The Man Who Lost His Heart

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Fantasy  |  House: Booksie Classic

This short story is a brief introduction to the world of Kemar Doughty's Ocean Cove, a place where many of his daring characters are drawn to the exotic, dangerous, colourful world under the ocean's surface. Ocean Cove is located on a picturesque Caribbean island... it looks like any other picturesque island, but it is not what it seems.

THE MAN WHO LOST HIS HEART is just a taste of the excitement promised in the Ocean Cove trilogy, the first of which is entitled 'Ocean Cove'.

~~The Man Who Lost His Heart
An Ocean Cove Short Story

KRYSTAL

The first time I ever laid eyes on Leonard, or Leo as I usually called him, I was imminently filled with an irrational sense of apprehension. It was by the old Goat’s Head lighthouse (23 years old and I still had no idea why it was called that) just before sunset. He was sitting by himself on one of the huge boulders just by the sand line on the beach, not doing anything, just looking off into the water.
Considering at first that all I could see of this stranger was his back, I really couldn’t explain why I felt the way I did… like I needed to be on guard. Not like he was dangerous, but I just got the feeling that he wasn’t …safe either.
“Hey, you. Hey!” I shouted at him. He looked around for a while as if trying to locate who I was calling to and then, noticing there was no one else around, he stood up and finally turned to me and pointed questioningly at himself.
“Yes you. Who are you and what are you doing here?” I asked as I walked up to him. But as soon the words were out of my month, I began regretting them. This was a public area. Anyone and everyone had a right to be there and I had just verbally pounced on a total stranger for no reason.
The stranger raised an eyebrow at my question. It would be an understatement to say he looked taken aback. “Excuse me?” He asked with a kind of incredulous chuckle. I felt immediately embarrassed.
“I am so sorry. I really don’t know where that came from. Please don’t think I just go up to strangers demanding to know who they are, ’cause I don’t. That’s not to say I don’t make friends with strangers, I do, just not all… I’m rambling. Why am I rambling? Anyone that knows me would tell you I don’t ramble. In fact, I don’t even like ramblers, yet I’m still doing it. Look, I’m sorry about just now, I don’t know what came over me. So, if you could just forget it ever happened, that would be great, thanks.” I turned around and started walking away to my usual spot before he could even get a word in.
I usually came to White Sands beach to draw. Well, in fact, it was the only reason I ever really came to the beach, as I couldn’t swim. Actually, it wasn’t that I just couldn’t swim, I suffered from thalassophobia, an intense fear of the sea.  When at the beach, the furthest I was willing to go was the edge of the water. From the moment the water touched my feet, I always felt as if it had me trapped and wanted to pull me in and drag me down to its dark bottom. The pain I usually felt in my chest was unbearable. I always imagined it was what drowning felt like.
Ironically enough though, I still loved the ocean. From the safety of the shore I was always in awe of its vastness and beauty. A beauty I always tried to capture perfectly on paper. I chose to sit down under one of the nicer tress instead of on one of the picnic benches. It always felt nicer. I took my art pad and pencil out of my bag and placed them on my lap, preparing to get to work. But for some reason I couldn’t concentrate. I felt like I was being watched.
“Please don’t let it be him, please don’t let it be him, please, don’t let it be him,” I repeated as I turned my gaze back out to the Lighthouse. It was him. The spot where he was sitting was a good distance away from me, but I could tell he was looking at me. Or maybe he was just looking in my general direction and I was just being weird. Yeah, that had to be it.
Deciding to focus on my work, I flipped open my art pad and started sketching. I’d been drawing for a full five minutes before I risked a glance back out to the rocks, but only to see that the stranger had gone.
Guess he really wasn’t looking at me. Why did that make me feel so insulted? Suddenly I felt a warm breath on my neck.
“That’s it? That’s all you’re gonna draw?”

