I soon discovered that being a sailor was incredibly hard work. My lithe frame slipped easily up the rigigng, fixing in place jigs and sails and tightening lines with the sialors knot Darren had just taught me. I had callouses and blisters on my hands from the rope, and a large bruise on my side from when I had fallen from the rigging. The crew basically treated me as one of their own, which could be taken in a good or bad way.
I still had my own cabin, considering I was a girl! And it would be considered most inappropriate for me to bed in the same room as a man. The Captain strongly agreed with me. Though, if he had not, I would have quite enthusiatically thrown myself over the side rather than choose to sleep in a hammock below deck with a bunch of smelly sailors.
I had also discovered that one must first start thier life as a crew mate swabbing the deck, which, may I add, is the most boring and tedious job you can be given. At least, when I had scaled the rigging to hand the man atop the mast his lunch, I had showed a great talent of climbing and had been promoted to a more reasonable position, thank goodness.
Darren and I often found time to talk, depsite the work, and I was beginning to learn more about him. He stood by the rail now, looking distant.
"What's wrong?" I asked, laying my hand on his shoulder. He was staring out at the sea, as the sun set in the distance, with pain in his eyes, a pain I hadn't seen before.
He clenched the rail, turning his knuckles white, and lowered his gaze. "I miss home," he said simply, his voice harbouring emotion. I put my arm around him and stood beside him wordlessly, understanding that he needed no questions asked, only my presence. A long time passed before he turned to me, his sea blue eyes finding my own. "You must understand that there is so much I would like to tell you, but so little that I am permitted to say." He took my hand and squeezed it tight as he spoke.
I looked deep into his eyes, where turmoil roiled like waves on a stormy sea. "I understand," I whispered. I kissed him, gently, passionately on the lips and left him alone on the deck with his thoughts. He needed the time. I slid into my cabin, undid the rough braids my hair was in and let the red locks tumble down over my shoulders. In the mirror I saw my emerald eyes fill with tears.
I no longer knew who I was. I was no longer a girl I could understand. I was just another sailor, a female, but just a sailor, and the realization was hitting me hard. Out on the ocean I could no longer live the life I used to. Darren was no longer the farm boy who smiled in such a dreamy way. He was just another mystery I had to unravel. Like the mermaids. I loved the ocean, the way the waves crashed and the wind spoke, the way the boat rocked and the way the water seemed to glow. But now it was harder to look to what I had always loved and find comfort. Now, it just reminded me of the mysteries, of the bleeding blisters on my hands and the sunburn on my arms.
My red skin protested as I pulled off my clothes and donned a silk nightgown, making me wince as the fabric dragged along the burn. I lay upon the small bed, listening to the waves splash against the side of the Stardust beating a steady rythm. It soon lulled me to sleep.
I was woken by a sharp tpaping noise, like a rock being banged against glass. My cabin was pitched in shadow, it was obviously late in the night. I looked around sharply, searching for the source of the noise. It came from my closed porthole. For a seocnd I didn't clue in to the fatc that there was a hand pressed against my window. I remember thinking it was impossible for such a thing to be true, but then I leapt up and ran to open it.
Amii's face appeared, looking pale against the dark water.
"Marina," she said, smiling. I tried to smile back, but it wouldn't come.
"Who are you?" I demanded, all my built up feelings moving into this question. I was determined to understand her mystery.
"I cannot say before the time is right," she said, her voice just as beautiful as before. "I am bound by the ways of the sea."
Somehow, through the riddles, I understood, but that doesn't mean I was happy with the answer. "The sea is an unpredictable being,' I almost hissed. "I need to know, or these mysteries will drive me mad."
Amii looked at me sadly, her slim hand resting against the frame of the porthole. "There is so much I would like to tell you, but so little I am permitted to say." Then she slid away into the water, away form me, leaving me with the shock of the words i had heard from two people so different I had never considered them connected.
The ocean hid more secrets then I had first thought.