Mariner: Chapter 2
Magnus, the quartermaster, took over the helm for me that night as the churning waters first took control of the ship’s will. Second mate Kristian and his men attempted to keep the sails up for as long as possible but found the wind to move without reason. I overheard the captain saying that the oarsmen would begin their pushing at the first light of day, but with the choking out of stars and moon by the heavy clouds, our schedule was pushed up. “It smells like rain is coming soon…” muttered someone.
STROKE, STROKE, STROKE, came the calls from down below, putting into action what the oarsmen had practiced for, and the rain began, choking our vision even farther, and drenching our hair before our faces and causing the clothes to cling our bodies. Then came the lightning, the first strike startling those on deck, illuminating the waves that were growing, and the floppy sails also drenched by the rain, and the billowing clouds above that curled back and forth over each other to squeeze out more tepid drops from the sky. STROKE, STROKE, STROKE, came the calls from down below, forcing the ship forward in a continuous, repeating pattern to distract us from the boom of thunder.
Somewhere in the middle of it all, I caught sight of Ms. Julie, still on deck and clinging to the front railing in her fine red shirt and trousers. She barely flinched with the flash of lightning and the accompanying cacophony. She was unmoving as the waves crashed up over the deck and washed over her dainty feet. It was clear that she was still entranced, despite the light of the call nowhere to be seen. I pushed the hair up off my brow and stumbled across the slick deck boards to where she was standing.
I was afraid, at first, to even lay a hand upon her, for I imagined that at any other time the touch of someone of my status would have caused her to recoil. The lightning touched down its bright tendrils in the water not far away, and I felt a tingle in the hairs upon my neck, and I focused my resolve, “Lady, you must get out of the rain, get in the lower deck, lie low till it’s done, the storm-”
She was not as I had assumed, perfectly lucid, in fact, when she replied to my call and touch. “I told you so-,” she said, suddenly, turning back to me.
I blinked through the rain, and stared at her enthralling visage, and found a moment of calm among the booms of thunder and the crash of waves. “Milady?”
“I told you that I thought I hired only the most experienced of sailors for this venture.” She smiled, “And did I not? I am certain you all will allow us to make it through this. Don’t allow me to distract you.”
And so even the with the call to STROKE, STROKE, STROKE, from down below was deafened by the wind and mist and cracks of thunder, we continued on. Even while hanging from the rigging to finish tying up the sails, though, my attention still somehow ended up being held by the sole woman, hanging tightly to the bow with eyes fixed to the shrouded horizon.