“The Calm Tonight” by Matthew A. Merendo from The Touch of the Sea (Lethe Press, 2012). Edited by Steve Berman.

Oh, I loved this story, and I was buoyed (no pun intended) by the fact that, just like the preceding story, it’s an uplifting tale.

Alex left his underwater home and came ashore in order to find a human mate, which, in fact, he has done. The problem is he’s fallen in love with a man, Hunter. There’s no precedent for it. Now all of his brethren are leading their women to sea, and he doesn’t know what to do. Can he take Hunter with him? Will the magic that transforms chosen females also work on him, and allow him to live underwater? Or will it fail because he’s a man? Will Hunter perish if he tries to return with Alex? And even if he doesn’t, how will the others react to the fact that he’s a man? Should Alex simply return alone? He’s certain that if he does, it will mean he’ll live the rest of his days that way, because the type of creature he is mates for life, and knows its true love at first sight. His true love is Hunter, there’s no doubt in his mind. What to do? What to do?

I was so worried that the characters would not take the course of action I thought they should that by the end of this tale my stomach was tied in knots.