Black Pearl

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An Unplanned Reunion

“You may now kiss the bride!” declared the reverend.

Antoine, the overjoyed groom, pulled in his blushing bride for a kiss as the golden orange sunset casted them in its spectacular spotlight. Everyone cheered, and, at the same time, the yacht honked loud and proud as if it itself was blessing the couple. They looked beautiful, even if they weren’t dressed in the traditional white dress and black tux. The newlyweds were more comfortable and stylish in their floral print shirts and bermuda shorts flower crowns.

“Let the after party begin!” Maria said with a solid grin on her face. Phoebe ran across the rose petal-littered-aisle and switched on the stereo. Cabana music laced the atmosphere in a ribbon of tropical air and everyone began to dance to its rhythm. There was a lot of tripping, apologizing, and awkward dancing but it was still fun. Garai shimmied her way to Victoria, swaying her hips and rolling her hands and bumped into her. Victoria, who was in the middle of sipping her punch, spilled her drink all over the deck. Garai gasped and saw Victoria’s shocked expression slowly simmered down to a smile and they both laughed.

And then, almost out of nowhere, Greg snuck up behind Garai and hooked his arm under hers and stole her away so they could dance until the night ended. The party was so lively that almost everyone was doing something. Everyone except Ally. She was sitting at one of the guests’ tables. She sighed as she leaned on the table, cradling her head with her hands, elbows plunged into the chlorophyll green table cloth. Ally was fine watching everyone else have fun from afar. She thought it was the only way she could enjoy the party, considering her mood. After the wild adventure she had, she was tired. She could feel her bones ache, her mind turned to mush, but her heart still reminisced of all the excitement and wonders she experienced. How, in this state, can she be there with everyone else, dancing and laughing?

She let out a little grunt as she made the tedious effort to turn her head so that she could see her brother, Freddy, awkwardly trying to slow dance with his (most-likely-already) girlfriend. “Good for you,” she said quietly to herself. “At least you’re happy.” And alive, she wanted to add. She missed Alima. She should’ve been here, and Matthew too. Ally still felt guilty for her death. Even though it wasn’t entirely her fault, she did contribute to Alima’s fatal heartbreak. She felt a warm tear dribble down from her eye to the wooden deck. She whimpered and let the tears pour. After all, she was sitting at the furthest table, which was shadowed by the side of the stage. She wanted to cry. Correction, she needed a good cry. She hadn’t had the chance to since Alima’s death. But it didn’t last long. A sound of a different music came from behind the stage. It was soft and far away and barely audible. Anyhow, it caught her attention. Who’s playing this song?

She got up from her table and cautiously made her way to the stage, climbing up the stairs and to the curtains. The clicks of her blue stilettos echoed across the stage. As she got nearer, the tropical upbeat music of the after party behind her began to fade and it was replaced instead by the new music. The music became much clearer now, and Ally could deduce that the hints of romantic whines she heard from outside were produced by a violin. Ally lifted the curtain, a heavy black velvet sheet, and moved it aside. She closed her eyes now and listened more. To her surprise, she realized that she knew the song. The lyrics made their way to her tongue.

When marimba rhythms start to play,

Dance with me, make me sway.

Like a lazy ocean hugs the shore

Hold me close, sway me more.

Ally took some more steps forward. Her heart raced and legs were becoming numb by the second. She didn’t know why, but she suddenly felt so scared to see who was behind the stage. She was afraid to see a ghost. Ally trudged closer and closer until finally, she was back stage. The only thing that separated her and the person was a wall that was not completely enclosed. She couldn’t get herself to peer past the wall she so closed her eyes and listened.

The violin continued to sing its heart out. Its notes constantly switched from a low sensual tone to passionate shrills. Whoever the musician was, Ally could tell he or she had years, possibly decades, of experience. The musician added his or her own flair to a classic song. This only made her even more curious on the musician’s identity. Her desire to to find out burned throughout her body.

Finally, when she couldn’t take it anymore, she mentally counted down and jutted head out of the wall, but only enough so that her forehead and eyes showed, nothing more. Ally held in her breath as she saw the not one, but two figures behind the stage. It was a man and a woman. Ally squinted in the darkness but even doing so, she could not make out their faces. Everything else, however, she could see fine. The woman, she noticed, was wearing a bright orange traditional dress that fully covered her body, including her pearl black hair, with long baggy sleeves that hung like drapes. She twirled and danced to the music played by the man. His hair a chestnut brown, his face a blur, and he wore a vintage suit, the kind you’d see when you opened up your U.S history book. Nestled between his jaw and shoulder was his violin which was vigorously scrubbed with the strokes of his bow. Romantic music blared from him.

