With a strong breeze filling her sails, the Queen’s Key raced homeward at a merry clip. Heavy with goods pilfered from Spanish ships, we were riding high on spirits in the bright August sunshine. The waves crested gently across our bow and God willing, we’d be home before Michaelmas.
But as quickly as we’d left port, the waters darkened and the swells grew higher. The blackening sky felt heavy and the winds gusted violently.
“Hurricane’s a-coming!” the crow’s nest called. The crew threw their weight into the lines as the ship strained against the sea. Rain stung our eyes and the decks quickly became deadly slippery.
“Man overboard!” someone screeched.
“Tie your lifelines!” I shouted, but the words were thrown back into my mouth by the wind. I struggled to keep the wheel steady as the Key tossed about, but alas, it was too much! Blinded by rain and mist, I couldn’t see the rocks ahead and the wheel was torn from my hands. The ship shuddered and groaned, splitting in two. The crew screamed as we were pitched into the swirling water.
Desperately searching for flotsam to cling to, I winced as my face smashed into rock by the crashing waves. My hands gripped an outcropping and I clung to it, exhausted.
The wind tore at my back and despair settled like a stone in my belly. How much more could I take? Where were my men? I strained my ears for their cries, but the wind screamed, whipping around me.
Suddenly I heard a voice above the wind’s howl. Could it really be? Was someone else alive?
“HERE!” I cried. “I’m here!”
“Captain!” the voice called, soft and soothing. I stiffened. Something was wrong.
“Curse you!” I shouted. “I won’t be swayed by a siren’s song!”
“Captain Marius,” the voice moaned louder. “Come with meeeee!”
“Never!” I hugged my rock as I watched with dismay as the rest of the Key sank beneath the roiling water. The crew, the goods, my ship, all lost!
“Captain Marius,” the voice tried again, this time with urgency.
“No,” I whispered, shutting my eyes tightly and scrambling further up the rock. “No, I won’t go!” I shouted.
“Don’t be silly,” the voice crooned. “The storm is leaving. Loooook!”
I opened my eyes and blinked. The siren spoke truly; the water WAS ebbing away.
“This can’t be!” I cried. “What’s happening?”
“It’s called ‘bedtime,’ Missy May,” Mama’s voice thundered.
“Who is this Missy May you speak of?” I growled. “I’m Captain Marius, the fiercest sailor on the seven seas!”
“You’re certainly fierce!” she laughed. “Come on, out of the tub!”
“Never!” I shouted, diving back under the water. It swirled around me as I searched the bubbles for the plug. Mama snickered and I looked up to see it dangling from her hand.
“I’ve changed my mind.” I scowled. “You’re not a siren. You’re a harpy!” I screeched.
Mama cocked an eyebrow and placed her hand on her hip.
“Out. Now.” Her tone was icy, dripping with venom. I pouted as I climbed out of the tub. Definitely a harpy, I thought.
I stood naked and shivering as she toweled me off, combed my hair and dressed me in my jammies. Captain Marius wouldn’t complain, neither would I. Mama washed the suds down the drain, carefully placing my toy boat at the back of the tub to dry. As she carried me out of the bathroom, I took one last look.
“I’ll be back, me hearty,” I whispered as the light flicked off.
Word Count: 593
This post was written as part of The Red Dress Club. This week's prompt was to write a 600 word piece - fiction or non-fiction - inspired by one or both of these statements: "Water gives life. It also takes it away."