Mother Carey’s Table – Lightspeed Magazine

Revealed in July 2019 (Concern 110) | 5387 words

© 2016 by J. Anderson Coats. Initially revealed in A Tyranny of Petticoats, edited by Jessica Spotswood. Reprinted by permission of the writer.

British North America

My father says he’s saved my life nine occasions. Once at my delivery, as soon as once we fled grasp and overseer by way of rows of struggling tobacco beneath a sky choked with stars, and the other seven paid out over all our years before the masts of ten totally different ships.

The oldest two I need to take at his phrase, as I have no reminiscence of both. The primary of the seven was the time Pop shut me under once I thought to skip up the rigging to the topmost yard of the Barbry Allen in a near gale off Barbados, the decks awash and the ocean yawning up earlier than us. Six years into life and already I used to be filled with the piss and vinegar he taught me to stroll with. The type he stated would serve me properly it doesn’t matter what the tide.

“Boys are all piss and vinegar,” he would say as he scraped his dirty razor over my scalp until I was bald as an egg. “It’s what keeps them alive, pet. On the sea or off.”

Principally I feel I’ve saved my own life. I knew sufficient to take heed to Pop from the primary second we stepped on shipboard and study the ropes from anybody with something to teach. Once we came across the Golden Vainness a number of months ago, the bosun handed me the ledger with out so much as a look toward Pop, and I signed the articles alone for the primary time.

I grinned at Pop arduous sufficient to blind the solar. He smiled again, but when he thought I wasn’t wanting he shook his head, sluggish and unhappy.

Pop still thinks we chose poorly, becoming a member of the Vainness’s crew. “It’s a brig, pet. Moves slow, like an ox in molasses. We’ll never catch anything faster than a merchantman. We’ll never be able to outrun anything faster either.”

I’ve given up making an attempt to persuade Pop that sloops and schooners is perhaps fast however they will’t deliver as many weapons to bear. In addition to, the Vainness’s previous man has an eye fixed for ships loaded down with plunder and swears the wind tells him things. And in case you’re bold sufficient to ask what issues, he’ll merely wink and say, “Things about things, lad.”

Which is not any answer at all, but if you’re the captain and your identify is Half-Hanged Henry, it’s a solution you may give a daring sailor who’s a bit of too curvy amidships to be an actual boy.

We’re flying a Union Jack we stole from our final prize and lying in anticipate the subsequent behind a barrier island off the coast of Carolina. I’ll be on watch in one other turn of the glass, but for now I’m up on the mainmast yard, my bare legs swinging, the salt-wind curling via my jacket and over my windburned face.

A flurry of seabirds circle the topgallant yard, then dip and glide right down to the waterline. But once they gather just above the spray, I flinch arduous and grip the mast.

Mother Carey’s chickens.

They’re not correct chickens, not the type you’d eat. They’re little seabirds, black at the wing with a white stripe across their tails. There are 4, they usually dance eerily over the floor of the water without ever touchdown.

I’m wondering if I knew them. They have been as soon as men, and I’ve seen my share of floating corpses since I was a cabin boy. These birds are the souls of drowned sailors who’ve escaped the wife of Davy Jones and returned to warn seamen of storms. Even crews like us who use captured flags to lure prizes shut.

I shinny up the mainmast until I reach the topmost yard and may go no larger without turning into a fowl myself. The sky is obvious and gray. Not blue, however no indignant clouds mount. The air doesn’t odor like a storm, and the wind guarantees naught but an excellent chase as soon as the prey comes in sight.

“Ha! Almost got that one!”

Hanging over the rail close to the bowsprit are Johnny and Black Tom. They signed the articles in Port Royal, no older than me and filled with showy false swagger that lasted a single flip of the glass. Pop took pity on them and now they’re our messmates, two sons nearer to the large household he all the time needed.

Black Tom flings a stone and it misses one among Mother Carey’s chickens by a handswidth.

I’m down the mainmast in a trice and I haul those two coves collar and scruff away from the rail. They go stumbling and fall into preventing stance before seeing it’s me. Then they straighten and eye me warily.

“What gives, Joe?” Black Tom has squinty pig-eyes and a continuing white-boy sunburn. Johnny’s the one who’s blacker than me and Pop put together, with ritual scars like Pop remembers on his granddad.

“Don’t you make Mother Carey angry, harming those birds.” I stab a finger on the feathery shadows tiptoeing throughout the water under. “Or else she’ll call up a storm so she can serve our drowned guts to Davy Jones for tea.”

