*unedited Charmed. By the time the book comes out, more details would have been added but I thought this was a harmless scene to share.*
“How big is this place?” Francesca gawked as we started for a short flight of steps that took us below floor level of the gym towards the basement.
“You can smell the water too, oh my God it smells like salt water,” Nevaeh let out as we inhaled the natural scent. The white painted steps lead to a hallway as parents stopped and stared in awe with their children pointing.
“Parents! Parents! Move down so everyone can take a look at the way we do practice!” Reggie yelled with his hand in the air. I held Nevaeh’s hand just as she came down the last step before she bent down to pick Mai up so she could see the glass wall full of bright aquamarine water with hints of green the further you went down. The white painted hallways had doors that led to offices and locker rooms but you could hear the splash of the water from the other side along with whistles and yells from instructors.
“Okay so everyone here is either of totem birth or has a child with a totem,” Reggie said as he leaned against the white railing, “this is not open to the public so please do not think you can invite Bookie and Pookie and em because they will be turned away. Part of your membership includes lessons but it does not include bathing suits and trunks, or any materials they may to help cope with the water. You are responsible for that on your own. This area is called Moja’s Marine as seen here displayed on the walls in blue,” he pointed as we looked up at the pretty cursive writing along the top wall of the hallway. “Moja stands for Yemoja, an African water deity from the Yoruba religion. The instructors you’ll meet tonight are daughters and sons passed on from generation to generation under this particular orisha and they are trained professionals in CPR---”
“OH!” One of the women gasped with a point as we all looked closer against the glass seeing a group of bubbles trickle up from the bottom. “Somebody is in the water?”
“Yes, there is a class going on right now. This class is for those born under this orisha and they come from all over the world to train,” Reggie boasted with a smile as he hugged the clipboard to his chest, “so in a few, you’ll see one of our instructors, Chrissy swim up with one of the---”
“Oh, look!” Mai pointed as we watched a little girl, had to be no more than three or four, kick her little feet up in the water that was several feet above her. Her small afro waved about as her eyes squeezed shut, and cheeks puffed out, but even I could see the faint outline of something keeping her legs together.
“She has a fin? She has---”
“Oh excuse me, no phones. We don’t allow pictures,” Reggie cut in as a few parents put their phones down, “it's not only rude but it won’t show on the picture anyway. What the little girl is learning is how to breath and see underwater. She doesn’t realize yet that she’s able to breathe because she doesn’t know how…”
We watched the little girl begin to push her arms up before this cloak of a body swam across the glass as we all gasped in pure awe and shock. You could see the fish like scales reflecting the color of the water that wrapped around her brown legs like a tail as she wore a black one piece suit that said Pro Fitness Gym on the front. She swam right up to the little girl as her feet kicked in unison, and held her hands. I looked at Violet with the biggest smile as she watched, mesmerized like the rest of us and could only silently thank Homer for giving me this unique child because there was no way I would be able to see or believe any of this myself.
“This instructor’s name is Leslie,” Reggie began to explain as he listed her credentials but none of us were listening. We all watched as Leslie tapped the girls chin to get her to open her eyes and relax her face.
“Okay but my daughter isn’t doing any of this,” one of the parents said.
“Course not, they’ll learn the basic instincts of survival swimming. How to float, doggy paddle, and eventually work on breath control but your children are not set up for this type of training.”
“Ohhh look at her!” Frannie cried as the little girl opened her eyes, and mouth. Taking in the water as Leslie tapped her chest, showing her how to breathe. The heavier her breaths, the more I could see the three dark lines on the side of her neck expand and retract like gills as she clapped. Leslie turned towards us with the biggest grin, signaling for us to clap as we all put our hands together, cheering the little girl on.
“Notice the little girl’s feet are kept close together. When they get in the water, only then are you able to see something close to a fin. The male instructors don’t have anything like that but their legs become scaly like a fish. Really gross to see if you ask me,” Reggie said with his nose turned in the air, “but follow me so you can meet the rest of the staff. Some totems are easier to deal with than others so if they split your children up, it's because they’re gaging the level of training needed. Please refrain from calling the instructors mermaids or fish. These are humans like you and I, their energy just translates better in the water.”
“Does something happen to them if they’re out of the water?” One of the Dad’s asked.
“Yes, they breathe and pay bills like you and I,” Reggie retorted as we laughed.
We followed the winding glass of water as another instructor, a dark skinned woman with a thick head of hair swam along the glass in all black. Even around her legs, you could see the black and silver scales of a fin as her body moved like a gentle roller coaster along the walls. She held onto her necklace with bubbles pouring out of her nostrils as her eyes locked with Violet. When she waved, I stopped, letting the rest of the parents go and took Violet up towards the glass so she could get a closer look.
“You see her Violet?”
Violet nodded as the instructor placed both hands on the glass, seeing her breathing out of the sides of her neck before she pointed at Violet, and then herself. Same hair texture, same skin, same eyes and mouth. Violet managed to wave before burying her face in my neck as I mouthed thank you to the woman. She nodded before tilting her head back with a flip as she dipped deeper into the water, disappearing seconds later. I looked at my daughter who was smiling so hard with her hands clasped together that I couldn’t help but laugh.
“Did you see the pretty woman? She looked just like you,” I said. “You want to go meet her?”
“Mmm hmm,” she nodded.