A whirlwind of pain and loss. Clouds. Water. Wave and foam. Skies. Hints of… lost. Losing. She shook her head, striking her temples with clenched fists. They wouldn’t be quiet, they wouldn’t they wouldn’t couldn’t…
Hand on her back. Shook off. Nothing familiar. Crashing again. Waves. Sky overhead. She couldn’t feel. No centre. Thoughts fly. Fire. It disappeared. Shouts. Crashing again. Another hand, hands, guiding her to the mast. Huddled. More shouting, then murmurs. Sky overhead. Always the sky, *always* the sky. There were more clouds. She tried to warn them. Voices drifting away from her.
“Is she stark raving mad?”
“No, no, she’s just a little odd…listen, we’ve paid good money for this passage, she hasn’t caused any trouble…”
No trouble. No trouble. But they were sending her away.
A cloaked and hooded figure, arguing with the man in a hat. Sailor. Captain. Waves. Sea foam. Whispers. They didn’t want her. They sent her away. Going home? She wasn’t sure. Worried glances, and she whimpered, clutching her head again and curling up to hide, try to hide, under the shadow of the great mast.
We don’t need them.
We can just lie to them.
Run, run, swim! Swim away!
Get angry at them!
She…no. She was good. She would stay here. Those other voices didn’t count. It was okay. He had said it was okay. It would be okay. It would be a new home. She’d be all right. On her own. Freedom, they said. Set her loose. Loose. But she wasn’t home…
Sun. Sky overhead. So much water. The ocean… the ocean was to be feared. No, the sky. The sky was worse.
She rose from her crouch and drifted towards the dipping and bobbing side of the ship, staring vaguely off into the distance. No storm. Just a ship, on the sea. Just a ship. Wood underneath her feet and her hands. She gripped the railing. Just wood. This was real. The sun and the spray was real. The smell, the chill.
The swirling seemed to ebb for now. The voices faded away, and she almost smiled. Turned her gaze back to the horizon. There was nothing to fear. Not now.
Not for now…