“You really believe that old yarn?” Johnny asks. “Them’s just birds. Souls go to heaven or they go to hell.”

Eight bells rings, four sets of two peals, brief and pert.

These lads must cease. Killing even one of the little harbingers might convey us all to a nasty finish, and Pop’s grown hooked up to both Johnny and Black Tom, orphans like him, like he’s terrified I’ll end up. I need to smile at them, to make use of honey as an alternative of vinegar, however Pop says nothing makes me look less like a boy than once I smile.

“I do.” I say it over my shoulder as I head toward the mainmast. “And you’ll do best to believe it too, ’cause if you let them, they’ll save your life.”

Still no sign of a storm. And we’ve been watching every bearing.

Simply after three bells, we weigh anchor. The previous man’s obtained wind of an enormous treasure ship limping her means up the coast of Spanish Florida, blown astray and separated from her warship escort.

Prizes don’t get any extra tempting than that, and Johnny and Black Tom lead the whooping and speculating.

I’m trimming the staysail when the previous man strolls previous.

“Joe, you’ll be in the boarding party, got that?”

“Ah . . . beg pardon, sir, but I’m a topman.”

Pop places down a bucket and edges closer. I hate that I’m glad for it, however I am.

The previous man squints at me. “A big strong lad like you? How old are you, Joe?”

I frown, reckoning, and Pop hisses, “Sixteen.”

“Sixteen, sir.”

“And you’ve never boarded a prize?”

“No, sir. I was a runner and a surgeon’s boy when I was little, then a powder monkey and now a topman.”

The previous man scoffs cheerfully. “Nah, you’re wasted up in the rigging, moving sails. See Davis after your watch. He’ll give you a blade.”

“But I . . .”

I can splice a line and take a sounding and play a satisfactory hornpipe. I can battle like a bag of moist cats, but I do know I can’t kill. Simply the thought turns my stomach.

But boys my age are nicely scarred like Johnny, like Black Tom. Boys of any age are filled with piss and vinegar, they usually’d be spoiling for a chance like this.

“What is it, sailor?” The previous man isn’t smiling anymore.

I signed the articles. I took the ledger from the bosun and balanced it on my left forearm whereas inking an enormous shaky J beneath all the other names and marks. I might have handed it over to Pop, let him make a mark for us each and taken my half share like all the time.

My father places a hand on my shoulder. His voice is quiet however regular when he says, “Nothing, sir. Right, Joe?”

“Yes, sir,” I mutter, and it’s to each of them, to the previous man and Pop too.

The bosun sends me aloft and I’m glad for it, but now I see Mother Carey’s chickens all over the place and I shouldn’t be seeing any when there are still no storms off any bearing. All I can do is marvel what the little souls try to warn us of, since birds of this type by no means simply appear.

When eight bells ring out as soon as more and I’m off watch, I head right down to my rack under, comfortable among the many guns. The canvas continues to be heat from when Pop slept in it earlier, and there’s somewhat packet of rock-hard ship’s bread waiting for me wrapped in his kerchief.

Pop hasn’t given me his rations since I used to be 9 and laid up sick and sweating with cowpox.

The Golden Vainness runs on bells rather a lot tighter than most other ships Pop and I have sailed with, however Pop says the previous man was within the Royal Navy earlier than he turned pirate, and bells are what he is aware of.

Pop says it in that voice he makes use of when he’s looking forward to one thing but doesn’t need to be. He’s longing for one factor, principally—to crew a vessel that takes a prize large enough that he can retire on an in a position seaman’s share.

Every time he talks about it, I smile and nod like I’m wanting to placed on footwear and petticoats and sip tea in a drawing room, but I already know there’s no means I can comply with him. I ended being a woman that day on the Charleston dock when Pop signed the articles that first time, when he put his hand on my newly shaved head and informed the previous man of the Veracruz his son would make a high-quality cabin boy. Pop had no strategy to maintain me until I spit and swaggered and pissed by way of the curved metallic funnel he made for me out of an previous consuming cup.

So even when we do hit a once-in-a-lifetime treasure ship—perhaps just like the one we’re sneaking towards now—even when Pop does land enough silver and gold to purchase that little farm or the tall Boston townhouse he’s all the time on about, now that I’m old enough to signal articles for myself, I have no want in any respect to go away the sea.

But I can’t tell Pop that. Not after all the things he’s finished to keep me, starting with swinging me on his again that night time he fled his future and mine—days beneath the sun and years beneath the lash.

