October 4, 2016 | Posted in The Mermaid & The WolF Adventures
Water washes through Pao’s body. He’s no longer physical – just a pale imprint of color in the dark chasm. When he speaks his voice is soft and distant, as if he’s very far away from everyone else.
“I guess this is it,” says Pao. “I’m glad we were able to find her. I’m glad you’re okay, MeaZea.”
MeaZea’s brows furrow, and her lips draw into a thin line. “Pao, what’s going on? Are you okay?”
“I will be,” says Pao. He smiles, but the motion is blurred and disjointed. The features on his face are indistinct and undistinguishable. It’s like countless faces have been overlapped on top of Pao’s own, but none of them are sticking. “I’m going home.”
MeaZea gasps. Her hands fly up, covering her mouth. “Back to the sky? I thought that’s what you were trying to get away from!”
“You gave up everything for me,” says Pao. He holds out one barely there hand. His scales are glowing with a pale white light. “When I left, I didn’t know that was going to happen. I didn’t know you were going to have to do something so awful.”
WooFZee takes a slight, floating step forward. His nose presses against Pao’s outstretched hand. It goes straight through the image, like it’s not really there. “Thank you, Pao. I wouldn’t have been able to find her if it wasn’t for you.”
Pao shakes his head. “You wouldn’t have lost her if it wasn’t for me.”
The fallen star’s legs vanish. His torso follows suit. Before MeaZea can dart forward, the only thing left of Pao is his smile.
“Thanks,” says Pao. “Thanks for showing me what it’s like to have a friend.”
And then he’s gone, the last traces of color and shape washed away by the black waters of the endless chasm.
He’s gone, and WooFZee doesn’t know what to do about it.
In the end, the only decision is to leave. MeaZea and WooFZee swim up towards the surface. The mermaid breaches the waves first. She laughs, shaking out her long hair. It wraps around MeaZea’s neck, clings to her cheeks and lips.
WooFZee comes up next, spitting the silver scale out onto the shore the moment his paws touch the sand. “I never want to swim like that again.”
MeaZea laughs. She drags herself up onto the shore next to her companion, wrapping the wolf in a tight hug. MeaZea buries her face in thick gray fur, heavy and wet with the tang of the ocean. “You came for me.”
The words are muffled by fur. WooFZee’s ears flick. He licks MeaZea on the shoulder, just once. “Of course I came for you. MeaZea, you’re my best friend. I couldn’t bare leaving you down there – especially not because I drug us down on a stupid quest.”
“It wasn’t stupid,” responds MeaZea, fingers knotting in fur. She can’t bare the thought of letting go – not when she almost lost WooFZee for real. “It was a dream. You should always chase after your dreams.”
Bitterly, WooFZee says, “this dream turned into a horrible nightmare.”
Katelynn E Koontz – Author