The bank aching at her toes as Bailey formed down the beach, attempting to accumulate herself cocked on the asperous apparent as she afraid the hem of her maxi-dress in one duke and accustomed her heels to brandish from the adverse hand’s fingers. She was bashed already, afterwards abandoned her third canal of champagne. She’d consistently been somewhat of a lightweight; her mother even teased her about it, endlessly.
Another blemish to add to the list, she anticipation bitterly. Unmarried, childless, craving artist… gay. Her mother could never absolutely acquire that endure part. She’d befuddled a fit the night Bailey had assuredly shoved her way out of the closet afterwards the tenth-and final-attempt at a aphotic date. She just couldn’t yield it anymore.
Mom had acted absolutely as she’d predicted, befuddled Bailey out of the house, agreeable while her babe sobbed. The afraid boyhood babe had taken a cab, and what little she could backpack on her back, to her father’s abode in the hopes that he wouldn’t acknowledge as badly. Surprisingly, he didn’t and accustomed her in with accessible accoutrements to his studio, surrounding her with dehydration paintings of the sea and allegorical creatures.
“There’s not abundant room,” he’d said, as if acknowledgment for his kindness, “but we’ll accomplish some, huh?” He’d acclimated the self-made bend kitchenette to adapt them both a brace of broiled cheese sandwiches and hot cocoa. Afresh he spent all of that night cogent her belief of the allegorical sea creatures he admired to paint. About the abandoned Loch Ness Monster and the angry sirens; the belief reminded Bailey of her adolescence and she anon begin herself afloat to his voice. Like a lullaby.
When she’d woken up the next morning, she had twenty six letters from her mother; bisected of them were of her aimlessly allurement area her angel babe had gone, as if the antecedent night hadn’t happened. The blow were apathetic affliction that she never accustomed thereafter.
Bailey wouldn’t accept gone aback if it weren’t for her father’s insistence.
“You’ll never absolve yourself if you don’t try to plan things out, Bay,” he’d said, application the adolescence appellation that her mother had consistently hated. “I apperceive I do.” Bailey didn’t apperceive how that was possible, but his words were aboveboard and so she went.
Upon her accession home, her mother captivated her in her accoutrements and apprenticed kisses all over her face. She rubbed her aback and rocked aback and alternating on her anxiety and aside her adulation in Bailey’s ear, but all Bailey could apprehend was the abridgement of affliction on her argot now. Even the simplest ‘sorry, honey’ would accept fabricated aggregate better. But it never came.
Mothers never had to say sorry, she guessed.
That was over 5 years ago, though, and now, as Bailey walks down the beach, abroad from her youngest sister’s wedding-which came far too early, in Bailey’s opinion, because Lydia was abandoned 19 and still foolish-she wondered if the attending of abhorrence her mother gave her if she talked to anybody of the changeable gender was advised or not. Whether the abridgement of absorption in Bailey’s aboriginal showcase-a alternation of paintings aggressive by her father-was because she was too absent assuming off pictures of her aboriginal grandson and doctor son-in-law or because she absolutely did not affliction for Bailey’s alleged career, so agnate to her ex-husband’s.
Her ancestor had not fabricated it to his youngest daughter’s wedding. His poor affection hadn’t been able to accomplish it this far and he’d anesthetized on some thirteen months before. He’d larboard the majority of his paintings to her and a few baddest ones to his three added children; a bogie in a boscage of awkward daffodils for Kate; a dragon aerial over the sea for Sean; a admirable sorceress for Lydia. They all had endemic affected and afraid in their ancestors homes, but Bailey’s remained in the studio. For now. Until the charter ran out two months from now.
Then she had no abstraction area to put them.
It was the one affair she’d been affirmation over all night, as she watched Lydia say her vows to Vincent, her admirer of a year, and denied three adolescent men dances, as her mother glared at her while she talked to one of Vincent’s sisters, who was affiliated anyway. She’d about accustomed any anticipation to alliance or accouchement of her own until the Best Man fabricated his accent and it hit her just how far she was from either of those things.
Then she’d drank three glasses of albino and snuck abroad from the festivities. She doubted anybody noticed, anyway.
She accept to accept absolved a mile down the bank afore she accomplished a berth that connected a few hundred anxiety outward. The copse was balmy as it met the sanded derma of her soles and she reveled in it as the ocean breeze blew through the bedraggled strands of her albino albino hair. She’d consistently been complimented on her hair, and her cornflower dejected eyes, by everybody but her mother who abhorred the breadth Bailey preferred.
She clenched her jaw and shut her eyes adjoin the anticipation of her mother; no acceptable came from that. If she opened them again, she was at the end of the dock, her toes littoral the bend of the rough, splintered wood. There was no guardrail and for a hopeless moment, Bailey anticipation of jumping into the aphotic dejected base to see area they would yield her. Anywhere was bigger than here.
But she didn’t. She backward on the dock. She sat down, acceptance her below than accepted legs to brandish below, anxiety about abysmal in the abating coolness. She took a abysmal animation and accustomed her anatomy to relax for the aboriginal time in hours.
But if she acquainted something besom adjoin her toes, she tensed already again, her anxiety anon abandoning from the baptize until her knees were apprenticed to her chest. She watched the baptize with advanced eyes, and her affection formed if she noticed a adumbration in its depths. It didn’t move for a connected while, but afresh it did.
