Black Pearl

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The Funeral

No one knew what to do. Her body lied there on the seafloor. It lied limp and lifeless. Ally examined her silently and noted her cold pale skin. She held her hand and felt its stiffness. And her long black tail was spread out on the sand. The sirens, though savage as they seemingly were, bowed their heads down low in honor of their queen. After all, mourning was universal.

“Is she dead?” A siren asked directly from the crowd. She wore a unique amulet around her neck. It was bronze and inscribed in ancient Arabic. A blue turquoise gem was embedded in its center. It was Fayruz.

Ally looked to Katie and she bent kneeled down next to the fallen queen and gently, move aside Alima’s long raven locks away from her neck and pressed two fingers to her carotid artery. Katie gulped and whispered, “No pulse.”

“Damn,” Ally said, her curse caused the sea floor to tremble slightly. “How did this happen? We killed our friend.”

“No,” said the same siren. Ally took note that a black strands of hair covered her left eye. “She was already in too much pain to begin with.”

“I saw her cry,” said Katie. Her eyes reddened as her tears mixed with the sea. “My mother always told me that sirens couldn’t cry.”

“It’s not that we couldn’t. It’s that we shouldn’t cry.” The siren looked to her fellow comrades and she sighed. “Ever since the day we were born, we were constantly warned to never cry. Because if we did, we would shed our essence in our tears and thus, die.” The siren then crouched next to her fallen queen and caressed her cold cheek with the back of her fingers. “My poor majesty. She must’ve suffered so much.” The siren, as expected, did not shed any tears. Her voice did not ring of any pain. Ally could only guess the only emotions the sirens were feeling were pity for their queen and disappointment that their hunt had been called off. “We will have a proper funeral for her.

“Of course,” Ally said and shook the siren’s hand. “With all sincerity, I hope she gets the best funeral. She deserves it.”

“Come,” said the siren and waved her hand in a forward motion, ushering the mermaids to follow the pod of sirens who were already starting to leave. She felt there was something wrong. She knew the sirens were grieving their dead queen but there was something else on their face besides grief. Their complexion was paler than before. Their cheeks were sunken in and their hands were bony. It was as if the skin on their bodies had been sucked of its moisture and became paper. The sirens looked like death.

Ally, however, said nothing about it. Instead, she and Katie followed the sirens. They took them to an isolated cove. It was a shallow pool that was almost completely surrounded by land except for an inlet that connected it to the sea. The sirens tilted their heads upwards, their way of telling her to surface. Ally swam further up until her head broke the water’s surface. She felt the soft orange rays of the setting sun to kiss her face. She squinted through the rays and saw how lovely the cove was. The cove was made mostly of rock and was domed by a open roofed cave. The opening was large enough to let moon be visible as it hung over the cave.

“We shall place her in a tomb,” said a siren in the back. Her hands were slightly shaky like an old person’s. “Long ago, we prepared one for our queen just in case this happened.”

Katie stared at the sirens hard and gnawed her lips with her front teeth. “Are you all okay? You sirens look...sick.”

The sirens breathed a shaky sigh in unison. “We’re dying,” said Fayruz. “The reason why our queen was named The Black Pearl was because to us, it was the only stone that was worthy enough to resemble her beauty and her worth to us. Her life is our life and if she dies,” Fayruz winced as if her breath hurt. “We die along with her.”

“That’s terrible!” Ally exclaimed and she looked to Katie who kept silent. She was thinking the same thing.

“Not really,” said another siren. Her face was wrinkled now. And it wasn’t just a few, her whole face was aging by the minute. Katie looked at the other sirens and they were aging as well.

“Shunned since the beginning,” said a siren.

“Known as living omens,” said Fayruz.

“No one liked us in the first place.”

Ally felt a tear run down her cheek. This wasn’t right. This wasn’t how her adventure was supposed to end. It was supposed to be fun. Freddy should be here, Alima should be alive. The other girls should be with her, having a fun time. How did it end up like this?

“Let’s hurry and bury our queen,” whispered the sirens in the back. They were the ones responsible for carrying Alima’s corpse but they were now so weak that Alima’s body was slipping in their shaky stick-like hands.

