Calypso slapped leafy branches from their path and continued to trek through the mysterious jungle as the lead. Annabeth had broken a slight sweat behind her, but it wasn’t like she could smell any viler than she already did. Ugh, she thought, this spring better come with its own soap. Piper remained at the back of the line, glaring daggers into Calypso’s wavy caramel hair. She bitterly thought of a number of different flaws Calypso definitely/probably/maybe had, like an infestation of lice. Calypso had been on the island for a while, right? Piper thought it was plausible she could be crawling with burrowing vermin. Or, she at least hoped so.
Piper was forced to pay attention to the task at hand as Calypso announced, “Only a couple more meters, guys, and watch out for animal poop. They like to ‘go’ around the water.” Annabeth nodded and tightly scrunched her nose as she caught a waft of a prime example at her feet. A large, soggy brown pile lay before her, and she leapt over it desperately. Piper nearly wasn’t as lucky, and forced herself to jerk to a stop just in front of the dung. She cringed inward and daintily maneuvered around it, off the worn path they followed and into the sidebrush of the forest. She could swear she heard Calypso’s giggles ringing ahead of her, but understood that now was not the time as the ground was, in fact, littered with animal feces.
They paced cautiously ahead for another few minutes before Calypso called, “Alright, are you ready for this?!” Annabeth nudged to Calypso’s back, who stood behind a curtain of slimy, stringy vines and grinned with anticipation. Piper crossed her arms and huffed, but still came close to see whatever Calypso was building up to. She said, “Fine, but we don’t have all night. It’s getting dark.” Calypso nodded and grandly swept the plants out of their way with a flourish. Annabeth and Piper gasped in astonishment.
The palm trees, gracefully swaying in the humid breeze, circled a decent sized pool. It held perfectly still against the wind, and lay like a beautiful sapphire as it was edged by silken white sand. A large rock jutted from the middle and proclaimed itself high enough for diving. The girls were amazed by the view they had of the sky, left open by the clearing. Stars hoarded above in the looming darkness, formed collections and a few constellations that Piper could recognize again, and gave a soft light to their spring. The moon was present, too, dabbed into the center of the stars’ families. The faint scent of rain lurked within, as if by magic the clouds only kept this particular land lush and healthy.
“Wow,” Annabeth muttered. Piper nodded, and stepped closer to her fiancée. She took Annabeth’s hand gently and wondered, “Is it always like this?” Calypso answered beside her, “Pretty much. The weather doesn’t change a lot down here. Sometimes it gets a little colder than usual, but that’s it. Makes you miss the snow and mountains, huh?” Piper shook her head. “Not at all.”
Suddenly, Annabeth shot off like a rocket and yanked away from the other two. “I’m getting in first!” she shouted and dashed madly for the water. Piper laughed vibrantly and retorted, “Not if I tackle you!” She charged after her, the two leaving Calypso alone at the forest’s opening. She watched from a distance as Piper shoved Annabeth playfully out of the way and they both hurriedly stripped to their grimy underwear. She felt no need to join them, so she only sat in the thick, cushy greenery and observed. It was a spectacle; Annabeth grabbed Piper, shrieking, from behind and swung her back and forth over the pond, bellowing, “One…two…three!” and tossed her into the water. Piper burst back into the air with her normally thick, wavy hair plastered to her face and neck, and gasping for breath. Still, she was giggling and snorting water from her nose.
“Cannonball!” Annabeth yelled. She took a running start from the trees, leapt into the air, gripped her legs tightly, and collided with the water in a massive splash. Piper shrieked again, giggling all the same. Annabeth paddled out to her and teased, “And you said there’d be no spring!” Piper snorted and splashed a heaving of water in her face. She swam to land, the depth of the water in the center being from around nine to ten feet, and finally noticed Calypso’s reluctance to join them. She cupped her mouth and hollered, “Are you getting in, coward?” Calypso retorted, “Maybe later! Don’t you need soap or something? I should go get it.” Piper nodded and flipped back to the pool just as Annabeth had managed to climb the diving rock.