I should have drifted to sleep, for I’m jolted virtually out of my rack by an insistent thudding that sets the bulkheads trembling.

Black Tom’s on the head of the gun deck, pale beneath his sunburn, and he bangs on the bulkhead with a stick of kindling to the same wild clang because the ship’s bell.

They’re beating us to quarters.

We’ve come across our prize.

I’m awake immediately, and I’m clearing hammocks and sea chests from the weapons earlier than I keep in mind the previous man needs to see me out on deck, blade in hand and able to board and subdue the enemy ship. I shouldn’t like how the dagger Davis gave me feels in my hand—sturdy, heavy, menacing—however I do.

As I step out on deck, Pop nods me close to. He’s breathing in sharp little bursts as he grips his blade. Pop’s been in boarding parties earlier than, however I’ve never seen this look about him.

If I didn’t know higher, I’d say Pop was afraid.

“That’s not a treasure ship,” Pop says in a low voice. “She’s riding too high. Look at the waterline.”

I step to the rail and peer out. And pull in a sharp breath of my own. If the ship have been loaded down with treasure, the deck can be only a fathom or so above the waves. As an alternative all the gunports are clear.

Two entire rows of them.

“She’s a warship, isn’t she?” I whisper.

Pop nods.

“And we’re trapped against the coastline, aren’t we?”

This time Pop doesn’t reply because questions I do know the answers to I shouldn’t need to ask.

All she’s acquired to do is come broadside to us and hearth. Two volleys and we’re sunk.

We’ve hauled down the Union Jack, since England and Spain are nonetheless at warfare the last anybody’s heard, however flying no flag at all will draw each captain’s eye.

His grapeshot as properly.

The bosun’s whistle cuts the clamor, and we fall silent because the previous man swings onto the quarterdeck and waves his arms for consideration.

“She’s Spanish, all right,” the previous man says, “but there’s not a single coin aboard her. We’ll never be able to outrun her, and we’re all dead men if we try to fight.”

A rumble strikes by means of the crew. Unease and discontent and more than just a little raw terror. The wind has led Half-Hanged Henry astray.

Pop steps closer so our shoulders are touching. Signing pirate articles means you’re all the time with a crew that’ll overwhelm an enemy, and any captain value a rattling by no means starts a struggle he can’t easily win.

However that vessel is a forty-gun frigate, and there’s no means we’re sailing past without being sunk or boarded.

Pop and me and Johnny and others like us—we’re finished for both means. Half-Hanged Henry and his lawless lot deal with us like sailors as long as we act like it, and each seaman brown or white is identical to Davy Jones. But if we’re caught, we’re part of the plunder and hauled in chains to the auction block. We gained’t get a show trial and even hold on the harborside gallows just like the white pirates.

I can’t converse for Pop or Johnny or the others, however I’d quite be a visitor at some underwater table with Davy and his missus. There’s no approach I might crouch between rows of tobacco now that I’ve felt the foredeck swaying beneath my ft, tasted salt on my lips, and run before the wind in somewhat sloop beneath a sky blue enough to make me overlook each storm I ever sailed by way of.

Mother Carey’s chickens often warn of a storm she’s busy stirring. No less than a storm would take both us and the Spanish warship right down to the bottom, the place Mother Carey herself would cube up our flesh onto dishes made from shells and use our bones to comb her lengthy inexperienced hair.

“We cannot fight her.” The previous man is pacing, toying with the spyglass. “If we cripple her, we might be able to run past.”

“Her mainsails are dropping!” shouts Black Tom from the rigging. “She’s coming about!”

The previous man snaps the spyglass closed. “Can any man among you swim?”

Pop fidgets together with his blade, and at his different elbow Johnny seems completely greensick.

“C’mon, lads, speak up! There must be one of you who can sink that ship sneakylike, with auger and drill.”

No one says anything. Like as not as a result of none of them can swim.

But I can.

There’s only a lot a toddler can do in squalid ports with ten grogshops per man and never a church in sight. While Pop drank his ghosts to whispers, I whiled away lengthy afternoons in quiet inlets, splashing and accumulating shells—and paddling concerning the shallows and deeps until I might swim like a fish, even in a wind-whipped ocean current.

“There’ll be silver in it for you,” the previous man says with an fringe of terror I’ve never yet heard from any man who’s turned pirate. “My gold watch too.” He rakes a glance over us, shouts, “My daughter’s hand in marriage! What the devil will it take?”

