Stella gave the man a blank stare and blinked three times. If she didn’t know any better, she could have sworn she heard him say the gemstone hanging from the keychain is his home. Rather than give him a response, she backed away several steps, turned on her heal, and ran down the beach in the opposite direction. After a good five minutes, her lungs hurt, so she stopped and bent over. Her heart hammered as her adrenaline continued to fuel the rush of blood through here system.
She stood up and intertwined her finger behind her head, hoping that would calm her breathing. Aloud to no one she said, “Damn, I really need to work out more.”
“Yes, you do,” said the man.
Stella gasped and turned to see the same man from before. “How? How did you…? But I…”
“You what? Thought you left me up the beach? Not likely. As I said before, that gemstone you are carrying is my home. You can think of me as a genie in a bottle but not really. I don’t grant wishes.”
“How were you able to follow me?” asked Stella. She didn’t care about the gibberish he was spewing at the moment. She wanted to be rid of him. A breeze picked up momentum and flung her long brown hair across her face. She swiped at it, hitting her nose in the process, which fed her irritation even more so.
“It isn’t important how I followed you.” He paused, then turned and took a couple steps. Shaking a finger at her he said, “You aren’t nice. You should be nice to people.”
“I am nice. You’re frightening me is all. How do you expect one to behave, when you behave as you are right now? Maybe I wouldn’t be as scared if you’d tell me a little about what’s going on. How were you able to follow me so quickly?”
The man nodded and licked his lips. “Ok. That’s fair. As I said before, that gemstone you are holding is my home. I live in it, or let me put it another way. I am cursed to it. I can’t be more than ten feet from it. So, when it moves, I move whether I want to or not. I go with it.”
“How did you get outside of it?” asked Stella.
“When you changed that starfish into a seashell, I was extricated from it. So, thank you. It’s been quite a while since I breathed fresh air. And the more you use the gemstone, the longer I get to stay outside of it.”
“Use it? You mean change things?”
“Yes, among other things,” said the man.
Stella was going to ask him to go into detail but thought better of it. An idea began to form. The corners of her lips turned up as a devious plan took shape. “Change? You say?”
“Yes. Wait.” Now it was the man’s turn to smile. He rubbed his hands together as he said, “What do you have in mind?”
(To Be Continued)