With time flying by so fast, they quickly transitioned from sea to land and marched inland into the cave. Inside, a magnificent tomb awaited them, already open. The tomb was adorned with large and lustrous black pearls, as well as old and sunken treasures from the ships the sirens sunk ages back.

“Lay—” Fayruz coughed. “Down—” another cough. “the queen.”

The sirens laid her down as gently as they could. They all stepped back and gazed at the resting queen her her rock tomb. Ally thought she looked peaceful. Her long black hair cascaded down her torso, wrapping around her body like blanket. Alima’s arms were crossed around her chest and her tail was loose and untangled.

Ally could feel her heart breaking. Tears welled up in her eyes, and her eyes stung. She gripped the sides of the tomb and squeezed.

“Please step back,” said Fayruz. “It is time to close up the tomb.” Deep wrinkles creased her face. Ally shuddered when she put a hand on her. Her hand as so thin and the bones were entirely visible.

Ally felt something explode inside of her. After the mellow trembles and rumbles, the treacherous explosion finally happened. She was hot. Her skin singed the water around her and an audible sizzle came from her.

“No.” She said quietly at first.

“We need to close up the tomb,” Fayruz said again, this time more pleadingly.

“No.” Ally said with her trembling lips.

“Please.”

“I can’t.” Ally reached inside the stony tomb and held Alima’s stiff cold hand. “I can’t let go.”

“You must.”

“NOO!” The cove was set ablaze, water and all. The sirens, with no more energy to scream, whimpered. This lasted for barely a minute and the fires died down. The frightened sirens then scurried back to the water and retreated, leaving Ally and Katie alone with the fallen queen.

After a while, Ally realized two things: that she was still holding Alima’s hand and Katie was still by her side.

“You should go.”

“No. This was my fault. It was all my fault.” Katie had so much shame that she couldn’t even look at Alima. Even in her death. “If I hadn’t killed Matthew, he’d still be alive. They could finally have their happy ever after.”

“She would’ve forgiven you.” Ally said.

“I’d rather have her tear me to pieces.” Katie grumbled.

They grieved. They didn’t know how much time had passed and they didn’t care. Maybe because it felt like time had stood still. It wasn’t until the girls showed up that time started to tick again.

They heard a splash from the cove and without needing to turn around, they knew who was there. Maria, Garai, Victoria, Phoebe, Xi-Shi, they were all here.

“She’s gone, isn’t she?” Phoebe said. “I saw it in my vision.” Ally and Katie nodded.

They took a moment to pay their respects together. Garai was then the first to break the silence. “Alima wouldn’t want us to stay here.”

“I know,” Ally said.

“It’s time.” Katie said to her. Ally was finally able to release her grasp on Alima’s tomb.

“Good-bye Alima. Thank you for showing me all of me. For showing me who I was, what I am, and giving me a great adventure.” Ally wiped away one last tear with the back of her hand and sniffed.

“Thank you for being our friend,” Victoria took a step forward.
“For showing us that sirens weren’t that bad,” Garai and did the same.

“For coming back to your people.” Phoebe stepped up.

“May you rest in peace,” Maria saw the stone lid for the tomb leaning against its side. Together, they hauled up the lid and placed it on the tomb, sealing it. When they were finished, they faced the water and looked to each other.

“Where to now?” Victoria asked? She successfully managed to smile.

“Well,” Garai said and playfully nudged her friends. “I promised I’d attend a wedding. Anybody want to come with me?”

“Hmm…” Maria rubbed her chin and said, “A funeral and a wedding in one day. Why does that not sound weird to me?”

They laughed and Xi-Shi said, “I’ll go. A wedding sounds pretty good for one last party.” They smiled at her bitter-sweetly. Another friend they would have to say goodbye to.

“I’ve never been to a wedding before,” said Victoria.

“You’re coming, and so am I.” Phoebe said. “It may not be as fun as a Greek wedding like I’m used to but I’m sure it’ll be fun.”

“Count me in,” Marai beamed.

“And us,” Ally said hooked her arm with Katie.

“So it’s settled,” Garai said. “We’re all going.”

“When is it?” Katie asked.

“Today at sundown,” Garai whispered a spell in Shona and the water in the cove began to swirl clockwise, dragging them in, and sucking them up.

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