Niylah didn't remember falling asleep. She woke to the tv screen illuminating her bedroom. She glanced out the window to see that night had fallen.

“Joy?” She called out, looking around her room. The mermaid was nowhere to be found.

“Joy?” She called again as she climbed off the bed and looked into the hallway. She didn't know what time it was but she could hear the tv in the living room and she knew by the volume that it was Tom.

He looked over as she stepped into the room. “Hey, Sleepyhead. I brought dinner home,” he nodded towards the kitchen. “I didn't want to wake you so I put it in the microwave. Hopefully, it stayed warm.”

“Thanks,” Niylah offered him a small smile.

“You okay, Niy?” A look of concern crossed his features.

“Yeah,” she answered. “Just hungry.” Though, she wasn't hungry at all. As she made her way into the kitchen to heat up her food, she couldn't help but worry. She was worried about Joy. They hadn't spoken about her leaving tonight, but, then again, Niylah never intended to pass out. They hadn't discussed much, actually. They were supposed to go over plans, but that didn't happen. Now, with Joy gone, she felt a sudden emptiness. Hopefully, she'd return. She needed her to return.


An aroma of melting cheese filled the kitchen. Niylah shifted the pan over the stove, the buttered bread sizzled as it slid across the pan. Grabbing a spatula, she flipped the grilled cheese onto a plate and turned off the burner. It was almost noon and she had yet to hear from Joy. She went out to the ocean a couple of times but had grown hungry.

She scooted her chair to the edge of the table and was about to dig in when a loud knock sounded at the door. Confused, Niylah made her way over. It wasn't Tom. He hardly kept the door locked.

Opening the door, she was shocked to see Sheriff Busby. He was looking rather uncomfortable as he cleared his throat. “I found her roaming the streets. She didn't speak much, but she kept bringing up your name.”

The sheriff stepped back to reveal Joy standing behind him. His big coat was draped over her shoulders, covering her body. Her legs and feet were bare.

“Joy!” Niylah said with relief. Though, she didn't know how relieved she could be after Sheriff Busby found her.

“So you do know her,” he said as he looked between the pair.

“Yes,” Niylah answered. She led Joy into the house, hoping she wouldn't speak. “She's my cousin. Just flown in from Colmoore!”

The sheriff raised a brow. Sure, they didn't look anything alike, but she was hoping that didn't matter.

“Your cousin is just wandering the” He seemed to grow uncomfortable again.

“She's from Europe!” Niylah explained instantly. “From a very small country.” She leaned in as if to hide what she was going to say from Joy. “They do things a little differently there.”

Niylah had hardly been away from home. She had no idea how accurate that was, but she hoped it seemed believable enough to a small-town cop.

“Right,” he said. “Well, make sure you explain to her that we don't do things like that here.”

“Will do!” Niylah said as she began to close the door. “I'll return your jacket as soon as I can!”

Before the sheriff could utter another word, she closed the door and rested her back against it. She let out a sigh of relief. Then, she realized Joy wasn't behind her.


She headed down the hallway and found the siren eating her grilled cheese sandwich. “This is good,” she said between a mouthful of food.


After Joy had snagged her lunch, Niylah had to explain to her how it was wrong to walk around . Humans didn't do that. At least, none of the humans in this town. Joy answered with nods though it was obvious she didn't really care.

She gave Joy some of her clothes to wear and she was glad they fit. Though, they were looser on the siren than they were on her.

“I need to go pick up some groceries.” Niylah was supposed to pick some up days ago, but that was before she fell overboard. Tom had attempted to shop for them, but he clearly had no idea what to get. They ate enough grilled cheese to satisfy for the next few years.

“Groceries?” Joy's brows furrowed.

“Food. We get our food from stores.”

“Hm.” Was all Joy said as the two left the house.


The sky was, like usual, overcast. The few sunny days they had would probably be the last time they saw sun for a while. It rained more than anywhere Niylah had ever been. She wondered if the rain bothered Joy. Then, a thought struck her.

“Will you turn into a mermaid if you get rained on?” She could recall several tv shows and movies that depicted mermaids transforming back to their tails when hit with even a tiny droplet of water.

“Do not know,” Joy said. “Maybe not. Rain is not like sea.”

Niylah grimaced. Maybe she should've brought an umbrella. Just in case.


They had beaten the rain as they stepped into the store. She could tell right away how amazed Joy was by the way her eyes lit up. She knew she would have a difficult time keeping track of her.

“Don't get too distracted,” Niylah warned, grabbing a basket. “Remember to stay near me.”

They walked down the breakfast aisle where Niylah was searching for cereal. Joy traced her fingers along the colourful boxes. Niylah picked up a box of chocolate cereal that Joy immediately took from her. She ripped open the box and stuffed a handful of the brown pebbles in .

“Joy! You can't just do that!”

But, Joy didn't seem to care.

Letting out a defeated sigh, she grabbed another box and tucked it into the basket. “Just don't make a mess.” She was glad her mom had given her her card. Maybe she realized how useless Tom was when it came to cooking.

“Come on,” she said, leading the mermaid down another aisle.


The two wandered around the shop, grabbing whatever Niylah thought would help Tom and his empty pantry. When they were about to wrap up their trip, Joy veered off toward the meats. Since Siren's Bay was a fishing town, the meat display was mostly seafood. Different varieties of fish lay glassy-eyed on ice. A tank of live lobsters was stationed nearby; their claws were held closed by a rubber band. Joy looked at the fish, her hands pressed against the cold glass.

“My fish,” she whispered.

“This is where humans get their fish,” Niylah said. She kept her voice low so the clerk wouldn't hear her.

“This could feed my family for long time.” Joy's tone was sad, but it only lasted a moment. “You have all this food here.” She gestured towards the different aisles. “Why do you need to steal from ocean?”

Joy wasn't wrong; seafood wasn't their main source of food. They didn't need it to survive, not like Joy and her family. They needed it as a source of income.

She stood taller as she looked at Niylah. There was a fire in her eyes.

“We save us now. Right now.”

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