23: Hot And Wet

on July 4, 2007 in 02: Love In The Time Of Magic

In Which A Bathtub Is Put To An Unconventional Use

I was back on the ground again, lying in the shade of the tree and looking up at the starry sky. It was the color of amethyst, and the stars hung low and fat in the sky like diamond pendants.

That wasn’t right… the sky, I mean. I knew there was some reason that it wasn’t right, but I didn’t know what it was.

Amaranth was standing over me again… looming. Naked. But then, she was a nymph. It was natural. Her kind, patient face was twisted with something… hunger? Anger? Something with an -nger. I asked her what was wrong, but my mouth made no sound. She responded, but it was all slow and distorted.

She started to lower herself over me, like when she’d plopped down on my chest, only, she wasn’t aiming for my torso. Her pussy, that strangely compelling little mound of flesh, was coming towards my face. It was beautiful, but it was dangerous… I couldn’t remember why, but it was.

If it touched me, I knew that I would die.

Only, she never actually touched me… she just kept getting closer and closer, looming larger and larger in my view long after the point where she should have been actually pushing against my face, grinding herself against my lips. The sense of anticipation and dread (and excitement? No, no. I was not excited. No!) kept growing and growing until it filled me to the point of overflowing, until it surrounded and suffused me and I couldn’t breathe.

The moment I realized that, it wasn’t Amaranth who was looming over me, but Puddy, my roommate… my friend. My first real friend. My best friend? She could be a little… sexually aggressive… but it wasn’t her body that she was lowering towards my face, it was a great big pillow, and the impossible distance that had separated Amaranth from me was gone. I couldn’t breathe… couldn’t breathe… couldn’t breathe.

I was on fire.

My eyes flew open and I looked down the length of my nude body, which danced with flames. I shook myself to douse them, and in the process hit my head on the back of the stone tub I’d been sleeping in. I cried out in pain. Thanks to the non-human half of my parentage, I didn’t have to worry about injuring myself with mundane mishaps, but I’d just rammed my head into the stone back of a bathtub and it still fucking hurt.

I guess it had been a good idea to move to the bathroom… after the first time that night I’d had that dream… or rather, one like it… I’d woke up feeling hot. I hadn’t burned anything. In fact, it had been years since I’d had any nightly “accidents”… but then, I’d never had dreams like these before.

“Oh, shit,” I said, rubbing my head. There was no injury to feel, but the reflex was there.

“Do you mind?” a soft, musical voice called in what I’d say was a slightly amused tone. “Some of us are trying to sleep.”

Surprised, I pulled myself up into a sitting position and looked over across the width of the bath chamber. There were two fairly large stone tubs, both set in little alcoves just past the two rows of toilet stalls, right before the communal showers. Feejee the mermaid was in the other one, which was full of water, unlike mine. She was reclining against the wall in a sitting position, with the end of her long tail just sticking out of the other end. A modestly obscene fortune in gold and pearls was strewn on the floor along the edge of the tub.

On the subject of obscenity… she was naked, of course, but her nudity, like that of the nymphs, was of the incidental variety… since she didn’t wear clothes to begin with, it was hard to think of her as “naked.”

At least, it had been hard when I’d seen her before. After Amaranth… well, I was kind of wishing Feejee had a shirt on. That thought made me realize that I didn’t have a shirt on. I grabbed my t-shirt from the pile of clothes by the side of the tub and clutched it against my chest.

I was trying to unball the shirt and get it over my head without exposing my breasts… to a person from a culture that had no concept of clothes. Knowing it was stupid didn’t make it any less necessary for me to cover up. It just meant I still had something to feel embarrassed about once my shirt was on.

And, once the shirt was on, I became intensely aware of the nakedness of the rest of my body. I have never been more strongly conscious of my vagina in my life. There was absolutely no way that Feejee could have seen it, with the high stone sides of the tubs and a hallway’s width between them, but I desperately wanted my underwear.

“What are you doing here?” I stammered angrily, to try to cover my embarrassment… as if a mermaid (or for that matter, anybody) being in a bathtub full of water somehow needed more explaining than me sleeping naked in one.

“I just… I have a hard time sleeping with legs,” she said. “It feels so weird, having two of them, moving independently… I keep… well, it’s like I’ll shift one, and then I want to move the other. All night long, it’s like that. I can never really get comfortable.”

“Oh,” I said.

“That, and Celia’s eyes… it’s kind of creepy when the light hits them,” she said. “When she sleeping, I mean. Most fishes have eyes like that, but it’s… odd… to see it on a person.”

I knew what she meant. Celia looked pretty human, but her most striking feature was her lidless snake eyes. She had some kind of membrane that covered them, but I could imagine it might get disturbing to watch her sleep.

“How about you?” Feejee asked. “Fight with your girlfriend? I wouldn’t presume to lecture… well, I mean, there’s nothing wrong with it, but I’d never room with somebody I’m involved with. Where do you go when you have a fight? Well, here, I guess.”

