Child of the Sea

Child of the Sea

A Story by Beth




It has been a long while since I was brought to this ship, chained in a moldering hold amid the rats and rolling barrels of oil that leak fumes into the already musty air. Rusty chains bind my bloodied wrists and ankles, and I am covered with damp rags. What harm they think a girl of twelve can I do, I know not. Where they think I could run from this ship in the midst of the ocean, I know not. I believe they shackle me only to keep me from leaping into the sea and ending my life. Do they think that I can become so undone by what has been done to me? They know little. We Tuten-folk are strong and proud.


I don’t know how long it has been, or how many times the sun has tracked its journey across the skies, but I suppose I could count the days by the number of times the ship’s mate has appeared with my meal �" a single biscuit and tin of water. Such rations must be bought, but I do not mind sacrificing my body for the chance to live and gain revenge.


No one will tell me where we are going, or why, but it is not uncommon for ships of the sea to carry at least one Tuten aboard, for we possess talents which the sailors find invaluable. My gift is the prediction of weather, and that, I believe, is why I am imprisoned.


I hear the familiar scrape of the hatching being lifted from the upper deck, and the foul presence of the ship’s mate. This is strange �" I have already received my rations.


“Captain summons.” His voice slips out like a shiny lethal snake from a box, and he releases me from all but one chain, bound about my waist.


My heart is pounding as I struggle to my feet. Questions abound, but I do not utter them.


We reach the slippery ladder to the deck. A square of blue sky lights the space around me so that I must shield my eyes from the unfamiliar glare. Welcome gusts of fresh wind whistle through the hold, but above, the day is calm. The sea is rolling, not pounding. The sun shines directly upon us, aloft in his joy, as if nothing on earth were wrong.


A man stands at the starboard fore-railing. He holds an air of authority, and it is he who the mate pushes me toward.


“Captain. She tells me she needs wine.” Again, that slimy voice, but I barely notice, entranced by the sights and smells and colors around me.  They are carrying on a conversation, but I do not heed.


The captain leads me to the rail at the fore of the deck. A cup of wine is handed to me, but it is not for drinking. Each Tuten has a stimulant which triggers entry to the walks of time. Wine is my personal charm. 


The wooden cup is brimming, the dark red wine appearing eerily as fresh drawn blood. For a long moment, I hold it beneath my chin. I breathe in the heady fragrance of sun-ripened grapes and wooden presses. I close my eyes and feel the cold spray of the ocean spatter my face. The taste of salt mingles with the sun-smell, and I imagine I am free. The weight of my chains and filth of the hold falls away as I feel once more the green grass of Tuten beneath my bare feet and the cool, dry breeze twine through my hair. I hear the laughter of my brother. My brother.


The Captain, his cruel mate, and the dingy cargo ship fade into the murky grayness of time. I walk these familiar roads - not with ease, but with revenge and resentment blossoming amid the sweet nostalgia of a once-innocent gift.


I remember my father, strong and wise; my gentle mother and the industrious village-folk. My young years wandering the berry-filled forests.


I remember when the raiders came that last time, tearing through our village like marauding boars. I had eluded them before, but this time I was taken. My brother, taken as well, struggled fiercely, shouting indictments and curses at his captors. O son of a noble chieftain, I thought. Give up thine pride, inheritance of generations.


He was taken away, as was I. We were sold in the harbor city of Culera, a string of my villagers herded through the streets like cattle. There were no laws to protect us, to acknowledge our rights as citizens of the empire. Perhaps there had been in the past and perhaps, someday, there would be again. But now we were just sheep. Sheep with far-seeing eyes and bartered souls.


I was sold to a merchant to foretell the weather for his caravans. He preferred to use my body instead. I learned to hate.


Eventually I escaped, searching through the winding, hilly streets of Culera for a way back to my lost forests of Tuten, for any sign of my brother. I found the sea instead, and was taken captive by sailors from a ship.


I first abhorred the sickening swell of tides, the hammering of waves, and the rolling of the ship. Then I learned to tolerate the movement, the noise, the smell, and even the rats. But then the ship’s mate would come down into the darkness to grope my young body and sate his carnal need. I never learned to forgive, but perhaps, with time, I could learn to forget.


My clothes were tattered, and my skin stained with dirt and broken where the chains dug gashes into my wrists and ankles. My will was bending but I would stay alive, I determined, if only for my childhood memories and the fading hope that I would return one day to my beloved forests of Tuten.


Blue children of the forest, they used to call us. But for now I am forced to be a child of the sea - the foaming , choppy sea with walls of murky water and unknown fears below.


A spray of salt again whips across my face and the ship bucks into a valley between waves.  I keep my eyes closed, willing the dream to last for a long as I can while my senses slowly register the rolling deck, the thunder of waves, the warm rays of the beaten-gold sun on my head, the grip of the mate’s cruel hand on my arm, the feel of splintered wood beneath my bare feet.


The wooden cup has dropped unheeded to the deck, spilling blood-red wine over my feet and running in rivulets down the planking to where the sailors are watching.


I raise my head and gaze into the horizon.


“Storm coming.”


© 2011 Beth

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Loved it, keep on writing, good job.

Posted 8 Years Ago

This has some great descriptive writing in it. I think it is a fine opening but twice in the first few lines you say "I know not" WHY? Why that phraseology? It sounds stilted and out of whack with the rest of the writing. You could just say, " I have no idea why I am chained this way; in manacles, when I'm only a twelve year old girl" Something like that I think would be much better. And you could offer a little more detail about your character's homeland. A Tutan it seems would be from Tuta??? But here we have the same name for both the people and the point of origin. I strongly suggest changing that for the clarity of the reader. But you definitely have talent and this is a great opening to a story. You kept my interest and managed to keep the story active and entertaining. I rate 100% for the originality and the story ideas here. Good job, keep writing.

Posted 8 Years Ago

I believe your writing to be very well done. The only thing that keeps me from really being pulled in is that I have no idea what the heck Tutan is, you use it to refer to both the people and the place. You also used it quite frequently but didn't give any insight to what it means to her or to any other Tutan person. Maybe I am just use to the common terms, Americans from America. Almost identical and yet a difference between the country and the people who inhabit it. You were very descriptive about the sea and that kept me reading.

Posted 8 Years Ago

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3 Reviews
Added on November 28, 2009
Last Updated on August 24, 2011



Phoenix, AZ

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