“Beyond the Wave and Foam”, Part 26

Part 26

 

“Are you sure you’re gonna be able to drink this?” Izzy brought the bottle of champagne and two glass out to the patio where Calista sat on the edge overlooking the lagoon. “After months of being limited to cider, won’t this do a number on you?”

Calista chuckled but didn’t turn around. Instead, she kept her eyes fixed on the nighttime horizon on the other side of the lagoon. “I cleared it with both Harmony and the lab.” She looked to her right as Izzy sat on the patio edge as well, letting her legs dangle over the side. “I’m allowed two glasses, no more.”

“I’ll make sure they’re full glasses.” Izzy uncorked the bottle and filled both glassed almost to the brim. “Here you go.”

“Isn’t this a little… full?” Calista eyed the glass carefully. “Aren’t the bubbles supposed to mix with the air to bring out the flavor?”

Izzy shrugged. “I have no idea. I just drink this stuff.” She held her glass out for a toast. “Happy graduation, and to your new life.”

“To my new life.” She took a good sip and set the glass aside, thinking about the events of the day—

After the lab exams the lab told Calista that they saw no reason for her to move into Down Below Town and proceed to the next part of her training, which consisted of adapting to living underwater twenty-four/seven. As she’d told Izzy when she returned for lunch, while she could sleep here at the bungalow, AFI now expected her to spend the majority of her time at the mermaid enclave, which meant her time above water was mostly coming to and end…

Just as Izzy said, it was a graduation of sorts. Calista had passed all her testing up to this point, that above and below the waves. For the next three months, however, all of Calista’s testing and living would occur underwater. Even if she remained at the bungalow, she was expected to sleep there only and to spend the rest of her time at Down Below Town.

Which meant her human life was, more or less, coming to an end.

Izzy swung her right leg forward and back. “Anything in particular you’re going to miss once you move out to Mermaid Town?”

Calista snorted. “Silly.” She lowered her head slightly as she glanced at her friend through her through her thick, ginger hair. “I’m going to miss you. The rest of my life—” She making a piffting sound as she waved her right hand through the air. “I don’t care about at all. But you…” She reached over and took Izzy’s left hand in her right. “Not seeing you on a regular basis is going to hurt.”

“Yeah.” Izzy squeezed Calista’s hand. “You’re the one thing I’m going to miss a whole lot.” She turned her gaze across the lagoon without releasing her friend’s hand. “I hope they’ll at least let me call once in a while.”

“From what I understand that’s not all that difficult.” She released Izzy’s hand. “Can I ask a question?”

Izzy didn’t look away from the ocean beyond their bungalow. “Sure.”

“Before I left, were you ever going to tell me you loved me?”

What?” Izzy’s head whipped around, locking upon Calista’s smiling face. “How did—?’

“Oh, please.” Calista chuckled lightly as she folded her hands together under her naked breasts. “I’ve suspected it for at least a couple of years. I mean, you’re far too protective of me to be just a friend.” She looked down at her tail. “Plus the way you’ve acted these last few weeks…”

Though Izzy knew she was about to have her heart-broken, she had to hear. “Yes?”

“I’ve gotten a lot better at reading body language that Harmony suspects.” When Calista turned her head towards her friend, her eyes were misty with tears. “Every move you made said, ‘I’m losing my love’.”

Izzy had absolutely no idea how to respond to Calista’s observations. “I should have left when you were away for training.”

“Why? So you wouldn’t have to hear me say that?” Calista shook her head. “Wouldn’t you rather know that I knew, instead of wondering the rest of your life?”

“Well, you know, that’s one of those damned if you do, damned if you don’t situations.” Izzy wiped a few tears away from her eyes. “So what does it mean?”

“I means I know you love me—and I’ll carry that with me for the rest of my life.” Calista drank half her glass in a couple of gulps before moving closer to her friend. “And wouldn’t you prefer to spend a last night with the person you love instead of with your closest friend?”

Izzy reached out this time and took Calista’s hand in hers. “I don’t know what I ever did to deserve having you in my life.”

Calista leaned her head against Izzy’s shoulder. “You know what you did.”

Izzy glanced over at the thick tangle of hair resting against her. “What did I do?”

“You helped make my life worth living.” Calista tilted her head back and looked up into Izzy’s eyes. “And my dreams worth sharing.”

“Beyond the Wave and Foam”, Part 25

Part 25

The bungalow was quiet as morning vanished and moved closer to noon. Earlier Calista and Izzy shared breakfast—Izzy at the table and Calista sitting on the edge of the inner pool—after which Calista was picked up and taken to the lab for what was likely her last series of land-based test, after which she’d headed off into the lagoon to work with Harmony.

