It was exactly how I remembered an airship to be. The wings, the sturdy masts, the propellers. Everything about it I remembered, and it was beautiful. My father had taken me to an airship when I was younger, around 5, and it had to be one of my most vivid memories. Ever since then, I have wanted to be a sailor.
I got antsy waiting around in the line, but it didn’t take long before I reached the person in charge of registration. Looking bored and mildly irritated, he sighed, “Name?”
“Isaac, sir. Isaac Lorraine,” I said nervously, staring at my feet. “Sir,” I added.
“Enough kissing up, boy,” he said. “Age?”
“Um…fourteen.” I wasn’t sure if I was supposed to say, “sir” afterwards, but I didn’t want to be yelled at again.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out the permission slip with my mother’s hurried scrawl and handed it to the man. I could see that he had been sailing for some time. Wrinkles surrounded the corners of his eyes, bird’s feet, as my mother called them, and his eyes seemed to be deep with knowledge. The knowledge I hoped to acquire on the ship.
After scanning my paper with his wise eyes, he gestured to the ship. “Off you go, son.” He gave me a loose smile and winked.
I began my walk on the ramp, and with every step I took, I got more and more excited, more and more nervous, and more and more curious. I wanted to know where we’d be going. Where would we visit first? Will we dock at deserted island and find something amazing? Will I one day be able to navigate this ship myself?
The smell of coal invaded my nasal cavity as I entered the deck. I looked around at the surrounding sailors, doused in sweat and hard-work, dirt spots on their clothing and faces. One appeared to be coming towards me, carrying a mop and bucket. Even though I knew they had to be for me, I hoped they weren’t. I mean, I was merely a ship boy.
He handed the items to me and told me to go find the other boys who were mopping. I struggled a bit carrying the bucket, but I walked about the ship looking for other young sailors. After looking around for a bit, I found three of them, all already at work.
Two of the three looked up as I arrived. One appeared to be quite focused on his mopping.
“Hi, I’m Flint,” One of the boys reached his hand out for me to shake. I shook it, telling him my name. His name fit well, because his hair neared the color of flint.
The other boy that looked up, smiled and introduced himself. “Ashwin.”
I smiled. The other boy reluctantly looked up at me and shook my hand. “Pat,” he said and got back to work almost immediately.
“Nice to meet you all,” I said, sticking my mop in the bucket and getting to work.
After a few minutes of silence, Ashwin asked, “So…ever been sailing Isaac?”
“Yeah,” I answered, “with my dad. He took me once when I was younger.”
“Nice,” Flint said, wiping his brow. “What about you, Pat?”
Pat stopped mopping, but didn’t look up. “No, I’ve only worked in the airship field, like I said.”
There was an awkward silence that we filled with mopping. Pat appeared to be less social than the other boys and didn’t mind working in the silence.
“When does the ship take off?” I asked.
Ashwin contemplated for a bit. “I don’t know. Probably soon.”
And with that my heart leapt. I would be sailing. Sailing. I couldn’t wait for all the adventures ahead.