The Unknown World

"Laeni, we're going, are you ready?"

A dark brown haired girl waved a paper in her mother's face.

"I'm getting the directions."

Her mother nodded and gathered up the various suitcases leaning on the overstuffed sofa.

"Well, I'm putting this in the car. Call your dad and sister."
"Yes mom."

The printer finished its job, and Laeni stood up, taking the directions and her sister's bag, which her mother had left behind.
They were going on a vacation to Reisui Beach in Florida for two months.
It had all started with a family meeting and her younger sister Abbi's obsession with mermaids and the like.
And now they were on their way to Reisui Beach; oh joy.
The fifteen year old girl sighed and called loudly for her dad and sister, and they came from the kitchen, each holding a sandwich and a bag.

"We're gonna hit the road."

Abbi bounced from one foot to the other, clearly excited.

"La-le, La-le, (her nickname) I heard there were mermaids there in Reisui!"
"Yeah right."
"Well, maybe…. If there are any then Reisui would probably be more popular."

Her dad tilted his head thoughtfully and went on his way to the car, making a remark to his wife about getting his haircut soon.

"La-le, wake up! We're here at the hotel! La-le, La-le, La-le~!"

Laeni turned her head sleepily and groaned, pushing her annoying little sister's hands away from her face.
But Abbi was persistant and kept shaking her, so Laeni woke up, grumpy, and helped to unload the suitcases.
As soon as they reached their hotel room, however, Laeni suddenly got refilled with energy.
It was a very grand room; the windows were big and gave the perfect view of the ocean – as perfect as anyone would want it.
There were two rooms, and Laeni and Abbi shared one.
The beds had nothing wrong with them, either.

"Wow, awesome!"

Laeni collapsed onto one of the beds, and Abbi, who'd snuck into the room, followed suit.

"It's really nice, huh, sis?"

Laeni changed from her faded blue jeans and brown halter top into her pajamas, grabbed her edition of 'Death Note: How to Read 13', then jumped back into her bed.
Abbi giggled and made a face at her.

"We're going to eat. Are you coming?"
"Dinner? You must be kidding me if you think I'm missing out."

Laeni loved to eat, but for some reason she was still slender.
Once or twice she'd gotten a bit big, but burned it off in less than a year.
She was nearly drooling by the time they'd reached the pretty cafeteria.
The said Alabamian was about to sit down on a window seat, but she was interrupted by the guy at the front desk.

"Excuse me, Miss Laeni, you're required to sign before you sit."

He held out a clipboard and a pen.
Grumbling, she signed and sat down.

"Thank you. Please enjoy your stay."

He bowed and left, smiling.
Shaking her head in disgust, Laeni huffed and got her dinner: a heaping ladleful of mashed potatoes, macaroni and cheese, and olives.

Her sister sat with her parents, and they talked merrily.
Laeni ate in silence, thinking about the headlines she'd read a few days before:
'Mermaid Found At Reisui Beach, Florida'.
With a disbelieving sigh, Laeni dismissed the idea and continued picking at her dinner.
Hearing a noise in front of her, the said girl looked up and saw the smiling face of the clerk, squinty eyes and all.

"Have you heard the rumors?"
"What rumors?"
"Ya know, the ones about the mermaids? And the forgotten world?"

Laeni made a face.

"I don't believe in fantasy like that."
"But it might be true. By the way, my name's Kiku Haruhi. Your name's not American; I was kinda wondering about it?"
"I'm from the Philippines."

Laeni put her fork down and looked at him, wearing her I'm-so-bored-I-could-eat-your-soul face.
Kiku laughed.

"That so? Well, I'm from Japan."

He leaned back, tossing his black hair out of his eyes.
Laeni put on her I'm-so-bored-I-could-eat-your-soul face again.
And Kiku laughed again.
Finally, after long moments of silence from both of them, Kiku leaned forward and pouted thoughtfully.

"You wouldn't happen to know where the mermaids actually live, would you~?"
"I already told you I don't believe in those things."

Kiku chuckled.
It seemed he liked laughing.

"Maybe after this visit you will."

Laeni just scoffed disbelievingly; Kiku grinned, and they continued their conversation, oblivious of the very unhappy shadow watching from a particular rock among the plentiful tide pools.