Four years later…
Alima walked quickly while taking on a false calm demeanor. If she showed any signs of panic, their suspicions would instantly be confirmed. She scanned the area around her, beach house after beach house, struggling to remember which house it was. She hadn’t seen Freddy in years. She dug through her array of memories, hoping to remember the location of his house. Her eyes twinkled as she saw a glimpse of him in one of the many lines of windows. When she made it to the house, she promptly knocked on the door. The door opened, and she quickly slipped inside. His eyes widened at the sight of her.
“It’s you!” He harshly whispered. Alima swiped his fisherman’s hat off his head, squatted to the floor, and hid her face with the hat.
“I’ll explain later,” she whispered. “Check the window.”
“For what?” he said.
“Men,” she said with clenched teeth. “Maybe some women,” she added in.
Freddy gazed out of the window and saw nobody. The sky was darkening because it was dusk. Everyone was probably chilling at home.
“Not a person in sight.” Alima got up from the floor and gave Freddy back his hat.
“That was close,” Alima said and sighed a sigh of relief.
“Who are you trying to avoid?” He said, still gazing out the window, hoping to catch a soul.
“The scientists. What a bunch of nosy creatures they are. Apparently, when I came on land, I was extremely reckless. Not just from the time when you caught me in my form, but also when I hopped on the dock. I accidentally shed a scale in the process.” Alima reached in her pocket and grabbed a clear plastic slide which incased a large blue-black fish scale that was about the size of a dollar-coin. “I managed to get it back,” she said with a smirk.
“You need to be more careful.” Freddy chided her and went to take a chair. Alima followed him and sat down next to him.
“I know,” she said. They sat side by side and yet they made no eye contact. The room was filled with uncomfortable silence.
“So,” he said and fumbled with fingers. “How’ve you been?”
Alima cocked her head to the side and reflected on what had happened the past three years. “Well, I’ve got a Bachelor’s degree and I’ve gotten a job as a marine biologist.”
“That’s great!” he said with feigned enthusiasm. “Any signs of the princess?” Alima frowned and shook her head.
“No. All the clues that pop up don’t go together. I’m a failure.” She turned her body away.
“You’ll find her,” he said and awkwardly rubbed her back as a means of providing a weak source of comfort. Impulsively, Alima pulled him towards her and hugged him tight. The fragrance of his flesh made a great solace. He could also make a great appetizer, a rogue thought raced through her mind. She hadn't tasted human in ages and just the smell of him made her stomach growl. Maybe just a lick, she wondered until a startling voice cut through her desired intentions.
“Aww! Am I barging in on a special moment?” said a cat-like voice. Alima quickly unraveled her arms around Freddy and turned to the direction of the voice. Standing there was a young girl, about fifteen. She had sun bleached blonde hair and lightly bronzed skin. Her hazel brown eyes matched her brother's, except unlike her brother's, her eyes burned with a heated intensity for life. Other than that, the rest of her physical appearance mirrored her brother's with her dozens of freckles that speckled her nose and cheeks and lithe physique.
“Is that your sister?” Alima said to Freddy. The girl answered for her brother.
“You got that right. The name’s Ally. And you must be my brother’s girlfriend.” She was loud, really loud. And when she talked, her freckles would shift to other parts of her face.
“I’m not his girlfriend,” Alima said, her voice lowered.
“That’s a whole bunch of nonsense! They’re never any girls at our place!” Alima’s ears started to hurt and she cringed.
“I think I need to leave now,” Alima excused herself. She patted Freddy’s shoulder and said, “It’s been nice talking to you again. But I’ve got things to do and a princess to find.” When she headed towards the door, Ally followed her and chattered away.
“You can’t leave now! We’ve got a wedding to plan!” Alima left the house but Ally tagged right behind her. They were now at the sea dock. It was night and the full moon was out. The sea was black and the bright pale moon was reflected in the waters.
“OOOHH! Why are we here?” Ally looked Alima with a wide happy smile. Alima gave her one last smirk and said, “This is where our paths end.” Alima pushed Ally into the sea. Ally’s body splashed in the waters and water droplets sprinkled onto wooden dock but Alima was careful not to get herself wet. It felt like ages when Freddy finally caught up to the scene. He gasped at the sight of Ally helplessly flailing in the waters and her cries for help.
“What did you do?” His words dripped with acidic accusation. He was standing at the very edge of the dock and was hesitant on whether he should jump in and save his sister. By the way he was clenching his fists and shuffling his legs indecisively, he wanted to but he couldn't. The waves were violent tonight, rising and crashing in a hauntingly beautiful rhythm, and pulling down and crushing everything that falls into its grasps.
“I pushed her. She was getting annoying.” Alima was numb. She watched Ally flail with amusement. The ocean waves were high so that every time they saw Ally’s head pop up, it would immediately be pushed down by the following wave.
“You’re sick,” Freddy said with disgust and took off his shirt and shoes. Before he got to jump in, Alima extended her arm to block him. She shushed him and said, “Look.” The sounds of Ally’s thrashes came to a complete stop and when they looked back at her, they saw beneath the black waters lurked a bright pink fin, accented with whimsical purples and greens.
“What did you do to me?” She yelled down from below. Alima shushed her with a finger to her lips. Freddy watched in horror as Alima's face was possessed by a ghost of a smile.
“Nothing. Although I must congratulate you. You're a mermaid, Ally.” It took her a moment to find the right word. Ally was a unique case. “A Land-walker.” The words had barely escaped her lips and thinned out into the night air.