is it, then. Time to learn how to become a mermaid. Calista let loose with a light chuckle. “Why not?”