Eldin glimpsed his mermaid in the water, the one who stole his heart when he rescued her from the beach. He’d given up everything to find her.
He rushed across The Sea Witch and struggled into scuba gear.
“You sure know what you’re doin’?” asked the Captain.
“Of course.” Eldin flashed his forged dive ticket again.
The Captain cursed as the boy splashed into the water. “No deeper than 30m or the decompression’ll kill ya.”
Eldin found his mermaid waiting for him, smiling and holding out her hands.
She led him to an underwater village built of kelp and coral.
The regulator he needed for breath wouldn’t let him speak his promises of love, but he rejoiced at the warmth of her hand against his glove.
His depth gauge read 120m when his mask cracked. Eldin paid it little mind, his mind too full with the magic of first love.
She let go of Eldin’s hand as a school of merchildren swam to greet her. When she gestured to Eldin they rushed to hug him. He tried to smile but his stomach knotted up with doubts. A smiling merman shook his hand. Her family, Eldin realized, her children. Her husband.
Eldin turned, hoping they wouldn’t see the agony of his shattered heart. He needed to get away. To find somewhere alone to howl with this awful pain.
He released his dive weights, rushing to the surface, heedless of the Captain’s warning.
They never found his body. Some say he turned to sea foam, his sorrow clinging to the surface of her world and to his.