While the woman was dancing gracefully, Ally noticed she peaked from her shut eyes often, making quick darting glances at the man like she was afraid of losing him. She ended her dance prematurely to walk up to the man to embrace his face with her warm hands. The man stopped playing and they gazed into eachother’s eyes meaningfully. Ally longed to see their faces and continued to watch them from a safe distance.

“Put your playing to rest,” said the woman. She said this gently while cradling the man’s face in her hands. At hearing the sound of her voice, it sent a chill down Ally’s body. She sounded so familiar. No, she told herself. It can’t be her. It can’t be.

“I’m not tired,” the man insisted. Half of his lips curled into a slight smile. “I want to play so I can watch you dance. It’s been so long since I’ve seen you dance.”

“Let’s dance together.” The woman took his hand in hers and took a step back. “It’ll be just like the old times.”

The man took a step forward but his unease was evident. “But how can we dance without music?”

The woman shook her head like it was a foolish question. She allowed herself to twirl once under him and then leaned her back against his chest. “We dance to the music in our hearts.”

The man then held her by the waist and she looked up to him, eager to dance. Ally noticed the way they looked at eachother, it was endearment, but at the same time, she sensed that underneath it was fear—fear that they’ll be torn apart. That feeling came mostly from the man and the woman quickly saw it through him. Her smile dropped.

The man then wrapped his arms around her and sighed wistfully. “I’m sorry,” he apologized to her and buried his face in her hair. “It’s just that—”

“No,” said the woman. “We don’t have to dance if you don’t want to. We can just stay here, like this.” They stood there, trapped in each other’s embrace. Both felt safe there without the presence of words.

Ally wondered how long had she been snooping. It didn’t feel right, the couple was hiding here for a reason—they wanted to be left alone. But still, they were at a wedding. They should be out there celebrating with the other guests. The brick of logic struck Ally in the head and sent a shock throughout her body which caused her to nearly tip over. Could it be that they were never invited in the first place? Throughout their whole conversation, Antoine’s wedding was never once mentioned. Who were these people?

It was too weird. She needed to tell the others. Maybe they’ll convince her that her suspicions were total nonsense. That’s it. Silent yet stealthy, she slipped down the stairs and back to the party. The scene that awaited her proved that she had indeed been gone for a while. Looking off to the reels of the yacht, she saw that the sun had fully set and the black darkness of night successfully forced down the orange glow of sunset and left behind a handful of stars in the sky. The moon was a slim yellow crescent that hung above them. And down below, the guests were no longer dancing and were now occupying the candle-lit dinner tables, dining on their diverse appetizers. The atmosphere was so delightfully warm with the friendly chatter and the gleam of the silverware. She scanned the area for her friends and eventually spotted Maria who was seated to the far right along with Victoria, Garai, Phoebe, Katie, and Freddy. They were busy giggling at Maria who was poking at a shish kebab. Her face lingered with puzzlement of the bizarre and foreign cuisine.

Ally made her way towards them. Their faces turned to her in recognition.

“Hey Ally! We were just wondering where you were!” Katie waved to her and picked up the shish kebab in her hand and pointed it to her. “You should’ve been here. Maria freaked out when we told her that they were made of lamb meat.”

“Hey!” Maria barked. “In my defense, I didn’t even know what a lamb was!”

Victoria laughed hard until her sides hurt. “It was so funny. Freddy had to pull up a picture of a lamb on his phone just to show her.”

“They’re so cute,” Maria sniffed, her eyes shiny with tears. Ally couldn’t tell if they were real or fake. “Why would anyone eat them?”

“Ha ha ha, that’s very funny,” Ally said in a rushed manner and darted her attention to the stage and back at her friends. “But there’s something important I need to show you all.”

“Is it the wedding cake? Have you seen it?” Phoebe said eagerly, and licked her lips. “I’m so looking forward to it. Back in Greece, we didn’t serve cake at our weddings, just lots of wine, meat, and a lot of other foods. Oh! And we’d invite the whole village.”

Ally paused and frowned while crossing her arms, keeping her severe expression fixed. It was then when the others recognized how urgent she was. Their smiles faded and they paid close attention to her.

“What’s wrong?” Freddy asked.

“You all have to come see for yourselves.”

Ally led them backstage where they all tried their best to hide behind the wall. “Who are they?” she asked them. One by one, they poked their heads out and saw the couple. They continued to eavesdrop.

The man and woman were still there, but this time they were much more at ease as they rested with their backs pressed against the walls and were some inches apart, yet still close enough to almost touching. The man nudged her knee with his and said, “You should go talk to them. They’re your friends.”

“You have no idea how much I want to.” The woman smiled slightly. Her curled lips looked so familiar. “But it’ll be selfish to do so. They’ll need time to process it. After all, it’s not everyday someone comes back from the dead.”

