Isaiah had been getting sick. At first, Elena assumed it was the fact that they had been forced out of their on base home and were now living out of a hotel.
But as days turned into weeks she grew to realize there was something physically wrong with him. Elena knew she needed to figure out a way to help him or she could lose her only friend.
They had been living on Elena’s dead husband’s military pension. But knowing that would not last very long, or stretch very far, in Hawaii, Isaiah got a job at a department store. Elena found work as a maid. They both worked well over 40 hours a week, but on the weekends they would go to the beach and paint. Sometimes Isaiah would bring his guitar. He loved to see the smiles on the faces of happy children and tourists.
And Elena loved to see him smile.
But that day, as he laid in bed, Isaiah was not smiling.
“Baby?” Elena stroked his face.
He was burning with fever. “You must journey to my homeland.”
“The ocean?” Yes, that had to be the key. The ocean sent him to her, the ocean would hold the key to saving him. “Come with me.”
“I couldn’t even if I tried.” Isaiah rolled over in bed to face the light of the window. He started to cough but the sound quickly evolved into vomiting. He threw his head over the side of the bed. from his mouth poured ocean water. It was as if he had been drowning.
“Will you be ok?” Elena asked. She didn’t want to leave only to return to his corpse.
“Please, return quickly. I’ll stay in the room as long as I can, but If I’m not here, I will leave you clues on where find me.”
“Ok,” Elena replied in a meek voice. It was all she could do not to cry.
She went down to the beach still wearing her sleep shirt and dove into the waves. Elena didn’t know what she was looking for, all she knew was she had to find it.
“It” turned out to be a baby turtle- with fairy wings. “Hello,” the creature said.
Elena swam to the surface. The turtle followed. Gasping for breath she asked. “Did you just speak English?”
“I speak all languages,” the little turtle replied. “And I have been looking for you, ELENA RIOS!” Its yell was no more than a high pitched squeak. “I am Kaylinani and you have kidnapped my baby brother!”
“Yes- he’s my brother! You don’t even know his real form!” the little turtle started to sob. “My mother told him about you, she said you were sad because you lost someone but you had a good heart. She convinced him to go live among the humans, but he’s too little, he won’t survive on his own. ” The turtle made her way on to a rock, her shell sparkled in the sun like a gemstone.
“How old is he?”
“In your human years, I guess he would be,” the turtle closed her eyes and furrowed her brow as she thought about it. “25.”
“He is a baby,” Elena said with a chuckle. “How old is that is Fairy-turtle years?”
The little creature glared. “How old are you?”
“In human years I’m 37,” Elena replied honestly.
“I can’t believe my mother would hand over little Isa to an old witch! Where is he? What have you done with him?”
Her words shook Elena back to reality. She needed to find a way to save Isaiah and perhaps this turtle could provide some assistance. “He’s very sick. And I don’t know how to help him. Can I take you to him?”
“Of course,” the turtle said angrily. “If you didn’t, I would have followed you.” The turtle crawled on to Elena’s arm. “Pretend I’m a toy, a cheap souvenir from your island of Ha-why-ee,” the words came out with a struggle, “no one will suspect a thing.”
“Do you have something against humans?” Elena asked as she walked with the turtle across the crowded beach.
“Only the propaganda that your kind represents.”
“Yes, your writers and artists telling of a perfect world that lies beyond the ocean.”
“Are you talking about the story of the little mermaid?”
“And the movie!” she said in an even angrier tone.
It was all Elena could do not to laugh. “You’ve seen the movie animated movie?”
“So did Isa.” They made it to the hotel. Luckily it was late enough in the morning for the elevators to be empty, allowing Kaylinani to continue her rant. “My brother grew up with images of the humans, their music, their art, their culture. To him, you were heroes or even Gods. So when mother asked if he wanted to go live among your kind, as your friend, he jumped at the chance.”
“I’m sorry,” Elena muttered. They reached the door but Elena already knew Isaiah would not be in the room. There was a trail of water leading away from the door.
“What’s wrong? Where is my brother?”
Elena didn’t answer she gripped the turtle in her hand, running as she followed the trail to the stairs.
“Ow! Let go, human, you’re hurting me!”
Elena released the turtle, not caring if the creature fell to the concrete floor. But as Elena ran up the stairs she felt a painful blow to the back of her head.
Kaylinani was flying, her fairy wings surprisingly strong. “I’ll meet you on the roof.”
Elena ran faster. Usually, the door to the roof was kept locked but the door had been forced open. There was blood all over the handle. “Isaiah?”
He was lying on the roof, his shirt wrapped around his blood covered hand. “Hey Lena, I see you’ve met Kay.”
Kaylinani had landed on his chest. “Isa! What have those awful humans done to you?”
“Nothing, Kay, I’m just a little tired.”
“You can’t stay here, their world is killing you. Please brother return to the ocean with me. We were happy. I’ll care for you the way I always have.”
“No,” his eyes closed as he bathed in the warmth of the sun. “I can’t go back.” he reached his hand to Elena beckoning her to lay beside him.
She rested her head on his shoulder. She could see Isaiah had one hand on Kay’s shell stroking her wings.
His other hand reached out to Elena. “Do you want to know what my life was like before I became human? Hold my hand, close your eyes.”
Elena closed her eyes and was transported to an underwater scene. It was like something out of a movie; the world was illuminated by glowing plants but this society also appeared to have access to modern technology. There was what appeared to be wi-fi coursing through certain plants, allowing for images to be broadcasted. And there were sounds everywhere; music, languages, it was all most too much to take in.
Kaylinani came in to view. “Come on Isa, let’s get out of here.”
Elena now realized she was looking through Isaiah’s eyes. Swimming towards the surface Elena watched as her eyes passed the windshield of what used to be a car (more likely a boat.) She saw a baby turtle with big brown eyes; Isaiah’s eyes. His shell was blue the color of Isaiah’s denim jeans. And his wings were purple and yellow, sparkling like the sun.
“Wait for me, Kay!” squeaked Isa’s little voice. “I want to show you my new painting!”
“Fine, where is it this time?”
“In the cove, by the tide pool.” Isa started to dart off in a different direction.
“Did you say the tide pool!?” Kay shouted after him.
In a blink of an eye, Elena was inside a tide pool, looking up at dozens of children’s hands. Some were picking up painted stones. She could hear laughter and giggles.
“They like my paintings!” Isa said happily.
Kay grabbed her brother pulling him behind a rock. “They’ll see you!”
“So what if they do?”
“They’re humans! They’ll hurt you! They’ll take you away from me!” Kay looked like she was about to cry. “I love you, Isa. You’re my best friend.”
Isa went into a nearby cave where he pulled out a flat rock. “I made this one for you.” On the rock was a pink starfish. It was clear he had painted it using pigments made from coral, perhaps even algae or sand.
“It’s a pink starfish, like Patrick from SpongeBob.”
“That silly human show?”
“Patrick and SpongeBob are best friends and you’re my best friend,” there was a hint of sadness in Isa’s voice. “Do you like it?”
Elena opened her eyes, she was back on the roof with human Isaiah holding little Kay on his chest. That was when she noticed the tattoo on his arm, a pink starfish. He had the tattoo when she first met him but only now did she know what it meant: part of him would always belong to the ocean.
Elena was about to speak when Isaiah opened his eyes. “Do you think we’ll ever get to meet father, Kay?”
“Father lives in the clouds.”
“When I’m up here I can feel him. I want to stay up here. I want to live in the clouds.”
“Your father is the king of the fairies?” Elena remembered the ocean goddess saying such. “What are your thoughts on getting a pilot license?”