Megan sat dumbstruck, the pages of Maria's letter almost falling from her hand.
"Well?" asked Michael.
"Well what?" said Megan sullenly.
"What do you think?"
"What difference does it make?" She shrugged. "It is what it is."
"Do you-- understand what she's saying?" prompted Helen.
"Oh, sure," replied Megan, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "I'm a fish." She tossed the letter dismissively away, and it clattered to the carpet.
"You're not a fish," Michael corrected her.
"I'm not? Let's see, I have scales...my grandfather-- wait, what did he say again?" She jumped from the couch to her knees on the floor, rooting through the letter's pages. "Here it is," she said triumphantly, reading aloud, "he came from the sea, but"-- here she threw up a hand-- "not on a boat." She looked up at her parents bitterly. "That's the part where she throws him out for good, remember?"
"Megan--" Helen closed her eyes in exasperation.
"Oh, but wait, the most important part!" She barked out a laugh. "I almost forgot! I can breathe underwater! Shit, whales can't do that!" She threw her arms wide. "I'm a fish!"
"You're not a fish!" Michael protested.
"Then what am I, Dad?" She whirled angrily on him. "The Little Fucking Mermaid? I must have missed the part where my hair grew out long and flowy and my boobs got huge. Oh yeah, and my lovely singing voice. I couldn't even talk! Did you see me? Did you see what I looked like? I looked like that old movie--The Creature from the Black Lagoon! That's me! When I become my magical self, I look like a fucking B-movie monster!" Her bitter pantomime quickly dissolved into tears. "What am I?" she wailed. "Am I what he was?"
"I don't know," said Michael quietly.
"Is that how it ends?" she cried. "Dead? A skeleton in a--park?"
"Megan," said Michael sharply, "I told you. No."
"He was an addict, Megan," interjected Helen.
"Yeah, because it hurt too much, Mom. He had to go back to sea because it hurt too much to stay on land. He took the drugs to stick around. Don't you realize that?" She pointed at her mother. "He killed himself trying to stay with you!"
The full weight of that fact suddenly struck Helen; she blanched.
Megan looked back and forth between her parents in a panic. "Is that what I'll have to do? Drug myself to stay with you guys?"
"No," said Michael quickly.
"Or will I have to go out to sea?" Megan was nearly hysterical. "I don't want to go, I want to stay here, I can't go, I can't--"
Helen swiftly crossed over to her child, knelt down beside her, and put her arms around her. "Shhhh," she said.
"I can't go, Mommy, I can't."
Helen cradled Megan as she cried, looking up at her husband. After a few moments, she spoke quietly. "I think I'm going to nix your suggestion to call Dr. Greene."
"Dr.-- Greene?" stuttered Megan.
"I agree," nodded Michael. "She can't help us with this."
"What about Dr. Greene?" Megan wiped her nose with the back of her hand.
"No more doctors," said Helen. "We're beyond that now."
"So what do we do?" sniffled Megan.
"I think we need to talk to somebody who can help us." Helen brushed back Megan's hair and peered into her daughter's black-streaked face.
Megan shook her head. "But she already told us everything she knows. It's in the letter."
"Perhaps, but maybe we can get some more details. Maybe there are things Papi told her that she doesn't think are important, but they are. We need to ask her."
"Papi?" asked Megan, then understood. "Oh...your dad."
"Yeah." said Helen quietly. "Besides...I think I owe her an apology."