My father has saved my life nine occasions. He needed no a part of the Vainness, and I used to be the one who finally wore him down.

“I’ll do it.” I step before the previous man. “I’ll sink that frigate if you’ll trade your shares for mine when we find and take the treasure galleon.”

Pop stiffens. That treasure ship continues to be out there, and a captain’s haul is all the time seven shares. Seven, when a single share from a prize like that may grant Pop’s hopes thrice over.

The previous man shuts his mouth. Narrows his eyes. Seems to the warship. Then he says, “It’s yours, Joe. It’s yours if you sink that ship.”

Every part feels oddly quiet however for the creak of wood and the rattlesnap of damp canvas. I can hear every last certainly one of my father’s indrawn breaths someplace behind me.

The primary mate takes off his belt and Johnny holds out a leather-based sheath, wide-eyed and solemn. I thread the sheath by way of the belt and cinch it tight underneath my jacket. When the bosun palms me an auger, I brandish it like a pistol with more piss and vinegar than I feel before tying it into the sheath.

Johnny laughs nervously, then paws my shoulder in a clumsy type of half-hug.

“Back to your labor,” the previous man calls. “If they see us crowded at the rail, they’ll know something’s amiss.”

With both auger and dagger about my waist, I feel a full stone heavier. I can swim properly, however I’ve never tried it weighted. I climb as much as the rail and peer over. The water under shouldn’t be a glowing sky-blue lagoon where little waves lapped around my child ft, where I dipped and surged with naught on my again but my smallclothes. It’s green-black and choppy, and at the backside are the bones of sailors who did not have a look after its will.

The wind is sharp from the starboard beam. It gained’t be a flip of the glass earlier than we’re pushed shut sufficient to the frigate to drive a reckoning.

Pop is drawn tight like a mainstay line. He badly needs to say something however he’s not going to. I’m not even positive what there’s to say.

I can’t take my supply back. And I can’t let us be taken.

I face the water. I slip out of my jacket and dive in.

The water is bonechill-cold and the shock of it hits me like a cudgel. I kick my ft and pressure myself upward and forward, however my shirt and trousers splay out like a jellyfish, clinging and dragging and slowing every limb I thrash.

So I choke and gasp and wrestle, preventing out of my clothes. I break the surface and the cold hits me again, rakes over my stubbly head, but I suck in a mighty breath and tread water long sufficient to regular myself.

Chilly. Oh, Father Neptune however it is chilly in nothing but smallclothes and the linen I maintain wrapped about my chest.

Black Tom’s within the rigging. The previous man has the spyglass. Considered one of them’s sure to notice.

I’ll reap that whirlwind once I’m again on board. For now, I’ve obtained a ship to sink.

I tighten the mate’s belt and ensure I nonetheless have both auger and dagger, then I slice my arms by way of the water in a nice regular rhythm. I start to really feel hotter. Each twenty strokes I lookup and mark the warship simply to make certain I’m on track.

At first it seems like I’ll never get there.

Then she’s inside a stone’s throw.

Then I’m proper beneath her.

I tread water once I reach the warship, preventing to catch my breath. It’s been a while since I’ve swum this much, and my arms are weak and melty, my eyes burning from the salt. The ship is shifting solely with the tide, and I unfasten the auger from my waist and really feel alongside till I discover a spongy, worm-eaten patch under the waterline.

There’s no method to auger and not using a grip to hold me regular, and there’s nothing to grip but barnacles. They cake the whole shipbottom like drifted sand, and each is a tiny razor.

I’m too drained to hesitate. I seize a clump of barnacles, they usually slice me open clear and thoughtless. And those cuts burn. They burn and burn and I whimper, not an oz of piss and vinegar left to battle it.

But my right hand is free, and I set to work with the auger. I crank it round and round, spherical and round. It’s all I do. It’s all I take into consideration.

Earlier than long I’ve bored half a dozen holes clear by means of the hull. The barnacles have already carried out the job midway, quietly eating the wood until all of it however ripples beneath my palms. Already I can hear the slurpsuck of water punching via my holes and the panicky shouts of males inside, the clomp and clatter as they flee, the futile clang of the ship’s bell ringing the overall alarm.

My arms throb and my entire left hand is numb from scores of tiny half-moon cuts across my fingers. Once I fumble the auger towards the hull to start out a new gap, it wheels out of my hand and drops like an anchor down and down and gone.

I watch it disappear. The job is just half completed. All I have left is my dagger.

