Submitted Date 07/17/2019

When she woke, Drea felt hazy and unsure. The late-morning sun peeked its head into her kitchen window and partially blinded her. She rubbed her eyes and gingerly sat up. As she did, flashes of the previous night attacked her all at once. She let out a little gasp and stood too quickly. The world swayed, but she managed to keep her balance. Glancing down, she saw she'd managed not to knock her wine glass over in the night. CHAPTER TWO:

Hastily she made her way to the living room. She shouldn't have dozed off. For all she knew, the girl could have died over night, and then she'd basically be a murderer! How could she be so stupid? She should have called an ambulance last night—unnerving gut feelings aside.

With the sofa's back to her, Drea glanced over it. The girl was still lying there looking even worse than the night before. Her mouth was open and she was drawing in uneven, shallow breaths. She looked washed out in color.

"Oh, honey, we've got to get you to the hospital." She flew over to the girl's side and impulsively reached for her forehead. It was cold and dry. She glanced down at the tail she'd nearly forgotten about. It also looked dried out as if she'd been baking in the sun.

A hand clutched her wrist with sudden intensity. Drea let out a small squeak of surprise before realizing the hand belonged to the girl on the couch. She glanced down. Piercing blue eyes were glaring into her own. She couldn't look away. The girl tried to speak, but all she could produce were raspy, incoherent sounds.

"Oh, I'm so sorry! What can I do?" Drea pleaded. The girl weakly motioned down her body as if trying to show her something. Drea couldn't understand.

"Can you speak?" She asked. The girl simply motioned again down the length of her body. This time, she gestured to her throat. "Water?" Drea perked up with this question, as the girl seemed to understand. Her icy eyes became more desperate as she gestured to her throat again.

"Yes, I can get water!" She fled the room back into the kitchen. She remembered she'd left the wineglass on the tiled linoleum as her foot made contact with it and sent it skittering across the floor. She groaned, but there wasn't time to deal with the mess. She hurriedly grabbed a glass from the cabinet and filled it with tap water from the sink.

When she returned, she found the girl on the floor, seemingly crawling away from the couch. Her large wound was facing Drea. Her stomach dropped, and her knees became weak, but she managed to pull herself together and approach the woman.

"Hey, wait! Where are you going? I have your water; no need to move!" She gave a nervous chuckle as the girl turned. Her eyes were weary—mistrusting. Drea stuck out her empty hand to help the girl up. She recoiled, and then stabbed a taloned finger at the glass.

"Aguid!" She croaked, and Drea thought she misheard. She handed the woman the glass. She promptly gulped down half the glass before dumping the rest on her bare chest and tail. Drea gasped in surprise.

"Moso," the girl pleaded, and held the glass up to Drea, "moso!"

"Oh, my!" Drea gasped again, but grabbed the glass from her and returned to the kitchen. When she came back to the living room, she found the girl waiting anxiously; she was whipping her head around in every direction. When Drea entered the room, she locked eyes with her. It was hard to look away.

"Here," she trotted over to the other side and handed her the glass. Again, she took a few large sips and proceeded to pour the rest over the length of her body.

"You don't have to do that," Drea whispered, "we can get you in the tub to rinse off…" she trailed off as the girl's piercing gaze intimidated her to silence.

"Aguid?" She asked.

"Uhm, yes, I think," Drea nodded, "water. More water in the tub." She gestured to the glass. The pale woman nodded frantically. "Ok," Drea began, "I will run you a bath, but you have to stay"—she held her hand up as if to enforce this—"here, ok? You have to stay." The girl looked down where she sat, looked back up to Drea, and nodded.

"Good," Drea gave a halfhearted smile, "I will be back. You stay here and wait." She held both palms up to reiterate. The tailed-woman nodded again, and Drea felt assured enough to turn away to the bathroom.

When she reached the large garden tub, she ran both faucets. She could use a warm bath, she thought to herself. Then she remembered the gash on her back, and turned down the heat to a more tepid level. She didn't want the girl to hurt any more than she had to. After a few minutes, when the tub was almost full, Drea turned off the faucets and headed back to the living room.

The blonde woman was still on the floor waiting. When she looked up at Drea, she had a desperation in her eyes.

"The water is ready," Drea stated, "but we have to get you to the tub somehow." The girl just tilted her head in question. "I," Drea motioned to herself, "am going to help you get in the tub. Can we take off your tail now?" She gestured towards the long, silvery fins. The girl looked down, and back up at Drea. Drea huffed. This was going to be hard. She grabbed the top of her purple bikini bottoms and asked, "Can you take your tail off?" while motioning her hands downward.

The poor girl looked exhausted and confused. She gestured down to her tail, looked at Drea, and shrugged. Drea sighed again.

"I have to pick you up." She cautiously approached the girl. She looked at Drea with weary eyes. Drea kneeled beside the girl about three feet away, and held out her arms. The pale woman recoiled while shaking her head.

"It's the only way to get you to the water." Drea explained.

"Aguid?" The tailed-woman glanced up at her.

"Yes! Aguid, in the bathroom. I have to help you if you can't walk." Drea pointed to her feet and stamped them to reinforce her words. The girl hesitantly nodded. Drea reached her hands out again, and this time she didn't shy away.

After a few moments of awkward positioning, Drea held the woman the same way she did last night. Her weight was easier to bear now that she was conscious. Slowly they tread backwards towards the bathroom. When they reached the door, Drea gently pulled her through the entryway. Drea let the girl's torso go and looked down at her.

"Do you think you can get into the tub?" She wondered. The girl looked at the tub and grabbed the side of it. With a grunt, she managed to vault herself into the tub with a large splash! Drea was impressed with the girl's upper body strength.

The girl dunked her head underwater and stayed there until Drea was concernedly hovering over the tub. Finally, she poked her head out of the water and peeked at Drea.

"Sorry!" Drea blushed. "I'll leave you to… do your thing." She looked at the long silvery tail that lazily hung over the side of the tub. It occasionally flicked, like a content cat on a window ledge.

Drea quickly left and shut the door behind her. Her thoughts were racing to the point of making her dizzy. A mermaid? A real mermaid? Am I dreaming? She questioned herself. She nearly pinched herself to confirm. Her legs felt weak again, but not from the workout of carrying the woman to the bathroom.

If this girl really was a mermaid, what was she going to do? The wound on her back needed attention, but who knew if mermaid medicine was anything like human medicine? Drea's guess was that it wasn't. Who was she supposed to tell? Surely this story would spread like a wildfire if anyone found out. Who could she possibly trust with such a giant secret?

Drea wondered if she should tell anyone. Perhaps this was best kept with her and her alone. The girl was clearly injured, but who knows what she would go through if anyone found out? She imagined doctors and scientists studying the mermaid against her will and shuddered. No, this is a burden she was going to have to bear on her own.

Exhausted, she headed back to the living room and plopped on the beige recliner beside the couch. There was a lot she had to think about as she waited for the mermaid in her tub. She sighed and held her face in her hands. What on earth had she gotten herself into?


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