The sea was calm while the moonlight reflected on its surface, only disturbed by the occasional waves. Its light couldn't reach the bottom of the sea, where the witch lived. Her hair was white as the moon, and her skin was like the purest of salt. Her hair looked like the sea foam that appeared when the water met the rocks on the surface. She wore a black dress, decorated with iridescent black fish scales and feathers. The witch commanded all the living creatures that surrounded her, her reign, the entire sea. The witch lived under the sea, guarding it from foreign beings. But the witch couldn’t confess to her subjects her most important secret, even under the moon, surrounded by the salty water and her lovely and loyal subjects, she couldn’t help but feel loneliness.

Yes, that was indeed her secret. Whenever the moon rose, she would swim to the surface to bathe in the moonlight and see, in the distance, the shore.

“There must be another reign being bathed by the same moonlight as mine.” The sea witch thought whenever her eyes landed on the shore. But the sea witch couldn’t help but stay in the water, feeling overwhelmed by the unknown.

So the sea witch, each and every night, would gaze upon the land, hoping for something to come close so she wouldn’t have to leave the premises of her reign. Her dream seemed to be impossible to fulfill, and she was well aware of that possibility, but she did not desist as her heart yearned for another outcome. And her waiting, in the end, was rewarded when one night, when she swam again to contemplate the land, her eyes discovered an unknown figure in there. She was surprised to say the least. After countless nights observing, there it was, a new thing to discover, just like she had always dreamed. Her heart started to beat fast as she swam closer and closer, slowly to not startle the unknown creature. Her eyes were filled with curiosity, what could it be? It looked like it was resting on the sand, tired. The more she got closer, the better she could see with the moon’s light. It looked like… her, but not really her, it looked bigger and with a more… bulky and heavy appearance.

Without noticing, the witch was already out of the water, crawling on the sand, looking, observing, the unknown creature, filled with curiosity. The figure rose its head, noticing her presence, making her let out a surprised gasp. The silence was broken by the waves crashing against her body. The face of the being looked surprised and tired, its eyes as if they didn’t have any more life. Its arms and legs are covered in bruises and scars, just like she has seen in the sharks and the turtles she had to heal. She tried to get closer, but still tried to be careful around it. Was it because she felt she had to heal it or was it because she was feeling curious about it? She didn’t know, perhaps it was both. The being moved a bit back, its eyes changed to a more cautious glance. It spoke and asked the witch who she was.

“Me? I’m the overseer of this reign, what are you?” Her answer was filled with innocent curiosity and goodwill, and so the being responded with a simple “I’m a human”.

A human, that word only made things confusing for her. What was a human? It was the first time she had heard about that word, it was her first time seeing one. And so she asked many questions to the tired being. The night was calm and the silence was broken by the waves crashing against her body and the voices of the human and the witch.

That was the first time she saw him. But it wasn’t the last.

The next night, she went to contemplate the shore again. The night before was eventful, yes, but it surely wouldn’t happen again, right? Or that was what the naïve witch thought, as her eyes spotted the same figure at the same spot as the night before. She couldn’t believe her eyes, it was him again, why? She swam again towards the shore to meet and question that self-proclaimed “man”.

“I enjoyed it, so I came back” the answer baffled the witch. That… human being said that he enjoyed her… company? That was a first to her but it was her chance to learn more about him and his kind.

“If you tell me about your kind, I will tell you about mine” And so, with those words, their fate was sealed. Each and every night, they would meet at the same spot in the same way. The man would teach her about his duty and his kind, the witch would show him the wonders of the sea. Those stories and those nights made them feel yearning for the moon to rise to see each other once again. The man turned his stories into rhymes, and the witch made her stories become alive. Each and every night, the witch would crawl more into the land, the man would sit closer to the waves, until there was no more than a breath separating each other. The witch could feel the warmth that the cold waters of the sea could never give her, the man felt the peace that the land could never bring to him. Both of them felt that the nights should last forever, so the day could never tear them apart.

But one night, the witch swam towards the shore as always, her heart beating fast to see her loved one, but she froze when she couldn’t get a sight of him.

“Where is he? Has he forgotten? But that can’t be, how can he have forgotten so easily when we have shared our stories and our warmth.” Her heart was filled with doubt and fear, yet she tried to stay calm. She brushed away the absence of her partner, and waited for the next night.

Once it came, it happened again. He was nowhere to be seen. The witch got worried and returned to the depths of the sea.

“Oh, swift currents of the sea, please heed my call, search for my loved one, to the north and south, to the east and west, please find him for me.” She commanded, and the currents did what she told, but they only brought bad news for her. Her loved one was nowhere to be seen, how could that be? Desperate, the witch commanded the currents of the sea each and every night to search for him.

“Humans tend to travel the waters through glistening shells, maybe he is looking for me in one of them” The innocent witch thought to herself, commanding the waves to grow bigger and bring her those shells to search thoroughly but with no avail. Many shells were delivered to her, but he was still nowhere to be seen.

Weeks, months, years… no matter how many years passed, the witch didn’t give up, but the result would always be the same. Big waves would search for him in the land and bring her the shells, the currents would inform all the fishes in the world about his disappearance, but no one could help the love-stricken witch, making her cry every night, asking for the whereabouts of the love of her life.

“And that’s why, whenever it is the festival of the stories, a man on a boat will throw a letter with a poem or a story to the sea, so as to calm down the witch and release her from her sadness and bring us good luck for the next year” Said the woman, closing the book in her hands. A tender look in her eyes, seeing the child that was in his bed. A warm light barely illuminated the small room.

“Mom, is that why the witch stopped sinking our boats? Because she thinks her loved one is in one of them and he is sending her that letter?” Asked the child innocently, a sad but hopeful frown on his young face.

“It is, my sweet child, and that is why we also have many fishes each and every year” She caressed his hair gently, a soft smile on her face, trying to make him feel better.

“Mom, what happens when she cries?” He asked again, feeling better with his mother’s caresses.

“When the witch cries, every oister of the sea tries to catch her salty tears, and so they take the shape of the pearls we love, because it signifies the undying love of the witch for her human” the young woman gave a gentle kiss on the child’s forehead while she covered him with the sheets. “Now, sleep tight, my child, and remember that the witch will always protect us, good night.” She turned off the dim light and closed the door of the bedroom behind her leaving the child alone with his thoughts.

“Poor witch, she is so lonely, I wonder if the letters we send her really help her?” That was the last thought of the kind child before he drifted off to sleep, to meet in his dreams the beautiful sea witch that cries at the bottom of the sea.