© 2009, Patrick Hester. All Rights Reserved
Evermist: Chapter Ten
Elias gripped the railing tightly. With every swell of The Seaspray, he felt his stomach churn and rumble. Any moment and he knew he’d lose what little food he’d been able to eat so far, and he’d only been on the ship two days. How would he feel after a week? A month? At least he wasn’t as bad as Fyet who spent most of his time in bed groaning.
“I can’t believe you talked me into this,” he said, handing Millie the letter he’d written to his mother, not his father. He thought that safer. It had as much as he dared ask about his father. He knew that his mother was no happier with his going to Evermist than he, and that his parents had fought about it more than once. Maybe, just maybe, she would be able to tell him more.
“It’s the right thing to do,” she said as she stuffed it behind her belt. She was wearing a sky-blue dress and had her hair pulled around and draped down her left side, exposing the right side of her neck. He wanted nothing more than to bury his face there, pull her close again. But people were watching.
“You’ll be careful?” he asked.
“I will,” she nodded. “It will not come to her by my hand. I’ll use one of the boys, the apprentices from the trade district – they’re always looking for extra coppers.”
Before he could object, she was there, arms wrapped around him, body pressed close, whispering in his ear…
He could still feel the weight of her pressed against him, even here on the ship.
Narut appeared at his side, an easy smile on his lips. “Thinking of pretty girls?” he asked.
“You know me too well,” he answered, then the pitch of the ship sent his stomach spinning and he ever nearly lost its contents right there on the deck.
“Take this,” Narut said, offering Elias something that looked like a root. Even the thought of eating was too much for him though, let alone some raw root, and he shook his head to refuse it. “Take it! It’ll help. Just chew, don’t swallow.”
Elias took the root but made no attempt to eat it. It looked like any other plant root he’d ever seen before; brown, hard and not particularly appetizing.
“What is it?” he asked instead.
“Old family secret for sea sickness. You just keep a bit in your mouth, chew it but don’t swallow it. When it loses its flavor, spit it over the side and replace it with another chunk. Works wonders.”
“How does anyone stand it?” Elias asked, breaking a bit of the root off and chewing it. He trusted Narut, but part of him wondered if it weren’t a prank of some sort while the other part prayed that it worked. He couldn’t take much more of this. If it worked, he’d share with Fyet and see if it would be enough to get the other man out of his bed.
“Some don’t,” Narut replied. He took a deep breath and closed his eyes, smiling. “It’s good to be on the sea again.”
“If you say so,” Elias grunted. Narut laughed. “It’s better out here on the front of the boat. When I’m inside, it seems worse.”
“You said ‘front of the boat’ – it’s called the bow. The back is called the ‘stern’. Left and right are port and starboard.” Narut stomped his foot, “And this is the deck.”
Elias followed the sound and looked down. That’s when he noticed Narut was barefoot, his pant legs folded up to his upper calf. He’d seen the crew working the deck barefoot and now Narut as well? Should he be barefoot too?
Narut laughed lightly. “It’s easier to be barefoot on deck. Your feet grip better than any shoes, balance better with the rocking too, especially if you have to climb the riggings.” Narut pointed up and Elias followed the movement, taking in all the ropes weaving through the masts.
“They climb those?”
“But you aren’t going to, so why no boots?”
Narut laughed again, almost sadly. “Reminds me of home.”
That, Elias could understand. Standing in the front-bow, he reminded himself. Standing in the bow of the ship, chewing on the root that was bitter but actually beginning to help his stomach, Elias wouldn’t mind something to remind him of home. Suddenly, he thought of Millie in her sky-blue dress, smiling at him, tears in her eyes and his stomach seemed to settle all of it’s own volition.
Was Millie where ‘home’ was now?