You Look Quite Divine Tonight

It’s early September 1895, a boat with a 30 passengers and 10 crew set out from a French port city to the Iberian Peninsula before its blown off course and wrecked on an island off the Portuguese coast. There three survivors build an unshakable bond and learn safety can be found in the most unlikely of places.

Madame Apolline La Lune remembered the letter from Conrad MacDowell urging her to come to the Iberian Peninsula and help him with his newest case. How could she not? The detective in charge of investigating the murder of the heiress of one of the most powerful families needed her help. Crazy. Still, she agreed. She remembered boarding a ship with Lord Benson Nightengale and Oksana Cel Tradat, who were also there to help Conrad. She remembered other fuzzy faces, like the guy with the scar, all on their way to the Iberian Peninsula. Maybe they were there to see family, go on vacation, or a multitude of other reasons. But, Apolline did not remember an island.

Yet when she woke up, her brain fuzzy and vision swirling, she was at the foothill of a lush mountain hidden under a mossy outcropping covered by low-hanging branches. Apolline sat up and peeked out beyond her outcropping. She looked and saw bushes and a blue speck of what could be the ocean. She could barely see the water from her vantage point, but she stumbled her way through the forest towards it all the same. Aches and pain that went previously unnoticed made themselves abundantly clear and proved this was not some twisted nightmare. The fuzziness was only increasing so she wandered back to her outcropping and sat down wondering if there was food (she hadn’t seen any while stumbling) or shelter (her outcrop would have to do) or even people for that matter. Flashes of color invaded her brain, but nothing ever substantial enough to form a picture. 

 As she sat she dozed, the fuzziness in her head growing ever stronger, the weakness in her bones felt heavier. Water water water water everywhere nowhere to go, fitfully she tossed her head, like the storm that rocked the boat and tossed passengers about, the flashes of color were growing stronger, Apolline, Benson, and Oksana grabbing their trunks and throwing them into the sea, she saw faces – was that Benson and Oksana? Diving into the fitful sea before it dragged everyone down, Apolline wondered if her friends? Companions? She didn’t know where they stood, were safe and alive. Grabbing her trunk and floating, swimming? To the shore, running, hiding, praying. She groaned, eyes blinking open to the harsh afternoon light. She sat there, limbs slightly askew wondering where Oksana and Benson were, and where their trunks had gone. She blinked – the trunks! If she could find the trunks, she could hopefully find a trail to them.

Apolline ran to the beach as fast as her sore legs and heavy bones could allow. Her chest was heaving with the effort and waves of pain rushing through her body, leaving little pinpricks of pain. As Apolline broke through the tree line, the ground under her feet became soft sand, easier than the dirt and rocks of the forest. The sand, a beach, stretched out to either side of her and rolled into the ocean. It was indeed water she had seen – the ocean, a still, slumbering, azure blue beast so different from the roiling darkness from last night. Was it last night? She wasn’t sure. Apolline walked stumbling along the beach, the pain now an ever-constant companion, and tried to find someone, anyone, or even a trunk that could lead her to her companions. She rounded a small bend on the beach and found a small sea cave, water peacefully lapping at the rocks. The water was cool and a balm on her sore feet, but what was in that cave was an even better balm.

Two figures sat, huddled near each other. Three trunks sat idly near them. In any other situation, in any other place, they would be cause for worry or scrutiny. However, for a tired, bone-weary Apolline, these two figures and the three trunks were a sight of joy.

“Benson, Oksana?” she called out quietly, “Is that you? Are you ok?” Apolline coughed, her voice hurt, but she was more worried they might not be awake, or worse, injured. 

A silence descended on the cave and thick like a woolen cloak in winter, but then a quiet voice broke the heavy silence. “Apolline? Is that you?”, the voice was just as tired and in pain as Apolline’s. 

She had seen them shift, but due to the semi-darkness it was hard to tell who had talked.

“Apolline if that is you, and I think it is, I believe Benson hit his head on something he hasn’t woken yet.” 

The long sentence made it clear it was Oksana talking, her deep rumbling voice with the accent clearer now. It was somewhat worrisome that Benson hadn’t woken yet, but with night around the corner, they would need to move. 

Apolline called back, “Yes Oksana it’s me, Apolline.” A soft noise of recognition could be heard, “We should move. We can carry Benson back to my outcrop, as the tides may shift tonight.”

“Alright, how do you propose we carry him?” Oksana replied.

“That man is sticks and bones – I think you can carry him.” 

Oksana huffed quietly, “You’re not wrong.” Oksana steadied herself on the cave wall and then picked Benson up. 

Apolline watched as they exited the cave. Oksana’s braid had come undone and her hair was now tangled along her back, nicks and cuts lined her arms and legs. She looked as terrible as Apolline felt. Benson looked worse than the two, his suit ragged and ripped and his glasses cracked. His eyes were closed and his face looked more peaceful than the pensive look he wore while on the ship. Apolline and Oksana nodded to each other and Apolline led the way to her outcropping, neither talking, but the silence was neither awkward nor uncomfortable. It was nice and comforting, like a mug of hot cocoa on a cold winter’s day. When they reached the outcropping, Oksana laid Benson, still unconscious, on the ground. She stretched, bones popping. 

