[full_width][layout]Picking up the remote she turned on the TV, and there were news broadcasts and two stations with local university videos of bad background music to accompany the mediocre pictures. I had seen much better on the internet made by my peers. Coming to a daytime soap opera, grandma looked apologetically at me and whispered, “Well it’s better than sleeping.”
I smiled, and both of us knew it wasn’t, but she didn’t want me to close my eyes and possibly go into another coma. She got two books out of her purse and patted my hand. Placing one of them, a small thick romantic novel on my blanket covered stomach, she said, “Your mom would kill me if she knew I lent this to you. It’s juicy. You won’t sleep through it, and that I can guarantee. And it will make all your previous sex education classes seem like recipes for oatmeal without the sugar and cinnamon on top.” I tried to laugh, but no sound came out. Still it was funny. I reached for Grandma Anne, and we hugged.
She smiled lovingly at me and said, “I’m going to get a bite of food. Would you like anything?”
I shook my head. She kissed my forehead, picked up her purse and left.
A group of large gulls flew past the one lone window to this room, all of them glancing in at the soap opera with odd lighting on the set. I soon discovered that the story plot was of a head surgeon who was sleeping with a cousin of the chief administrator. He was making out with the young nurse that was newly married to the older Congressman. His teenage son had just been brought to the hospital for a drug overdose. I grabbed the remote and turned the volume down to barely a whisper. Maybe the commercials would be better, at least they would be loud enough to get my attention every seven minutes or so.
I picked up the novel on my stomach and opened to the prolog, it was okay. Then I turned to chapter one, oh man, mom was going to kill me if the Stonefish venom didn’t first! Feeling a little too warm, I pushed down the thin blanket and closed my eyes for a moment and let the book close around my hand. My muscles twitched…
The briny scent of the ocean filled my senses while shafts of sunlight made thin bubbly pathways through the water. Gliding gracefully down and leaving the heaving surface of the sea, I went deeper with each kick and was no longer disturbed by the anxious rolling of the waves overhead interacting with the sky. The ebb and flow of the currents swirled around me, and the ocean wasn’t as dark as I had seen it from under the waves when they would crash over me and jerk my surfboard away. My eyes used every available fleck of light and reflected it back out into my surroundings reminding me of night vision, but only in color.
My chest didn’t tighten nor did I feel dizzy. I wondered when I would feel the need to surface and breathe oxygen again. I wasn’t holding my breath either, how strange! Getting my second wind the further I swam into the comfort of the deeper parts of the ocean, it dawned on me that the surface of the sea might be a dangerous place to be.
Several types of colorful fish swam past me, some lazily, and others darting this way and that while their life force prickled against my skin. As I rounded a ridge of coral and rock, I sensed a pod of dolphins as their vibrations echoed in the water and flowed around me. Then I saw them; they were slowly swimming together and gently poking each other using clicks and whistles to communicate as they investigated their surroundings. Some of the dolphins were putting their snouts into the crevasses of the ridge and pulling out the sea life. Toying with it, they shared it among themselves until they had finally eaten it. The colorful greens and blues of the leafy sea plants along with their opulent blooms of orange, red, and yellow dazzled my eyes. A sea turtle and a big blue fish with a black stripe swam by lazily.
I rested my hand with my fingers spread onto the rock ledge I was leaning against for support.
Glancing at my hands, I saw they were webbed with skin connecting my fingers and thumb. Shocked, I turned my hand over and examined it while spreading my fingers. As I fanned my fingers out by my hips, I noticed I was nude down the length of my torso. Below my belly button was shimmering blue and aqua colored skin flaps that covered me down to where my legs and feet use to be. My body ended in a split-finned long flowing tail fluke that waved in and out of my view in the water below. My tail was supporting my stillness as I held onto the ridge of rock with my other webbed hand. Fearful of being discovered, I willed my body to move farther into the nearby shadows, and my mertail obeyed.
I gasped for air and sat up as I spread my fingers expecting to see them webbed, but they were still normal as I swallowed my astonishment over what I looked like in my dream. Never in my life had I ever had a dream this vivid and realistic as that one was. Well, if I could call seeing myself as a mermaid, real.
I swallowed, blinked and looked around and there was Triton standing next to the hospital bed. Our eyes met, and his eyes flashed with concern. His scent filled my nostrils like the sweet cleansed air after a good rain with a hint of night blooming jasmine. Was that cologne he was wearing? No one smells that good.
He touched my shoulder, leaving his fingers there and the warmth coming from him began surging within me as he whispered, “Hi Callista. You okay?”
I nodded automatically as my eyes flickered to the TV where the figures there kept acting out their dramatic parts, then back to Triton’s handsome face. Meanwhile, my dream was playing out in my mind as I watched the pod of dolphins in my memory and saw myself as a mermaid.
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