Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Live Blogging Exercise 22
I'm surprised I haven't gotten bored with this yet. Wish I could say the same about you.
The aquarium did have a large open area like a shallow swimming pool that was filled with manta rays. Some were as small as a Frisbee, but some were huge, at least three feet wide, slowly moving through sandy water, or just sitting still. There was a short wall/barricade around the pool, where a person could lean over and pet the fish--were they fish?--if they stretched hard enough.
“I wanna pet that one,” Tanissa muttered, pointing at a beautiful silver ray, with bright white spots on its fins.
“Well, hop in then,” Brekkyn suggested.
Tanissa smirked, but the smile went away when she saw the girl bend down and start unvelcroing her shoes. “Wait, we can’t,” she said, gesturing toward a warning sign on the wall.
Brekkyn met her eyes, trying to be patient. “You’re with me. You can do whatever you want.”
“I . . .” began Tanissa, but fell silent. She thought it would be fun to put her feet in the sand, be able to chase, pet, and hold a manta ray. But she didn’t want to break any rules, and she had to admit she was a little scared of the fish. “What if . . . the water’s cold?”
“You put your hand in it, didn’t you?” Brekkyn had her shoes and socks off now, and was rolling up her pantlegs. Tanissa was wearing shorts, so all she needed to do was slip off her sandals. “I don’t know,” she said at last.
“Alright, be a chicken.” Brekkyn stood, hiked herself up over the little wall, and slipped into the manta pond. “They must heat the water,” she said, and giggled.
Tanissa looked around. A couple of kids were looking at Brekkyn with envy, and at least one parent was shaking her head with displeasure, but . . .
She de-sandaled herself and hopped over the wall and into the water herself. One of the mantas darted away, apparently startled, but the others languidly swam around her legs, as if investigating a new addition to their habitat. “Maybe this is how they get fed,” she said.
“What? They throw kids in here every day and say, ‘Eat up, stingrays?’”
“No, I mean maybe the people come in here and feed them, and they’re used to people being in with them.”
Suddenly, a raised voice to their left drew their attention. “Hey, hey, hey!”
An old man with a grey Aquarium Security uniform on was striding toward them, frowning. “You kids can’t be in there!”
Immediately, Tanissa felt herself blushing and started moving toward the edge of the tank.
“No, actually, we can,” Brekkyn assured him, smirking.
The man reached the side of the pond. “Out of there, young ladies. Where are your parents?”
Tanissa thought of her dad, and him getting a call at work, telling him his daughter had been arrested. That fast, she felt tears coming to her eyes. It was embarrassing, really, that she was still that much of a little girl--she had cousins who had actually gone to juvie and not blinked an eye--but she didn’t want to disappoint her parents, who claimed to love her all the more now they no longer loved each other.
Brekkyn walked past her, each footfall making noisy splashes. “I’ll handle it,” she muttered, and began to sing the familiar song. Tanissa sighed and turned slowly to watch the display. It disturbed her to see the mer-girl work her magic, the way people’s eyes glazed over and they got an idiot smile on their face as they obeyed the best they could. The possibilities of using her powers were limitless, and it worried Tanissa to imagine some of them.
“Hey now!” the old man yelled. “You girls get your behinds out of that pool right now!”
Tanissa looked from him to her friend. Brekkyn had a puzzled expression on her face, then squared her shoulders and began to sing again.
“None of that, girlie,” the old man growled. “You two haul yourselves out of there right this minute, or I’m callin’ the police in!”
Tanissa immediately moved toward the side barricade, though not the side where the security guard stood, and hoisted himself back over the wall.
Brekkyn only stood there, her eyes big and glassy.
“Get your shoes on,” the man said, coming around to Tanissa’s side.
It occurred to her what the problem was. This old guy had to be part-mermaid also! He might even have been Brekkyn’s great-uncle or something, and the siren song didn’t work on her own kind!
Although she was embarrassed about being in trouble, she was excited to tell her friend about her theory.
The man in question scowled at the mer-girl, still standing in the center of the pond, all the manta rays swimming in a kind of amazing circle around her. He shook his head at Tanissa, who had slipped her sandals back on. “Can’t you read?” He turned his head toward the signs that said not to cross the edge of the tank, and then Tanissa saw it.
He wasn’t a mer-man at all.
She didn’t know how she knew this was why the singing hadn’t worked on him, but she knew he had a hearing aid in his right ear.
Brekkyn finally slogged to the side, a pouting child now not yet in preschool.
“We’re sorry,” Tanissa said quietly to the guard. “It’s just . . . she said she’d done it before.”
“Kids are always trying to get in the water.” He gave her an appraising look. Some of his grouchiness faded. “If you promise not to do it again, I don’t have to toss you out.”
“Okay,” she agreed, most of her worry fading.
Brekkyn slowly moved to the edge of the pool, tears running down her eyes.
“It’s alright, Brekkyn,” she said, “he’s nice.”
The girl glared at Tanissa with a chilling stare. A look of hate that was frankly scary.
“I don’t know about your friend,” the guard said. “She understand English.”
“Uh . . .”
As Brekkyn hauled herself over the barrier, he angled back to Tanissa. “Where are your parents?”
“We, uh, came alone.”
“I see,” he said, as though that explained a great deal. She didn’t know if a racist thing or what. Maybe it simply meant that a parent would’ve stopped them from breaking the rules.
Brekkyn grabbed up her shoes and socks, sniffling. She took a step toward Tanissa. “Come on,” she snarled. “We’re going home.”
“He didn’t say--” Tanissa started to say, but the old man put his hand up.
“I think that’s a very good idea.”
Brekkyn grabbed Tanissa’s arm and pulled her away, steaming.
“Sorry,” Tanissa said again to the security guard. She wasn’t close to crying anymore. He seemed a pretty nice old dude--as her dad would say--but Brekkyn would surely disagree.
Maybe she had never found anyone who was . . . immune to her power before. Maybe she had never been told ‘No’ before today.
They moved toward the exit, where a pretty girl in a shark hat gave them a wave. Brekkyn gave her the finger, with the accompanying epithet, and Tanissa looked down at her own hands.