Short Stories

Short Story of the Week: Sails

By: Corinne Madden

 This article is brought to you by: Blue Water Chrysler Dodge Jeep Ram
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The waves echoed there “hellos” as they greeted the right side of our craft, the ocean in a golden state as the sun was beginning to rise. We were far from home as we watched the sun paint the sky in garnet, tangerine, medallion, and sapphire; the rocks, now visible in the morning light, waved back at the ocean just waking up to their morning light while fishermen stood firmly on top of them, waiting for a brilliant catch. I never realized the true beauty of the ocean until I set sail for the first time in my life, but being out in the world and facing danger at every aspect made me feel free. I could stare at the sunrise for hours, but I knew that we needed to start sailing again. This is what they get for having a drinking party last night.

I released my grip from the metal railings, walking away from the tip of the bow to the hull of the ship, going down the creaky stairs to wake up my captain and the rest of the crew.  I went down the cramped hallway to the guys’ bedroom, the room next to where me and another female crew member stayed, and opened the door, my two male crew members and my captain sleeping soundly… or loudly because they were snoring like crazy.

“Alright, wake up! It’s time to set sail again!” I shouted as the men awoke in surprise, falling out of their hammocks that we bought in Perch Town a few weeks ago, “Let’s go! Now!”

I looked as a deep voice asked, “Ugh, do you always have to be so loud in the morning?” The strong, muscular man with dark Aegean hair, his tanned skin making him seem warm and cuddly. If it wasn’t for his stern, serious face and midnight eyes that seemed like black holes which could lead you to his soul. Even though he was only twenty years old, a year older than me, he seemed older with his mindset, “I was actually having a good dream, you know.”

“Shut up!” I snapped, as he stretched, gathering his two Tachi swords and placing them behind his rump so that they formed a sideways cross behind him, “Get to the deck now before the sun rises, otherwise we’re never going to leave this spot!”

“Crazy witch,” the strong man mumbled, “Always ruining my naps.”

“What was that!?” I shouted as the strong man just ignored me and stumbled up to the deck, most likely to the cockpit so he can man the tiller. I sighed as he disappeared, shaking my head as I placed my hand on my forehead, “Honestly, what am I going to do with you Sebas.”

“You can’t blame him too much,” a soft laugh came from the doorway, “You know how much Sebastian likes to sleep.” I turned around quickly to see the smiling face of my best friend, her wavy, navy blue hair that reached the middle of her back in a fishtail braid with an orange bandanna wrapping around her head, her orange and cantaloupe-colored striped, button-down t-shirt complementing not only her hair, but also her sharp, emerald eyes. She wore ripped jeans, the teal color fading from being out on sea for so long, and her tawny-colored sandals wrapped around her feet tightly. Even though she was my age, like Sebas, her mindset was much older, making her the mother of the crew.

“I know that very well, Minoko,” I smiled, “But thanks for reminding me anyways. I better get up to the deck, though, if Sebas is manning the tiller, we’re never going to reach our point of destination.” I lost my smile as I looked over at the other crew members. The only one still on a hammock was a man who was a year younger than me, his blonde hair shaggy from drinking last night. His white shirt was dirtied from the last time we landed on an unknown island to look for food and water. We ran into some unsuspecting bandits, but luckily got away with the supplies we needed. “Hey, Captain Idiot, let’s go,” I said as I gave him small taps with my foot that was covered by carob-colored biker boots with straps on the outside, “We need to set sail again.”

“Huh?” he said, stirring awake, “What time is it? Is it breakfast time?”

“No, Brion, it’s time to set sail,” I said as I gritted my teeth in annoyance, crossing my arms over my chest that was clothed with a light denim button down with sleeves that reached my elbows, a white tank top peering underneath, “We need to get going before dark.”

“Alright,” he yawned, stretching out his body, “Raise the anchor! Full speed! Raise the sails!” he shouted before falling backwards on the hammock, snoring loudly.

“And you’re asleep again… brilliant…” I mumbled, “I’m just going to check the map.” I walked away from the captain and the other crew member, who was still asleep for some reason (did I not make enough noise?), and entered mine and Minoko’s room. My charts were scattered everywhere over my desk as I grabbed the chart that went to Galeville, a small city towards the main land of Nova. I hurried up the steps, the strong smell of food entering my nostrils telling me that our cook is finally up. I smiled and my stomach rumbled as I finally reached the deck again, the sun giving me more light to check the map that would lead us to our destination.

Our large sailboat, the U.S.S Zellars, was a fine ship with the body of the boat a sleek black color with a width of 27 feet, light wooden floorboards on the deck that would combine to the white cover leading under-deck. Metal railings, the color of silver, would surround the ship since it was filled with two idiot crewmembers and a captain. The mast was tall and thick, around 30 feet tall with a circumference of two feet, the boom was attached to it, holding on to our white mainsail that proudly held our crew’s symbol, a navy-blue anchor with an ebony rope and orange flowers wrapping around it, while the mainsheet held the boom in place. The cockpit sat in between the stern and the hull, the tiller fully functional attached to the rudder. Inside the hull were our living quarters, Minoko and I in a small cabin and the men in another, along with the wheel to lift the anchor, a laboratory, and a cooking station. It was a beautiful ship, and I loved how I was the one to sail it every day, deciding where this ship will land next.

