We return to the bay and clamber aboard the ship. I cannot pretend to know much about ships and other vessels of the sea. I was born inland and never bothered to learn more than the names of bow and stern, though I know as much as anyone can about unloading crates from a ship’s storage. Isiore skims his cargo with tough fingers. This is a man who knows his craft. For all I know, the ocean may be his and his family’s only home. Over a crate of linens, Soraliyn is staring at me.
“Look,” she says, ”I won’t try to get into your head, so you can stop with the projections.” Her brow is furrowed, angry, as if I have somehow offended her.
“In case you hadn’t noticed,” I shoot back, ”I’m not Gifted.”
She looks as if she has a retort, but bites it back and turns away. I hadn’t even realized I was projecting anything. It has been that long. I take care to assemble the corners of my lips and eyes, becoming calm. I will unload these boxes, ignore this girl, and go home. I spend the next few hours unthinking, making use of only my body, letting my arms stretch and my back bear the stress.
The sun is suffocating, at its zenith, when we haul the last crate to the storehouse. We left none on the ship, unusual but not unheard of- we are the last stop for this scruffy family before they head home. In a way, I must respect them. Sailing seems freeing, yet a danger. The only real guidance comes from the stars, for maps have no accuracy in this part of the world. No cartographer would risk his livelihood to go beyond the reaches of the homeland. It is such a risk. Out here, all the old seaman is left with are his instincts and his memories, his ancestor's Gift of water, all that his first captain told him when he was young. I let my eyes rest on Isiore’s graying beard. I could never fight the waves, never sail the world.