Black Pearl

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Alima's First Love

After a hot debate on the portrait, Alima and Victoria decided to give it a rest. Alima had also insisted that Victoria move in with her since they were going to be working on the case together. Victoria had agreed and they planned on meeting with the Atlantic queen to present their newly recent information the first thing in the morning. Although it took them several hours to reach the kingdom, and even with the delay of the kingdom’s guards, Alima and Victoria were able to schedule a private meeting with the queen and rent a hotel. The two of them were now taking a little stroll down in the town square.

“It’s so great to be back,” Alima couldn’t help but smile. She had missed the kingdom so much. The north Atlantic kingdom was very colorful with its rainbow coral paved floors and its painted murals. Alima even missed the cerulean blue waters that shrouded the kingdom. And best of all, the kingdom was home to thousands of merfolk. Everywhere she looked, there would be another merperson that swam by or was conversing with another merperson. Peppy music was pleasant to her ears.

“So this is what it’s like…” Victoria said and tried to soak up all she was seeing. “__to live in a kingdom and be surrounded by merpeople .

“It makes you feel less like an outsider.” Alima said. Her smile drooped a little. “We’re only allowed to stay here for one night. After that, we have to go back.”

Victoria turned to her and said, “Your kingdom does not allow foreigners?”

“No. The queen is not fond of outsiders. It’s the same with the other kingdoms of the seven oceans.” Alima became slightly more gloomy. “Even if the queen did allow foreigners, I would not be welcomed. I still haven’t found the princess.”

“So that is what you most desire? You want to stay here?” Victoria found the kingdom beautiful and comfortable but she never understood why most mermaids chose to stay sedentary. Victoria was a nomad. She never stayed in one place and was always on the go. She never traveled far and always stayed close to the icy waters of Antarctica. There, Victoria had to deal with the constant feeling of isolation and the occasional spells of loneliness. But that was to be expected, being a mermaid of the Antarctic. There were very few mermaids of her kind and she usually spent most of her time watching the penguins and how they interacted with each other.

“Yes,” Alima said. Her gaze went to a merman selling food at a food cart. Alima flicked her black fin to swim to the cart. When she came back to Victoria, she was holding five sticks of skewered raw fish in her hand. “Fish on a stick?” she offered.

The fish was white and was slightly translucent. The meat had green and purple specks which Victoria guessed was seasoning. She took one stick and nibbled on the fish. “Not bad,” she said and gobbled the whole thing. “So, when do we get to speak with your queen?”

“Somewhat near seven,” Alima said and took out the royal slip of paper she had received earlier on in the day. “Until then, we have some major shopping to do.”

“What?” Victoria was so stunned she nearly bit on the skewer. “Why?”

“We are to discuss the situation with the queen at the royal ball. Everyone is invited. And we,” Alima said and took out the letter—sealed with the royal stamp of the queen herself—from her backpack. “_are the guests of honor.”

Victoria smiled despite herself. Let the shopping commence.

Victoria hated shopping. The clothes never fit right on her. She felt hideous in everything.

“It’ll be fun.” Alima said reassuringly. “Let’s go.” Alima dragged Victoria to the nearest boutique. There, Victoria and Alima were measured by the employees. Alima found her dress easily. If you didn’t know about mer-dresses, they were not like the dresses of the land world. They were made of a different fabric, usually from seaweed fiber. But the rich were able to afford clothes made of shaved and compressed pearls which were very, very expensive. And if the merperson was rich beyond compare, their clothes were bedazzled with precious gems and chains of gold. The rich never blended in. They stood out of the crowd by blinding them with the shininess of their clothes. The dress overall was light so the wearer would be still be able to swim freely. But the shape was a bit tricky to describe. It was sort of like a really long scarf in which you’d have to wrap it around your body and pin it. So compared to the land dress, the sea dress was similar in shape but had not buttons or zippers or strings, just a pin to pin it in place.

Alima had already chosen a silky gold dress. The employees gasped and made positive comments, comparing her to a sea angel and sorts. When it was time for Victoria to try on some, she dreaded. The first five dresses didn’t fit. The first one was too small, despite the measurements. The second was too big. The third showed too much of her shoulders, which made her feel naked. The fourth emphasized her curves, which was a bit flattering but she didn’t want people to concentrate on that. The fifth was long to the point she was afraid her tail would get tangled up in it. Finally, the employees brought her a snow white cloth. When they wrapped it around her, she was amazed at how soft the fabric was against her skin and how easy it was to breath in it. Victoria walked out of the dressing stall and showed herself to Alima. Alima held her hand to her mouth.

“You look...amazing,” was all Alima managed to say. The employees whispered with each other. One of them even compared her to the sea goddess Sedna. It went great with her silver tail. Victoria was always a bit self-conscious about her tail. She had a silver tail. The color was amazing but her tail was surprisingly short compared to most mermaids. It was very thick and bulky too. But Victoria was still happy with her body. And when she was feeling a bit low, she would imagine what it would be like after she would return the princess and claim her prize of immortality. She would finally be powerful enough to rule all of the seven oceans and the seas.

Alima paid for the dresses and they swam to their hotel. The hotel was a tall building. It was so tall that when Alima stared up, she wondered if it made it past the surface. They checked themselves back in, and stayed in their hotel room and lounged on their beds.

“How long do we have to relax?” Victoria said and sipped her cup of oyster juice.

“About three hours. We should probably take a nap or something.” Alima turned to Victoria and they exchanged glances.

