So this was supposed to be posted yesterday, but it wasn't finished. In my defense, writing a short story is a little more time consuming than making a list of something. Anyway, here it is, and I hope you guys like it :)

Where Water Meets Land

Darkness. Surrounding him, holding him down. Cold, wet darkness. Was he breathing? He couldn’t tell. A spark of fear was lightning its way up his spine. He needed to breathe. If he couldn’t breathe, then he was going to die. Only dead men don’t need air. But how do you breathe when you can’t feel your mouth? When you have no control over your body? He didn’t even know if he was in his body anymore. All he knew was the darkness.

His mind flashed to his mother, humming while she prepared dinner in the small kitchen of their new house. His father, grinning at him when he caught the ball he’d thrown in their backyard. It made him want to smile. It made him want to scream.
He thought about his sister, and the last thing he’d said to her. It hadn’t been very nice; they’d been fighting again. He couldn’t even remember why, just the things he’d screamed at her in blind rage. How he hated her. How he wished she was dead. He felt like crying. Even when he’d said it, it had been a lie. He loved his sister. He loved her, even when she was annoying and noisy. He loved her with all his heart.

He had to tell her. He couldn’t stay here in the darkness, and let Penny think he hated her. He had to breathe, so he could tell her that he was sorry. That he hadn’t meant it, any of it. If he could only breathe.

Struggling, but determined, he felt for his lungs, willing them to draw breath. He felt for his mouth, willing it to open up and let air in. And suddenly they did, and he was back in his body. But instead of air, water filled his mouth. His eyes flew open, and at first nothing changed. It was dark, so incredibly, endlessly dark. The only light to be found was filtered down by something, making it so that he couldn’t see very well at all. Stones and sand were at his feet, and… plants? But not like any plants he’d ever seen before. Wet, slimy looking plants. Like seaweed, only alive. With a sharp, sickening clarity, he realized that he must be somewhere underwater. Drowning. Panicked, he started screaming, but it only drew in more water. His newly found limbs grew heavy. Around him, the darkness was returning, creeping back into his vision, and he knew that soon it would be all he could see.

Something to his right drew his attention, and for a crazy moment, he thought he saw another body in the water. He tried to keep his eyes open, tried to make his mouth shout for help, but it was to no avail. The darkness was too strong for him. His eyes were drooping closed, his mind turning blank. The darkness was closing in all around him. There was barely any light left.

Suddenly, something grabbed hold of his shoulders, and panicked, he forced his eyes open. Worried brown eyes were starring back at him, and with that, Castello lost consciousness.

******

It was weeks before his mother would let him anywhere near the lake again. Castello didn’t remember being found lying in the mud on the shoreline of the lake. He didn’t remember the way his sister screamed or his mother sobbed, nor could he recall having his father perform CPR on him. He couldn’t remember coughing up murky water, or breathing in air instead of water once again. He couldn’t remember the ambulance arriving or ever being in it. He could only remember waking up in the hospital to the worried faces of his family, and doctors telling him that he was lucky to be alive.

Castello knew he hadn’t been lucky. He’d been found; he’d been saved. He’d gotten to hug his sister, and tell her that he was sorry. That had made her laugh, a sad gurgling sound, as if she’d been trying to hold back tears. Things had changed between them after that, for the better. They’d grown close, gotten to be friends. Castello didn’t mind that change.

He did, however, mind the change in his parents. His “brush with death”, as one doctor had described it, had made his parents watch him like hawks. He understood them, of course. He had almost died; drowned in the lake that had made their new house so expensive.

“It has the most amazing view over the lake, which is only .6 miles from here; that’ll be nice for the kids in the summer, eh?” the realtor had said, and his mother had cooed, and his father had nodded his head in approval.

His parents hated the lake now. Sometimes Castello thought that he should hate the lake too. But he remembered the eyes that had saved him, and he knew that he had to go back.

He’d asked his father if there had been anyone else at the lake when they’d found him. There hadn’t, his father had said. Why did he ask?

He’d asked his mother if they had any new neighbors. They did, his mother had answered. The loveliest elderly couple, the Stevensons, why did he ask?

Castello had told them both the truth; that he had felt like there was someone else in the lake with him, someone that pulled him out and saved his life.

His father had cradled his face in his hands, and told him that sometimes when someone was close to dying, they would imagine things, and that was perfectly okay, perfectly normal. There was nothing wrong with that, or him, did he understand? His mother had pulled him into a tight embrace, and told him that God was with him always, and thank heavens for that.

He knew they needed to believe their stories, but Castello knew that the eyes he’d seen didn’t belong to God, and he hadn’t imagined them. They’d been real; they’d been worried. If they’d been God’s or a figment of his imagination, wouldn’t they had been calm and reassuring? Those eyes belonged to someone, and whoever that was, was someone Castello needed to thank.

