Continuing my mermaid tale from last week…
As the footsteps came closer Salim* considered the situation before him. The woman had been vague, but she did appear to be honest. Of course he was no human lie detector, however he’d always felt that some things were so strange they had to be true. “You might still cause me trouble, but fine I’ll buy it, you were lost, get out of the netting and I’ll try to work something out,” he said ushering her forward.
“Okay,” she said shifting her body in order to stand up. Unfortunately as she did it became apparent that aside from the netting there was nothing covering her at all. Anywhere. Salim’s eye’s widened and he dove over to where she sat in order to cover her up again with the net. “What are you doing?” she asked sounding a bit irritated as well as confused.
“I’m-” Salim started as the door burst open.
“Ah, it’s just Salim,” Cecil said to the two men (not fishermen just arm muscle for the boats) with him. “I was just about to- hold on a moment what the hell is going on in here!” In that moment Salim could’ve smacked himself. This was ten times worse than her getting caught in here alone.
“I was lost and this man said he would help me ‘work something out’ with you,” the woman responded standing up once Salim was distracted. The net remained useless on the ground.
An awkward pause hung in the air for what felt like eons before Cecil finally sputtered out, “will one of you give this woman you’re jacket, she’s probably freezing.” The man to his left, Hank, fumbled around a bit before taking off his coat and clumsily handing it over to her. She stared at it for a moment then looked at Hank, and then to his companion before snatching it and attempting to put it on herself. Luckily for the sake of her dignity (and everyone else’s to be honest) the coat was big enough to cover her and reached just above the knee almost like a very short dress.
“My apologies sir,” Salim said getting up from his crouched down position. “I didn’t realize she was…without clothes until you came in. I found her in the nets this morning just as confused by the unlocked door as you.” Cecil nodded.
“And you told her you’d help her,” he said more statement than question. His eyes narrowed. Now that she was clothed the fact that she was a stranger was clearly once again Cecil’s top priority. Salim faltered a bit.
“Well she said she was lost, and seemed to have run away from home so I figured I’d at least hear her out.”
“And what do you have to say for yourself then?” Cecil asked facing the woman. “Who are you and what’s your name?” The woman glided towards them confidently.
“I am something different from you,” she said plainly. “My name does not really translate in this language, but I’m partial to being called Aziza, because it means precious, and I think that suits me. I did get lost, but here is as good a place as any to study humans behavior seeing as I’ve already learned that you don’t like nakedness, or at least naked women as it seems.” Salim closed his eye’s and waited for his boss to laugh, or yell, or make him take the woman off to see a doctor. He couldn’t really make heads or tails of what Aziza had just said, but he knew he should’ve never investigated the open door and let it be someone else’s problem.
“Okay,” Cecil said somewhat passively and the other two men bobbed their heads in unison. Salim frowned and looked at them noting that they appeared somewhat starry eyed.
“Did you hypnotize my boss?” he asked tentatively. Aziza shrugged.
“You didn’t want him to be mad, like I don’t want my boss to be mad,” she said. “You humans are quite easy in that regard.” Salim shook his head.
“You keep saying humans as if you aren’t human yourself,” he frowned now becoming a bit afraid of her. In fact, he thought, how do I know she didn’t hypnotize me?
“I’m not,” she grinned a big toothy kind of smile. “I’m something from the sea. Based on my studies you might consider me a mermaid.”
“Right and I’m actually a centaur my legs are just being repaired,” Salim said dryly. Aziza gave him a confused look.
“I don’t know what centaur’s are, but you are using that ‘sarcasm’ voice again. Was that a humor?”
“I think you mean a joke, and yes I was being sarcastic, you pick up things pretty quickly huh?”
“It’s part of my job, I’ve been studying humans for a long time, this was supposed to be my last trip.” Salim nodded still not sure if he was one hundred percent on board with the mermaid thing just yet. “I didn’t hypnotize you by the way,” Aziza said interrupting Salim’s thoughts. “I thought about it, but you seemed nice and I wanted at least one person to trust me. I promise I don’t really want to do anything but observe.”
*Note- So yeah I just realized Salim is also the name of a character that appeared in the new episode of American Gods last week and I’d completely forgotten he was called that. I even made it that far in the book, so maybe this was subconscious. Anyway this isn’t going to get smutty so don’t hold your breath. I just think it’s a cute name.
*****to be concluded next week!!!!