“Woo!” she cheered her on, and Annabeth flashed her winning smile. She bounced on the tips of her toes eagerly, slapped her hands together above her head, and swan-dived into the spring. Piper quickly stroked to her as Annabeth rose from the depths of the gleaming water and, a laugh breaking out of her, kissed Annabeth against her lips. She wrapped her smooth, tan arms around Annabeth’s shoulders, and they floated together quietly for a few minutes. Annabeth sighed and wondered peacefully, “Would it be that bad if we stayed here forever?”
“Kind of, yeah,” Piper softly chuckled. Annabeth knew Piper was right, but clung to the lasting and prideful thought that she could change her fiancée’s mind. She felt serene at last for the little time she and Piper had spent alone without the stress of college, her architectural design projects, and her family. Still, Annabeth found worry remained after so many layers of angst had been removed by the disconnected island.
Annabeth whispered sharply, “I’m not sure if we can trust her.” Piper almost released Annabeth from their swirling, swimming embrace in surprise. She asked, “Who? Calypso?” Annabeth nodded slightly. Piper continued, confused as ever, “I thought you were all for believing in her and being so…weirdly nice.”
Annabeth raised her voice, “I am nice! Anyway, that’s not the point. Of course I was. You were already being angry and belligerent, and someone had to play out the friendliness so she’d show us the ropes of the island. Still…she might just be acting. She’s already given one well done performance as a lunatic, so why wouldn’t she be able to look sweet and helpful?” Piper pursed her lips. She mulled over Annabeth’s actions of the last day, and found a few cracks in the armor of kindness that only someone who had known her closely would be able to find.
“Okay,” Piper suggested, “so we get her to like you even more, and then what? We force her to give us a raft and a way home out of love?” Annabeth shook her head, her dense, blonde ringlets wetly following her. “We--”
A rustling of light footsteps sounded to the side and Calypso emerged, calling, “Who wants soap and who wants shampoo? There’s enough for everybody, but you’re going to have to share!” Annabeth detached herself from Piper and glided to the edge of the water, a plastic grin pinching her cheeks. “That’s so generous of you, Calypso,” she said sweetly and beached herself against the shore, “Are you sure you don’t want to join us? The water’s really great.” She offered her hand, and Calypso tucked a small, green tinted bar and a pale bottle inside. “That’s homemade soap, formulated with parsley,” Calypso described charitably, “and that’s Neutrogena’s travel sized shampoo.”
Piper floated into the conversation and asked skeptically, “Your island makes Neutrogena products?” Calypso snickered and rubbed the caramel end of her braid, “No. We do get plenty of stranded kids though, and sometimes they come with perks.” Annabeth giggled along and kept the suspicion removed from her voice entirely. Piper was impressed. Until Annabeth had wanted her to know she was faking, she hadn’t had a clue. Whether the fact that her fiancée was a gifted liar was a positive or a negative, Piper couldn’t tell, but in the moment she let it go and decided she would have plenty of time to figure that out once they were off this godforsaken island.
As Piper was lost in a slight hand of thought, Annabeth had drifted back into the water and was nearly demanding Calypso’s company. “C’mon,” she yelled, “you’ve got to let yourself have fun. Don’t you do enough work here, making soaps and everything?” Piper made the snap choice to go along with Annabeth’s plan. She twisted to face Calypso as she pushed backwards into the soothing pond and added, “It’ll be more fun if you get in, too.” This seemed to bump Calypso just enough that she shrugged, peeled away her sleeveless, immaculate white dress complete with a circular neckline trimmed in gold, and leaped into the water with her fingers firmly plugged around her nose.
Annabeth and Piper whooped excitedly and traded glances of a plan put into action. Calypso resurfaced, beaming, and accepted the cool middle of the spring. Piper followed and gave her a supportive smile. She noticed that Calypso’s braid had fallen apart as she collided with the pond, and her soft, fawn hair spilled about gracefully. The water reflected her smooth, pearl skin and the shy glances flitting back and forth across her eyes. Piper immediately felt a tide of guilt rise within her, but why? She didn’t want to know, and instead, asked Annabeth to pass the parsley soap.