LEO

My search was over. Krystal was the one. I knew it from the first time I saw her. I’d first seen her days before she ever saw me; about a week before, in fact. She came to the beach just about every day and it made getting to know her all the more easy. And every day I watched the human, I became more convinced that she was the one I needed. It wasn’t like my kind had the ability to read minds (as far as I knew) but there was just something about her that told me she was the kind of loner that would never fit into the world the way she was. But that didn’t mean this was a sure thing. I needed to handle this right. So I continued to watch her.
She was indeed a strange girl. I noticed she would come to the beach almost every day, but not once did she ever go in the water. Even if she couldn’t swim it still perplexed me because it was as if she refused to even get her feet wet. And then there was her art. All she ever seemed to draw was her view of the ocean. Knowing the answer to these questions seemed to peak my curiosity more than it should. Nonetheless, I still wanted to know.
When I finally decided it was time for me to make my first move, I placed myself squarely in her line of sight, right on a huge boulder near the lighthouse, to make introducing myself easier. But it didn’t go exactly as planned.
“Who are you and what are you doing here?” She’d marched up to me and shouted. For the one hundred and fifty years I was an immortal I was never so taken aback by a human as I was with this girl. But from the stories I heard about others of my kind who’ve done it, humans chosen for the switch always seemed to be a little different. Maybe from the moment we decided it was going to be them, our power began to have an effect on them, rather than when we started to lure them in.
Either way, from the moment she first came up to me (even though I wanted it to be the other way around), as surprising as she was, I knew I’d made the right choice. Like I said, I couldn’t read her mind or anything, but I just knew.