“NAHHH,” they both said in unison.

“How about we get to know each other more,” Victoria said and swirled her cup, watching the leftover gray liquid slosh around.

“What would you like to know about me?” Alima said and snuggled in the blankets, getting herself cozy.

“Tell me about your past. Where were you born? When? What did you do up until now?” Victoria’s eyes didn’t leave Alima. Alima sighed and scratched her head.

“Well,” Alima smacked her lips. “I used to be a queen myself.”

“You’re kidding me!” Victoria said and almost spat out her drink. “You? A queen? Where? How come I’ve never heard of you?”

“Because I’d disappeared,” Alima said darkly. “At least, that’s what everyone thinks.”

“Queen Alima,” Victoria said in amazement. “Queen of the Sirens.”

“It’s been a while since anyone’s used that title.” Alima said. She huddled into a ball. “I used to be the head of the largest pod of sirens. I miss my girls. Even today, I still wonder how they’re living.”

“I’m sorry,” Victoria said. She was even more fascinated with Alima than before. “But how did that work, you being the queen and all?” Victoria couldn’t believe she was talking to yet, another queen, another immortal.

“My duty was to call on the hunts. I would always insure the hunts were a success. It would always end up being a bloody massacre.” Alima’s staggering grey eyes darkened.

“But what made you disappear?”

“I turned soft. I fell in love with a human boy. After that I couldn’t bring myself to kill again, despite my hunger.” Alima’s lips curled into a crescent moon smile. But Victoria felt the opposite. A bit of fire started in her heart and she became angry and confused.

“You let a boy soften your greatness? You were probably on the start of becoming powerful and supreme!”

“I know,” Alima said leaned her head on her knees. “But it was worth it.”

“Love is not real!” Victoria said. “It’s__It’s an all in your head! It’s a sickness!” She shook her head. “Romance is foolish disease.”

“Believe whatever you like.” Alima said. “But it was the thing that changed my life.”

“Tell me about it. How did you meet this boy anyway?” Victoria said. She was eager to hear how the great Alima had fallen. It seemed impossible how someone like Alima, who was powerful enough to slaughter thousands of men, would succumb to one boy.

“Okay then, it started when I was captured in a net while spying on a group of sailors.”

1769, New England, U.S.

It was glorious day. The sun had just started to rise. The sky was a dull orange and the seagulls proudly cawed in the skies as they flapped their white wings. Although the day was glorious and tranquil, what was happening below was not. The sailors of New England hauling in their nets from the sea. But one net in particular was heavy and it shook.

“Oy me! We’ve got a big one!” said one sailor, and he hauled in the net. Squirming in the net was a naked woman with a long black tail. She hissed at the sight of them and squirmed in the net, further entangling herself in it.

“Holy__we’ve got ourselves a mermaid!” The sailors crowded around the captive mermaid who hissed and cursed in a strange language they’d never heard of.

“What should we do with her?” A sailor asked amongst his friends.

“Let’s ask her for treasure!”

“No! I want to marry her! She’s awfully pretty.” A sailor stroke her face with his hand and she snapped at him with her long narrow teeth. The sailors staggered backwards . It was as if all her beauty had faded away all at once.

“Monster!” they yelped.

What they didn’t know was that there was a little boy hiding behind a tree witnessing it all. He was about seven years old and had nut brown hair and large deep blue eyes. He had pale freckled skin and he wore a black hat on his head. His heart pounded in fear and in compassion for the fish-lady who was teased by the sailors. His little hands balled into fists.

“Kill it!” One sailor snatched his dagger from his waist and was about to stab Alima until a little boy got in between them.

“Stop!” he shouted. The sailors glared at him and gritted their teeth.

“Move Matthew!” The boy refused to move. He planted both his feet in the wet rocky sand and spreaded his arms to protect the girl.

“I do not plan on moving anytime soon!” Alima did not understand a word that was said but she stopped squirming and watched attentively. Her long narrow teeth stuck out of her mouth and she licked them.

“Foolish boy! We must kill it or it’ll lay eggs or it kills us!” The sailor had very few teeth. And the teeth he still had left were yellow and rotten. When he spoke, his white gums showed and they reeked of disease.

“It will not harm any of us!” They boy breathed hard. He took the dagger from one of the sailors and begun slitting the net. He heard one of the sailors mutter something about him cutting a new net but he didn't pay too much mind to it. All he wanted was to free the mermaid. When the net was cut enough for there to be enough room for Alima to slip out, she didn’t hesitate to escape and swim as far away as possible. When the sailors were sure that the mermaid was gone, they ran a hand through their hair and stared at the boy.

“You have balls, kid.” One of the sailors said this to him. The other sailor grumbled. The sailors got back on their boats and left the dock to continue their day fishing. The little boy stared off into the white foamy waters. He was searching for a glimpse of the mermaid until he was interrupted by the cross tone of his father.

“MATTHEW SMITH!” Little Matthew turned to find his father standing at the top of a small hill that towered over him. He stood with his hands on his hips.

“Father…” Matthew’s breeches began to fall down and he pulled them back up.

“LOG CABIN! NOW!” Matthew slouched and marched back home and turned around one last time, hoping he would catch one more glimpse of the mermaid. To his disappointment, he didn’t see her and left. But what he was unaware of was that she was still there, hiding under the dock. She watched him leave and clutched her chest in discomfort. Her cold heart had warmed, and she had felt love for the very first time.

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