A long time ago, on a small island far away from the mainland, there was a young man whose heart broke too many times. Against the warnings of his family and friends, the young man went to seek out a witch doctor to ask for a cure to his ailment. He trekked for many days beyond the mountains of his village and finally found a small hut. An old wrinkled woman greeted him at the door.
“I have courted three maidens in my lifetime but none loved me in return,” the young man divulged. “I no longer feel any love,” he cried.
“What you need is far more powerful than any potion or magic that I can conjure,” she replied. “The cure for your pain is not on this island.”
The young man returned to his village to gather food, water, and clothing for his journey. His parents pleaded for him to stay but the young man was desperate to heal his heart. His friends begged to join him but the young man was adamant on getting the cure alone. He readied his boat and sailed once the sun hit the water.
He remembered the old woman’s instructions clearly: row the boat straight into the horizon and he will find Black Mountain Island. The first few days, the young man was encouraged. After a week of endless rowing, the young man felt lost and was ready to abandon his journey. Finally, with his last crumb and drop of water, the young man finally reached Black Mountain Island.
The young man began to row faster towards the cavern ahead of him. The sun was now behind him and darkness was enclosing him. He heard the old woman’s voice inside his head. “The moment that you no longer see any light, the cave will speak to you.”
He was afraid of the dark. But just as exactly what the witch doctor said, the water beneath him began to illuminate. And then he saw the hearts float up. One by one, slowly popping up into the surface, the young man began reading each heart.
“Ariella, Joseph, Emmy,” he read out loud. Just like he heard it yesterday, the young man remembered the witch doctor’s last instruction: pick up only one heart to love forever. The hearts continued to float all around him. He had only one chance to choose the right heart and he wanted to make the right decision.
“Oliver, Cara, Sarah, Rafa,” he read quickly. Then he saw the name Maya, the first maiden he had ever loved. He stretched both his hands out the boat and reminisced about Maya. “I loved her with all my heart and we were so young then, “ he said. “But do I love her now?” The young man quickly pulled back his hands and Maya’s heart drifted away.
Then he saw Dolie’s name, the second maiden he had ever loved. “We both were heading into two different directions. Our love was not meant to be,” he said. Dolie’s heart floated right under his boat.
“Alas, Kay’s heart,” the young man exclaimed. Kay was the latest maiden he loved but her parents thought he was not suited for their daughter. The whole village was sad for the two lovers but despite the young man’s pleas, Kay abided her parent’s wishes and ended the courtship.
The heart was quickly drifting away from his boat and the young man began rowing to it. When he finally reached Kay’s heart, the young man reached down, and for a moment glanced away and saw another name. In an instant, the young man reached his two hands and grabbed the other heart. He lifted it up above the water and held it close to his body. He knew it was the right heart because he realized it was the only heart he knew how to love. The heart melted out of his hands and it absorbed into his body and filled his empty chest.
The cave was dark again but the young man was no longer afraid and he rowed back where the sun was shining. He kept rowing and rowing until Black Mountain Island was a dot in the horizon. He reached his home island and the old woman was waiting for him on the shore.
“You are smiling,” the witch doctor observed. “You found the cure to your ailment, I presume.”
“Yes,” the young man replied.
“What was the name of the heart?” She asked.
She smiled at him. “You found the cure, indeed.”
In the distance, the young man could hear a commotion and he saw his family and friends running towards him. He turned around and the old woman was gone.
“I’m so glad you’re okay, son,” his mother said as she hugged him.
“Everyone has been worried about you, especially Kay,” one of his friends said patting him on the back.
“How are you feeling?” His father asked.
“I’m exhausted but I feel better now,” he replied.
“Let’s go home then.”
The entire village was gathered around the young man’s home. Many gasped at his return and many were pushing each other fighting the chance to embrace the young man.
“We were so worried about you,” one young maiden said.
“Tell us what happened on your adventure,” a little boy insisted.
The young man ate, drank, and enjoyed the company of the people around him. Many complimented his new attitude and demeanor.
It was a night of celebration for the young man’s return. In the crowds of familiar and new faces, the young man was looking for only one. He grasped his chest and felt the beating of his heart. He knew he made the right choice but when he closed his eyes he could only see Kay.
“Choose the right heart and love will follow,” the witch doctor’s voice echoed in his head. The young man opened his eyes and Kay was standing in front of him.
“I miss you, Tristan,” she said.