KRYSTAL

Dude, what the hell? Or Don’t ever do that again. Even, And you are? Any of those would have been good responses to the stranger’s surprise appearance, but instead I replied: “What do you mean? There’s nothing wrong with drawing the ocean.”
The stranger came around and sat next to me, a little too close for someone I didn’t know, but invading my very personal space didn’t seem to bother him… or me for that matter.
“May I see it, you art pad?” He asked, though he was already holding out his hand for it as though asking was just a formality and he knew I was going to give it to him anyway. I looked at him curiously and slowing closed the pad, then handed it to him. He took it and looked at me with a crooked smile like he wanted to say, ‘like you could resist’. With his light blue eyes, dirty blond surfer boy hair and his teen star looks, I was sure he was used to usually getting his way with people.
I watched as he flipped through my book. He was slim and as tall as I was. He was resting against the tree, as I was, and had his knees leveled with his chest as he propped the art pad against his thighs.
“The ocean,” he said as he flipped through the book. “The ocean,” he repeated. “The ocean, the ocean, the ocean. Ohhhh, this drawing of a house is different. I guess you do— oh no, here we go, the ocean again.”
I snatched my art pad away from him.
“What’s your point? Wait, why are you even talking to me? I don’t know you.”
“I was just going to offer some constructive criticism,” he said defensively.
“Well I don’t want it,” I said a little aggressively, not because he was a stranger, but because he wanted to judge my art and didn’t even know me. I grabbed my bag and stood up to walk away.
He scoffed. “That doesn’t mean you’re not going to get it.”
I looked down at him and, against my better judgment, chuckled.
“You are way too cocky, who do you think you are?”
“My name is Leonard,” he said with that smile of his. “And please don’t feel like I’m insulting your work. It’s just I get the feeling you’re just drawing the ocean because it’s easy.”
He looked out to the ocean as if trying to see it as I do. I sat back down.
“That’s not it. The ocean is one of the most perfect things on this planet. It’s amazing and I just want to capture that on paper. But I always feel like I never get it right. So I keep trying again and again.”
“You’re never going to get it either, and it has nothing to do with your abilities as an artist. It’s the sea itself. The ocean is an ever-changing image of perfection, its true beauty can never really be captured on paper or film. Its true wonder is something you have to feel.”
He looked over at me and smiled. I looked away from him. I wasn’t going to let him know I thought that actually made sense.
“Why don’t you just go for a swim and see for yourself?”
“No,” I said hastily and pulled away from him as though he was reaching out to me. I realized I was breathing heavier than usual. It was because from the moment this stranger—Leo—mentioned swimming, the sea suddenly felt much closer than usual.
“Did I say something wrong?” Leo asked, looking puzzled. I took a few deep, calming breaths.
“No, you didn’t,” I answered, regaining my composure. “I just have a thing about the sea. I don’t go in. Ever.”
“Ahh, okay,” he simply replied. I was a little puzzled.
“Are you going to ask why?”
“You’ll tell me when you’re ready,” he said smugly. “Oh, I didn’t get your name.”
“I didn’t give it.”
“Right, so we can have more to talk about tomorrow.”
He stood up the same time a light breeze passed over us and that’s when I smelled something strange—something amazing. I really couldn’t put my finger on it, but it reminded me of something sweet, and tasty. But there was something else too, he smelled a little like the sea, but I figured that was because he probably went swimming. It was strange, but the scent coming off of him was, well, kind of alluring.
“You’re finally leaving,” I said, still breathing in his smell.
“Yes. But don’t worry. You will probably see me here again tomorrow.”
And with one last smile, he turned and took off past the lighthouse and out of my sight.
ME
Krystal was in trouble. She didn’t know it yet. As a human there was no way she could, but I did. Night hadn’t long fallen and I met up with her not long after she’d left the beach. That’s when I caught the scent of another Aquamun on her. Now that wasn’t exactly cause for alarm itself, but most of my kind weren’t exactly nice towards humans. They either wanted to turn them, or kill them, and as she was still alive it was most likely the former and even though my family didn’t usually get involved in the business of our kind, I couldn’t let this happen to my friend against her will.
“So, how was the beach? Did you meet anyone there?” I asked, trying to get any information from her I could. We were sitting outside a fast-food restaurant eating hamburgers. Or at least Krystal was, I was simply nibbling at mine. I really didn’t like human food.
“You seem very interested Samuel?” Krystal asked.
“I’m just making conversation.” I said, innocently enough.
“Well, I did meet this strange guy down there today. Well, he really wasn’t all that strange, maybe just a bit too friendly, but all in all, he seemed really cool. He said he might be there again tomorrow,” She added with a shrug, as though it didn’t matter either way.
It was not long after we both parted to go home. Well, at least Krystal did. I, on the other hand, had for more important things to do. I needed to find out who this Aquamun was and make sure he wasn’t going to hurt her. So under the cover of darkness, I made my way to the lighthouse. Once there, I jumped head first into the water. The amount of energy and feeling that flew through my body as soon as I was in was, well, in a word, euphoric. I really could never understand why some of our kind wanted to be human when our life was so amazing.
Concentrating on the task at hand, I focused on the scent I had picked up on Krystal, but sadly it was already fading. However, luckily for me, he didn’t know how to hide his aura, as its trail was still fresh.
When I started swimming, I was moving so fast through the ocean that I got that familiar feeling, as though I had become one with the water.  The trail I was following took me past Central America, then the Bahamas and the Caribbean islands, until it ended in the calm, shallow water.
I slowly walked out of the water and looked around. I had no idea where I was, but from the looks of the place, it seemed to be a deserted island. All I could see were trees and bush beyond the shore. I decided to follow his scent through the trees. I heard something whizzing towards me and had to duck quickly to avoid a thick piece of branch that missed me and was embedded in the tree behind me.
That was just the first. Quickly following that one was a second, a third, a fourth and a fifth, all of which I managed to avoid until the sixth one. It got so close to me that I didn’t have time to dodge it, so I simply caught it, and that’s when I also caught sight of movement.
It was him.
I threw the sharp piece of branch back at him, and just like me he dodged it, but luckily I had spares. I’d ripped each one of the branches he threw at me out of the trees and launched them at him. But even with my strength, he had managed to dodge all of them. So I decided to take him on hand to hand. I super-sped towards him, thinking he was going to try to run away, but instead he turned to confront me.
We both crashed into each other, but as I was bigger and I only stumbled back a little while he flew back a few feet. He managed to get his balance and land on his feet.
“Well, you’re a pretty big guy. Who are you and what do you want? Why have you been following me?” He asked quickly.
Even though he no longer seemed aggressive, he kept his sharp eyes on me at all times.
“I want you to leave my friend alone.”
He seemed a little confused.
“Krystal!” I shouted to clarify for him. Recognition came over his face.
“You’re friends with her? Which means you want to use her for the switch, right?”
“Wrong,” I said, trying to calm down. “I mean I am just her friend and I want you to leave her alone. You can’t use her for the switch.”
“Well, actually, she’s a human. Which means yes I can and there is nothing you can do to stop me.” He did not even trying to hide his arrogance.
The reason I came looking for this Aquamun in the first place was Krystal. She needed to be kept safe and that was what was important. But his little comment just made the situation feel more personal, because part of me felt like he was right. I did feel like there was nothing I could really do to stop him.
“Actually that’s not true. There is something I could do to stop you. I can tell her the truth about what we are.”
I was a little disappointed in myself at how much I liked seeing how my words had clearly caused him distress.
“I will tell her what you plan to do with her. I will make her so afraid of us, there will be no chance you or I will ever see her again. Just to keep her safe.”
The stranger before me simply regarded me with an odd expression and sucked his teeth. 
“Well, yes. I’m sure that could work. But even if you do go through with that plan, I can just find someone else. Some other innocent would take her place and that would be all on you. Or do you not care who else gets drawn in as long as your friend is safe?”
He started to chuckle a little as if he once again had the upper hand. I began to ball my fists in frustration, but managed to keep my cool.
“I know better than that. You didn’t just randomly pick her. No. I bet there’s a reason you chose her, or you would have already chosen someone else and would have already done the switch. There is a reason you want Krystal. Now, to be honest, I really don’t care what you do, just stay away from my friend.”
“Or what?”
“Or… I will do whatever I have to to stop you.”
Knowing I shouldn’t turn my back on him, I turned around and headed towards the sea.

