After a fun night of WAFFLE (writing group I’m a part of that started recently), I wrote this short story in 25 minutes this morning, based on a writing prompt, the image below:
Image by Anndr
Enjoy! Here is the story:
I had always known he’d leave. He had told me the first day we left the village to go down to the Green and watch the ships leave. I don’t even remember how old either of us were, that’s how long ago it was. He had taken my hand and said, “One day, that’ll be me. I’ll be the captain and I’ll be leading the voyage out to the other worlds.”
I had simply nodded, squeezing his hand tightly. It made sense. He had always possessed leader-like qualities. Why wouldn’t he lead those voyages one day?
But I had told myself it wouldn’t happen for a long, long time. I guess I just wasn’t smart enough to figure out that eventually, a long, long time would come.
Several years later, after many, many trials and hardships, after being rejected again and again, after persevering and never quitting, my brother finally gained the trust of the other Shipmen and he joined their crew. He spent a number of years after that training and training, never giving up on his goal. Never forgetting why he was going through all this. Sometimes I wish I had had such spirit, such will. I had never wanted anything like that before. He wanted it to the point that he didn’t care what he had to give up in order to become captain of his own voyage out there.
I think I would still admire him for it…if the last thing he ended up giving up hadn’t been me.
I remember the last time Art brought me to the Green as if it were yesterday. We sat in silence for a long time, just watching the ships fly away. I remember feeling at peace and actually very happy. I wouldn’t have felt such foolish emotions if I had known that that was the last time Art would take me there. To our favorite place.
“I’m leaving tomorrow, Ginger. You know that, right?”
“Leaving where?” I asked ignorantly.
“Captain Bo said I’m ready. Ready to lead my own voyage. I’m taking the Marion out—out there. The captaining ceremony for me is tonight. And then…” He gestured to the floating ships. “It’s my turn.”
“Already?” After so many years of waiting, the day had finally come and I could hardly breathe. “But—you’re taking me with you, right?”
Art looked down. I think it pained him at least a little to say what he said next. I like to think it did. “I’m sorry, Ging. You can’t come. No passengers allowed. Only captain and crew.”
“Wait, you’re leaving me behind?” My heart leaped into my throat. Our parents had died a decade ago and even though I was almost nineteen, I couldn’t bear the thought of living in the Upper City alone. Working at the inn for room and board (the landlady had been kind enough to lend us the attic room for the past couple of years). I had worked at the inn since I was ten, getting us money for food and to pay for Art’s captaining sessions. Now I was to go back to the inn alone? I had no one but Art. No one.
“I’m sorry, Ging.”
“Please, Art, what will I do while you’re gone? Which world are you going to? You won’t be gone longer than a few weeks, right? Right?”
Art frowned, looking away. “Actually…Captain Bo wants me to go to…to Heartland. Past the Fifties.”
“Heartland?” The tears were falling. I felt so childish. How could I cling to my brother like this, when I was a perfectly capable adult? I was, wasn’t I? I could handle being along, I just didn’t want to. But Heartland! “On your first voyage? How can Captain Bo allow that? Heartland is months away! You want me to be in Upper City by myself for-for—a year—at the least?” I wish I could have just let him go and be happy for him. This was all that he had ever wanted.
But Heartland…the journey was perilous. I knew why Captain Bo had picked my brother to captain the first voyage there in almost a dozen years. The last two voyages there had ended in disaster. If anyone could battle the skies, Art could, but…what if he didn’t return?
Art stood and wiped the grass off his pants. He stretched out a hand to me. “One year from today, when you’re almost twenty, I’ll meet you back here at sunset. On the Green. I promise.”
I let him help me up and hugged him tight. “Fine. As long as you keep that promise.”
“In the meantime, I’ve ‘hired’, you could say, someone to look after you for me. One of my captaining buddies. He won’t get his certification for another year or so. You can depend on him to not be going anywhere while I’m gone.”
“I don’t need a guardian,” I pushed Art away, knowing I was lying. “I need you. Art, if you don’t come back—”
“I promised I’m coming back and you know I keep my promises.” Art looked at me seriously from his gray eyes.
“You’ll meet my captaining buddy at the ceremony tonight. You want to head over? It starts in an hour.”
“No. I’ll stay here a few more minutes.”
Art nodded and slowly headed for the Upper City.
I sat down and watched him leave. I watched him run across the desert and climb up the cliffside. Then I watched the last ship float away. Ships were leaving all the time, but to places nearby. The closest world, Jade, was only a few days away from here. Jade and our kingdom were good friends and trading was going on constantly between the two. Why couldn’t Art’s first voyage go there?
But I knew that wouldn’t have satisfied him. He wanted a real adventure. He wanted to go out there. And see what there was to see.
I didn’t really want to go with him. But I didn’t want to be alone either.
The ceremony took place and it was as grand as any other captaining ceremony. They are a monthly occurrence and this one was no different than any other. After Art was captained, food and drink was passed around and dancing started in the Square. It might have been all one huge excuse for a dance. Art made his way over and I pretended I hadn’t just been crying a minute ago.
“Congrats, Art,” I said sincerely. What’s done was done. I might as well have been happy for him.
He smiled and tousled my hair. “Thanks, sis.”
“Don’t ruin my braid,” I said, not really caring how my hair looked. I patted it down and he only smirked. “What?”
“Nothing.” He paused looking around the Square. “Are you ready to meet my buddy?”
“I’ve probably already met him. I know most of your buddies.”
“You don’t know this one. He’s only been around for three years.”
Instead of Art’s million.
I looked around as Art motioned for a man to step forward. He did. My eyes widened. Art had to be joking.
He expected me to be watched over by this man?