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A mermaid with strawberry-blonde hair did a flip, her tail making the water splash a bit. She swam gracefully past a platinum-blonde mermaid and they took hands, doing a synchronized turn before swimming to the surface and taking a breath. Once their lungs were filled, they slipped back under water and continued the routine.

A dozen happy tourists stood outside the tanks, watching the girls. The strawberry-blonde pressed her hands against the glass, low enough that one of the little girls outside was able to match it. The mermaid smiled at her and swam back up as the routine ended.

They did several more shows like that before their shifts were over and they went to the dressing room to return to their human forms.

“We were pretty awesome, today,” Freya, the platinum-blonde commented.

Aria, the strawberry-blonde, smiled. “Yesterday, you said we were fabulous and today, we’re awesome.” She carefully wrapped up her tail and put it in the storage closet.

“What can I say?” Freya grinned. “We rule the sea.”

Aria laughed. “Well, the aquarium, at least.” She looked at her friend, trying to determine, not for the first time if her hair was really that pale by nature. Freya insisted it was, but Aria had her doubts. “Today went pretty well, though.”

“We are on a roll!” Freya linked arms with Aria. “Together, there’s nothing we can’t do.”

nothing.” Aria smiled as she looked at her friend. They had met at the aquarium a year before, when Freya had taken over for a mermaid who had moved away. The two were much more in sync than Aria’s previous partner and had quickly become friends, even getting an apartment together. She found herself drawn to the girl’s ever-bright personality. She was the most optimistic person Aria had ever met and always seemed to find a way to make things work out for them.

“Well, I would and I did,” Freya replied, looking at her friend, “Respect your elder.”

“Are you my elder?” Aria raised her eyebrows. “How old are you, again?”

“Nine hundred and seventy eight,” Freya answered, immediately. Aria hadn’t been able to find out her real age and the girl always seemed to come up with the same number when asked. She couldn’t be tricked into telling the truth, it seemed. They were paying attention to each other as they walked and accidentally bumped into someone.

“Sorry.” Aria looked to see who it was, just as he was kneeling down to pick up some papers he had dropped. She felt thoroughly embarrassed when she realized they had run into Frederick Grey, a biologist who worked out of a lab in the back of the aquarium. He studied the fish and had several papers published on the subject.

“It’s not a problem,” he assured them, standing back up once he had his papers, “It’s just some research materials and they weren’t organized to begin with.” He smiled at them. Dr. Grey was tall and slender. He had black hair, which had been quickly brushed, and a deep voice that made many girls swoon. He was rather pale from spending most of his days in his lab and he always kind of reminded Aria of a vampire.

She returned the smile. “Just as long as we didn’t cause you any trouble…”

“No trouble at all,” he replied, “Now, if you’ll excuse me, I must be off to my lab. Important studies to do and all that.” He gave the girls another smile before taking off. It seemed he was always doing research of one kind or another. He was attractive enough to have a girlfriend, but he had no interest in such things. Sometimes, Aria wondered if he ever left the lab, at all.

“That guy’s so weird,” Freya commented, once he was out of earshot.

Aria gave her a playful slap. “That’s not very nice.”

“Doesn’t he seem odd to you?” Freya asked as they started walking, again, “He cares way more about science than people. It’s not healthy.”

“He’s a little eccentric,” Aria reasoned, “He’s harmless, though. You shouldn’t really allow yourself to be troubled by people being different. You won’t make many friends if you can’t tolerate quirks.”

“I have all the friends I need.” Freya smiled and squeezed Aria’s arm. “Why would I ever need to find more?”

“You’ll want a boyfriend, eventually, right?” Aria asked.

Freya stared at her, blankly. “What would I do with one of those?”

Aria shrugged. “Go on dates and stuff?” She really didn’t have much experience with such things, herself.

“Why can’t I do that with you?” Freya cocked her head, managing to look so adorable that Aria couldn’t help but wonder if it was intentional.

Jessica Wright

#21 at Young adult
#9 at Fantasy
#9 at Romantic fantasy

Text includes: romance, mermaids, prejudice

Edited: 02.12.2018

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