Sample of a much larger story; sea voyage and a girl looking for adventure.
The creaking of floorboards was the only indication there was anyone other than Isabelle. The shadow of a man stood at the top of the stairs, stretched to her doorway from the bright moonlight. She gazed at the figure, a chill stirring from her neck down her spine.
"Who's there?" she asked as her voice showed little to no fear. The figure swayed as if contemplating whether to come down or stay on deck.
That's when she heard it; the slight patter of rain as if beginning to drip from the sky. Yet the sky was clear, not a cloud showing a storm in sight. And as if the wind had felt her wariness, the man swooped forward flying down the stairs. The surprise was when he did not catch himself but fell face first with loud thumps that resonated through her entire body in sheer horror. She stepped back out of reflex to avoid the crumpled body at the bottom of the stairs. Her instinct was to run to check on who exactly had fallen but the figure behind the fallen man had frightened her even more. She could feel the grin of pleasure the stranger had on his face and saw the pale glow of the moon light his face.
A pirate; more specifically a vampirate.
The streets were coming alive as the sun crept higher to the cloudless sky. Merchants set up their carts, scurrying to be set up by the time rich buyers made their way to the marketplace. Seagulls called overhead as crowds gathered toward the sounds and smells of the town. Colors moved like the wind, rustling and swishing faster than the eye could count them all. Those colors told the unique standing of rich folk verses the poor. They seemed to intertwine yet like oil and water, eventually separate. One of these colors swiftly traveled through the crowd toward the docks.
She was dressed in a simple every green dress with parchment colored traveling cloak. The ships and smell of the sea filled her nostrils as she seemed to gulp down the air. Daughter of a captain, Isabelle Hawkins dreamed of living by the sea. Her gather's adventures and trades gave her a closer look at the life she wanted.
When she was younger, she'd climb to the crow's nest and look out at the vastness beyond. She'd imagined the water like glass grabbing on like a magnet to the ship. She felt like she'd fall into the sky at any moment, her feet stretched toward the stars. She was, however, no longer a child. She separated from the masses as she found the crates and fish market ahead of her. She straightened her strap to her pack on her shoulders. Suddenly stopping, Isabelle looked back to a figure struggling to push through. The man was almost middle aged, balding head and a little larger gut. He was trudging a large trunk with him, sweating all the while.
"Dundley, we're only a few more steps from the ship. Captain Stanley won't wait much longer," she smiled. Dundley sighed as he finally caught up to her, resting in front of her.
"Yes...Lady Hawkins. I'm well aware...of the...STENCH! Awful smell," he said between gasps for air.
"I offered to take the trunk in the first place but you didn't accept. Why don't we trade the last few steps? I don't mind..."
"No, I insist," he interrupted. "No lady carries her own trunk, especially with your title Lady Hawkins."
"I've told you not to call me that," she replied facing the harbor again. "I must see his ship again, one last trip." She pushed forward, hearing him grumble behind her.
The distant calling of sailors met her ears as she neared the pier and majestic ship in the harbor. The Siren was a polished dream, its creamy sails waiting to take in the ocean's breezes. The light made the deck gleam as she approached beaming just as brightly. The loading of goods was almost finished as she pushed forward behind two sailors transporting a large crate. Dundley called from behind her as sailors gathered the trunk from his hands. She made it to the deck, both feet planted firmly as she searched for the captain she'd been corresponding with.
"Lady Hawkins, ...Isabelle! We must talk before you leave. Remember, your journey is meant to check on the trading ship we've established relations with in England. It is vital...," he sputtered on as she nodded, continuing her gaze around the ship.
A man near the stern of the ship, young but bold, seemed to direct the sailors carrying crates toward the haul of the ship. She dropped her pack, leaving Dundley directing the air. She climbed the stairs, listening to the man giving orders.
"All hands get ready to cast off and untie from the gang plank! Cargo must be finished boarding once we get ready to make sail." He was signing a document as she approached him unannounced.
"Excuse me, sir. My name is,"
"All parcels and supplies must be brought below deck, lady. The quicker the better," he stated without looking up.
"Sorry that's not why I'm here. You see, I've been corresponding with," she tried explaining until he continued on.
"I have no time for petty stories, wench! Exit this ship and leave this to the men to sort out." He smiled with pleasure as he pushed her aside.
"Is that anyway to treat our guest, Kelly? Welcome aboard, Lady Hawkins. It's good to see you," a voice called from behind her. She turned to find an older man, about the age her father would be. His wrinkles not only showed the weathered face of an avid sailor, but a friendly smile that felt warm and genuine.
The shook hands as Kelly gaped in embarrassment. "Captain Stanley, ...I...she," he stammered as he gazed back at her with new eyes. "Hawkins? Not the Hawkins."
"The very same," chimed in Dundley as he climbed the stairs, safely standing next to the captain. "Captain Stanley. An honor, sir, to greet you again."