KRYSTAL
From as far back as I could remember I was always a bit of a loner. Most people who knew me knew that to be a fact. It wasn’t that I preferred it that way, it’s just I sometimes found it hard to mix with some people and that was something I’d long since accepted.
But when I’d met Leo it was different. I can’t really say what it was, but I felt as if we had an instant connection. As reluctant as I was to admit it, talking to him felt really good. Sitting with him felt like the most natural thing in the world, even though I hadn’t even known him for more than an hour. The truth was, I was actually looking forward to seeing him again when he said he would be there the next day, so it was kind of a shock when I went back and didn’t once see him. In fact, a whole week had passed since our first meeting and I hadn’t seen him since. No matter what time of the day it was, I never saw him. And surprisingly, that disappointed me.
It was strange though, because I’d never met a stranger that affected me like this before. I’d only talked to him for a couple minutes, but since that time I couldn’t get him out of my head. I’d even started dreaming about him. There were even times I could swear I heard his voice humming in my ear. Sometimes it would be just above a whisper, and at other times it would be as if he was singing at the top of his voice.
This really wasn’t good for me. I decided the best way to put him out of my mind was to simply go back to my usual pastime.
The one good thing that came from meeting Leo was that he encouraged me to use different subjects when drawing, like landscapes, scenarios, people… Leo...
“Come on, my chin is not that pointy,” a soft voice said close to my air. Its sudden sound caused me to jump up off the sand in surprise and look around. There he was, standing there in a green shirt and jeans and looking as if we had planned to meet at this time all along.
  Leo.

LEO

When Aquamuns decides to perform the switch to become human, we usually develop a kind of supernatural connection to them so we always know what they are feeling. It helps us get closer to them and also allows us to be able to manipulate what they are feeling… so we can get them to feel whatever we want.  So from the moment I met her, touched her and released my power to start the switch, I knew what she was feeling. But that’s not something I was doing to Krystal. I needed her to want this on her own.
This beautiful girl with the dark brown skin, hazel colored eyes and short black hair so reminded me of Leanna, the one I was doing all of this for. I knew she was as surprised by me when we first met. I knew she was as intrigued by me as I was by her and I knew after the interference from her friend that she was hurt when I left. But I’d only backed off a little to make the other Aquamun think I’d left. I was so close now. I couldn’t let down Leanna again. She needed me and I was prepared to do whatever it took for her.
“Did you miss me while I was away, Krystal?” I asked, unable to stop myself from smiling.
“I – wait, how do you even know my name?” She asked, obviously caught off guard.
I laughed at her surprise.
“I saw it written on the front of your drawing book when I was looking through it. I like it though. It suits you.”
I’m never one to really feel like a human was making me uncomfortable, it was usually the other way around. But she was really starting to make me feel out of place as she was just staring at me like she was looking for the right words to say.
“So, tell me something,” she finally said, “what were you up to all that time you were gone? What happened to you?”
My hand went up and touched the locket around my neck. I realized, not long ago, that was something I usually did when Leanna came to mind.
I reached out and took Krystal’s hand in mine. She recoiled a little in surprise, but didn’t pull away from me.
“Let’s just say I needed to stay away for a little while, just to get your friend off my back.”
“What friend?”
“You know, the big guy.” I said, holding my free hand away from my body to show size as I was trying to give her a clue.
“Samuel? He came to you? Leo. I don’t understand, why would you need to hide from Michael?”
This was it. There was no turning back now.
“You told me before you don’t go into the water. It’s because you suffer from thalassophobia, isn’t it?”
“Yeah I do. How did you guess that?”
There was a little panic in her voice, as though things were getting strange. But I was glad to hear the strong sense of curiosity in her voice. Her emotions told me she was hungry with it. Something strange was happening here, she knew it and she wanted to know what it was. I was right. I knew she was the right choice. I was willing to force the change if I had to, but I first wanted to use a willing human because… because it’s what Leanna would have done.
I shifted my position so I could see her better. I wanted to be able to look her in those hazel brown eyes.
“I recognize the look in your eyes. It’s a look I used to have. I used to be like you a long time ago, but that was before I was given a gift. A gift I want to pass to you. Krystal, I’m going to be completely honest with you.

