Paul stared at the water, but it was the same still blue. He cut an angry glance at Melissa.
“You told me they would swim past by now,” Paul reminded her.
“Come on, the school of Nemos were pretty cool,” Melissa replied, leaning over the rails.
“They’re clown fish, not Nemos.”
“They’re Nemos and always will be.”
Paul sighed and pushed away from the edge of the ship. There was soon a crinkling sound that caught Melissa’s attention. Turning, she saw Paul opening a bag of chips and reclining on a lounging chair.
“What are you doing?” Melissa asked, causing Paul to pause with a chip hanging in his mouth.
“I thought it was obvious, but I suppose the tropical flavouring threw you off,” Paul replied. “I am enjoying my vacation.”
“But you love turtles. That’s why we’re on this cruise.”
“Didn’t you say it would be a second honey-moon?” Paul asked aghast.
Melissa rolled her eyes and joined him on an adjacent chair.
“You do realize that we only get back in a week,” Melissa told Paul. “This vacation has only just begun.”
“Don’t do it,” Paul told her through a mouthful of chips.
“I want to check out the volcano.”
“I’m not hiking up that ugly mountain.”
“Not mountain; vol-kay-no. Isn’t that cool?”
“What’s cool about a natural disaster zone? What next, Chernobyl?”
“Okay, that was a joke, but you have to admit-”
“Admit that it’s a bad idea? I did.”
Paul cocked his head back and finished off the last few chips. With a lazy throw, the bag was launched from the palm of his hand towards the waste bin. Unfortunately, wind brushing across the cruise ship swept it in and knocked it away.
“Dammit,” Paul muttered, climbing out of this chair, but stopped when a strangely pale hand signalled.
A man wearing Bermuda shorts and a straw hat plucked the bag and threw it away. He smiled and nodded at Paul before climbing into one of the lounging chairs himself.
“Thanks, man,” Paul replied, falling back into cruise bliss.
“Don’t mention it,” the stranger replied calmly.
“Excuse me, do you know when the turtles will swim by?” Melissa asked the stranger.
“Not for another hour, you two can relax until then,” the stranger murmured thoughtfully, before cracking open what looked like a romance novel.
“Uh...thank you,” Melissa continued, trying not to giggle.
To Paul's amusement, it was exactly that and he exchanged a smirk with his wife. Still, an hour gave them plenty of time to catch some rays and stare at the vast ocean. Paul found it more than relaxing as his eyes fluttered trying to stay open. However, the inevitable happened and he soon nodded off, leaving Melissa to pass time talking to the curious stranger.
“What brought you on the cruise?” Melissa asked.
“Hmm,” the stranger hummed thoughtfully as he rested the book against his chest. “I don’t often get a break from work, you see? Even now, as I rest, so much needs to be done, but an old friend told me that a week away from it all won’t be the end of the world.”
“Wow, big company?” Melissa asked.
“You could say that, but I work with a lot of people,” the stranger replied happily. “I rather enjoy company, but they don’t often enjoy mine.”
“What is it you do?”
“Uh...well, you could say I’m in the medical profession, but in some ways it’s best if nobody sees me.”
“Not gonna tell me, huh?”
“Well, I don’t want to lie, but you’re better off not knowing.”
“Well, in that case, I won’t tell you what I do for a living.”
The stranger laughed, shaking his head happily.
“You work with flowers, right?” the stranger asked.
Melissa looked at the man, surprised.
“How did you know that?” she asked.
“It was actually a lucky guess,” the stranger laughed. “Growing or selling?”
“Uh..the growing. I work with various florists. The city could always use some more flowers.”
“It can be dreadfully grey, but New Haven has its moments.”
“You live there too?”
“Oh no, I have a little place in Hong Kong actually.”
While Melissa grew more interested in the man, a question crossed her mind that should have crossed it sooner.
“Sorry, but I didn’t get your name,” Melissa murmured, her mind now struggling to collect itself. She didn’t get a chance to hear it as her vision faded.
With a loud yawn, Melissa apologised to the stranger and fell asleep in an instant. Both Melissa and Paul slept happily while Death opened his book once more and continued reading. The two were an interesting bunch, but Elizabeth had just learned the Count’s secret.
Diving back into a fantasy world that captured Death’s attention, various people walked past paying the pale man a curious glance. All saw him for what he was, a skeleton, but nobody was perplexed. With a brief glance, they continued as if nothing happened and Death barely noticed.
Time passed happily, but soon he noted the time in his head. Climbing out of the lounging chair, he neared Paul. By simply walking past, Paul raised from his slumber, as if woken up by his own free will.
“The turtles are nearly here,” Death pointed out, leaning over the edge.
Paul heard Death’s call and walked over to Melissa, waking her up. The two, still yawning, approached the railing and stared out at the blue ocean. The water was a wonderful shade of blue, but the assortment of colours that passed the ship were the real star.
The shells had been decorated with all manner of algae and coral, somehow thriving on the backs of these turtles after all these years. Paul was awestruck, having a true love for the animal, that Melissa found more charming than strange.
“You have to admit-” Melissa began.
“That this is better than our first honeymoon?” Paul joked, only to receive a humoured slap across his arm.
“Just for that, you are definitely hiking up a volcano with me.”
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