A Shattered Heart
Freddy leaned forward onto the fishing boat’s stern and gazed at the deep blue sea. He watched below as the ship’s propeller persistently chopped up the infinite blue sheets of water, but it was clearly no match against the sea, its sheets always mending back into the blanket that wrapped the world together. He then closed his eyes and inhaled the salty breeze, feeling it enter his nostrils and coating the inside of his lungs. Being in the sea made him think of his friends. It somehow made him slightly less worried about his sister. He really hoped Ally was okay. Freddy took on a deep burden of guilt ever since he allowed his her to go off on her own on her search for Alima. What kind of responsible older brother does that?
“Stop moping,” said a voice behind him.
It was Greg. Garai had delivered Freddy to him at the very last minute before delivering the royal brat to the Atlantic queen.
Freddy, without turning around to face him, said, “I’m not moping.”
“And I’m blind,” Greg said sarcastically.
Instead of caring enough to become annoyed, Freddy removed himself from the boat’s stern to the upper deck. Nevertheless, Greg followed him. Greg was a people’s person. He wanted to talk, especially to Freddy. But Freddy wasn’t letting Greg anywhere near him.
“What is wrong with you?” Greg asked. The more he tried to chase down Freddy, the more Freddy had to keep himself moving. It wasn’t long before Freddy caught himself going in circles. “Why don’t you just tell me?”
“I don’t want to tell you!” Freddy argued back. His heart pounded faster, and his legs sped up to match with the pulse of his beating heart. It was definitely stressful being chased. The two argued back and forth.
“Why not? It’ll make you feel better!”
“No it won’t!”
“You’ll never know unless you try!”
Freddy grew tired of running and stopped. Greg, in turn, stopped on his heels. “Just stop,” Freddy said forcefully. With each word Freddy spat, leaned in closer and closer to the proximity of Greg’s face. Each word shook with quiet anger. “Stop trying to befriend me. Stop acting like you know me, because you don’t. And please, just stop trying to win Garai over. She’s not interested.”
“She’s not?” Greg took a step back.
“Nope,” Freddy said with a sickening smile on his face. “It’s actually kind of selfish actually. You, jumping in so soon, when the love of her life just died a few weeks back.” Freddy watched as depth of horror grew on Greg’s face. “Oh?” Freddy raised a brow. “You forgot already? Such a shame.”
Greg took a moment to soak it all in. After taking a deep breath to calm him down, he said, “Someone really did a number on you, eh?” He said this so casually, Freddy thought he might have imagined it.
“You’re broken, boy. I don’t know who, but someone broke you. It explains your bitterness, your avoidance, and your habit of being a hermit.”
He froze with his mouth agape but eventually regained his composure. “Well,” Freddy leaned his back against the edge of the ship and tilted his head so he could gaze at the little v’s of seagulls in the clear blue sky. “I was seduced and almost drowned by an insanely beautiful Caribbean mermaid named Cassandra. Nearly died, actually. Ever since then…” Freddy lowered his eyes to the wooden floor of the deck. “I just wasn’t the same. I became bitter, and I kissed a girl whom I watched with my own eyes kill my uncle, and I didn’t try hard enough to stop my little sister on going on a search for her friend halfway across the world. As you can see, I’m messed up.”
Greg moved next to him and, he too, leaned his back against the side of the boat, but with one foot pressed against the side. “Hm...that is a bit messed up. How interesting. And I was starting to think that you were going to be just some ordinary bloke.”
“I am ordinary.” Freddy said and Greg slowly turn his head towards him. Greg gave him a questionable look. “Well Freddy, not every day I hear of someone kissing their uncle’s murderer or irresponsibly letting their sister travel halfway across the world. You’re a man with an interesting tale to tell.”
“I’ve been to Zimbabwe. Out ran a hippopotamus. Survived death by mermaid. Traveled by magic. Traveled to four continents. I suppose you’re right.”
“Indeed.” Greg sighed and then said, “And some brotherly advice, we all have to make some mistakes in life. It’s how we can grow. And I’m sure your sister is fine. As for the girl...no comment. But don’t worry, I’ve regretted dating plenty of women.”
Freddy shifted uncomfortably and turned his face away. “Here’s the thing: I don’t regret it.”
“Oh goodness. Bless your soul.” Greg laughed and ran his hand through browning golden locks. His eyes wrinkled when he smiled. Freddy noticed that he had a pleasant face of which he hadn’t noticed before. Greg then playfully slapped him on the back and said, “We’re heading back to the docks soon. And uh...tomorrow, my best mate––Antoine––it’s his wedding. And the ring boy’s fallen sick. You mind being the last minute replacement?”
Freddy’s eyes lit up and he said quickly, “Not at all!”
“Great! The wedding’s at tomorrow sundown. I just hope your friends make it in time.”
“They probably will.”
They both took a break from talking and just watched as the boat drifted closer and closer to the docks until it slowed and stopped. They then departed and went.
“You asked to see the queen?” Alima said, standing there in her royal armor. She was magnificent in every way. Her eyes burned bright, fierce with ambition, and her bronze armor intensified her severe complexion. Even her hair, which she used to let down freely was tied up neatly into a high ponytail. Brown feathers poked out from the nooks-and-crannies of her suit.