This meant Izzy was going to be alone for nearly the whole day, as it was likely Calista wouldn’t return until some time after 18:00. That wasn’t new: she’d been along for the four days Calista was away for training—and given that Calista slept underwater these days, as far as Izzy was concerned she was along all the time—

“What the hell are you still doing here?”

Izzy grabbed a hard cider from the refrigerator before turning to face Harmony, who was sitting on the edge of the inner pool. “You just gonna keep swimming in here like you own the place?”

Harmony ignored the question. “Why haven’t you—”

Izzy walked pasted the angry mermaid. “Outside—” She pointed at the patio. “It’s too nice a day to stay indoors.”

As Izzy was taking her seat Harmony leaped over the seawall into the ocean, boosting herself up on to the patio seconds later. She pulled her hair back from her face before saying anything. “You were supposed to be gone by now.”

“No.” Izzy took a slow slip from the cider bottle. “You suggested I leave by now. I decided I wouldn’t accept your suggestion.”

“Dammit, Izzy.” Harmony flipped her tail up and on to the deck as she spun to face the human woman. “I’m trying to get Calista to leave this world behind, and you’re still here—”

“Keeping her connected?” She shrugged. “Sue me in mermaid court.”

Harmony slammed her hand against the deck. “Bitch, do you have any idea what sort of harm you’re going?”

“Bitch do you think I care about what you care?” Izzy was on her feet and stormed over to her unwanted guest, towering over the mermaid. “I’m not ready to let her go. Sorry if you can’t get that through your fishy brain, but…” Izzy looked away for a moment. “I can’t let her go. It just—” She turned her back to the lagoon and her guest.

Harmony was certain she knew the problem. “It hurts, doesn’t it?”

Izzy spun around, tears in her eyes. “Damn right it hurts. But it’s not like you’d know that, right?”

The silence on the deck went on for nearly five seconds, so when Harmony spoke in a low tone her words hit hard. “When I was finally accepted for this program, I’d been with my partner for six years. Two times I applied in three years and after the second rejection I was like, ‘That’s it: I’m not getting in’. My partner urged me to submit another application—she insisted. She knew it was my dream and she told me that no matter what, she was behind me the whole way. So when I was finally accepted after that third time, she came here with me, just as you came with Calista.

“I was told I was going off to Kwajalein a couple of days before I left and I couldn’t tone down the excitement when speaking with my partner. It took me a while to realize my departure was bothering her and the moment I got around to asking her how she felt, we started fighting. It got so bad I didn’t talk to her for a day before leaving and swam over to the east end of the runway for pickup the day I flew out.

“Then… she was still here when I got back and the argument started again. Anger; hurt; sadness—it was all there. She let it all out and it got so bad I left here and swam over to Sand Island. I beached myself and cried for a couple of hours.” Harmony signed. “Do you know how exhausting it is to cry that long, to rid yourself of all that you feel is wrong through your tears?”

Izzy slowly nodded. “I’ve got an idea.”

“Then you know how I felt.”

“What happened after that?” Izzy returned to her chair and hugged her knees with her arms.

“I slept out in the open at Sand Island that night; I mean, it’s not like the weather’s gonna suck or something. In the morning I found my mentor and I spent that night with her at Down Below. I didn’t go back until two days after returning from Kwaj.” She looked out over the lagoon and shrugged. “She was gone. I didn’t ask if she left on her own or if she was told to go. She was gone and I haven’t heard from her since.”

Harmony looked down the length of her tail, taping her fingers against what would be her lap if she were human. “Calista still talks about you. I don’t know if she has feelings for you the say as yours, but she’s having a hard time letting go.” She looked up at Izzy with a hard look. “You need to cut the cord. You need to get up and go and just make this a clean break.”

Izzy looked at the deck as she shook her head. “That’s gonna kill her—”

“And a slow pull-away won’t?” Harmony slapped her tail hard against the deck to get Izzy’s attention. “You need to be the adult here. You need to tell Calista it’s time she went her way, you yours, and leave it at that.”

Izzy said nothing for a few seconds, then slowly made it to her feet. She looked down at the mermaid. “Tonight. I’ll tell her I’m leaving tomorrow and that’s that.” She tilted her head quickly to the left. “Okay?”

Harmony didn’t even need time to consider the question. “Do it tonight and be gone tomorrow.” She rolled over on to her back and slid her tail over the side of the patio, eventually falling into the lagoon with a splash.

Izzy picked up her cider bottle and drained it in a couple of gulps. “Tonight. Got it.”