I drive my stiff fingers around one other clump of barnacles. New cuts crosshatch the previous ones. I pull the dagger from my belt and stab at the pulpy wooden like a assassin.

A uncooked, violent hole appears beneath my blade. Then two, then many.

The warship is taking over water. The shift in pitch is sobering. I’m killing these men. They will swim no better than the lads on the Vainness.

I’ve lost rely of the holes I’ve put in, however I’m spent. The warship’s record is dangerous sufficient that she’s in no position to battle us or give chase. And if she goes down, I need to be nowhere near.

I’ve earned my prize. Pop’s prize. And half the rum ration of every man on the Vainness whose life I saved sinking this Spanish tub.

I cram my dagger into its sheath, push off the aspect of the listing warship—the barnacles open up my toes like meat—and thrash by means of the waves toward residence. Each stroke takes all my effort, and halfway there I start to crawl-paddle and sputter out seawater exhausting sufficient to set my vitals throbbing.

I gained’t make it if I feel how dangerous I harm.

So I feel methods to clarify to Half-Hanged Henry that I don’t need his daughter’s hand in marriage.

I consider the primary time I made all of it the best way as much as the topgallant yard on the Sally Dearest, how I felt mild sufficient to spread my arms and take to the air like a chook.

And I think of Pop, who only ever needed a spot of his personal and a houseful of babies.

My blind, splashing arms clatter towards one thing onerous and moist and splintery. The Golden Vainness. I seize and scrabble for a barnacle handhold, however Captain Royal Navy truly careens them off proper once in a while, and I need to weakly tread water.

Up on the foredeck I see faces of the crew peering over, tiny ovals of shade towards a flat grey sky and sprawls of dingy canvas and a tangle of rigging.

I dredge an arm out of the water in salute. Any second now a rope will fall over the aspect. Someplace in me is the power to carry that rope, and I will discover it.

One after the other, the faces at the rail disappear.

Only the previous man is left.

“She’s sunk!” I shout. “I sank her. Pull me up!”

The previous man doesn’t reply. He doesn’t throw a rope both. He merely shakes his head.

Over my shoulder, the Spanish warship is tilting like driftwood and the whole quarterdeck is in chaos as men push and struggle for dry ground. Seeing her on her approach down jogs my memory how scorching and weak my arms are, how a lot of a wrestle it is to keep my head above the waves.

“Captain!” I howl, nevertheless it’s a mistake because I choke on a sudden harsh mouthful of water.

“Can’t do it, Joe,” he says, and disappears from the rail.

I’m gasping with every flailed stroke and kick, however I manage to free my dagger from its sheath. I punch it out of the water and shout, “I know well how to sink a ship, Cap! If this is how you’ll serve me, I’ll take you to the bottom with me. We’ll all be on Mother Carey’s table together!”

And that’s when Pop seems on the rail, preventing the first mate and the bosun, who have him by either arm. There’s a size of ratline in his hand and he virtually will get it over the gunwale before they haul him away, out of sight.

He’ll go to the underside too.

I open my hand and let the dagger fall, down and down, to Davy Jones.

Pop is roaring like a madman and cursing every Goddamn considered one of them and shouting at me to stay robust, his last little baby, the only one he might save.

I flail one last stroke and go beneath.

I’m colder than I’ve ever been, however nothing hurts anymore—not my arms, not my ft, not my eyes, not my guts.

Above me is a uninteresting shadow set towards shades of rippling, glinting movement. It’s the dimensions of my thumb, oval but pointed at both ends.

Like the underside of a ship.

I’m standing earlier than a table on the quarterdeck of an historic, rotted merchantman. Her mast is a ragged stump and stray chain shot is lodged within the gunwales. On the head of the table is a lady whose face is hidden by shadow and wavered by the motion of the currents around us.

“Jocasta,” she says, and unexpectedly I know who she is. I know it regardless that I have only a whisper of a memory of her. This is the voice that may lilt by means of fire-warmed, snug darkness once I was small enough to be tucked into a willow basket. Then would come her mild hand, rubbing my again, smoothing hair from my eyes, pushing away the dim of the room and the grit of the floor and the gnaw in my stomach.

I’ve to swallow twice before I can reply, and it’s not more than a whisper. “Mama.”

“That’s right.” She swims one long sleek arm at an empty chair earlier than a bare, waiting dinner plate. “Come, sit down. I’ve been expecting you. Supper’s ready.”

Pop would by no means say much about Mama. At some point she was there earlier than the hearth in our cabin, the subsequent she wasn’t. He’s all the time saying I used to be too little to remember her anyway, however he’s improper.

