Trying to stay afloat above the wispy waters. The salty marine stung the open sores laced all over her body. Being in such conditions left her body frail, weak, almost lifeless. The black critters circling above searching for their feast of the day. The dark clouds swallowed the sky and wept alongside her, brief moments of heavy rain. The sun slowly began to emerge, settling in the center of the sky only meant it was still afternoon. What in reality was a few hours felt like days of pure hell, misery, doubt, and despair. Just six hours ago Marly was on the Prestige cruise line having the time of her life. The night prior she was laughing over jumbo shrimp and alluring the handsome gentleman at the bar. In a split moment, everything changed. Her eventful evening and fun vacation soon felt like a movie scene from Final Destination.
Marly’s day began lighthearted and fun-filled per usual. Morning yoga, a quick swim, and the rest of the day spent limboing at the dive bar and teaching bartending classes to the guests. Marly decided to relax for the evening, let her crown flow free.
Marly wanted to get the most out of life, and she was doing just that. Taking the summer semester off from studying Marine Science, she decided to pick up a gig as the cruise line bartender. A Nubian beauty, as real and chocolate as they come, she was not only a pleasure to the eyes, she was also bright. Marly had a way with words; and an even more enticing aura on people. A crowd-pleaser, she loved the attention of the guests on the ship, bartending was the perfect job. She would be gone among the sea for 45 days out of the summer just serving guests booze and hanging out in the great ocean. Best of both worlds Marly thought, what could go wrong?
Funny how it is always when you think that nothing can go wrong, everything does.
Marly wore her fitted red dress and gold metallic heels for a shimmery pop. Shiny gold jewels accessorized onto her body, giving her a true Nubian goddess vibe. She allowed her tresses to hang freely for the evening. Lashes fully extended, she was ready to take on the nightlife crowd.
Stepping into the bar on the lower deck, Marly scanned the room. She didn't mind going out alone. There was more fun and spontaneity that arose from her evenings alone, doing whatever…or whomever...she pleased.
Marly’s eyes soon fell upon the shiny Milk-Dud shaped head glistening across the room.
The humidity of the evening brought clouds of dew and sweat. The lower deck bar had a balcony ocean view where the handsome Milk-Dud head man sat, sipping on liquor.
Marly made headway.
“Hello,” the man said as she got closer. His voice stern yet gentle. Thickly accented, Marly was quickly enticed. Bashfully, she replied, “Hi, I’m Marly”.
He gave a head nod towards the chair beside him. “I’m James.” he said, “Would you like to join me?”
Her heart fluttered and her gut did the dance. She longed to know more about the mystery man named James.
James kept the drinks coming, the DJ kept the beats going, and Marly kept her eyes locked into his.
So dreamy, Marly thought.
“Dance with me” James insisted.
He was light on his feet, took lead when needed, and held back to give her shine. Marly fell head over heels for his charisma. Maybe it was the third Berry Cosmopolitan, but she felt the warmth in her heart. A big grin plastered on her face, bearing her pearly whites all night long.
James was an international photographer, enjoying a five-day cruise break in between jobs. Well-traveled, educated, and adventurous, James was almost too good to be true. Out of all the nights, Marly went fishing for fun and adventure, never had she dreamed to run into this.
After the night of dancing, James and Marly were so drunkenly in love from this bar encounter they decided to hang out on the upper deck of the ship to watch the sunrise. Both in agreement, their night of fun could not come to an end.
Ordering two greasy bacon cheeseburgers from the late-night grill, they clobbered to the upper deck of the ship. Marly had access to hidden gems on the ship where regular guests were denied. As a member of the cruise line, she had key card access to almost anywhere, one of the many perks of the Prestige cruise line employee package.
James and Marly laid down a blanket and began to bask under the dewiness of sunrise. Snuggled in blankets, cozying up to enjoy each other's company. They spoke about their dreams and aspirations. What he did for a living, traveling the world, taking photographs for top models, and headlining magazines. He lived in Miami when he wasn't traveling, where he loved to watch sports, anime, and pimple popping YouTube videos.
