Black Pearl

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The Story of Mathew Smith

The front door opened immediately and Ally rushed to bury herself in her grandmother’s arms.

“Grandmom!” Ally said and hugged her. Strangely, despite the many years they’ve been apart, their grandmother hadn’t changed a bit. She still had her silver hair in ringlets and her honey brown eyes. She even wore her round spectacles that rested on the bridge of her nose. Her grandmother yelped in surprise and then hugged Ally back. Freddy wanted to greet his grandmother too but he was busy hauling their wet luggage.

“A” Freddy strained to carry their two heavy suitcases. Each suitcase was stacked on each other in his arms and the top one was sliding off. Beads of sweat dribbled off of his neck and forehead and soaked his already damp shirt.

“Oh dear.”

Ally had to take a suitcase from Freddy and they entered the house. Both of them gasped. Inside the house was an old white guy who was wearing sports shorts and a towel that draped over his shoulders. It burned their eyes. The image of him burned into their minds like installing a really bad app. Not to mention that the old geaser looked like he was about seventy­seven and was sweaty all over.

A pathetic squeal escaped from both of their lips. “G­G­Grandmom?” All of a sudden, they sounded like children again. “Why is there a hobo in your house?” Ally said.

“Hey!” The old man said and used his towel to wipe his underarms. Freddy didn’t know whether to burst out laughing or cringe. Even under there he was wrinkly. “I’m not a hobo! Sure, I’m not the best looking man around the block but I’m still pretty handsome. You wanna hear about the time I fought in ’Nam?” The man laughed. His laughter was mixed in with his wheezing. Freddy was afraid the old man was going to die any minute.

“Oh, I see you’ve met Herbert!” His grandmother speed­walked into the room and wrapped her arms around the old man and gently kissed his sweaty cheek. “Herbert is my new...uh...boyfriend!” The old man chuckled and Freddy watched as Ally’s jaw dropped lower and lower.

“That’s great Grandmom! We’re so happy for you!” Freddy wasn’t lying. It was nice for his grandmother to have finally found someone new after his grandfather had passed away a few years back. His grandmother was so lonely after his grandfather died. She just stayed cooped up in her house most of the time. “ did you two meet?”

“It’s a long story.” His grandmother said. She was so happy with the rosy blush on her cheeks and her bright smile. Freddy was starting wonder if she was actually miserable from before. “But I’m glad I met him.”

Ally managed to break free from her stunned trance and said, “You two are the cutest​couple ever!”

“Yes, but there’s a reason why we came here.” Freddy said.

“What is it?”

“It’s a...fishy p​roblem.” Freddy said gravely. It didn’t take long for his grandmother to realize what he actually meant.

His grandmother turned to Herbert and said, “Herbert, honey, go cool off or take a shower. I have something I need to discuss with my grandchildren.”

“Sure thing, sweetums! Talk to ’ya later, kids!” And Herbert marched his jolly butt out of the living room.

“What a lovely man,” their grandmother said with her hands on her hips as she shook her head. “So,” her voice hushed gravely. “Which one of you is it?”

“It’s me, Grandmom.” Ally said and raised her hand.

“I knew it was you. You know, we could’ve found out earlier if you weren’t so stubborn and ran away from the water.”

“Grandmom!” Ally cried. “No lecturing, please!”

“Alright. When did it happen?”
Freddy and Ally told their grandmother everything, from Alima, to the girls, Ally’s powers, and the mission.

“And that’s why we need to stay at your place for the night. You live right near the north

Atlantic coast and if we keep on heading northeast, then we’ll make it pass the English Channel and then through the North sea and__”

“No!” Their grandmother said. “It’s a long way, especially for a mermaid. And what about Freddy?”

“Me?” Freddy said and pointed to himself.
“He’s not a merman. He can’t swim with you.”
Freddy found his grandmother’s concern slightly suspicious. Of course his grandmother cared

for his safety and wellbeing but she was a Smith. And Freddy came from a long line of Smiths. Every member of the Smith family have always had a thing for travel. Adventure was part of their blood. His grandmother would never hold him back. This only meant one thing: she was hiding something from them.

“Grandmom, what are you hiding from us?” Freddy asked.