KRYSTAL
I crawled out of the water panting and flopped down onto the sand. The sun had long since set and the only light there was were from the stars I was gazing at as I tried to get a handle on myself and everything that just happened.
Many people never really came to this beach, as it wasn’t a very good swimming spot. Only the most experienced swimmers came here. Others who did came here came mostly for the scenery, and those people usually left when the sky began to turn orange, so Leo and I were completely alone.
“I—I can’t believe it. That was—just amazing,” I said through huge, deep breaths.
It had been two hours since Leo changed my life when he told me what he was. And Sam too.
“You’re crazy and I’m leaving,” I’d said to him when he told me he was a mermaid—an Aquamun. I was hurt. To be honest, I actually thought he was making fun of me. But when I’d gotten up to walk away, he gently took my hand in his again. The way his hand felt, like gripping it would solve all my problems, made me stay.
“I can prove it to you. Come take a swim with me.”
I was a little shocked at his words. I never go into the sea. He knew this and so did I, yet I was at a loss about why I was willingly walking towards the water with him, fully clothed.
As soon as the water touched my toes, I paused and looked at him. But he simply gave me a small smile and said, “Trust me, Krystal, you will be safe me.”
It was as if that was all I needed to hear, because after that, I went further into the water with him. Even though I felt safe with him, panic started rising in my body the higher the water got. When it was to my chest, we stopped and he turned to me. I realized then he was a couple inches taller than me.
“It’s ok, Krystal, I promise,” he said. Using his free hand he placed my head on his chest, where that sweet scent of his engulfed me.
“Just remember to hold your breath.” Was the last thing he told me before we went under. And as soon as we were underwater, we were moving and I mean really moving.
For two whole hours we explored the seas. It was the most amazing feeling in the world. When we got back to the shore that’s when it hit me. I was actually in the water. I was trying to catch my breath, not because I was tired, but because I felt like I was having a panic attack. Now that I was a little distance from Leo, the memory of our little adventure seemed to be a little too much for me.
But he came up to me and took my face in his hands and looked me in the eyes. His eyes were so… soulful.
“Krystal, just breathe. You’re okay.” He started to breathe in and out slowly and I followed him, starting to feel better.
“Thank you,” I said. He smiled and opened his month to say something, but suddenly he was in the air and was flying twenty feet away.
“You bastard. I told you to stay away from her!!” A huge man in front of me shouted. I was still a little disoriented, so when he turned and looked at me and said, “Krystal are you okay? Did he do something to you?” it took a me couple seconds to realize it was Michael.
“No, I’m fine.” I said, trying to get myself together. Sam turned around and I knew he was going after Leo.
“Sam, no, leave him alone,” I said, grabbing his arm.
“You don’ t know what he wants to do to you. You need to stay away from him.”
“I do. I know. He is an… Aquamun and …Sam, I know he wants to turn me,” I admitted.
Leo had told me all about his plan, about how he needed to become human and wanted to find someone who actually wanted to turn rather than forcing someone.
Sam looked at me with a pained, puzzled expression.
“Then why aren’t you trying to get away?”
“I sighed. “Because, Samuel, I want to. I want to become an Aquamun.”
“Krystal, this isn’t like some childhood story coming true. This is real, and it can be a dangerous life.”
“Even a human life can be dangerous. Look, Sam, don’t pretend that you haven’t noticed I really fit in. Now I’m not saying everyone who feels like that should just run off and become some supernatural creature, but it’s what I want. I want to be able to just disappear whenever I want and Leo can give me that.”
Leo appeared at that moment. He looked a little disheveled, but otherwise fine.
“We can fight if you want, but the truth is, it would be pointless and you know it. I need to become human and Krystal wants to become and Aquamun. We’re helping each other and I don’t know why you want to stop that. It’s her choice and I’m not hurting or forcing her.”
Samuel looked like he was getting angrier by the second, but was managing to control himself.
“Tell me why. Tell us why it’s so important for you to become human,” Sam shouted at Leo.
“No, Sam. That’s not any of your business,” I said in Leo’s defense, but he said, “No, its fine. Besides, Krystal, you really should know the whole truth.
“I’ve been an Aquamun for two hundred years now. When I was a human, I was a lot like you, Krystal, that’s how I noticed from the moment we met you would be the perfect target, that you would want to be different. When I got the chance to become an immortal, I took it without hesitation. And I loved it. For the first hundred years of my life, I did whatever pleased me. I stole and took whatever I wanted and I murdered anyone who so much as crossed me.  In short, for a long time, I lived a very evil, dark life… until I met her. Leanna. The Aquamun I fell in love with. She didn’t just change my life, she became my entire life. She pulled me from the darkness I believed was the only way to live and showed me a better way. I always believed my destiny was to become an Aquamun, just so I could meet her. I had fifty long, happy years with her. Those memories now are more precious to me than my own life. One night, when we were apart, she ran into a witch whose mother I had killed and wanted revenge for the act. So she tricked Leanna and told her she would kill me unless she gave up her immortality and became human. Because she thought she was saving my life, she did. I never saw her again.”
“I’m so sorry. I can’t imagine what that must feel like,” I said, genuinely feeling hurt for Leo. I glanced over at Sam and saw that his face was unreadable. A little anger flared up inside me at Sam’s lack of sympathy.
I noticed that Leo had a kind of sad smile on his face. That let me know the worst of his story hadn’t even come yet.
“If that was all it was, I would have been comforted by the fact that Leanna would have lived out the rest of her days in peace. But it wasn’t so simple. The witch wanted me to live in pain. As soon as Leanna was human, she killed her and trapped her soul in her grave, so she could never find peace.”
I wasn’t aware that I was covering my mouth in shock.
“And as if that wasn’t bad enough, the witch found me and placed a curse on me that forbids me from setting foot on the land where she is buried as long as I’m an Aquamun. I would have to become human. Once I’m human, I can visit her grave. That will set her soul free.”
“Two things don’t make sense.” Sam said. “One, our kind can’t fall in love with humans, so how could you still love her after she became human? And two, why are you only now searching for her?”
I was surprised when I saw Leo smile. He had the strangest look on his face, as if he was in two places at once, here with us and wherever his memories were now focused.
“I feel in love with Leanna when she was an Aquamun. Maybe that’s the reason I could still love her even after she was human. And as for your second question, the witch never told me where Leanna was buried. I had to search long and hard just to find any small clues as to where she could have been when she ran into the witch. Finally I learned she was in France when it happened. Leanna and I always left clues only we could find that would tell us where we would go if our time apart was great. And she left one such clue for me. She’d left me a letter telling me what happened and that she would come here to live out the rest of her life in peace. She thought I was going to abandon her. That always haunts me. That she died thinking I would never come for her.”
“Hmm,” Sam said skeptically.
My anger at Sam was increasing. “Why are you being so difficult?”
“Why are you being so gullible?” Sam countered. “Krystal, do you know what he is proposing to you? He wants to take your humanity away. He wants to make you into an Aquamun.”
“And why is that so bad?” I retorted, “Sam, tell me, do you hate being an Aquamun?”
“It’s not the same thing, Krystal, I was born an Aquamun. If you change, you would probably have to leave everyone you know.”
“But that’s my choice, Sam. Maybe I’m really not cut out for the life of a human. Maybe I really am supposed to be a mermaid.”
“But—” Sam started, but I put up my hand and stopped him.  Leo’s song was once again in my head. So beautiful, so tempting. I hadn’t heard it in so long.
“Enough. I’m doing it.” I then turned to Leo. “Let’s do it.”

