Big mentioned the next episode of That Gets My Goat, which somehow I never started on, despite finishing a Dunesteef episode that's apparently not due until August. Whoops.
But I will take a few minutes now and get some of this out there.
They were sitting at something called the GalleriAtrium, where there were arranged benches, a fountain, and enclosed trees with recorded birdsong playing in them. Brekkyn was showing Tanissa how to send songs from one iPod to the other, and how they could link up to play games either together or competitively.
“Can you just record a song off the radio?” Tanissa asked, pulling up the voice memo application.
“You can, but the quality’s crap,” Brekkyn said. “I’ll just get you an iTunes card.”
At that, Tanissa realized she’d lost time again, and put two and two together. “How do you do it?” she asked, and apparently the tone of her voice told Brekkyn exactly what ‘it’ was.
The younger girl smiled, going back to a fond memory. “It was an accident, the first time. I’d been trying to remember words--Pacifican words--for like, all my life, and it was all going away, but it occurred to me that when I sang, I remembered words I’d forgotten when I tried to speak to them. I dunno why. I’m singing to myself, but my nanny is there, and suddenly, she starts to walk away, stiff and dreamlike, like sleepwalking. She walked right into the wall! Then she went out of the room and kept going, walking in that direction until I finally stopped her.”
“I don’t get it. What direction?”
“You know, to the ocean? The song I was singing was about the western, uh, reefs or whatever, where the water is warm. It’s where you go when the rains come, I dunno. It works as a song.”
“And you knew it was your singing that made her walk into the wall?”
“Not at first. I tried to remember other songs, and those didn’t do anything. But when I went back to that song, things just started to happen.”
“How? How does it work?”
“Magic, duh,” she snorted.
That was no answer. “Don’t you know?”
The pale girl stiffened. “Of course I know, I just don’t discuss it with people.”
Tanissa nodded, but she didn’t know how a subject like this could just be ignored.
“You really are part mermaid.”
“No shit. That’s what I told you,” Brekkyn said, fake annoyed. Finally, she stuffed her new iPod in her orange bag, and looked at her. “Well, you’re my best friend, so I might as well tell you about it. The tune is a sad one, about longing to go where it’s warm, where it’s better.”
“Under the sea,” Tanissa mumbled.
“Right, right,” Brekkyn said. “It’s, like, a song to make you want to do something, and it works on people, if you change the words.”
“Wow,” Tanissa said, but she didn’t feel one hundred percent enthusiastic about it, remembering how she felt when watching the girl weave her spell. “Do you ever feel bad, making people do stuff without them knowing?”
“Bad? No. Why should I? If somebody can play the piano so good that people cry from it, should she feel bad that they cry?”
“And if you knew how to paint so good that people wanted you to paint their families and portraits and stuff, do you feel bad for making money from it?”
Tanissa said nothing. It wasn’t even close to the same thing, but she didn’t know how to explain that. Finally, though, she said, “If you are my friend, you won’t use it to make me do things I don’t want to do.”
Brekkyn glared at her, and Tanissa steeled herself for some kind of nasty retort (or worse), but finally, the girl said, calmly and collectedly, “You’re just jealous. But because we’re friends, alright.”
And that was that.
Tanissa wondered how she would act, if she had an ability like that. She hoped she’d be more responsible, to use the power only when she had no other alternative. But she didn’t know.
“I know where we can go tomorrow,” Brekkyn began, as they drank Orangades out of curly straws and walked toward the bus stop.
Tanissa nipped it in the bud. They’d had a fine day, but she did not want to do this again. “My Dad’s off tomorrow,” she lied. “So I don’t think we’ll be able to--”
“You’re not a very good liar,” Brekkyn interrupted. “Your eyes go all shifty.”
The older girl didn’t know if this was true, but she did try not to be dishonest, if she could help it. “I’m here to visit my dad,” she said. “I don’t see him very much anymore.”
“Your parents are divorced, right?”
“That’s cool,” she said, which was a strange comment, but not out of character.
“If we can be home early, what do you want to do tomorrow?” Tanissa said at last.
“There’s an aquarium on Regency Drive. They just put in one of those tunnels where the sharks swim around you, you know?”
Tanissa didn’t know what that was, but she nodded. A girl who was part mermaid might get something else out of going to an aquarium than the rest of us. “Can you breathe underwater?” she asked.
“Random much?” Brekkyn smirked, almost certainly a quote from a movie or TV show. “Not anymore,” she confided, disappointed with herself.
Tanissa sighed. It wasn’t that she didn’t believe her, but it was hard to process. If mermaids were real, then everything people said was make-believe might be real. She had a hard enough time believing in the Lord and the Bible stories, let alone fairies and witches and yetis and stuff.
They rode the bus--Tanissa insisted on paying, mostly as a test to see what the girl would do--and sat together on the second row. “Your mom?” she asked.
“Your mom that was half-mermaid? Where is she?”
“I don’t know,” Brekkyn mumbled, showing obvious discomfort at this topic. “She’s probably dead somewhere.”