"It's been years my friend! Too long," Stanley rejoiced. The patted each other on the back as Isabelle gazed at their meeting "You've already had the regrettable misfortune of meeting my first mate Mr. Thomas Kelly. Kelly, a few apologies might be in order."
"Yes, sir. My sincere apologies, Lady Hawkins," he bowed his head slightly. "I was an admirer of your father. He taught me so much,"
"That will be all Kelly," the captain interrupted quickly. "See to it we are ready to set sail. Mr. Dundley, a pleasure as always. I'll make sure Lady Hawkins is well taken care of." He nodded to her with respect as Dundley and Isabelle were left to their own farewell.
She turned to her elder companion smiling. "What would I do without you?"
"Probably without clothes, lost and a bit kooky," he joked embracing her swiftly. "I wish you a speedy journey and safe travels, Isabelle." He wiped his eyes quickly as she gazed at his warm brown eyes.
"Goodbye, Dundley. Till we meet again." She forced a smile as her tears leaked own her cheeks. He nodded and turned, skipping stairs and down the gangplank. She watched his form slip through the crowd as she returned to the main deck.
Orders were shouted as they untied from the pier. Men scurried up the ropes like apes as sails were unfurled in the wind. The captain took his position at the stern beside the wheel. Before she knew it, they'd pulled away from land and were in deep waters. The land started as only a mile away until it was a small speck in the distance. She starred until she strained to see the dot, undistinguishable in the spreading sea.
The sky was high, the breeze blowing The Siren to full speeds. She finally looked up on the faces she'd be surrounded with for the next few weeks. Some were wrinkled and bronze from years of sailing, hands callused from the ropes. Others fresh with eyes wide to the wonders of the sea. She sighed, as if feeling complete for the first time in years. She winced as she tried shifting weight on her feet. Ladies fashion was one thing Isabelle was excited to leave behind for a few weeks. To not bother with fancy shoes, corsets and petticoats would be savored this journey.
She pushed off the rail toward a group of sailors organizing the extra rope near the mast. They seemed to be discussing the schedule of meal times and shifts around the ship to a doe-eyed fourteen-year-old boy. As she approached, the men stood and bowed cutting the conversation short.
"My lady, how may we be of assistance?" the older sailor was similar to the captain in age, probably working for him his whole life, she thought. She smiled warmly.
"I was wondering if someone could show me around the ship? It's been years since I've been aboard and needs enlightened." She gazed 'round the men. The three men looked on at each other as the doe-eyed boy stepped forward all to eagerly.
"I can take you, miss! I've ventured this whole ship as the cook's hand last voyage. They thought I could do more, yah see?" He smiled with glee as the older sailors went back to their duties. "Well, lead on sir," she said as they weaved around the deck.
He was skinny in size but as tall as she. She could tell that the food would be as she remembered due to his protruding ribs; bearable but not memorable. She pitied him for a moment but as his face beamed turning toward her, it wiped away her concerns. He was happy and as her father would tell her "Happiness in it's truest form is a smile". They soon approached the steps of the Berth, living quarters for the sailors.
They walked amongst the hammocks and bunks built into the ship to fit at least a hundred men. She followed him as the ropes creaked in their wake. She remembered when her father had few sailors working The Siren, she'd sneak below to a hammock to feel the waves rock her to sleep. The smell of burlap blankets was familiar and warmed her heart. He talked about his adventures a couple years ago as a young lad as she let her fingers run along the seams. He stopped to turn around as she rushed to keep up with him. They finally returned to the upper deck, basking in the sun. He sighed as he propped himself up on a barrel.
"By the way, what is your name?" He turned toward her.
"Gilly, my lady. Sometimes the other sailors call me Gill for short." He starred at the deck shyness creeping in to his exuberant demeanor. He shuffled his feet as he blushed.
"Gill; it's nice to meet you. My name is Isabelle." She shook his hand as his copper eyes met hers. "Gill, I hope this won't be too forward but I'll need a change of clothes. Preferably a sailor's uniform to change into if you have it." His smile turned into a confused grimace.
"What would you be needing it for? You don't have to lift a finger while your aboard, Miss Isabelle. I promise. You won't be needing them," he assured her as she shook her head.
"I no longer require the formality of these clothes. They are for land; now I'm home out at sea. You must understand I just need a change," she said. "If you could, with discretion of course, I'd be so grateful," she cautioned. He grinned mischievously as she felt relief wash over her.
"Of course, Miss Isabelle. Right away," he whispered as he scampered off to fetch the clothes for her.
She let her eyes wander as she stood near the Forecastle of the ship. She gazed at the large glass doors to the captain's quarters. Elegant as they were, in detail they were modest. No fancy metals or trinkets used in any of the furnishings. It was fit for a captain with more value in the sea than all the treasures in the world. She let her heart throb a little as the sea rocked underneath her.
"Brings back memories I bet," a familiar voice called to her. Without turning, she smiled wickedly as she replied. "It does, truly. Many fond memories indeed." She paused as the man approached. The first mate