The sun was now rising quickly as I watched Sebas raised the sails. Knowing that everything would be set, I looked out to the sea, soon to be interrupted by my stomach kept rumbling in hunger. I clutched the map in my hands tighter as I tried to ignore the sounds my stomach was making, calling me to go and grab something to eat. Just ignore it, it won’t go away but we don’t have someone on the deck who’s reliable with directions right now. Another rumble, my patience growing thin as I huffed, standing quickly before rolling up the map and stamping towards the hull to the small kitchen where a man in his early twenties stood, surrounded by the sweet smells of breakfast. His long black hair was tied back in a small bun with a red hair-tie, matching his maroon t-shirt covered in stains, his jet-black jeans and dress shoes completing his outfit. His soft, baby blue eyes are enough to drag anyone in, and along with his olive skin, most people found him absolutely handsome, but what really attracted people was his charming personality. He hummed softly as he worked at the stove, making sure the food was the right temperature for us to eat. I huffed as I sat down at the small dining table that was only enough to hold all five of us.

“Hey Muriel, couldn’t resist the smell of breakfast?”

“Hey Spence,” I said grinning, “You bet, but when is it going to be ready? I have to get back onto the deck.”

“Why? Can’t resist looking at the sea?” he said, giving me a smile as he looked back into my sea green eyes as I fixed my unruly, honey-dipped hair, trying to tie it back in a ponytail to keep it out of my face.

“No,” I stated as I leaned on the wooden table, “Sebas is at the tiller.” I chuckled as I looked at his shocked face. “And to make matters worse, no one else who has a good sense of direction is out on the deck.”

“I’ll have this ready in a minute, don’t worry,” Spence said, going back to preparing breakfast, “Hopefully we don’t get too of course, that would be horrible.”

“Knowing Sebas though, we can’t really trust him with directions,” I laughed, “His sense of direction is about as reliable as Brion thinking out a plan.”

“You got that right,” Spence laughed, “I just made some berry tarts, you want one to keep you over before breakfast? And also, I want you to man the tiller so we don’t get lost… again.”

“Yeah, I’ll take the strawberry one,” I said smiling as Spence handed me a plate covered with different berry tarts, ranging from strawberry, blueberry, raspberry, and blackberry. All of them were delicious either way though, Spence made them, and he was the greatest and well-known cook on the west side of Nova. I popped the small tart in my mouth, hoping that it would fulfill some of my hunger, and got up from the seat. “Thanks Spence!” I thanked him while running out to the deck.

“No problem, Muriel! Good luck getting the ship back on course!” I smiled and quickly ran towards the cockpit, making sure Sebas was somewhere else or not sleeping since I woke him up early today. To no surprise, when I got to the deck there was Sebas, sleeping with his hands behind his head, snoring up a storm. With my hand against my forehead, shaking my head I climbed into the cockpit and checked the compass to see if we were heading North. My eyes went wide as I looked at the needle of the compass, 30 degrees Northeast. We are supposed to be 0 degrees North.

This is not good at all.

“Sebas! Sebas, wake up you idiot!” I yelled as shoved him. He yawned before his eyes fluttered open, looking out at the sea before his eyes landed on me.

“What do you want now, Muriel?” he sneered, his teeth clenching together as he spoke. I rolled my eyes and pointed to the compass, my face red with anger as he turned to where I was pointing. He looked at the compass for a few seconds before turning back to me, his dopey face meeting my eyes, “So?”

“So?! That’s really all you have to say!?”

“Yeah, what about it?” He asked as he kept the same expression.

“We’re going the wrong way, Sebas! We’re supposed to be going 0 degrees North, but instead you fell asleep at the tiller, and now we’re going the wrong way! You know what?” I said before pushing him out of the way, grabbing hold of the tiller and pulling it towards me so that we could get back on track, “Go help Brion or Minoko or something not near here so you won’t get us lost again!”

“Ugh, whatever Sea Witch,” he rolled his eyes, getting up from his seat, “And what do you suppose I do n-”

“Shut up,” I said, my eyes snapping behind me towards the left side of the boat, looking out at the sea, a cold wind that wasn’t present before going east, a wind that was growing stronger.

“What did you just-”

“I said to shut it, Sebas!” I snapped as he looked at me in confusion, “The air changed, there might be a storm soon. My calculations with the way the wind is right now, this storm is going to push us straight into the shore if we don’t get out far enough,” I explained as I pulled the tiller more towards myself, “Get the rest of the crew on deck now! I need to tell them what’s going on.”

“Just worry about this thing,” Sebas said, pointing to the tiller, “I’ll tell the rest of the crew and then we’ll go from there, okay Muriel?”

“But-” I began before he stopped me, giving me a stern look while putting his hand out to stop me.

“I’ll tell the crew okay?” he said before cracking a smile, “You’re a little busy right now, so I’ll take care of it.” I was surprised that he was actually being this way, all caring and stuff. Normally, Sebas would just help only himself apart from Brion, putting on a tough guy act in front of us. But this time he was taking charge… maybe this was why Brion made him Quartermaster.

