“You’ve really… never done this before?”
Frankie studied the floating ducks, shame and embarrassment discarded by her depression as only small children waited in line behind her.
“…Nah.” She told Umi, who was standing over her examining the little floating rubber things in the baby pool. It was the cheapest, simplest attraction in the whole park, but it still got customers.
“You should pick that one!” Katie cheered. “Or wait- no, that one!”
Frankie didn’t think as she picked up one of the ducks closest to the rim of the pool. As she lifted it, the white spot stickered to its underside stared back at her lifeless face.
“Aw, too bad. No prize for you this time.” The old lady behind the pool clamoured. “Next!”
As Frankie graciously stepped out of line, taking her party of young women with her onto the crowded bluish streets of the park, she kept her head down as if she was still looking at that rubber duck.
“It’s okay.” Umi comforted. “Nobody ever wins that one anyway.”
“I didn’t care.” Frankie assured. “What do we do next?”
“I was thinking we could eat.” Katie offered. “But- well, Umi… don’t you have to get back to work soon? You are a lifeguard, aren’t you?”
“That’s right. And someone’s still drowning in front of me. I’m not done here.”
“Okay… I just worry that-“
“It’s fine, really! We have over a thousand lifeguards here, you know. You kinda have to with this many visitors. I won’t be missed! Sadly.”
“So, how exactly did you two end up in Makoasis?”
“Would you, um- believe me if I told you Gesus Washington told us to go here?”
“Woah, really? Why’d he do that?”
“It was compensation. He helped us out at Berrytown, I think.”
“Huh… who would’ve thought. You know, I was under the impression that guy was a serious monster.”
“Well, yeah! He’s got a strong personality, but all the stories I hear about him… he’s just another politician. Not to mention a cold-blooded killer.”
“He means well.”
“That’s nice, at least.”
“Compensation…” Frankie stifled. “My ass.”
“Not a fan of him?”
“I’m the way I am now thanks to these stupid parks. It takes a real dick to send me to another one as a reward.”
“Gosh. Yeah, when you put it like that, maybe the guy is a monster. But hey. We can make the most of it, can’t we? We’ve barely scratched the surface of things to do. There’s gotta be something you’ll like.” Umi turned back to Katie as the trio walked. “Is there something she likes?”
Katie nodded. Umi grinned.
“So, Frankie. What makes you happy?” The tall lady asked.
“You wouldn’t have heard of it.”
“That’s okay. I’d love to hear about it from you.”
“…” Frankie didn’t quite groan out loud, but she may as well have with the look on her face.
“Come on, sis! Tell her!” Katie encouraged.
“I like…” Frankie began with great hestitation. “I like these random books from ancient history… they were just for kids… it’s like, an adventure story.”
“Oh, yeah? But what’s it called?”
Umi gasped. Katie turned to her in surprise.
“Umi, don’t tell me… you’ve—?!”
“I’ve never even heard of that! Sounds awesome!” The woman cheered. Katie scratched her noggin in embarrassment.
“It’s nothing…” Frankie sighed. “Just a hyperfixation.”
“So tell me more! It can’t be nothing if you like it so much.”
She sighed again.
“Well, it’s… um. I don’t know where to begin. Percy, he… god, this is embarrassing.” She adjusted her hat just so her hands had something to do. “He lives in this ocean, until all his friends get taken away by the tide… he has to fight to save them.”
“See, that sounds absolutely nuts! You just got me seriously interested in something, Frankie.”
Umi smiled, spotting the blush she got out of her. “Well, if you don’t wanna say more, I won’t force you. But where should we go next, Frankie?”
Frankie just looked to Katie, who gave a knowing smile.
“Up there!” The older sister yelled. “That waterslide!”
Their heads shot into the air. Above them was the tallest slide in the whole park- Gigawhale.