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S A C R A M E N T O
Sacramento: my home.
My mum was queen and I, heiress to the throne. Being a princess had its perks- servants, protection, fooling around, fun! But it was boring too. My mum has been my everything for as long as I remember. It had been just the two of us. I never knew my dad but I was told by mum that he was a good man. Most people of Sacramento don’t know I exist as my mum has kept me well away from the public eye. I just turned 22 and have been home schooled from the beginning.
“Council of elders meeting since last night? Is there a problem? She didn’t even come do aerobics with me. It is so unlike mum.”
“Must be something serious, she never misses a chance to spend time with you.” Edmund, my personal aid and best friend, an Octopus of few words finally spoke, looking up from his reading.
“But I can go excuse her, can’t I?”
“I’m sorry princess you can’t do that. I was told not to let you leave the room.”
“Story of my life!” I let out an exasperated sigh
“Mum!” I jerked out of my sleep and saw her sitting at the foot of the bed.
“I mean, ‘Your highness’” I added, bowing a little as I noticed her guards.
“You can leave us now” she said, dismissing them.
“Koketo! There’s about to be a period of troubles and I need you to go to the land for safety. You’re all I have and I can’t bear anything happening to you. The forces of the air are planning an attack. Reliable sources and our spies sent word across. So I need you to leave immediately. Edmund will go with you. At least he has some experience.”
Edmund wrapped his tentacles around himself and spoke, “Your Majesty, I have only been to land twice and for short intervals. That’s certainly not enough experience.”
She looked at him carefully and smiled, “That would have to do.”
It was almost like a dream as I hugged my mum, took the silver briefcase, closed my eyes and opened them to find myself on Land. The smells took some adjusting to. I was in shock when I looked down at myself and saw FEET! Feet! I always heard about them, had seen some of the prisoners with them, never knew how they felt.
Immediately, I knew this was going to take some getting used to and I loved adventure. I was sure this would be fun.
I looked around, taking note of my surroundings and looking for Edmund. Not finding him, I shut my eyes and used my mermaid senses, (Thank Poseidon they still worked) and summoned mum. She told me what to do and that Edmund would find me soon. For the first time, I tried what was called ‘walking’. I slipped a couple of times and finally started in the direction mum had described. As I approached the landmark, the tall building was right in front of me, just as mum had said. I knew my mission there.
I walked clumsily and bumped into a lot of people. Some were nice, some were rude and I cursed them in my heart. And walked up to a desk that had a legend that read “Reception”
“Good Morning” I said, after listening to others, to the lady at the desk.
“Do you have an appointment?” she said peering at me through her glasses.
Just then a young man in his late 20’s walked in with two men behind him.
“You must be the new PA” he said to me without giving me a second look. I thanked my stars and nodded.
“You don’t talk? What’s your name?” he continued.
“Ppprince.. I mean Koketo!” I grunted.
“Okay Koketo, follow me.” He said nodding towards the secretary who smiled and whispered, ‘Breathe with your nose not your mouth.’ What did that mean?
I spent the day doing nothing than to sit right next to my boss at meetings. The old PAs were also there. Both were leaving the firm the next day and I would be on my own. Both men tried to make everything seem easy but I had a feeling that I was going to experience a lot like I hadn’t before. Adventure, that’s what all this seemed to be for me. While they talked endlessly, i looked down and played with my new feet.
After a while, the person that I had followed came to me and introduced himself as Mr. Sellu adding that he was my boss. What’s a boss? He said work ends at 4pm so I was free to go but I should be in early the next day. I asked for directions out of the building and he assigned someone to show me. When I got out, I found Edmund waiting for me in the car park. Boy, was I glad to see him!
“Hello, you!” I started.
“Princess! First day and you look so tired.”
“I do? I need water. And I haven’t even started anything yet. Take me for a swim, please?” I begged.
“Her Highness provided a house for us. It has a pool where you could lounge if you please.”
“Thank you Eddie! Let’s go.”
“As you wish… My Princess, did you go the whole day without shoes?”
“Yeah! Is that bad?” I looked confused.
He shook his head and laughed, “You have so much to learn…”
From clear beautiful water and colorful sites to dull and grey and the terrible smells, feet and being told to breathe through my nose. Whatever happened to mouth and gills?
Edmund didn’t have it so easy either but he had spent the day with the enchanted tutor mum had sent so he was doing a lot better than I was.
“Eddie! It’s beautiful” I said as I explored the bungalow. True to form, every single servant was enchanted.
After several days…
I was getting a hang of living on the land.
My boss was not a tyrant as I had earlier thought. He was married and had two kids-a boy and a girl. He spoke about them always to me. Sharing an office made us pretty close. The firm was owned by his dad and I was going to meet the man today as we had weekly meetings with him and the shareholders. I never once mentioned I was a mermaid or that I wasn’t even from any ‘land’.
For all Sellu knew, I was just a foreigner
Adjusting to time, busy schedules, food, mode of dressing and all the other things were tough. My pearls and starfish neck-pieces were not acceptable so I had to adorn myself with their cheap and worthless jewelry.
