Day 7 - History - Entry for the Baker's Dozen Contest.
|The day was December 6th 1912. The city was Halifax. A seaboard port in Nova Scotia, Canada.
The day dawned young and bright. Unseasonably warm for a maritime day in Halifax. Life bustled with hope and promise. Jamie was up and dressed, even down for breakfast before his mother called him. She smiled that loving smile as she ruffled his hair and placed a bowl of porridge in front of him. He dug in greedily, then stopped and looked up expectantly.
She slid in beside him and took his hand. They bowed their heads as she gently said, “Thank you, Lord for this food and blessings you have bestowed us. Amen.” Jamie mumbled the ‘Amen’ as well then let her hand go to dive back into his bowl.
She stood back up and pressed down her skirt to shake out the wrinkles, then moved back to the woodstove. She had water warming for the cleaning she would be doing later.
“Da already gone?” Jamie asked between mouthfuls.
She nodded, lifting her gaze up to look out towards the harbour. “Yes, early morning. That convoys getting ready to head out today, I hear, and your Da wanted to be on top of it.”
“Can I go down and see?” I asked curious about all those big boats sitting in the harbour. “Pauly says there is a big munitions boat out there. I would love to see it.”
“Now, Jamie. You have school. I do not want to hear from Mr. Paterson that you were late again.”
“Yes, mother.” He bowed his head, but wondered if a quick look with Pauly would be okay...maybe if they went early enough.
“I don’t feel comfortable with that ship here.”
“But Mother, its wartime.”
“I know son, but something just...”
He gave his mother a reassuring smile, and then jumped up to give her his empty bowl.
“You get your chores done before you go, young man.” She told him when he passed a quick kiss on her check.
“Yes, mother. Then I want to meet Pauly...if I take my ball we can play in the school yard beforehand.”
She gave him a look. One that looked right into him to see if he were telling the truth. He gave her a steady look back, not wavering.
“Okay, then, but to school. Not the harbour.” He nodded, then looked away quickly so she would not catch his truth.
He met Pauly at the corner, carrying his ball. Pauly gave him a quizzical look and gestured to the ball.
“Why’d you bring that? Aren’t we still going down to see the ships?”
“Yes, but my mother...”
Pauly laughed. “My ma says yours got some second sense or something.”
Jamie shook his head. He had heard that before and he knew Pauly did not mean any disrespect by it.
They dashed off down to the docks. Jamie glancing back only once to make sure his mother had not decided to follow or watch him. He was glad his sister’s were not old enough for school yet. They had just been waking up when he had left.
“We can’t be late this morning. I got in trouble the last time.” He told Pauly. Pauly just laughed again.
At the harbour, they made their way along the rough ground. It was a bit muddy. Pauly didn’t seem to mind the muck; his eyes were trained on the water. He slapped at Jamie and pointed.
Jamie’s eyes followed to where Pauly had pointed.
“Those two boats is awful close. They ain’t careful, they’ll hit.”
We watched in horror as they did just that. The sound of metal scraping metal filled the harbour like nails on a chalkboard only hundred times worse.
Thoughts of school were gone. The boys watched in fascinated horror as the boats collided then broke apart. One had flames lapping at the gaping hole the other boat had left.
Around them the world seemed to shrink and expand all at once. Screams and yells filled the crisp morning air. The harbour docks surged with life.
Wide – eyed the boys watched.
“That’s the Munitions ship...It is going to blow!” They heard someone scream.
The boys were frozen to the spot watching as the ship took the blaze to heightened levels and slowly shifted toward the shore.
Jamie watched as several crew members scrambled for the small boats and lowered them then rowed for shore. He could hear them screaming and yelling but he could not make out what they were saying.
Chaos ensured. Jamie and Pauly were caught up in muscle bound dock man and carried away in the surge. They were still able to see the ship.
Then a terrible ripping rose up and deafened them with its force. The world around them exploded and they were carried up and away on the blasts power.
Jamie found himself in dazed pain a good mile from where he had started. Blown there by the blast. The man, who had carried him, lay still pressed face down over him. Jamie could see glass bits and rubble all around. He could not move. When he tried to call out, nothing would come. The air about him was filled with thick black soot. He could hear screams and terror far off, but by him, all was silent. Like life had left. He fought to move, to call out, but nothing seemed possible. How long he lay there he did not know. His eyes were getting heavy giving away his own weak life. His last thoughts were of his mother and how upset she’d be that he was late for school...again.
Word Count = 939