The Curse of the Black Pearl
Alima widened her eyes at the young man who held her pearl. She didn’t know what to do. She'd barely been on land for less than the day and already she had been exposed. Her body tensed, and she held in her breath. She thought of all the things she wished she could do to him. She wanted to claw out his eyeballs and shred him to bits, that’s what she wanted to do, but she couldn’t. No matter how much she wanted to, she couldn't. It was the curse of the pearl.
“Are you a mermaid?” The young man asked, and took a step closer.
“Yes, I guess you can say that.” she said in her best english. It had been an awful long time since she had spoken english. She beamed her most charming smile, even though on the inside, she really wanted to eat him. Hunger twisted her insides.
“A mermaid…” he said in awe as if he still couldn’t believe what was happening. Yes, she wanted to say. I’m a mermaid. Now give me back my pearl so I can eat you already! The smell of him was enticing her enough to make her drool, but she kept her mouth shut.
“Please,” she said using her siren’s charm. Her voice instantly became harmonious and hypnotic. It had been a very long time since she'd used her abilities. She hoped she wasn't rusty.
“Give me back my pearl and I shan’t be a nuisance. I shall be on my way at once.” Within moments, seagulls and crabs surrounded her. They became her slaves. Foam bubbled from the crabs’ mouths and the seagulls cawed in worship. But the young man, however, was unaffected. He continued to stare at her in awe as of before. The pearl protected him.
The young man observed his surroundings and said to her, “It’s not safe here. Come with me. You can stay at my place for a while and I’ll get you something to eat.”
Alima couldn’t believe what she heard. It had to be some sort of trickery. But what kind of trick? The young man went to a boat nearby another dock and took some towels.
“You might want to cover up. I’m sorry, but that’s just how things run here,” he said and tossed her the towels. She quickly wrapped them around her and tried to stand. Her legs wobbled, but before she fell, he caught her. He had grabbed her with both arms, one wrapped around her shoulders, and the other, her back.
“Are you alright?” He said, gazing at her with his hazel eyes. He gave off a very gentle aura. He was pretty much average looking. Average height, not very built, he lacked masculine chiseled features, and he had a slightly bronzed tan from working in the sun.
“Yes. Uh...thank you.” She said and shrugged his arms off her. She hated it when people touched her. To avoid him from brushing against her skin, she walked ahead, or at least tried to. By her sixth step, she realized she was dragging her feet rather than lifting them and it embarrassed her that she was so bad at walking. I'd done it before, she thought as she dragged her feet against the hot powdery sand. And I can certainly do it again.
“Do you need help?” The young man said with an awkward smile.
“No, I am fine.” She said and tried to take another step. Although it took a while to get accustomed to walking, but the two of them finally made it to their destination. Freddy opened the door and invited her in. But before she got to go in, he warned her,
“Try to stay quiet. My sister’s asleep and she’ll get really suspicious if she finds out I invited a stranger, especially it’s a girl.”
“I will not make a sound.” She said and entered. She looked around and saw how much the times have changed. The furniture was so much more different and there was a strange, flat, and rectangular device that hung on the wall of the living room.
“Have a seat.” The young man said, and almost automatically, she sat on the carpet floor. The young man eyed her strangely.
“Wouldn’t the sofa be much more comfortable?” Alima felt her face heat up. It was his fault. He had complete control over her and he didn’t even know it. There was a thing about the pearl. Not every mermaid had a pearl, it was only those who had the ability to grow legs that had one. The pearl was more like the catch to their ability to live on land. If a mermaid were to lose her pearl or if it were in the hands of a human, she became his slave and must serve the human until she got it back.
She tried to get up but it was as if her bottom was stuck to the floor. With an irritated grunt, she glanced from the floor to his face to ask if could remove herself off from the floor. The young man gave her yet another strange look.
“You don't look comfortable. Maybe you should get up?” With his permission, she was able to get up and have a seat on the sofa. The young man then turned to leave. She wanted to ask where he was going, but again, without his permission to speak, she could not speak. When he finally returned, he had something in his hand: it was the pearl, except it was looped through a black leather cord. The young man bent down on one knee as if he were to propose. Alima’s heart leaped. She was deathly afraid that he would ask her to marry him.