“Thank you, Sebas,” I smiled, grateful that he was here. I watched as he nodded, running down to the hull to grab the other crew members while I sailed the U.S.S Zellars further out to sea. The wind was starting to pick up, the waves rocking the sailboat as I held my ground, looking at the clouds that were quickly coming my way, the wind making my body shiver.

I tied some extra rope laying down by the cockpit to the metal railing on my right, wrapping it around the tiller before tying it on the left side. I pulled on the rope, making sure it was secured before running to the bow to lower the sails. The wind was strong as I used all the strength I had to pulled the ropes, rain drops like needles stabbing my skin as tears filled my eyes from the pain. I was struggling as thunder and lightning clashed above me, the wind and the rain starting to push Zellars quickly towards the shore. I was about to be blown away by wind when another pair of hands grabbed onto the rope.

“Looks like you’re having trouble, Navigator,” a voice called out threw the wind, “But I’m your captain, and as much as you don’t want my help, you need to understand that we are always here to help you.”

“Brion,” I said, shocked but relieved. I looked over to the other side where Sebas and Spence were pulling the other rope, lowering the sail so we wouldn’t crash. I smiled at my crewmates, my friends, as they were battling with me through this storm.

“Muriel!” a shout from the cockpit rang out despite all the noise from the storm, “Where to?” I looked backwards to see the rope that secured the tiller undone, Minoko clutching onto it, waiting for my orders out of this horrible storm.

“Minoko, see this compass here?” I shouted, pointing to the compass in front of us as I kept hold of the rope that held the main sail. Minoko looked at the compass before looking back to me, giving me a small nod. “Right, we need to keep the rudder at 320 degrees Northwest so we don’t crash into the shore. This storm should only last a few more minutes, so we must do this quickly! Go, Minoko, go!” I watched my friend use all her strength to pull the tiller Northwest, her face showing pain as the rain pelted on us. I looked over at Sebas and Spence, their eyes flaming with determination, teeth gritted as their hair whipped in the wind. I could tell the rain was hurting them, as it was all of us, but we were still here trying to save our ship.

“Spence! Don’t give up, keep fighting this storm!” Sebas shouted, his determination showing as he held onto the ropes tightly. I was in shock as I was mesmerized by his determination, looking at him trying to be strong in front of me when I was in trouble. Even though we were jerks to each other more than half of the time, he actually cared enough to stand here and help me with this ship.

Maybe he wasn’t that bad of a guy after all.

“Muriel, look, we’re out of the storm!” Brion stated in excitement. The rain has stopped, the wind and sea calming down, and the sky turned into a beautiful blue beauty. I smiled as I released my grip on the rope a little bit, the sea disappearing into the sky as we sailed towards the sun. “Good job picking up on that storm, Muriel, we wouldn’t have done it without you!”

“No problem,” I said, looking at my captain, “Alright guys, let’s raise these sails again! Full speed ahead to our destination!”

“Yes, Miss Navigator!” Spence joked as him and Sebas raised the sail up, Brion and I rising the mainsail after them. We looked up at the sails, the wind pushing them in the direction most eminent. “Now,” Spence interrupted, “Who want’s breakfast?”

“Hey, I do!” Brion shouted as he ran towards the hull.

“Hey, Brion, you’re going to eat all of it!” Minoko shouted as she quickly followed him, Spence following quickly behind her. I laughed at my friends’ antics as a strong hand clamped my shoulder gently. I stared up at Sebas, his grin reassuring as I turned to him.

“I want to thank you, for helping me back there,” I said, “Who knew what would’ve happened if you guys didn’t come to my rescue.”

“Hey, we’re friends, aren’t we?” he chuckled, “You know we would help you out with anything, like you would if any of us were in trouble.”

“Yeah, I guess you’re right,” I laughed before being interrupted by my stomach growling.

“C’mon Muriel,” Sebas said as he walked towards the hull, “Sounds like you’re a bit hungry.”

“I am not!” I shouted as it rumbled a little bit, “Okay, maybe a little.”

“I’ll race you inside,” Sebas smiled, “Ready, set, go!” He took off quickly as I ran after him smiling.

“Hey, Sebas, you better save some for me, you dolt!” I laughed as the sun came to high noon, the water shining from the sunlight as everything became calm, the U.S.S Zellars sailing on to its destination.

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About the author

Corinne Madden

Corinne Madden is currently attending St. Clair County Community College pursuing a degree in Secondary Education, specializing in English Literature and Theory. She loves to read, write, and research. Her focus currently is with short story fiction and occasionally non-fiction- specifically the real-world challenges people face daily: the impacts of losing a loved one, depression, and the wiliness and drive that occurs when someone feels it necessary to protect their loved ones.
Her mentor authors are endless: Ernest Hemingway, Edgar Allen Poe, George Orwell, J.K Rowling, Stephan King, Jane Austen, J.R.R Tolkien, to name a few. In her spare time she also likes to do landscape photography, often going out on shoots once or twice a week. Corinne is also a member of Holy Family church in Memphis, Michigan.

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