LEO
It had been two hundred years since I last felt like this—fragile, vulnerable. But I was once again human. It was something I would have to get used to. I finally opened my eyes and had to use my hands to shield them from the brightness of the morning sun. I sat up and looked around. Sitting not too far behind me was the Aquamun Sam, and Krystal.  She was already awake and I had to admit, she looked amazing.
When she saw me get up a huge smile came across her face, and then suddenly she was standing next to me in less than a second.
“Wow. It’s going to take me a while to get used to that,” she said excitedly. I had to admit to myself though, a huge part of me was happy Krystal was finally happy with herself. Sam came up behind.
“You’re going to have to be careful now. Remember what I told you, you’re going to have to work hard at fitting into the human world now.”
He still didn’t seem too happy about the switch, even though both of us wanted it.
“Oh Sam, don’t be such a spoiled sport.” Even her giggles sounded much more self-assured. Even Sam couldn’t ignore that.
“How are you feeling, Leo?” She asked.
“I feel quite fine,” I said, then took a step towards her. That’s when it started.
I felt a huge pain suddenly just explode inside my chest. I clutched at my chest and fell to the ground.
“Leo,” Krystal shouted and rushed to help me, though she didn’t really know what to do. Sam ran forward to help though he had no idea what was happening either.
I, on the other hand, expected something like this to happen. A strange numbness was now spreading throughout my entire body.
“What’s happening to him?” Krystal asked Sam, who I was surprised to see looked afraid. “I— I don’t know.”
“I do.” I said weakly.
I knew now that the only way I was going to save my beloved’s soul and be with her was with the help of the two people next to me.
“I am dying. You see, from the time I found out I had to become human to actually walk on the ground where my Leanna is buried, I figured the switch did it that way so when my human heart started beating again, I would die soon after.”
Just then I felt something wet fall onto my face. My vision was starting to become blurred so I couldn’t have been sure, but I thought it was rain.  Then I suddenly realized what it was.
“Tell me, Krystal, why are you crying?” My curiosity was genuine.
“Because you’re dying. Because you came so far and did so much to be with the woman you love and now you won’t get to be. Even in death. Whatever you did in the past certainly can’t be worthy of a punishment like this.
More tears fell onto my face and I thought to myself, How funny that in all the years I lived, the only person besides Leanna to ever shed any tears for me is this girl, this girl I barely know.
“A cruel joke for a dying man,” I whispered. I reached up and removed the locket I carried around my neck and weakly dropped it into Krystal’s hand. “I’ve been prepared. You see, I believe I don’t need to actually be there in person to put Leanna’s soul at rest. Leanna gave this to me, she told me it would represent the bond we will always share, even in death. That’s why I always kept this close to me. Take this locket to her grave, it should be enough to set her free. I believe she is buried in a cemetery not far from here, as I’m sure she would have lived as close to the ocean as possible.”
I meant to say something else. I can’t remember what it was, or even if it was important or not, but I know it was something I needed to say, but I never did because that’s when I fell into the blackness. It wasn’t something I wanted to fight against because I’d craved for it long time.
It was peace.