The man scratched his chin playfully, in a fake deep thought and said, “Hm...I don’t know about that. I’ve came back twice. You’ve done it once. Together that makes three. And there have been records of people coming back from the dead.”

The woman raised her brow at him and said playfully, “Do you want me to kill you again? I’ve done it before.”

The man raised his hands in defeat. “Never mind then. Forget about the undead thing. But still, when do you plan to show yourself to them?”

The group, still huddled behind the wall, exchanged befuddled glances. Without even speaking, they all came to a mutual agreement: this was no ordinary couple. They went back to watching the odd couple but Victoria, in particular, was having some trouble seeing. Five heads were in her way.

“Let me see!” Victoria whispered harshly, Although it wasn’t her initial intention, she shoved Freddy a little too hard and ended up causing a domino effect. Freddy slammed into Katie, who knocked down Garai, who collapsed on Phoebe, who tackled down Maria. They all collapsed onto the floor of the backstage. The wooden deck creaked from the impact. And now, they were completely exposed, feeling naked from the eyes of the odd couple.

“And the reunion starts early,” The woman said, a wide smile lit up her entire face and the group recognized her immediately. It was Alima.

The groups’ faces turned pale. They thought they were seeing a ghost. “What? How? When?” Maria’s jaw dropped.

“Alima…” Ally really thought she was going to faint this time. They were all shocked but no one was as terrified as Katie. With her eyes wide and limbs dangling, she had to excuse herself to prevent herself from fainting.

“Yes, it’s me,” Alima said. “And yes, I’m alive,” she said and rolled her eyes to state the obvious. The whole group was so thunderstruck that Alima realized she needed to be the one to speak and that she needed to do it fast before they all became like Katie. “It’s a little bit complicated but you should know I wasn’t completely dead when you sealed me in my tomb. I was dying but not dead. My heart had shattered into so many pieces that my body went into shock and I went unconscious. After you entombed me, I laid there for a bit until my savior arrived.” Her eyes went to the man and she gave him a shove.

“Ow,” he said but Alima ignored him.

“He was late,” she emphasized. “But eventually he came.”

“Um, you forgot I can’t go out in the sun.”

“Well you should’ve brought an umbrella or something.”

“It-It doesn’t work like that!” The man argued back and Alima glared at him. She was about to open her mouth to argue again but she felt the stares of her friends on her.

“My bad for getting off topic,” she apologized. “As I was saying, my savior finally arrived and fixed me up.”

“True love’s kiss.” The man added in. “Oldest magic in the book.”

Alima nodded. “My heart was mended together and I was brought back to life.” She got close to the man who then wrapped his arm around her and pulled her close. “After that, he flew us out of the cave, bought me a dress, and flew us here for the wedding.”

“ romantic,” Ally muttered. The fact the she was speaking was a good sign. She was beginning to snap out of her daze.

“Well, it was supposed to be romantic but we kind of ran into a couple of birds along the way.”

“They sure made a tasty snack,” The man licked his lips and Alima unwrapped his arms from around her. “Did you really have to feed while flying? I couldn’t even talk to you because you were so busy sucking the life out of birds!”

The man narrowed his eyes at her and said sarcastically, “I’m sorry. Flying three-thousand-miles really drains a guy, you know?”

“AHEM!” Freddy coughed loudly. The couple ceased arguing and spun their heads around to face him.

“Yeah?” They said as one.

“I get how you’re alive,” he said directly to Alima, “but who is this?”

The man raised a brow at him and laughed. “You really don’t recognize me? We went to Paris together and you watched me diminish into ashes.”

Freddy struggled to get his name out of his mouth. “Matthew?”

“Uncle Matthew?” Ally said.

“That’s me! How are you kids doing?” Matthew went to them and rubbed their heads in endearment.

“ got stabbed in the heart with a wooden stake!”

“Novice Vampire hunter.” Matthew glanced around as if to look for anymore eavesdroppers and whispered, “Never let a vampire’s ashes fly away. I bet no one ever told you that, eh?” His deep blue eyes sparkled.

“Wow.” Garai breathed and rubbed her broad forehead.

“It’s fine, take as much time as you need to take it all in.” Alima said understandingly.

“Agreed.” Matthew said. “Although...maybe you guys could finish taking it all in by the time the cake’s cut? I haven’t been to a wedding in a couple of decades.” He managed to summon a couple of laughs.

“I want cake!” Victoria said and dashed off. “Come get some before it’s all gone!” The others ran after her and they all went down back to the party. In the end, everyone got a slice of cake. It was checkerboard style, which everyone loved. And after that, they threw a toast to the newlyweds, champagne glasses in the air, followed by more dancing. Everyone danced to their heart’s content and the party ended when the bride and groom raced off to their suites. It really was a wedding to remember.

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