Part the Two Hundred Second: With Faculties Returned, Though Little Else at Hand
And then, Hope considered her situation.
She was lying on her back atop the waves, her body afloat, facing the sky. The day was now late on into dusk, much later than it was before-
She tried to recall what happened. The last clear memory was of mounting the quarterdeck, wanting to be with Abigail…
Who was not here.
Nor was the Raging Gail.
Leaving her without a captain or a ship.
What happened to her came back in patches: The fire from the Casa del Sol. The explosion. Being flung from the deck. Hitting the water. Going under, then breaking the surface. The pain, the exhaustion, the swimming-
And now here.
She tried to take stock of what she did have. Slowly, as every bit of her felt sore, and she did not want to move in such a way that she might start sinking.
Food, none. Water, other than the sea, not a drop.
So far, the act of taking stock was depressingly simple…
Her felt in her left hand something hard and knobby. She carefully brought it closer to her face…
She was stunned when she recognized it, the frets and upper neck of her cittern. Where the rest of her instrument had been was a splintered stub, craggy and sharp. A single string was still attached to what was left of the instrument.
Hope felt too far beyond tired to cry or care.
With a heavy sigh, she forced her fingers open and lowered her hand, letting what was left of the cittern start to drift away. It danced on her fingers briefly before it too was lost to her for good.
Forcing her hand open made her pay more attention to her sense of touch. The water on her skin reminded her of what she cast off to stay afloat.
The realization that she was now afloat in only a chemise left Hope as neutral as her buoyancy. The first thought she could muster was how she could claim, that in her last moments, at least she protected her shame…
When her chemise started to ride up her back, she tried to sigh. This seemed the only appropriate response to her last failure-
She felt a sharp edge drawn against the backs of her legs. Not a thin edge like a blade, but with bite enough to cause panic.
The shock made her twist around. No longer on her back, she kicked and pummeled what brushed against her, furiously at first, then with less force until she found herself treading the water.
In the fading light she saw fins emerge from the water. She counted five, six- in this light it was damned hard to see just how many sharks were near her.
Hope turned in the water slowly, watching for any sign of delivery that could come her way. But in the fading light, the only things she could see were waves and fins.
“Truly desperate now,” Hope said aloud, a part of her wondering if these were the right words to say if they were going to be her last…
All content Copyright © 2009 James Ryan