They had always met on the docks near sunset.
Adalaide had come to dread this tradition of theirs, not the meeting part, but the build-up. The planning ahead, telling her husband she was going out. He would respond with ‘where?’, to which she would have to lie and say with a friend. It wasn’t a whole lie, Holly was her friend. Bert didn’t know her, though, so he assumed instead that Adalaide was out with Briar or Zelda. She had always looked forward to these meetings, now they only stirred anxiety in her.
Adalaide searched for the ship. She knew she looked out of place here, in a dull green number with bell sleeves, her hair pinned in an updo. She could feel the needles clawing at her head with the slightest movement. Holly had said she would be on a different ship, one she bought in Spain according to her letter. She offered no description of it, much to Adalaide’s annoyance; she waited where they usually met-under the lamp post near Bigsby’s Tavern- and hoped Holly would appear. Looking around and finding Holly wasn’t in sight, she slipped off the silver wedding band, stuffed it in her dress sleeve, and replaced it with an opal one.
Adalaide waited for what seemed like forever; it tended to feel like that when Holly was concerned. She pulled out the letter that had arrived a few days before. Bert had found it and asked who it was from; she played dumb and pretended to briefly read it and throw it out before he could read it. That was the beautiful thing about Bert, he forgot about things quickly, and he didn’t make connections easily. He had accused her, playfully, of using charmspeak to entice him. Adalaide never meant to use it intentionally; she swore, and she was telling the truth unknown to Bert. It was something, even after all this time, that she had trouble controlling.
She checked the date and time written on the letter for the hundredth time that week. It was tonight. No one was really around, save for drunken beggars, women offering their services to lonely sailors, and those who entered and exited the tavern (it was Sunday, the business was slow). Adalaide felt a presence behind her.
“I was beginning to think you weren’t going to show,” she said before turning.
“And miss seeing you? Not for the end of the world,” Holly was wearing brown trousers, boots, and a black coat; a sword hung at her hip. Her dark hair was pulled into a low ponytail, loose strands hung in her face. Holly held out her arm, “Shall we?”
Ada took her arm without responding. The two walked around the docks in comfortable silence. It was something Ada missed, being able to walk and observe everything in peace. With Bert, he was pointing out every bird, flower, and cloud that caught his eye. It was worse if it rained, he would point it out repeatedly and try to determine the number of raindrops falling at a time (he would always lose count. She didn’t know why she married him sometimes). After a short walk, they came upon a wooden ship with intricate carvings on its exterior barely visible in the dull street lamp.
“My God,” Ada flinched at her words. “I knew you said you had a new ship, but I never imagined anything like this.”
“Just wait until you see the inside.”
“How did you get this?”
“Through some negotiations.”
“You don’t want to know.”
“I think I do.”
“What if I told you we’d be drinking the man who sold me this ship?”
“I would be disgusted.”
“Well, prepare yourself then.”
“How could he have sold you the ship if you killed-”
“Hush, darling. Wouldn’t want me to get caught now, would you? You need to relax, everything is fine.” They boarded the ship. Ada didn’t think it would be difficult, but her skirt caught on one of the carvings on the side and tore.
“Come now, I have spare outfits you can use.” They were quick to walk across the deck and towards a wooden door with a raven painted onto it. Holly unlocked the black latch and held the door open for Ada. “I never liked you in green anyways.”
Ada was surprised to find that Holly owned dresses, for as long as she had known her, she had only worn one a handful of times (unwillingly and with much dread that is). She chose a white frilly, flowy number that looked the least complicated to put on. The material was soft, Ada thought it was the fanciest nightdress she had ever seen.
“Where did you get a dress like this?”
“Spain, it’s also where I got this ship.”
“Have you traveled elsewhere?” Ada stepped behind a dressing blind and began removing her torn up dress. She was careful not to drop the silver band from her sleeve, she took it out and clutched it tightly in her right palm.
“Sure, Belgium, Denmark, Italy, Germany, France-”
“Where has been your favorite place?” She tossed her dress, so it hung on the blind and stepped into the white dress, it’s soft material embracing her in a loose hug.
“Any place where you are,” Holly said. Ada couldn’t see her but knew she was smiling.
“Do you have something I can use to sew my dress?”
“I may let me look.” Ada stepped out from behind the blind, grabbing her green dress. Holly was still in her coat, searching through the mahogany wardrobe Ada had found the dress she was in now. The room was cozy, with wooden walls and stuff everywhere. An unkempt bed with red sheets was near the dressing blind, a desk laid on the opposite corner of the room, two chairs with red velvet lining sat on the outside of it. Daggers, empty wine bottles, papers, and dirty clothes were littered throughout the room. A grey tea set with white floral designs sat atop the desk, ready to be used. Ada turned back to Holly and saw her staring at her.
“Nothing, nothing,” Holly wasn’t one for blushing. Ada liked to joke that her cheeks glowed. “Here, I found this. I could only find black thread, I’m sorry I-”
“No, no, it’ll do fine. Thank you.” Ada took the needle and thread from Holly. They stood in silence for a few moments; the soft sounds of water sloshing the sides of the ship lulled throughout the room.
“Have a seat,” Holly led Ada to the desk with the tea set, she sat Ada down in one of the velvet chairs in front of the desk before taking her place in the grand leather behind it. “How has this life been?”
“Adventurous, I guess that comes with being the Captain of the Cursed Siren.” Holly had poured them their drink and offered Ada a cup of the red liquid.
“Is this really the man from earlier?”