Back at work on this day, at about noon, everyone in the large conference room stood up as a tall man in his early 60s walked in. He went to sit at the head of the table. Sellu stood up to speak. We had gone over his notes and set up the presentation. I got up to help set everything up and went back to my seat. I had chosen to wear a crisp white shirt and a mid calf length black skirt, my outfit tutor had picked them out.
Sellu’s dad had been staring right at me for a good 30 minutes or so, with a shocked look on his face. People had started noticing. I pretended to be caught up in the figures Sellu was reading out and staring blankly at the projected graphs and charts.
“Dad!” Sellu called out, noticing no one was listening to him except me. Mr Mzamo had gone into shock. At this point, I was worried.
Sellu rushed to his dad’s side and tried to bring him back to the present but the man’s lifeless body remained motionless with his eyes fixed on me.
What have I done? Did I charm him? I thought to myself
“Bring a car around, let’s take him to the hospital” Sellu interrupted my thoughts. I put a call across to the driver and helped Sellu get his dad to the elevator and outside. All the while, the man seemed to still be staring at me.
“Koketo! You can go home. See you on Monday. I’ll call you if anything comes up.”
“Thank you, sir!”
Extremely homesick especially as I got home to a house with no Edmund, I stripped and descended into the pool. Immediately, my feet transformed into my fish tail which flapped happily. That gave me some peace of mind for a while.
“What’s that noise?” I asked the maid that was attending to me.
“It’s a telephone, Princess.”
I looked at her blankly. I had no idea what it was. She smiled and excused herself and returned with the telephone.
“Speak into this end and listen with the other.” She directed.
It was Sellu.
I hoped everything was alright. He called back the next day and requested that I came to the hospital.
“Hello sir! ….yes sir…..City Hospital? I’ll be there shortly.”
I showered quickly, opted for a long taxi dress and headed out.
I found the hospital easily as it was close to the office hence, my house. They were a lot of cars and people as I rushed in. Just then, my senses tingled. Mum wanted to talk to me. I quickly rushed back out and ran to a secluded area.
Then, I summoned mum.
“Koketo. I hear you are going to see Sellu’s father.”
“Yes mum. How’s Sacramento?
“We are fortifying the dome and preparing for the worst. I have sought protection from Poseidon as well.”
“okay. I need you to be careful. Humans are tricky. Remember, I told you your dad was a good man. No matter what happens, I love you.”
“I love you too, mum.”
As I entered the room Sellu, his wife and kids walked out, leaving me alone with Mr Mzamo who looked older than he did the last time I saw him. Sellu whispered that he’d asked to see me before heading out with his family.
I walked towards the bed
“Do sit, my dear!” Mr Mzamo implored.
“How are you feeling, sir!” I started
“Very well my dear! What is your name?”
“Koketo! Where are you from?”
” Sacramento” I replied without thinking twice. Then bit my lips.
“Is there a problem sir?”
“I’ve heard about Sacramento”
“You have?” I asked a little scared surely he couldn’t know it. Way to blow my cover so soon. Mum would be disappointed.
“Don’t be scared my dear! I have even visited Sacramento! So many years ago.”
“I don’t think we’re speaking of the same place”
He chuckled at my confusion.
“A lot like her… Always trying to be careful”
“A lot like who, sir?” Mr Mzamo was scaring me.
“Your mother! You are indeed her carbon copy!”
“You know my mum?” I could feel the blood leave my face as I stared at him in horror. Surely he must have run mad, I thought.
“Yes dear, I used to know her. Miranda.”
I gasped at the mention of my mother’s name.
“That’s my mum’s name. How do you know her?”
“About 23 years ago, I met your mother. I was still grieved over my wife-Sellu’s mum’s death. And your mother moved in a few blocks away from ours. She was the finest girl I had ever seen.
It was pretty much love at first sight: Tall, fair, with rich dark long hair just like yours. She was very graceful and very confident. She loved singing and taking evening walks. Her eyes were a perfect shade of green. Anyway our love was beautiful, we did everything together and Sellu loved her almost as much as I did.
I thought we would get married. In fact that was the plan. I asked her to marry me over dinner one night and she agreed. We were very happy together. She was pregnant already.
Then one faithful day, she received an urgent call from Sacramento. Up till this point, I never knew Sacramento was an enchanted land. When she explained to me, I wasn’t moved and I even thought it wise that I go with her so she would introduce me to her mother. I gave her a locket in case things didn’t favor us. I had a hunch. Oh what a sight Sacramento was. I never have seen anything quite as beautiful as that.
The queen was on her death bed and took one look at me and said it would never happen, a human and a mermaid? How did Miranda want to rule Sacramento after her death? Miranda cried and cried. I was overwhelmed. I wanted to hold her, comfort her but before I could, I found myself on my bed. I told myself I’d see her again. I dreamt of her night and day, our child. I went into shock when I saw the locket on your neck.
I’m your dad, Koketo”