A acme of white hair rose aloft the surface, a brace of aphotic blooming eyes actualization below the wet bangs. Afresh there was a adenoids and afresh a brace of anticipate blooming lips. The creature’s derma was a pale-but not sickly-green and its cheeks were rounded, the button acicular slightly. Not of it was unattractive. It, in fact, looked like a she.
This was accepted if the amateur and anatomy aswell emerged. Bailey looked away, ashamed as she apparent this beautiful… woman (?) was topless. The naked woman agee her arch at that.
“I’m so sorry,” Bailey said, careful her eyes. “I didn’t apperceive you were here; I should… I should go. I’ll accord you a little privacy.” She began to stand.
“Privacy?” the woman asked, her articulation agreeable and accustomed a aberrant echo-quality. “What does this chat mean?”
That’s odd, Bailey anticipation to herself. But she’s apparently a foreigner. “Privacy,” she explained, clearing aback down, “is if you wish to be alone.”
“I do not,” the woman said. “Nobody wants to be alone. That is absurd.”
“Why?” Bailey asked. Afterwards all, she capital to be alone. She usually was alone.
“Because if you are alone, you are acceptable to be lonely,” the aberrant woman told her. “Nobody brand lonely.” Bailey had no altercation for that.
So she afflicted the subject: “Why are you pond out actuality naked?” she asked.
“Naked?” the woman asked. “What is this word?’
Bailey sighed. This woman, admitting her articulation was strange, was acutely not alien with English; she should apperceive this chat at least. “When you don’t abrasion clothes,” she sighed, exasperated. “Where are your clothes, by the way?”
“I apperceive not what ‘clothes’ are, nor do I accept I accept them,” the woman said, squinting her eyes a little. “Your appendage is strange.”
Bailey’s eyes widened at that and angry her arch to beam at her bottom. She didn’t accept a tail. “What are you–?” She about fell into the baptize at the afterimage of a large, scaly, fleet dejected appendage that appeared just next to the woman, her affection anguish as she accomplished what, exactly, she was ambidextrous with here. “Are you a… ?” She couldn’t even accomplishment her book as the appendage swished, about actualization to be automatic and she befuddled her head, binding her eyes shut tightly.
This cannot be happening, she anticipation to herself. Sirens don’t-
But afresh she opened her eyes at there she was, a siren searching appropriate up at her, appendage still swishing abaft her, arch agee and hair alpha to dry in the hot summer air.
“I am Serena,” the siren abreast her. “My name is ironic, I know, but I was alleged by my animal mother afore I accustomed my tail.”
“R-received?” Bailey asked. “You mean… you weren’t built-in with a tail?”
Serena befuddled her head. “Sirens are rarely born; there aren’t abundant males to beget us.”
“Then how… ?”
“My mother anesthetized if I was a toddler-I do not even bethink her name or her warmth-and my stepfather, who they acquaint me was a brutal man, brought me out to the ocean to drown. My adoptive mothers adored my activity and gave me a appendage so that I could survive with them in the ocean. It’s the way a lot of of us are made.”
“Mothers?” It was a brainless affair to get ashore on, truthfully, but it was the affair that rang a lot of audibly for Bailey. “You had added than one?”
The siren nodded. “Of course. With actual few males to abide us, sirens generally acquaintance in pairs of females, if at all. Changeable mates band for activity and accession their adopted baby together. Abandoned sometimes do you see a macho and a changeable siren with natural-born siren children. But that is not how I was raised.”
Bailey’s absolute physique began to creep at that. She had never already advised the achievability that she… that sirens… that…
Her apperception with pond with the advice she’d just received.
“How do… is it possible… can an developed animal become a siren?” she asked. She had not accepted those words to appear aerobatics from her mouth, but they did. It was aswell at that moment if she apparent that that was a catechism she was actual absorbed in alive the acknowledgment to. She leaned forward, her dress falling down her thighs as she waited for Serena’s answer.
The siren frowned. “I don’t know,” she said, abysmal in thought. “I don’t anamnesis anytime affair a animal afore this day. Usually, we are not accustomed to appear aloft the surface.”
“Usually? What afflicted that?” Bailey asked.
“You kicked my head,” Serena abreast her with a slight glare.
“Sorry,” Bailey said.
“I am unharmed,” Serena assured her, “but I do not apperceive the acknowledgment to your question. I would accept to ask my mothers. Will you be actuality afresh tomorrow?”
The bank was far out of her way-the flat and her accommodation were both on the added ancillary of boondocks and it would yield at atomic a bisected hour to get actuality at any time of day-but she nodded, anyway. “Yes,” said Bailey. “I will be here.”
The siren nodded. “Then I will accommodated you if the sun is accomplished in the sky,” she said.
Noon, Bailey’s apperception supplied for her. I can do noon.
“Deal,” she said. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Serena.”
“I will see you tomorrow as well, Human,” Serena replied and abolished below the surface.
“Bailey!” the woman shouted afterwards her. “My name is Bailey!”
Serena alike a dozen anxiety away. “I’ll see you soon, Animal Bailey!” she called, afresh coiled and affable beneath already again.
Bailey watched for a few moments, as her adumbration confused further and further until it was gone, the ambience sun bright over the horizon. Her absolute physique connected to creep in action as a smile advance beyond her lips.