I keep in mind her voice. I keep in mind her heat. I keep in mind crying quietly because she hadn’t taken me together with her, wherever she went.

And here she is earlier than me.

She leans to set a dish on the table, nudging several others to make room. The table is overflowing with platters, all coated with domed abalone shells.

I reach for the chair and pull it out. It glides by means of the water like my arm, like my backside as I start to sit down.

Then she smiles at me.

Her tooth are all pointy like a cat’s.

I freeze, my rump hovering above the seat. “Y-you’re not my mother.”

“Mama. Or Madre. Or Mater. All of you with salt for blood are mine.” She slides her lips over her tooth, her voice all Mama as soon as more. “Come now, Jocasta. Sit down. I’ve missed you.”

Out of the darkness, out of every part cold and miserable would come that voice. And by some means issues would develop lighter, starting together with her and ending with me.

She’s back at her work, carving meat and dicing seaweed and piling every thing onto platters product of shells all lined up alongside the desk. This table on the deck of a lifeless ship.

“Sit.” Her voice goes sharp and she or he goals her knife at me.

The same knife I buried to the hilt in weak, barnacled patches of a Spanish warship, sending her and her crew to the bottom of the ocean.

To Mother Carey’s table.

I flip over one of many shells overlaying a platter. It’s heaped with severed fingers and slabs of flesh and the odd swimming size of bowel.

I wrestle backward, however it’s a maddening swish of water and my arms churn, making an attempt to push away, making an attempt to get clear. Mother Carey grins together with her pointy cat-teeth as she lifts a goggle-eyed, limp-swaying Spanish sailor from his seat and cleaves his arm from his torso whereas he burbles Mamita.

“You will sit,” Mother Carey says as she slits the sailor from neck to navel, “and you will stay. It would be a pity if you didn’t enjoy the fine feast you’ve provided me.”

Spanish sailors with empty, slack faces are taking seats one after the opposite in chairs that hold them fast as Mother Carey prepares a feast of the lifeless for herself and Davy Jones.

“You wouldn’t leave me, would you? Sit down, Jocasta. Sit down and be with your mother.”

Mama’s voice keeps coming out of Mother Carey’s mouth as she stands at the head of her desk and pulls helpless Spaniards out of chairs very similar to the vacant one earlier than me. As she cleaves the poor bastards bone from bone and piles their guts on abalone dishes.

I discovered to cease asking about Mama. Pop stated it was easier that approach. That we love individuals once they’re here, but once they go, they’re gone.

Pop. Who by no means once thought to go away me behind, whatever the price.

I don’t sit down. I kick my ft. I begin to rise.

Water moves around me and over me and thru me, by means of my hair and my skin, and flutters the scraps of linen that still cling to me. I wing out my arms and glide.

I’m rising lighter.

The wind modifications shades. The sunlight modifications shade.

Most of us huddle up close in the sand. But 5 of us, we really feel it. We all know what to do.

I turn out to be mild. I catch the updraft, sway over the waves. The nests on the dunes are distant but protected for now. Out we go, and out.

A storm builds to the north. A storm my mother is stirring, for she and her man develop hungry once more.

Sails past the barrier island, rigged for pursuit. When the sky is that this shade we’re drawn to ships, to those that are as we once have been.

I angle my wings, slide alongside the ship’s waterline, pluck up some tiny-shelled creatures to crunch. Dabble my toes towards the water, then glide up on a wick of wind.

I am up and into the rigging, towards a brown man with graying hair who sits on their lonesome on the foremast yard, swinging his legs whereas the wind catches his jacket.

Soon they may go. Capstan chanty, anchor up, ship in sight, beat to quarters. He might be among them. He’ll grip his blade, swing over harsh water. He is still ready for his prize. He waits for her whilst he curses her.

Across the fringe of the sail. Up, and towards him.

The water sings and beckons. The wind needs to nudge me toward the dunes and my nest, and shortly enough I will return there, but proper now I have to be on this yard with this man. I have to see him.

I want him to look north so he’ll keep on this aspect of the water and not under, where my mother would put his bones on her table.

He holds out a hand and I can’t assist however take to the air. Too sudden for the shell of me, too much, although the soul of me would curl up in his pocket, really feel the nice and cozy beat of his heart one final time.

I make a cross via the rigging, then sweep right down to the waterline. I arc over the quarterdeck, where dark clouds are beginning to mount.

I hover there till he sees.

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