The Swallower

Asana gasped as she choked on her final breath of water.

Flipping herself onto her back, she watched as her tail finished the transformation into legs. Gone was her life as a mermaid.

Now, time to find some clothes, and then go and finish her paperwork so she could start her job as a real estate agent.

She already knew of some lovely beach front properties for sale, but maybe she should find some in the city, so the temptation to dive back into the depths of the sea wouldn’t overpower her. Also so that The Swallower didn’t steal this job too.

Standing up shakily, Asana slowly made her way up the beach to the cabin that she and her fellow fugitives had been using as a safe house in their transition to the human world. When she got to the front door, she slipped inside.

A motherly looking woman with long, graying hair and dark caramel skin took her by the hand and led her up the stairs to a small room with a cozy looking bed and a large closet that stood open, revealing an assortment of clothes in all shapes, sizes, and styles.

Shivering as she realized how cold she was, Asana thanked the woman and asked her name.

“I’m Maria.” Smiling she pointed about the room as she talked. “You can get changed, and dinner is an hour. You have a very nice view of the sunset, which I encourage you to take advantage of, as it really is gorgeous. Enjoy your stay.” She walked to the door and then paused. “Might I ask how long you will be lodging here?”

“Oh yes, um, probably not very long I don’t actually know…” Feeling awkward and unhelpful, Asana looked down at her feet. What strange things they were, with a bunch of little toes sticking out of such short flippers.

“That’s alright, dear. Now, find some clothes that you like, and I’ll see you in a short while.” Closing the door behind her, she gave Asana one last fleeting smile of encouragement.

Turning to the wardrobe filled to bursting, Asana frowned. How would she know what would be acceptable to wear? So she decided to experiment.

First she put on a flowery dress, but it fell off her shoulders and straight onto the floor. Next she tried a high waisted black skirt and a yellow top, but the skirt was so tight it squeezed the breath out of her. After a few more tries, she finally found a pair of – weren’t they called pants? And a simple pink t-shirt.

Pleased with the well-fitting choice, she leaned out the window to see the sunset. It was as beautiful as she had been told it would be. The pinks and reds changed to purples which blended with the blues of the sea.

Sighing, she inhaled the salty air, and wiped at her damp eyes. It was hard, knowing that her entire life had to be left behind. She would never see her friends or family again. She would never play in the coral reefs, or fight the currents…

Asana pushed herself away from the window ledge. It wouldn’t do to dwell on her past. She had to push it to the back of her mind, and soon her biological mermaid forgetfulness would kick in, and she would never have to be worried about her loss again.

The hard part was waiting for it to be over.

As Asana walked down the stairs, she could smell a savory and rich flavor. When she got the kitchen, she saw Maria standing over a pot of something steamy, that the smell appeared to be coming from. Turning to grab a ladle, Maria saw Asana in her new clothes.

“Very nice choice.” She complimented. “Here, taste this, tell me what you think.” She handed Asana the now-full ladle, and she tipped it to her mouth. A hot surge of taste exploded into her mouth. There was sweetness and saltiness and something soft and something chewy and oh it was so amazing, but then Asana was eagerly sipping at an empty spoon.

Laughing, Maria handed her a napkin for the little bit that had dribbled down her chin. “It’s called Beef and Vegetable Stew. What do you think?”

“I think I want more!” Asana replied excitedly. The human world really was incredible, she decided.

“Well, you will have to wait a few more minutes, but here is a roll for now. Why don’t you head out and meet your new sisters?” Maria handed her a small round thing wrapped in a linen cloth, and shooed her through the door into another room.

Inside, two girls were sitting at a table. One was reading a book, wearing large black and glass things over her eyes, and the other was chewing on the end of her long blonde hair while making a loud typing noise on a thin black… something. Looking up, the blonde smiled widely.

“Hi!” She jumped up and hugged the surprised Asana. “I’m Summer. This is Autumn. We’re twins. We are from the sea too, so we know how hard this is for you, so if you need anything just ask, and we will find it for you right away and -“

“Summer, let her breathe.” The second girl had stood up, and was reaching out a hand to shake. “Hey, I’m Autumn. Sorry, she is really excited to meet more mermaids. We’ve been the only ones here for a month.”

“Oh no, that’s fine.” Laughing nervously, she continued. “I’m Asana. It’s nice to meet you.”

“Asana! That is such a pretty name!” Summer squealed, and Autumn shooed her back to her seat at the table.

“Here, You can sit in between us.” Autumn guided her to the chair. “Have you ever had stew before?”

“Oh no, I just got my first taste of human food.” Feeling somehow comfortable with these girls, she continued, “It’s amazing! Oh it is so good, I want to eat more and more!” All three laughed.

“Autumn, Summer, will you help me carry this out?” Maria called from the kitchen. The twins jumped up and ran to help.

Asana looked around the room. It was a dark cherry wood color, and there were nice deep red accents around the room. A fluffy carpet felt very soft on her toes. The table was long, there was enough room a dozen people could sit around it. Asana wondered why there weren’t more mermaids here. Hadn’t the entire sea gone out of business?

Maria and the twins came back in the room. Maria set the pot of stew on a heat pad on the table and Autumn placed a bowl of rolls next to it, while Summer danced around setting out silverware.

“Can I help at all?” Asana asked, eager to be a part of the happy, inclusive atmosphere that surrounded the three women.

“Oh no, that’s alright. Let’s sit and- well, I guess you could give thanks over the meal if you’d like.” Maria reached out and took hands with Autumn and Summer, who, in turn, took Asana’s.

“I don’t know how…” Asana admitted quietly.

Maria nodded. “Well then I’ll say it.” And so she offered a simple prayer of thanks, and Asana listened closely to every word so that she could be sure to be able to pray next time she was asked.

After the delicious dinner, Maria sent the girls upstairs while she finished scrubbing out the big pot. Autumn and Summer shard a room to the right of Asana’s, and when they leaned out their window and Asana leaned out hers, they could see and talk to each other.

Giggling about this new-found development, the twins said goodnight and headed to bed. Asana quickly followed suit.

As she layed on the fluffy sheets, with a silky pillow beneath her head, Asana watched the ripples of light dancing across her room from the open window.

Smiling, she thought to herself, Maybe this won’t be so hard after all.


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