“Yes, we did.” Ally said, her voice edging from unease. Katie couldn’t help but tremble in her presence as well. Alima seemed much more intimidating now with her battle gear on. It was as if their image of their friend had disappeared and was replaced with a war general.
“For what reason?” Alima asked, she lowered her head to look down upon her friends.
Ally dared to look straight into Alima’s eyes, but in doing so, she lost control of her own words. “We––We were looking for you. Abhilash–Abhilash–he took you. And–we came__”
Alima’s scoff severed her finishing sentence. “I saved myself, thank you very much. She then turned her deadly grey eyes to Katie who’d been gazing at her in silence. “What brings you here?”
Right there and then, Katie wanted to shrivel up. What had she been thinking? She had wanted to tell Alima that Matthew was dead and that it was, in fact, she who took his life. How could she possibly confess now?
Alima’s freezing grey eyes burned through her, pressuring her to speak. Katie bit her tongue and continued her long torturous game of silence.
“You refuse to speak to me?” Her voice remained smooth yet heightened with interest. “How rude.”
“Alima…” Ally swam an inch forward and caressed her shoulder. When she done so, she could feel the ocean being depleted of its oxygen that resulted from the gasps of the disturbed sirens. How dare she touch their queen? They must’ve wondered. Ally ignored them. “We were wrong to leave you. Forgive us. We were scared!”
Alima shook her head and said, “That remote he used would only work on me. I was the one with the chip in my neck.”
“How could we have possibly known?”
“I was stuck in a tank for six days.” Alima said with ease. Her lips did not ever crinkle from the recollection. “Six days, I was alone, fed with tasteless sardines. The tank was a one-way so all I could see was myself. But except, it wasn’t myself. I just saw a rotting siren who was hoping that her ‘friends’ would come for her. But day after day, night after night, I waited but not one of you showed up.”
Ally’s lips were glued together. No matter how hard she tried to open her mouth to speak, it remained shut. Her mind was blank.
“And to be completely honest, Ally, I was actually hoping my savior would be you.”
At that, Ally lost it. She cried and she wrapped her arms around the cold siren who did not hug her back. “I’m really sorry,” she said, her tears blending in with the sea. “I’m so sorry.” Alima peeled the sobbing mermaid off of her and said boredly, “Why should you be sorry? It was foolish of me to believe we were friends in the first place.” Alima allowed a bitter smile to grow on her face. “Me? Have friends? I never was meant to have friends in the first place.”
“I killed him.” Katie whispered.
“Hm?” Alima cocked her head to the side.
“I killed him.” Katie said, this time louder. “Matthew. I killed him.”
“I see.” Alima’s eyes did not meet hers. They gazed off into the blue space behind her. Her black pupils dilated as all the puzzle pieces in her head assembled themselves together. “It all makes sense now.” Her face contorted with a mixture of pain, confusion, and hysteria. “Funny, just when I thought he left me too.”
Katie’s heart beat rapidly in her chest. It beat so hard, so fast, that she thought that Alima didn’t need to kill her, she would kill herself. Ally glanced at her, violently turning her neck, and her eyes widened. Without even needing to speak, Katie could tell what she was thinking. What have you done?
Alima inhaled a shaky breath and put on the brightest smile that Ally had ever seen her wear. That too, was disturbing. Alima laughed to herself, so much so that her sides begun to hurt. When she was done, her smile dropped back the her old severe expression and she said, “Thank you. I’m finally free now. I’m free from his love, his kindness, from him.” She licked her lips and said, “The sweet taste of freedom.” She turned around to face her army of now confused, yet loyal, sirens and said to them, “Come, the hunt is still on. I promised you all when I returned, I will be a good ruler. I will never again neglect you and especially succumb to the horrible disease of human love. We will rule the seas once again.” For some odd reason, Alima was tempted to turn back around to take another glance at her former friends. And she did. Her eyes met Ally’s. They pleaded for her to look back into her heart to find an ounce of forgiveness and love inside her.
Alima turned back around. Her heart began to hurt on such a level that she’d never experienced before. She could only compare it to being clawed, and stabbed, and seared all at once. She became disoriented. Flashes of memories flickered through her mind. She saw the time when she first met Ally. She remembered when she took her to her to see her homewaters for the first time. They played and hid in the massive colorful walls of reeves. She recalled the time she ate her first group dinner with Victoria, Maria, and Garai. She remembered the time Freddy saved her from being hit by a car, the time they impersonated princesses, the time Ally blew up her kitchen. She remembered when they drifted down the river of Zambezi, and Garai’s magical rebounds. She remembered when Xi Shi blew up Abhilash’s yacht.
Her heart couldn’t take it anymore. At the last moment, she did not remembered, but she envisioned what her life would’ve been if she was human. If she married Matthew. They would have four children and they would live the rest of their lives together in colonial America. It was then when her heart broke. It literally broke. Clear tears flooded her eyes as she felt her heart shatter into millions of shards.
“Alima!” Katie and Ally cried as they swam to her. They outswam the sirens who’d rushed to their queen’s side.
Her heart had shattered. What could they possibly do? Afterall, there was no cure for a broken heart.