“Maybe we should drag the trunks onto the beach, make sure they don’t wash away,” Apolline proposed, Oksana nodded. They both knew what was in those trunks. 

They headed back down to the beach and entered the small sea cave. The sun was slowly dipping behind the horizon. They had just managed to drag the last trunk onto the beach when the moon started glimmering in the sky.

“In my home village,” Oksana began staring at the sky, “we used to say the Moon had a patron goddess who would protect the children from monsters if they helped and entertained her. We had a silly dance and festival, all the children would run and play under the moon. It was the most freeing feeling in the world.” 

Apolline stilled herself. Oksana had seemed reclusive and alone like her, but here was Oksana staring at the moon, a small smile playing across her face.  Even with the cuts and the weariness, the moonlight bathing them in a white glow, Apolline thought she was beautiful, a moon goddess sent. Apolline knew, beginning to panic, if she so desired she could pull out her tarot cards and consult them in full view of Oksana the moon goddess. Instead, Apolline cleared her throat. She was terrified to break the fragile peace that surrounded them even if her welling panic was slowly fracturing that very peace.

“That’s wonderful,” she said lamely, “I wish I could’ve had that.” 

Oksana looked back at her, “Cat got your tongue?” Oksana teased. 

Apolline forgot her pain and her panic, the normally stoic Oksana was teasing, smiling, sharing. It was a miracle, and Apolline was witness to it. 

Apolline didn’t respond, gesturing gently back to the foothills saying, “We should head back, make sure Benson’s ok.” 

Oksana nodded, her smile ever so slightly disappearing. When they arrived Benson was stirring, they checked him over but his only major injury was a bump on his head, presumably why he had been unconscious for so long.

The next weeks were filled with them exploring the island, finding food, creating proper structures, and figuring out how to get off the island. Unfortunately for Apolline, her longing looks towards Oksana caught the eye of Benson. In one memorable moment, he dragged Apolline away, telling Oksana he had seen something and thought he might need Apolline’s help. 

Without preamble, he said, “You like her.” She blushed and started stuttering. He smiled. “It’s alright I understand,” he said, then frowned, “but know that when we get off the island, others might not be so… accepting.” He sighed, “If you ever do, take your shot here.” He walked away leaving Apolline to her thoughts. 

If later Benson saw longing looks turn into secret hand-holding, he said nothing. If he heard whispered conversations under the moonlight, he didn’t. For those next four weeks, Apolline, Oksana, and Benson fell into a routine. They would rise with the sun, Benson would restart the fire, Oksana would go to the storage pull out the prearranged fruit that Apolline would cook into a semi-decent breakfast. The rest of the day would consist of foraging for supplies (Benson and Apolline’s job), repairing the houses (Oksana’s job), or scouting the horizon for ships. As the sun went down, the three would gather around the campfire and trade stories. Sometimes Oksana would pull her crystals from her trunk, Apolline would grab her tarot cards, and Benson, his three notebooks. They would, then, reseat themselves and practice their mysticism together. They would joke about what they saw and Oksana and Apolline would often flirt, then fluster Benson with their predictions. For how lonely and isolated they were, the three were quite content and happy with the life they had made, even if the shrinking food supplies got worrisome. The tides changed (literally) for them on their seventh week on the island.

It was a quiet morning, as many were, when a soft horn and voice called to them. A fisherman’s vessel pulled close to the island, and a small boat was sent to collect them. And so, seven weeks after they had been presumed missing or dead, Oksana Cel Tradat, Lord Benson Nightengale, and Madame Apolline La Lune reentered society, if only briefly. 

In the coming months, they would go to their original destination of the Iberian Penisula and help Conrad MacDowell with his case. All involved in solving the murder of the heiress, including Benson, Oksana, and Apolline, would be heralded as heroes. However, to the shock of the world, the three beloved heroes would soon retire, seeming to disappear as fast as they had been found.


Lord Benson Nightengale retreated into his manor upon retirement and published a few books while there. Later he moved closer to Oksana and Apolline and started a pharmacy for mental health. Oksana Cel Tradat and Madame Apolline La Lune retreated from polite society to a small cottage outside Oksana’s home village. Eventually, they started an orphanage for the surrounding towns, and a small bakery for Apolline to work in.  

The village grew into a town, where they lived happily until their deaths. They were memorialized in the town with statutes. Oksana’s statue, facing the town head high with her eyes toward Apolline, her hands outstretched holding a moon, bore the title of Oksana: Goddess of the Moon, Our Protector. Apolline’s statute, positioned next to Oksana, her head and body turned toward Oksana, holding her hands out with the sun in between her hands, bore the title of Apolline: Her Sun, Our Mother. In front of them sitting and holding a book but facing outwards, was Benson, his statue bearing the title of Benson: Their Protector, Our Healer. 

Title from Dream Sweet in Sea Major by Miracle Musical