“Oh my...I never thought I would have to tell you two about this.” Their grandmother paced around the living room with her hands grasping each other behind her back. She seemed very worried about something.

“What is it?” Ally asked and moved a piece of her blonde hair away from her face.

“I...I­-I don’t know if it’s true... “ She stuttered. “I’ve always thought it was just a story my father would tell me to scare me so that I wouldn’t venture out into the sea in the middle of the night.”

“Grandmom, what are you trying to tell us?” Ally said. Her palms became clammy under the anticipation.

“Please know that I love you two very much.”

“’re scaring us,” Freddy said.

“And you both have probably noticed that I haven’t invited you two here in my home for a long while now.”

“Yes?” Ally said.

“And there is a reason for that. It’s not that I’m all head over fins for Herbert. Oh...there were so many times I’d wished I could even speak to you two on the phone.” Freddy and Ally watched as their grandmother’s pacing grew quicker and quicker.

She sighed and said, “Let me tell you two a short story. A long time ago, back when the United States was new and only had thirteen colonies, I had sailed from England to America to start out a new life. I couldn’t help it! I wanted to see what the new world was like. And within three years, I fell in love with a man named Eugene.” Their grandmother rubbed her cheek and said, “He was first love. He was also a bit complicated too. Everyone knew him to be a grouch but only I knew the tender side of him.”

Freddy mouthed wow.​His grandmother had reeled in lots and lots of boyfriends. As if reading his thoughts, Ally knudged him in the gut and Freddy bent over in pain. It was her way of telling him, don’t judge.

“​Alas, it didn’t take long for my first child to be born. I named him Matthew. Matthew Smith. He was one of the most beautiful children I’ve ever laid eyes on. He grew up to be a strong and noble man with a heart that was so kind and compassionate. He wouldn’t hurt anything without a reason. He even served in the war, came home without a scratch on him!”

“ we know who grandma’s favorite was,” Freddy muttered under his breath.

“But he died young,” their grandmother’s eyes became misty and red and she dabbed them with the sleeve of her blue shirt. “He claimed he was bitten by the neighbor’s dog but I knew he was lying. He got bitten by something, and developed an infection. It spread and spread and his body couldn’t take it anymore.” Their grandmother was sobbing now. Ally embraced her and she sniffed. “I’m okay.”

“I’m so sorry,” Freddy said and hugged his grandmother.

“And things took an even stranger turn. When it was time to bury the body, it was gone! It was no where to be found! It was as if...the body had just gotten up and walked away.”

Ally whimpered and Freddy shuddered by the thought of it.
“So why were you afraid to call us?” Freddy asked.
“Because I can still feel his presence for the first time in over three centuries.”
“You’re kidding!” Ally said.
“You mean he’s watching us right now or something?” Freddy asked.
“It may be,” said their grandmother. “But he’s not alive for all I know. He’s something else.

And I don’t think it’s me he’s interested in, it’s you two.”
“That’s impossible!” Freddy said and shook his head. “We just got here!”
“No. It’s been happening every time you two have came here. Every time you visit, I always feel as if someone is watching.”

“I’m scared,” Ally said. Her pale lip quivered and she huddled close to her grandmother.

“As long as you both are here with me, there’s nothing to fear.” Their grandmother said and smiled brightly again. “Now who wants cookies?”

Ally and Freddy exchanged looks and came to a mutual agreement. “Grandmom, we’re still going.” Freddy said.

Her expression darkened again and she said, “Very well then, I wish you two the best of luck. But I’m going to warn you. I’ve served the north Atlantic queen at one point and believe me, she’s ruthless. Upset her, she’ll kill you. Serve her faithfully, she’ll probably make you fight to the death with some other poor mermaid.”

“Is that what happened to you?” Ally asked.
She paused for a moment and said, “Chocolate chip or oatmeal?”
“Oatmeal,” they both said and went to the kitchen to help their grandmother bake cookies.

What was supposed to be fun and cheerful ended being quite awkward and silent. Their grandmother did not succeed in preventing them from doing their mission but she did make them question the mission all together. And they both realized that this mission was probably more deadly than they’ve realized and that danger was lurking right ahead.

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