I can see the horizon as we draw nearer to Port Royal’s Main Bay, our home harbour. The bright sun beams down upon the clear sparkling blue Caribbean Sea, with each small wave catching the light and dancing with the sunlight in its grasp. It glimmers, sparkles, shimmers. It’s such a beautiful sight to wake up to every morning, living under British rule at Port Royal on the high seas. I’m lucky. Most people from the mainland will never see this in their entire life.
I look over at my best friend, Christopher, and I see him staring out at the same, beautiful ocean. A small smirk spreads across my face as I nudge his side.
“Race you!” I yell, as I sprint down the street, and people scurry to get out of the way.
“Hey!” Christopher calls. I can already hear his feet pounding on stone. Within seconds of taking off, I can already see him in my peripheral vision, running with the same old grin on his face. He’s so competitive. But then, he has always been that way, ever since we were kids; back when I would always win. I guess age has slowed me down.
“What happened to the days when you were faster than me, Kida?” He yells. I can feel him smirking as he gains on me.
Christopher’s always felt like a brother to me, and if he and his father, Daniel, hadn’t taken me in, I might never have known a kind of family again. My real family was taken from me a few years ago, when pirates raided the port, I was only 9 years old. I lost both my parent’s and my older brother Sam on that day; Daniel lost his wife. After that, Daniel raised me, took care of me when no one else would; he knew what it was to lose someone.
“Shut your trap and run, Chrissy!” I yell, as I put that all out of my mind. I know the nickname I gave him when we fi rst met years ago irks him; and he starts to run even faster.
How could he even go any faster? I wonder to myself. I’m bolting as fast as I can and he’s still beating me! A few long moments pass. My heart pounds in my chest as I run. I can hear my rapid pulse in my ears. Faster, faster, faster, I tell myself. It’s all in friendly competition, but I know Christopher well enough to be sure he will hold this over me for weeks if he wins.
I stop dead in my tracks, bemused by my excitement when the Union Jack waving in the distance catches my eye. “Christopher!”
I call out, but he’s long gone. Christopher’s competitive spirit is overwhelming the rest of his senses - including his common sense - as he tries to lunge over a fallen barrel, but ends up toppling over it instead. I sigh, shaking my head as I run over to help him up. “Christopher!” I groan, grabbing his arms and pulling him to his feet. As he straightens up, I find myself fighting the urge to mention how often he winds up acting like a bull in a china shop, wreaking havoc wherever he goes.
He shakes me off, his ego obviously bruised by the fall. “I’m fi ne, I’m good.” I chuckle softly, brushing some dirt off his shoulder. “Are you sure about that?”
He nods, nudging me with his elbow playfullywhen he sees my expression. I turn my attention back to the ship, pointing in its direction. “Did you see the ship?” A bitterly sarcastic expression lingers on his
face as we begin to walk to the harbour.
“No, I didn’t happen to see the massive boat coming straight for us.”
As it so happens, the ship is the Majesty: the finest vessel in her fl eet. Christopher’s father, Daniel, is the proud Captain. We walk over and greet the crew warmly. They’ve had a long trip receiving goods from a trading company a couple hundred miles from Port Royal.
“Wait. Where is my father?” Christopher asks, looking around anxiously as crew members all around us greet their families. It isn’t like Daniel to not be on deck upon their return. “Where is he?” He repeats, stress straining his voice.
Timmon, the first mate, steps forwards, ringing his bandana in his hands as he stares down at his feet. Something’s wrong. Both Christopher and I can sense it. “Uh,” Something in his voice is hesitant.
Something is most definitely wrong. “In our ventures, Captain Daniel was taken after he was thrown overboard.” His words are barely a whisper.
“What?” Christopher spits, his fists bawled up and shaking with rage. “How could you let something happen to my father?” He screams, as Timmon begins to back away in fear; shouting back, “There were pirates! There was nothing any of us could do!”
No. This can’t be happening. Daniel can’t be gone. He was like a father to me.
Christopher looks at me, anger brewing in his eyes. In the ten years I’ve known him, I’ve never seen Christopher this mad. “We’re going to find him.” he says quietly. His voice is constricted and I can tell he’s choking back the urge to scream. He’s never been any good at keeping his temper, or controlling any of his other emotions for that matter. His gaze does not leave mine as he repeats himself. “We’re going to find him Kida… you, me, and the Majesty.”
As he stares at me I realize that we are up for the challenge. Daniel has been teaching us the ins and outs of life on the seas for as long as I’ve known him.
I nod. I cannot let Daniel - the only person I’ve ever truly known as a father - be taken away from me without a fight. I was so young when my own family was taken, and my memories of them are so foggy. Daniel taught me everything I know. I turn to the rest of the crew. They look at Christopher and me as if we are crazy. Understandably, though. We’re just two teenagers, but combined, we have more sailing experience than half of the crew members on board.
Christopher clears his throat, demanding attention before he speaks. He vocalizes almost exactly what I am thinking. “My father taught us,” he nods his head at me, “much about sailing and the way you live. Although we are young, we know so much.” You can tell that his words spark something in the crew; hope, inspiration, faith. “My father was a good, nay, a great man.”
“It’s true!” Some members of the crew and their families began to call out in agreement.
“He doesn’t deserve to be taken. His rightful place is here!” He screams. The crowd punches their fists to the air, yelling out with compliance.
Christopher looks at me, nodding, and I know why. We both know that I’m the better sailor, although he rarely admits it. While he sails with brute force and speed, I sail with cunning, strategy and patience.
I grab hold of an overhead rope, pulling myself up above the crowd as I stand on the pegs of the mast. I scream out amongst the crowd, much louder than the rest. “We sail at dawn!”
To be continued in the next Voice K issue.