by Alli Kirkham
We were all dead, but at least we knew it.
The ship had been mired in fog as thick as despair lo these ninety long years.
What do you do with a sailor drunk on heartsickness?
You sail on, searching for a pole star in the blank sky above.
The ropes always creaked, the hull always moaned, the canvas always shuddered, and we were always hungry for the sight of sunlight.
Curses are funny things - they always have a way of going away but it's hard to meet the conditions.
She had been a pretty girl.
We hung over the railings and called into the fog. We sailed and sailed and never slept; we tried, sometimes, but the nightmares made the waking worth it.
There's been a superstition against women on ships as long as ships have been built by men. I don't know if that says more about the women or the men.
We wailed our regret. We searched and sounded and tried to find where we had left her but the sea always looks the same when you can't see the shore.
The other funny thing about curses is that the cursed usually deserves it. I think we did, in the end.
Sometimes we found other ships but they could never see us. We watched for them and hated them, using the rare sight of human faces to gauge the passing of the years and the changing styles. We saw more dresses and parasols and lace as time kept pacing.
Strange things happened around her. Two men died in a fight over her. Fish leaped from the sea to see her face and landed gasping on the deck.
One man put out his own eyes after spitting on the hem of her dress.
We didn't know where we left her, we only knew we had to find her again.
I used to believe in mermaids and sirens and the spray of the sea. I used to believe in the sun.