So when his endless begging finally bore fruit, and his mother gave in and let him go down to the lake to “sit only, no fooling around, and absolutely no going near the water! And you’ll be home in precisely one hour, or I’ll come get you myself!”, Castello had readily agreed. He had one hour then, to find the person the eyes belonged to.

*****

“Hello? I know you saved my life! I just want to say thank you, so if you’re here, could you maybe come out? Please? Hello?”
Castello was trudging along by the lakeshore, a good couple of feet away from the water, as he’d promised his mom. It hadn’t occurred to him, when he was begging to go to the lake, what exactly he was going to do when he got there. In his mind, when he got to the lake, he’d find whoever had saved him, waiting for him. And then Castello would say thank you, and maybe they’d become friends.

In reality, the lake was vacant. There was not another soul to be seen, not another set of footsteps to be heard. Castello was beginning to feel pretty foolish, yelling at nothing. It wasn’t like the lake could hear him and yell back.

He had to swerve around a bundle of trees that had grown over the path he was following. Once on the other side, the path re-emerged. It lead straight downward, past a small dock, and further into the woods surrounding the lake. Looking back, Castello realized that he could no longer see his house. He should probably go back, he thought sullenly. He was never going to find the eyes anyway.

The sound of a splash suddenly tore through the air. Castello looked around, but no-one was there. Another sound. They came from the direction of the dock, Castello realized.

“Hello?” he called out. A louder splash was all the response he got, but it was enough to make Castello curious. The person who’d saved him had been in the lake, right? So they must like swimming. Maybe they were out swimming again, and this was the only opportunity Castello was going to get.

Excited and with a belly full of butterflies, Castello started making his way downhill and over to the dock. When he got there, he was almost afraid to look into the water, suddenly nervous about meeting the person who’d saved his life. He took a deep breath to steady himself.

“Hello?” His voice was barely more than a croak. He cleared his throat and tried again. “Hello?”

“Hello,” someone said to his right. Castello turned around so fast he almost toppled over. There, hanging on the edge of the dock, was a boy. Big, brown eyes observed his every move, and Castello was startled to find that he recognized them. This was the person who’d pulled him out of the lake all those weeks ago. Nerves and excitement swirled around in his stomach, making his throat close up.

“I… Um, I mean… Hi.”

The boy looked at him with amusement. “You’ve said that already,” he said. An awkward silence filled the air. The boy wasn’t wearing a shirt, Castello noticed, which was normal enough for swimming, except it was October, and the water had to be freezing. But there were no goosebumps on his arms or torso, and his lips weren’t turning that purple-ish blue that Castello’s did when he spent too much time in the water. He looked, for all intents and purposes, as if it was a nice, warm summer day.

The boy didn’t seem to notice the way Castello was gawking at him.
“What’s your name?” he asked, seeming genuinely curious.

“Castello,” Castello rasped. His voice wasn’t working very well at all. He cleared his throat again. “What’s yours?” he asked.

“Aadi,” the boy said. “I’m glad you’re alive, Castello. I wasn’t sure if I got you to the surface in time.”

He said it very matter-of-factly, like it was no big deal. For all Castello knew, it wasn’t. Maybe this boy went around saving people all the time. But it had been a big deal for him.

“Why did you leave me on the shore?” He asked. He’d meant to say thank you, but this boy, Aadi, was making him uneasy.

Aadi laughed. “You mean, why didn’t I stay with you?”

Castello nodded. The easy grin slid off Aadi’s face, as he contemplated his answer.

“It’s against our laws to be seen,” he ended up saying, as if that explained anything at all.

Castello wrinkled his brows in confusion. “It is not against the law to be seen,” he said, a little petulant.

“Our laws,” Aadi repeated, stressing the word “our”.

He was being vague on purpose, Castello thought irritated. “What does that mean?” he spit out. “The law is the same for everyone, asshole!”

Aadi laughed at him again, annoying Castello even further. “The law of the two-legs is different than the law of my people,” he said. “Your kind is harsh and violent. You hate that which you do not understand. You kill. That is why we cannot be seen.”

His words made no sense. Kill. Violent. Two-legs. They repeated themselves over and over in Castello’s head. He couldn’t make sense of them.

He looked at Aadi, lost. The dark-haired boy was watching him carefully from where he was hanging onto the edge of the dock. He looked scared, Castello realized. He swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat.

“Why did you save me then?” he asked. He could tell from Aadi’s expression that he hadn’t been expecting the question. “If it’s against the law to be seen,” Castello clarified.

“I…” Aadi seemed a loss for words. “I didn’t know you could see me before I had a hold of you,” he decided on.

“I can see you now,” Castello deadpanned. Aadi snorted. “I’m aware,” was all he said. Silence fell between them, both of them waiting for the other to speak.

When he didn’t elaborate further, Castello sighed. This was pointless, he thought. He’d come to say thank you, and now he’d said it. He’d thought maybe they could be friends, but Aadi was an asshole, and possibly crazy, with all the talk of killing and two-legs. He turned to leave, but was stopped when Aadi yelled “Wait!”

