Marcus's parents died when he was too small to remember them. He was passed through foster homes and finally into a workhouse. Escaping that he joined a group of pirates but was washed overboard during a storm.
The floor bucks beneath my feet sending me sprawling across the hold.
“Come on boy. You’d think you’d have got your sea legs by now,” a harsh, impatient voice says from behind me. The man grabs my collar and yanks me to my feet.
“Now move!” I stagger across the hold barely keeping my balance.
“We’re not going on deck are we?” I say, nervously running my hand through my hair. “We’d get swept off the boat. There is a storm going on.”
“Like I didn’t notice,” he growls. “Get up there before I have to make you.” I climb up the ladder but hesitate at the hatch. He digs his nails into my ankle.
“Afraid of a little water?” I open the hatch and clamber out into chaos.
Rains pelts me with its icy fingers making my exposed skin sting and go almost numb. My clothes are as instantly soaked as if I had jumped in the ocean. The gusts around me, toying with the masts and sails. An airborne rope smacks me in the arm as it whips around like the tentacle of a giant squid.
“Why aren’t the sails tied up yet?” I yell to be heard over the wind.
“That’s your job isn’t it?” I gulp. Yes, that is my job but they endangered the lives of their crew to give me this scare. I walk to the aft mast as the deck bucks and rolls under my feet. Because the ropes are not simply lying on the deck, I know I must climb the mast, not far but far enough. I wipe my hands on my shirt, blow on them and begin to climb.
Twice I almost fall to my death but I reach the proper level unharmed. As I gather in the sail and fix it to the mast a rope whips around and hits me in the face. I fall. It is a short fall because I manage to grip the rigging before the bottom but it is a fall all the same. When I reach the deck again I grin. I did it! My victory is short lived. A wave crashes over the side of the boat and sweeps me over board.
A voice croons to me. “You are my baby and I love you my little sailor boy. You are going to be the best in the world I just know it. Make your daddy proud.”
The image vanishes and unconsciousness claims me completely.
“Are you dead?” A voice enters my blackness. “I hope you’re not. That would be a real downer. I’d better go tell my dad.” The voice has a tropical accent and sounds young. I vaguely hear footsteps padding away. Don’t leave me I’ll die! I think to myself. What was it she said? I can’t remember.
Lips press life into my lungs.
“Breathe, breathe. Come on, breathe.” This new voice is frantic with worry.
“Why are you kissing him?” asks the first voice.
“I’m giving him air because he can’t get his own.” Hands pump my heart to start it. “Go get blankets, anything we can keep him warm with.”
“Okay.” The first voice walks off. My shirt is ripped off me and so are my pants leaving me in only my underwear. Sounds fade away again as blackness creeps up.
My breathing kick starts and I can hear a happy exclamation of words.
“He’s alive. Oh, thank god he’s alive.” I feel lips on mine but not with air this time. They quickly leave.
“That was a kiss.” The first voice says smugly. “You ought to be careful not to steal his air now.”
“Lexie, Lexie, Lexie, what am I going to do with you? Come on help me get him to the house.”
“I’ll go get the wheelbarrow,” Lexie says as I doze off.
When I wake, I open my eyes to a ceiling. I am lying on a soft bed, tucked under the covers with nothing on. I look around the room in time to see a small face disappearing from the doorway.
“He’s awake now.” The voice travels through the open doorway as I examine the room.
It is rather bare, with a woven rug on the floor and one set of selves opposite the door. The walls are painted an off white and the floor is a cherry hardwood. There is a window above my head lined in blue curtains.
I turn to look at the door as footsteps approach it. Two dark heads poke in through the opening. One is small, surrounded by dreadlocks and curious; the other is bigger, with dark wavy hair and a smile.
“Good you’re awake,” says the taller one as they enter the room. The two girls have the same features, dark eyes, dark hair, chocolate coloured skin, full lips and a long straight nose, so I guess them to be sisters. The smaller one, Lexie, looks to be about 8 or 9 but the older one appears to be my age, 15.
“I’m so happy you’re alive,” says the older one. “My name’s Maria and this is Lexie. Lexie is the one who found you.”
“Thank you.” I say huskily to them. “You saved my life.”
“Of course we did,” says Lexie. “We couldn’t leave you to die and have that on our conscious.” I almost expected her to say ‘obviously’, she sounded so much like the girls back home.
“Lexie!” Maria admonishes her sister. “Are you hungry? I’ve soup on the stove.”