KRYSTAL
Samuel and I stood side by side under a beautiful oak tree in the cemetery where two small headstones were situated, the one on the right much newer than the one on the left. I’d never been to this place before or even knew it was here. Every time I thought of a cemetery, one word usually came to mind: depressing. I just couldn’t help it. I wasn’t able to see in beauty in a graveyard, whether literally or metaphorically.
But this place was different. It seemed to just radiate peace and as the ground, headstones and tombs were all covered in differently colored leaves, the beauty here was unmistakable. 
The locket Leo had given me was still in my hands. For the first time, I opened it and saw two pictures. The left one of a very beautiful black woman I knew had to be Leanna and the one on the right was of Leo.  A few rogue tears fell from my eyes.
Sam put his arms around me and gently squeezed for support.
“Let me ask you something Michael. Why did you do this? Why did you bury him here next to her? That was a really nice thing to do and you didn’t like him.”
“It wasn’t that I didn’t like him. It’s just that I didn’t want him to hurt you. But as this is really what you want, I decided not to blame him when he didn’t do anything wrong. Besides, when two people are in love like they are, they should always be together, right?”
I nodded. “Wait, a minute, how did you get the money to pay for that?”
“Oh, let’s just say my family has a lot of money,” he said with a sly grin.
I closed the locket in my hand, stooped and placed it on Leanna’s headstone. As soon as it was down, I could have sworn I felt a strange warmth passed through me, as though I felt her spirit being freed. I didn’t exactly have any proof of that, because for all I knew that was my own feelings at having fulfilled Leo’s wish, but I knew.
They were both finally at peace, and together again.


Submitted: September 24, 2014

© Copyright 2021 Kemar101. All rights reserved.

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