“What?” Castello snapped.

Aadi was studying him again. It made Castello feel weird. He couldn’t decide if he liked it or not.

“You’re not like I expected you to be,” Aadi said. “I think you’re very nice.”

“I think you’re an asshole,” Castello grumbled, and Aadi laughed. He laughed and laughed, and somewhere along the lines, Castello started laughing too.

“I think we should be friends,” Aadi said when he’d stopped laughing.

“Yeah,” Castello said, thinking about the fact that he didn’t have any friends around here yet, “okay. If you get out of the water, we could go to my house. I’ve got some cool video games.”

Aadi looked at him, a strange glint in his eyes. “I can’t,” he said.

Castello tried not to let the disappointment show on his face. “But I thought you said…”

Aadi cut him off with a hand gesture. “I can’t go to your house, Castello, because I can’t get out of this water.” He beckoned Castello to come closer. The uneasy feeling in the pit of his stomach was back, but Castello went over to the edge anyway. If he was going to be friends with Aadi, it seemed somehow important that he did. Expectantly, he looked at Aadi, who seemed nervous for some reason.

Castello put his hand on Aadi’s shoulder and put on a smile, the same way his dad did when he was nervous. “Whatever it is, I’m sure it’ll be okay,” he said, and squeezed Aadi’s shoulder gently. The other boy nodded, almost as if to himself, and then looked up at Castello.

“Look down,” he said, his voice barely more than a whisper.

Castello didn’t know what he had expected, but the fish tail at the end of Aadi’s torso was not it. It was huge and scaly, lazily swishing back and forth, causing the water to ripple. He looked up at Aadi, who was biting his lip anxiously, obviously waiting for Castello’s reaction.

Castello looked down at the tail again, then back up to Aadi. “You’re a mermaid?” he asked. Aadi’s eyes snapped to his, and incredulous look on his face. “Mermaid’s are girls, you fucking idiot,” he scowled, annoyed.

Castello raised his hand to his chest in mock disbelief. “Are you trying to tell me... that you’re… a boy?” he whispered, and got a face full of lake water for his trouble. Laughing and wiping his face, Castello grinned down at Aadi, who’d let go of his grip on the dock and was now peering up at him from the lake.

“Who’s the asshole now?” Aadi quipped, making Castello laugh again.

“Alright, sorry, sorry!” he said, holding his hands up in a placating manner. “Merman, then? Is that right?”

“I’d prefer Aadi,” Aadi replied, sarcasm dripping even more than his hair. He was holding himself upright, his face and chest above the water, his tail swinging back and forth underneath him.

Something in Castello’s heart swelled at the sight of him, no longer nervous, but comfortable.
“Okay,” he said. “Aadi it is.”

Writer's Note: This is a very cut off version of what I came up with for the story, but I didn't have the time to write out the whole thing (which would have been a fucking novel, apparently).

In my original idea, we follow Castello and Aadi through the years. They become best friends, but early in their teenage years Castello falls in love with Aadi, and after about a year's time Castello finally works up the nerve to kiss him. Aadi then tells him that he is engaged to a woman from his clan, breaking Castello's heart. He then decides to go away to college, which he hadn't wanted to do before because of Aadi. While in college he comes out to his family and friends, and he even has boyfriends, but a part of him still belongs to Aadi. After realizing this, he goes home to his parents house over the Christmas break, and goes to sit at the dock, hoping to meet Aadi. Eventually, after Castello has been yelling at the lake for hours, the other man comes, and they're both so different from the two little boys who decided to become friends on those very same docks. Castello tells Aadi about his life away from home, about college and coming out and dating, and Aadi is silently listening to all of it. He then tells Castello that the engagement he'd been in was arranged, and that he broke it off after Castello kissed him. He'd been in love with him too, but Castello had run off before he could tell him that. He tells him about how he would come to the docks everyday, waiting for Castello to return, but he never did, and eventually Aadi lost hope, and stopped coming. They figure out that they both still have those feelings for each other, and decide to give a relationship a go. They are very in love, but the barrier between the two of them is driving them insane. Aadi can never come out of the water, and Castello can only spend so much time in the water. Desperate, Castello pleads with Aadi to become human, but they cannot find a way. There is, however, a way to become a mer, but it is very dangerous, and Aadi isn't willing to let Castello take the risk. In the end, Castello convinces Aadi, and he leaves his parents house one night, leaving them a note with a detailed description of how to get to the docks. He then goes to the docks to meet Aadi, and they go through the ritual to turn Castello mer, which involves him almost drowning. The story ends with Castello opening his eyes underwater and seeing Aadi, but this time he can breathe, and he looks down at himself, and he has a tail, so the ritual worked. And he looks up and Aadi is just beaming at him, he's so happy, and Castello knows that he is exactly where he's supposed to be.

I hope you enjoyed reading! :)