“Extend your foot,” he said. She did so and he put the anklet on. He adjusted the two knobs on both sides and it fit perfectly around her ankle.
“Now you won’t ever lose it again.” A surge of power went through her. She was free from his grasps. She could eat him now if she’d liked to, but she didn’t. She was conflicted because the men she'd met were not usually this kind. He must’ve taken her silence for displeasure because he asked, “Is there something wrong?”
“Oh, no.” She said. “Thank you. You are too kind.” The young man smiled.
“Let’s get to know each other. Tell me, what is your name?”
“Alima,” she said and hesitantly extended her hand for a handshake, a gesture she'd learned long ago, and they shook hands.
“Freddy…” she said. “What an odd name. Tell me, Freddy, where am I?”
“You’re in Florida.” He said. “Just another state of America if you ask me.”
“America, you say?” She was stunned. The last time she came on land, there were only thirteen states. Perhaps they had added another one. She stretched her arms and yawned.
“Well Freddy, I must be on my way. Thank you for your hospitality.” She said this and stood up from the sofa and Freddy got up also.
“Don’t you want something to eat first? You must be hungry from your journey” He went to the kitchen and quickly prepared her a meal. When he came back, he held a plate in his hand. And on the plate was a strange meal. There were two loaves of bread with meat and some leafy green vegetables packed between them.
“What is that?” She said, and pointed at the meal.
“A sandwich,” he said and held the plate out to her. “Try it, it’s good.”
Alima shuddered at the last time she tried to consume human food. It was a very long time ago but she remembered she became violently sick afterwards. What was that vile excuse of a food called again? Oh yes, a potato.
“I can’t.” She said and pushed the plate away. “I only eat fish.” Fish was no where close to being as good as human flesh, but it was the only humane substitute.
“Okay then,” he said and took placed the plate onto a nearby table. “At least...before you go, can you tell me what it’s like. You know, living in the sea?” She sighed at his request. Why couldn’t he be more like the men she'd met in the past? Why couldn’t he ask for something much simpler like lost riches or better yet, a wish? She accepted his request and told him as little as possible. After all, it’s not like she would ever see him again. She told him about the seven kingdoms, how they each had a queen and how many mermaids there were.
“What brings you on land?” He said.
“The princess of my kingdom has gone missing. Nobody has a clue to how or why she is missing. She was perfectly happy the day before.”
“She left without a trace?”
“What makes you think that she’s in Florida?”
“Nothing,” she said and shrugged. “I just so happened to reach Florida first.”
“Good luck on your mission,” he said with a nod of his head.
“Thanks,” she said with a smile. “Is there anything else you would like to know before I leave?”
“Yes. I have one last question: how old are you?” Alima flinched. That question brought up too many memories at once, and not one of them were pleasant.
“Have you not ever heard to never question a woman about her age?” She said coldly.
“I’m sorry,” he said quickly and waved his hand quickly to dismiss the subject. She felt bad for snapping at him so quickly so she gave him a slight hint.
“But the Phoenicians were sure tasty. Pilgrims were also a close second,” she said this and headed towards the door with her back turned towards him. She didn't need to see him shudder.
“Will I ever get to see you again?” His voice was shaky from fear and yet he had the nerve to ask her if their paths dare cross again. Alima tightly gripped the door handle and it shook with the might of her grasp.
“You better hope not if you would like your flesh and bones intact,” she ran her tongue over her pointed teeth as her mouth began to salivate. Her eyes raced in all directions, remembering all the evils she had done. Even today, she could still hear the screams and moans of agony of her victims begging for mercy.
“What are you?” he said. She couldn't tell whether she heard a hint of curiosity or dismay coming from him. What Alima was certain of was that she could hear the pounding of his beating heart.
“A monster,” she said and left. Freddy slowly went up to the door and locked all three locks, though he was sure he would never see the girl again.