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Sins of a Sailor
Before I departed, my wife and I held each other in a loving embrace. Snuggling on our bed beside the fire, we knew it’d be the last we see of each other. Dreading dawn’s arrival, I clutched her and drew her closer. I had to leave for the New World, America, in the morning. King James has drafted every eligible free man to help build the new fort. I gazed at my love’s face, taking in each stunning feature for what always felt like the first time.
The sound of the rooster aroused me from my musings. I sighed, gathering my satchel and kissed my wife’s forehead for the last time for God knows how long. As discomforting as the trip was going to be, I made a promise to my wife, to never forget. To return to England safe and to hold her, never letting go. The king had promised all of us immense riches when we returned, and I would be able to give her the life of a queen.
Summoning up whatever courage I had, I left my peaceful home and boarded the ship that was to separate my wife and I. The green speck that was England soon faded from the distance and I sighed once more. The cold ocean spray mingled with my warm tears as I silently blew a kiss. Soon again, my love… I thought wistfully.
The air smelt of salt and sweat, the nights were still, bathed in darkness and the days excruciatingly hard. I missed her painfully. Lurking in the shadows of the ship, I would cry unseen and unheard. I cannot remember the last time I cried. I only knew that the voyage was long, brutal. Cruel winds and a shortage of food made our high hopes diminish. We lost any sight we had of the glorious riches and land of the New World. I almost gave up of ever being able to return to my beloved in this life.
My captain came upon deck one morning to give announcement, a bottle of whiskey in his hand. After four months for endless despair, he said, “Boys, this blessed day, I tell you with a light heart, we’ve made it to Jamestown!” There was a moment of stunned disbelief, and then our tremulous cheering was heard across the Atlantic. Our course was set so we would meet land in about three day’s time. My hopes were rejuvenated; my dreams of returning to England rich were restored.
That night we celebrated. We commemorated our success, a light in the dark of this exasperating trip. Barrels of grog were opened; the tavern wenches Captain had bought for us keeping the men company. He purchased one for every man aboard, but I hadn’t felt compelled to have one, as I remembered her.
I was completely drunken though, that night, and took one as my maiden for the night. We were intimate, though my mind was fogged, my body moving of its own accord. My lips touched another’s, and I forgot. I forgot my love that night, falling deep into that lust-ridden passion.
“Bloody hell…” I murmured to myself, eyes wide as I saw the redhead broad asleep in my hammock under deck the next morning and I slowly fell to my knees in guilt. How could I? I forgot…forgot my promise…I forgot you…
“ALL HANDS ON DECK, STORM’S ABREWIN’!” The Captain called from the deck and I jumped at the noise. I ran on deck, angrily wiping tears from my face, not wanting the rest of the crew to see me like this.
The winds roared manically and we hurried to hoist sails. The ocean rose angrily against the ship’s sides and the salty spray splashed upon our faces. Though early morning, the sun was not to be seen, hidden behind sinister, dark clouds and we groped for the ropes in the dark sky. The panicking women screamed, rushing below deck for safely. The livid roars of the thunder escalated and an immense wave crashed upon the deck, the mast crumbling under its power. I held on tightly to the stern, the water pulling me and others to our knees. I noticed the woman I was with and for a second, my chest constricted. Whether it was from my newfound guild or from the water that found its way into my lungs, I didn’t know. All I know is that another rolling wave crashed upon the deck and without thinking, I dove after her. In the crevices of my mind at the time, I do not know what possessed me to do so. All I knew was that a woman was in trouble. Cursed my chivalrous heart.
We fell and simply fell. Eyes shut tightly, my chest straining from the lack of air; I braced myself for the inevitable contact between my shoulder and the wooden stern of the deck. It never came.
Water flooded my ears suddenly, my eyes widening at the foreign feeling. I gaped for air, the hyperventilating woman still in my arms. “Thomas! Thomas!” Through the roar of the winds, I barely heard the Captain’s hoarse voice. Eyes narrowed through the bleak skies, I saw the yawl, Captain throwing out a rope to me. Somehow by god, I managed to catch it in my exhausted state, feebly making my way to it. I hauled the woman aboard, letting out a breath. Putting one leg over the side, my hand slipped and I was pulled along with the currents.
Spluttering, my arms flailed wildly whilst trying to grab a hold of something. But my attempts were futile. I felt the seas of the Atlantic take me, my lungs filling with the salty liquid. As I drifted down, my arms feeling like a blacksmith’s iron, too weak to battle the waves, I thought to myself:
I save the very woman I have sinned with, dying, never to see my beloved, the one I sinned against. Which is more the sin?