“Benicio Arnau was an ass, he deserved what was coming-”
“My God,” Ada took the cup with her left hand, her right still occupied holding the ring. She sniffed the cup and became dizzy, it had been years since she had tasted the blood of another human. An extreme hunger brewed within her, “Why not go out and get one of the street sleepers? There was a hearty man in the alleyway not too far-”
“What’s wrong with Benicio?” Holly asked as she drank from her cup. “I think he tastes just fine.”
“I can’t do this.”
“It’s not right-”
“And taking one of the poor unfortunate souls out there is any better?”
“It’ll end their suffering.”
“Suffering?” Holly scoffed as she continued to drink. “They don’t suffer. They don’t know the first thing about suffering, their lives are over before they know it. They don’t get time to suffer.” Ada stayed silent and began sewing her dress skirt back together.
“Just try it, I know you want to. How long has it been since you’ve had a drink?”
“I had one this morning-”
“A mortal’s blood?”
“See? I bet you haven’t had a human’s since the last time we were together.” Ada didn’t want to fuel Holly’s pride any further and continued working on her dress. “At least try it?”
“I don’t want to end up hurting anyone.”
“You won’t, I promise. I’ll make sure of it.” Holly set her cup down and poured herself another drink. “Come now, let’s toast.”
“To seeing each other again! It’s been years, Ada.”
Ada smiled and took her cup from off the desk, raised her with Holly, and the two drank. Ada felt warm, mortal’s blood always had that effect on her. With the animal’s blood, everything was normal and a bit cold. Human blood, possibly because it was so rare to her, made her feel out of her body. She assumed it was what mortals felt like after consuming enough alcohol (she’d never had that reaction. alcohol only tasted bitter to her). Ada took another drink, nearly finishing her cup.
“Adalaide, take it slow. I know how you are with this stuff.”
“Then why did you want me to drink it in the first place?”
“Because everything is okay in moderation, darling.”
“But, I want more now!” Ada stood abruptly and lunged for the teapot, her silver ring clattered on the desk.
“Ada, stop!” Holly shouted as she took the teapot in time. She looked and saw the ring on her desk. She picked it up and held it towards Ada. “What the hell is this?”
“Nothing!” Ada reached for it, only for Holly to pull back, causing Ada to fall atop the desk, nearly missing the tea set.
“What has gotten into you?!” Holly stood, disgust laced her voice. She walked around the desk to look at the ring in a better light. “Who gave this to you?”
“Holly, it’s nothing-”
“Who?” Holly turned, Ada was shocked to see her eyes red, on the verge of tears. Ada didn’t say anything, she just kept her head down.
“I thought since you were wearing the ring. The one I gave you all those years ago that we still had something.” Ada had never seen Holly cry before, she poured herself another cup of blood and downed it. Holly returned to her place behind the desk. Ada began filling herself another cup full, only for Holly to gently lay her hand atop hers.
“I think you’ve had quite enough, dear,” Holly composed herself.
“I’m sorry,” Ada said after a few moments.
“Who is she?” Holly said as she poured herself a cup of blood. “Tell me about her.”
“His name is Bert-”
“Yes,” Holly didn’t speak, so Ada continued. “He’s a butcher-”
“Does he know?”
“Quite the secret to carry. I suppose it’s smart though, marrying a butcher who can supply you with daily sustenance-”
“He’s very kind-”
“I wasn’t finished!” Holly exploded. They sat in another uncomfortable silence for what seemed like forever. “How long?”
“It’s not important.”
“How long after we last met did you begin courting him?!” Holly slammed her cup against the desk, blood splattered everywhere, onto Ada’s new dress and her old one. “Shit!”
“It’s fine, it’s fine,” Ada said. “Don’t worry about this right now.” Silence covered the room again, Ada went back to sewing her dress.
“Were you going to tell me?” Ada stayed silent, her sewing becoming more frantic. “Adalaide-”
“I didn’t know how to tell you. I wanted to avoid this whole thing.”
“Why did you do it?”
“I thought I would never see you again-”
“I don’t believe you. Need I remind you: we are immortal. We would’ve crossed paths again eventually.”
“But I didn’t know how long!”
“You knew I wouldn’t keep you waiting for long! I never do!”
“I just wanted something different-”
“Do you love him? What does he offer that I don’t.”
“He’ll die someday, that’s what he offers,” Ada looked up at Holly furious. “He is a short term commitment for me.”
“Nevermind you already had a long term one with me, or so I thought.”
“Oh, come on now. Don’t tell me you haven’t been with someone else within your tenure as a Captain? All the talk is that women must hide because pirate pillage and rape-”
“How dare you compare me to those monsters?! Humankind is a sickness, they are all infected-” Ada started crying, Holly stopped.
“I don’t know what to do! I’m not happy, I love Bert I do. But I’m not happy. I miss being with you, I miss us. I wasn’t going to come tonight. I wasn’t. I closed myself off from you long ago. Oh, Holly, what have I-ow!” Ada Rose, in all of her distress, had scraped the needle across her palm. Blood immediately began to leak from the wound and down her hand. Holly was there in a moment, she looked at Ada as if asking permission, Ada nodded. Holly brought Ada’s palm to her mouth. She then began to kiss her wrists, her lips lingered on her neck.
“Let me in, please, it’s been too long.” Ada tilted her head back and closed her eyes, letting Holly in.
Amanda May is a senior at Lindenwood University. She is majoring in English Literature with an Emphasis in Creative Writing and minoring in Journalism. When she isn’t writing, she can probably be found screaming or crying (or both) about Star Wars, anime, or Florence + The Machine. She can be found on Twitter and Instagram @Amandalorian451