Marly was fascinated with James. She could lie in his defined arms forever, but she knew this fling was only temporary. Falling in love wasn't Marly’s style. Marly had to focus, she had too much going for her, she believed there was no such time for her to settle down. Marly dismissed the idea of love with casual sex, besides, all men wanted was a quick fix, none of them actually wanted to work for love. Love was not what she was after, she was only here for a good time.
The sun slowly crept over the horizon as they gazed into the vast oceanic unknown. Time passed before the alcohol began to fade and her bed called her name. Marly hugged James goodbye and they parted ways, off to their separate quarters.
Getting back into her quarters, Marly took off her red dress and tossed aside those gold metallic heels. The jewels that once laced her body, now on various parts of the upper deck floorboard.
She climbed into the steaming shower and let the water engulf her. Scrub and rinse, pink cherry-blossom body wash aroma filled the small bathroom. Final rinse and dry, Marly slipped into an oversized T-shirt and climbed into her plush fleece sheets. Pulling the sheets over her head, she let the rocking of the ship and the sound of the waves nurse her to sleep.
Snap, crackle, pop!
The sound of thunder woke her from her deep slumber. Middle of the afternoon the sky looked as dark as night. “A storm?” Marly whispered.
The sirens began to blare the sound of an emergency. The static intercom system announcing a whirlpool on the horizon. The currents of where they floated the ship into were right in the midst of a tropical storm which caused a swirling whirlpool. A natural disaster out of their control, mother nature was to have her way.
Shipwrecked and lost at sea. The storm was twenty minutes of wind, rain, hail, and destruction. Encompassing everything in its grasps, the Prestige cruise ship was spun into wood chips and plank pieces. Oils and small fires spread rampantly in the vast ocean. Sounds of many cries, Marly knew this was the end, and grief set in.
The news will have to be all over this, her parents will be looking for her. All the endless possibilities floated in her head as she lay there, in the midst of despair. With no true family or anyone close for support, Marly had to survive out in those murky waters alone. Marly was unsure, uneasy.
As quickly as it came is as quickly as it left. The sun beamed high and the vultures came out for a feast amidst the destruction, she prayed for death. She mourned the losses of those around her. All the other passengers on the cruise line were slowly being transported by rescue boats, but the local island nearby could only hold so many passengers. The boats came in waves, what felt like an eternity was only hours in time in between each voyage to landfall.
Among the first to be rescued were the small children and expectant mothers, young adults, women, and among the final wave was the men.
Men… Men… Speaking of men!
Marly quickly gasped! “James!”
It seemed as though a mirage was shimmering through the horizon. Marly pinched herself, she thought she was dreaming. Marly tossed some water on her frail face and began to sit up on her makeshift raft.
A few more voyages left, and she was the next up to get back home, her mind must have been playing games.
James came swimming up rather quickly. “Marly!” “Marly is that you?!” his thick accent rang a sing-song familiar tone in her ear.
“It is you!” Marly gushed.
Out from under James was a bright red piece of fabric.
“I saw a red dress in the water” he held up the fabric. “I freaked out! I couldn't stop thinking about you.” James leaned up against Marlys raft. “I knew the moment I saw the dress floating in the water, that I wanted to see the girl who wore this very dress for the rest of my life.”
A small boat approached Marlys raft. Saved alas! Marly quickly climbed in.
Marly gazing away as if in a trance, startled by the soft tap on her shoulder. Stroking her baby boy Caleb's fresh newborn skin, Marly recalled the trying tale of how she met the man of her dreams, her life partner and soulmate for life.
Marly turned back and James from behind embraced Marly and Caleb into his arms.
“Life has a funny way of turning the unexpected into something great” Marly coaxed. Her heart beamed at the new life great love had brought her.