A Chance for Home
Posted on Tue Nov 1st, 2011 @ 4:01pm by Mate Kanya Ashand
Edited on on Tue Nov 1st, 2011 @ 4:18pm
Chapter 1: The Sea and the Port
Location: Barnacle's Bar
Timeline: A Cold November Evening
She sat in the darkest of shadows cast by the big, old grandfather clock, still staring at the spot where the strange lady had stood.
Captain, she called herself captain! Kanya's head throbbed so hard it almost hurt. She said something about needing a crew. And did she say something about sailing the skies? That can only mean that she has a ship... A ship!
A ship meant she could be free again, flying in the open sky and not trapped on land with nowhere to go. A ship meant a roof over her head every night. It didn't even matter if she had to sleep on the cold deck. A ship meant the sound of steam fizzing as it rushes out from the ejector, the gentle warmth radiating from the boiler, the beautiful sight of cogs and pistons turning round and round and round. The very thought of seeing a steam engine again, taking it apart, and putting it back together again sent a shiver of elation down her spine. But most of all, a ship meant home. It meant she had a chance of going back to Brittania, running down the cobblestones of Clockworth, bursting into those varnished wooden doors, inhaling the scent of heather and smoked sausages, giving her father a huge hug and apologizing for having run off...
She fought back her tears. She didn't want to cry. That's what mean old Zander Zitface wanted her to do when he and his gang of bullies decided to trick her into leaving Good Queen Jane, the ship she used to work in, just before it left the port. He was too much of a sissy to beat her in a fistfight, so he had played dirty. She sniffed hard, allowing her anger to overwhelm her loneliness. There, that did it. The tears didn't come.
She finished her oatbread, her mind still on the lady with the ship. Would she have her, though? Would she take her? What if she thought she was too young? She was already fifteen years old, but her father often teased that she looked eight. She was pretty handy with steam engines, though. Marty Quickhand, the shipwright on Good Queen Jane, had said as much when he let her do engineer work on that old ship. But the lady captain couldn't know that, could she? Kanya didn't look anywhere near as experienced or as respectable as Quickhand.
Her thoughts were interrupted by the kitchen boy, a lad who was only nine years old but already nearly as tall as Kanya.
"Uhm, miss, I think ye had best go. We're a-closin' in a while, and the laideh might notice you're still here."
She thanked him for the meal, and handed him one of her watches, the plain one made of shiny brass with fake diamonds for numbers, as promised. He held it up into the light, looking pleased at his newly-acquired curio. A ship also meant she got to keep her watches. She was running out of them, and she wanted to keep her favorites.
She tiptoed quietly out of the tavern and snuggled into the corner of the alleyway where she kept her things. Zitface at least had the mercy to throw her burlap knapsack overboard as she hollered insults at him from the pier.
She tried to go to sleep, but she couldn't. This was a chance to get on a ship again, a chance to come home. She sat down and stared at the narrow strip of starry sky visible above her.
Could she let this chance pass? What else had she to lose, after all?