It wasn’t supposed to be like this. I frowned at the shackles and glared at the man. He smirked at me. I wanted to kick and scream and curse a lot, but it would do no good. Simply I was a stowaway, but a terrible stowaway. I was caught only a few hours out to sea.
“Stowaways are just another kind of vermin, boy,” the man said hooking the keys on a notch on his belt. “We don’t like vermin. The Captain will decide yer fate.”
I hoped the Captain didn’t recognize me. I wasn’t sure how he would react when he realized it was me. I was certain he would be angry.
“Bastard.” I spat while he climbed the rungs out of my hole. I slammed my shackled fists against the iron latticework of my cell. I ignored the chuckles above as they walked along creaking deck.
“Bastards.” I muttered sinking to my knees. I watched the water sloshing around my knees and wondered again what possessed me to be a stowaway.
“Because you are stupid, Josephine, just plain stupid.” I replied flopping into the water that covered the floor. I pulled my knees under my chin staring at the key hole of my hell. How could I have been so stupid? What was I thinking? I rested my forehead against my knees as the ship swayed gently on the Sea.
Regardless of my current condition I loved the Sea. It reminded me of my father and his adventurous tales. My emotions were starting to get the better of me. I quickly clamped them down and got to my feet. The portal opened and down came the man I was dreading to see.
Damn it! I thought.
The young man crossed his arms and shook his head. I had to fight my smile as he glared at me. I stood straight and proud. His glare darkened his normally handsome features.
“Damn it Jo!” he snapped. “What the hell are you doing here?”
I quickly turned my back to him. I pulled on the shackles trying to keep them from chaffing my wrists. “I wanted to go on an adventure.” I muttered as I crossed my arms.
“On MY ship!” He snarled. The sound of the keys cause me to face him. I shook my head and he spat his curses as he searched through the four keys to unlock my cell. “You have lost your mind!”
“I have not Garret!” I snapped stubbornly. “Leave me here. It is justice.”
“I am not going to leave my sister—!”
“Damn-it Garret! I said, leave me here!” I ran to the door and struggled to keep it closed. I lost the battle and he jerked me from the cell unceremoniously and began fumbling with the keys “Stop it.” I breathed. “You can’t do this, Garret. I am a stowaway, and you know you can’t—”
“Yes I can, and I am!” He barked as he inspected my wrists. He pulled the cover from my head and snarled. “Jo!” he glared at me. “What did you do to your beautiful hair?”
Nervously I ran my fingers back through the tufts of hair I had left. I didn’t care about how it looked, just that it had to be cut. I glared at him. “I had to! I am not…s-stupid….” I choked out the last word knowing that I was very stupid.
“Do you know what would have happened?”
I smacked his hand away from my face and glared up at him. I hated that he towered above me.
“I don’t care.” I crossed my arms.
He gripped my shoulders tightly giving me a shake. “You should care!” He snarled. “Do you know what has to happen? Do you think this is some game? Mama would have—”
“It has been six years now, Garret.” I snarled.
In those six years my brother had only returned long enough to pay his respects to their graves and leave again. I hated being alone. He didn’t know that, because he didn’t think about me, he never did. He only thought about his beloved ship, his men, and the Sea. She had been Father’s mistress, and my brother’s wife. I should have hated the Sea for taking them from me, but I didn't. She sang to me as well.
Hours I would stand with the surf swirling around my ankles as I dug my naked toes in the sand feeling connected to them somehow. Yet, I was always waiting, always watching for the ships wondering if Garret was coming home. I wanted him to take me away. I needed him to save me from the mundane life ahead of me. I didn’t want to marry the ogre chosen for me.
I didn’t want to love the Sea, but I did. I could not explain it, but there was something that pulled on me just the same way it pulled on him and my father. It was frustrating.
I didn’t want to be alone anymore. I wondered if Garret was lonely too? I let out a slow breath and wrapped my arms around his neck. I hated myself for doing this to him. I should have thought a little more about the choice I had made.
“I’ve missed you.” I whispered into his ear. “You should have come home more, Garrett.”
He let out a frustrated growl pulling from my embrace. His dark eyes looking at me with intensity then began to fill with tears. He jerked me toward him hugging me tighter than ever before. He let out a breath releasing his hold on me. His shoulders slumped forward slightly glancing at the ladder he muttered. “You shouldn’t have done it Jo.”
“Garret, I’m sorry, and I understand what you have to do.” I breathed. “I love you.”
“I love you too Josephine,” he wheezed. “May God forgive me.”
I heard the report and smelled the gunpowder seconds before everything went black. I knew what he did. He had to. I was a stowaway, after all, and a woman. He couldn’t be weak. He had to save me. I was glad it was a swift death.