“Oh, we didn’t fight!” I said. “And, anyway, Puddy’s not my girlfriend,” I added. I really needed to learn to get my priorities straight when objecting to things. “And I don’t like girls,” I sputtered. Honesty compelled me to add, “At least, I don’t think I do.”

Feejee laughed. It might have been mean. It might have crushed me, like it usually did when… really confident… people… laughed at me, except her laugh was so damned lyrical. I blushed, but not the “I’m two inches tall and about to be squashed by a giant” blush.

“Oh, you’re adorable,” she said. “Just precious.”

I blushed harder.

“You, too?” I asked.

“Me, too, what?”

“Well, I mean… is everybody here some kind of lesbian?”

“Oh, I’m definitely not,” Feejee said. “I’m very much into boys… or men. Haven’t you ever heard the joke about mermaids and seamen?”

I wanted to say, “Which one?” but she was being nice, so I just nodded.

“Anyway, when I say you’re adorable, I just mean you’re adorable.”

“I guess I’m just a little wandshy on that score,” I said. “I’ve had so many girls, you know, making passes at me… um, I don’t mean that to sound conceited when I say that, especially since I don’t understand it in the first place.”

She stared, scrutinizing me. I figured she was about to back me up when, to my surprise, she said, “I can kind of see it. I mean, you’re a little rough around the edges… no offense meant. You should probably ask Mariel–you know, the sylph?–to do some work on you. She said she wanted to do something with my hair. I didn’t fully understand it… I mean, you don’t really ‘do’ much of anything with hair when you live under water… but it sounds interesting, anyway. I’ll probably learn all about it in my glamour and design courses.”

“She’s pretty good,” I said. “She helped me with some make-up, for Puddy.”

“For Puddy, who isn’t your girlfriend,” Feejee said, with a wry smile. I blushed… but it was at the smile, not the idea of being Puddy’s girlfriend. Wait, which of those would it have been less gay for me to blush at?

“She isn’t,” I mumbled.

“Um, okay,” Feejee said. “Hey, can I ask you something?”

I thought for sure it was going to be about Puddy and me, but I nodded anyway.

“What was that stuff on you, when you woke up?” she asked. “Some kind of… demon thing?”

“What do you mean, ‘stuff’?” I asked, alarmed… too alarmed to really care about the mention of my heritage. Word apparently had got around, at least within Harlowe Hall… but the idea of some new supernatural manifestation of my dark heritage weighed more heavily on my mind than that.

“That glowy stuff that was coming off of your skin,” she said. “Kind of reddish, orangey-yellow, and it gave off dark steam…”

It was such an absurd thing for her to ask about that it took me a few moments to process it. When I realized, I looked at Feejee like she was stupid, or from another plane, or possibly from a plane of elemental stupidity. Did she really not know?

“That was fire,” I said, scathingly.

“Oh,” she said. “I didn’t know that was what it looked like.” She affected a casual, disinterested tone, but there was a hurt look on her face.

I didn’t care.

I made myself not care. I had enough things to feel bad about without taking on extra guilt over this. It wasn’t my fault if she was actually that stupid. How could she have gone all her life without knowing what fire looked like? Didn’t they have any, where she came fr…

Oh, shit.

It was official: I’m a dumbass.

The water in Feejee’s tub sloshed as her flukes turned into feet and her tail separated into a pair of legs… ordinary, human legs. I hadn’t realized she could go fully human. Before this, I’d only ever seen her in a sort of intermediate form, where it looked like she was wearing green jeweled tights until you got close enough to see that they were scales.

“You know, I’m going to give sleeping in the bed another shot,” she said huffily as she rose. I was so distracted by the unexpected sight of her legs that I forgot not to look. Not that I was looking at… I mean, my eyes were there, but because I had been looking at her legs and I’d followed them when she stood, not because I was trying to look at… I was looking towards, I wasn’t looking at. “I’ve got to get used to human ways, sooner or later.”

She stepped out of the tub and scooped up her jewelry in her arms. By the time I realized I should have apologized or tried to explain, I was leaning out of the tub and watching her ass as she disappeared through the door. Wait, no… I was not watching her ass. I was watching her leave, and since she wasn’t walking backwards, that was just the part of her that was facing me.


How was I going to convince anybody else I wasn’t a lesbian, if I couldn’t even convince myself?

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One Response to “23: Hot And Wet”

  1. Psi-Ko says:

    I think it’s interesting, how even when Mackenzie is thinking to herself, she still sounds like she’s awkwardly stammering something out to another person. It’s an extremely good way to show that she has trouble convincing herself of her non-lesbian-ness, instead of just telling us…

    Which makes it better when you do tell us in the next paragraph. So that if, subconsciously, we understand but consciously we don’t, when you tell us with the line of “How can I convince other people, if I can’t even convince myself” it clicks and it falls together beautifully.

    Sorry, I just came from editing and reviewing my friend’s novel. I guess I’m still stuck in analytical-mode. Great story, by the way!

    Current score: 2