Maria tried to drown out the sound of her roommate knocking on the bathroom door by sinking further into the tub and letting her ears fall below the water line. She could hear the blood in her ears circulating with a woosh woosh woosh, but the now distant sound of knocking still came through.
“Maria, are you OK in there?” Judith called through the door. Maria closed her eyes and waited for her to leave. “You're going to be late for work.”
“I'm not going,” Maria shouted. “I hate that place. If one more person cusses me out, I might just slit my wrist. I can't take one more person blaming me for the fact that they have liability-only on their vehicle and now their car is totaled out and we're only paying for the other person's vehicle. I'm sick of being punished because people don't know how to read their fucking insurance policy.” Judith sighed.
“Ok. I'll tell them you're sick or something.” Maria tracked her movements through the sounds she made: the clicking of her heels which faded slightly with every step she took, the jangle of keys as she picked them up from the coffee table, and finally the soft thud of the door being closed.
Maria turned on the faucet again. Hot water slowly crept up to mix with the water that had grown lukewarm during her long soak. The water reached dangerously close to the lip of the tub, so she turned off the faucet and turned to float face down. She felt something brush her feet and opened her eyes in alarm to see a bed of sea kelp. Green tendrils rose up from the sea bed and swayed gently in the currents of the ocean. She looked up and through the murky water, she could still see tiled ceiling of her bathroom and the shower nozzle. A clown fish swam right by her nose. She swatted at it and gasped. Rather than choking as water filled her lungs, she breathed in the water quite comfortably. She grabbed the fish by the tail and let it whisk her through the kelp.
Once out of the kelp forest, they came upon a sprawling city populated by merpeople. Some swam around in a rush while others lingered in the streets to talk to one another, swishing their tales occasionally to keep themselves stable in the gentle currents. Maria let the clown fish go and swam closer to the city. A merman spotted her and swam over to her.
“Let me guess. Human?” Maria nodded. “I thought so. Why don't you follow me.” He swam off and Maria had difficulty keeping up as her spindly legs were no match for his fins. He stopped in front of a white building with columns on the front.
“Go in through the third floor entrance, third door on the right. Tell them you're new.”
“Thanks,” Maria said and he swam away. Maria followed his instructions and opened the door to see a middle aged mermaid swimming around the room filing papers. She turned when Maria swam in.
“Human?” she asked. Maria nodded. “You have a choice, you can go home to your human dwelling or you can become one of us and live here on the ocean floor.”
“This place is magical! Of course I choose to live here.” As soon as the words left her mouth, Maria could feel her legs fusing together into a fin. She swished her tail experimentally and was projected to the ceiling. The mermaid sighed.
“You'll get the hang of it. Now, we need to find you a job.”
“Well how else do you think you're going to make a living, silly. You're in luck, a position just opened up this morning. A citizen had an unfortunate encounter with a motor boat while on his way to work. You wouldn't happen to have any experience in insurance, would you?”