"I'm fine... Tana..."
It took time, but, after reassuring a worried Tana and calming down Othello, I managed to drag myself upstairs and into my room to dry off and change clothes.
When I returned downstairs, Tana was already in her usual casual garments and preparing something in the kitchen.
Not wanting to interrupt whatever she was doing, I quietly took a seat at one of the stools, Othello leaving the kitchen carpet to lie down at my feet, looking much calmer and happier than before.
Tana came over, holding a pack of ice in her hands. Thanking her, I pressed it against the back of my head and then, laying my forehead on the counter, left it resting there. The cold stung at first but the pain quickly faded to a pleasant numbness.
A few seconds later, Tana appeared, putting two cups filled with something steaming on top of the counter before sitting opposite to me.
I felt grateful to her, for having prepared the tea when I wasn’t in the kitchen. I had taken a liking to the beverage and the situation called for it, but it involved boiling water and... It was better not to think about that. Heck, I wasn’t even okay about drinking it while it still steamed, as embarrassing as that was.
Tana certainly didn’t have the same problems I had. I watched, almost entranced, as the dark skinned woman pursed her lips and blew softly over the rim, taking small sips as she talked.
She told me how worried she had gotten when she didn’t find me home and couldn’t contact me. She said that, as soon as the storm hit, she went to look for me. Coming back home to get a stronger umbrella, she saw the lights on and assumed I had come back.
A comfortable silence fell between us after that.
I was looking past Tana's figure, watching the storm through the glass panels on the other side of the house, which were quite visible from where I was sitting, when something soft and silk-like brushed my hand.
It didn't startle me, as I had sensed it coming. I simply watched as a beautiful Blue British Shorthair strutted around me, stretching, back arching with a satisfied purr, and then laying down on the counter to nestle against my arm.
"Hey, Beatrice," I murmured, smiling softly as I ran my fingers down the silky fur on her back. A chirp sounded not long after, announcing the appearance of a small Parrotlet. With a flutter of wings, it landed, almost weightless, on my hair.
"Nice to see you too, Romeo," The bird chirped loudly at this and I felt him move as he made himself cosy on the jungle of braids and waves at the top of my head. "Hey, no nesting up there, my hair is not nesting material, understand?"
In front of me, an amused Tana laughed. "They missed you."
I snorted as a response. I had to confess though, I was happy. There had always seemed to be this deep connection between me and other animals. They were my friends; I never felt bad when around them. The easiness and contentment of those particular three rubbed off on me, and I enjoyed every minute of it, almost feeling like purring myself.
Another laugh from Tana; we talked for a bit, nothing really important, mostly things about her work-day at the aquarium and what would my first day of school be like. I explained why I had been gone for so long, not revealing much, just saying that I met a few kids my age and lost track of time. This pleased her, although she didn't visibly show it, and I knew perfectly well why. Her thoughts were something along the lines of: ‘Fern finally made some friends, he’s getting better’.
I understood. I didn’t want to, but I did.
Finally, after eating something and making sure the others were well fed and sleeping soundly on their arranged beds (Romeo on his favorite perch next to the kitchen), we both went to sleep.
Just like every night for the past month, I was only able to doze off near midnight, when the sky was no longer falling or rumbling. My last thoughts as consciousness slowly left me were of Kai, my guardian, and that mermaid, Aya, and her well being.
I hoped, in all earnestness, that she would be alright. And I hoped that that bad feeling nagging at my mind was really just that and nothing more.