Imminent death had never been so boring. The constant squeaking of seagulls and creaking of wooden boards became a calming background noise as Nora stared into the wall. Her joints were stale and her back aching from sitting still too long. Even though she could, she hadn't moved a single muscle. Instead she'd been a statue, studying the cabin wall as she watched the sun climb up and down the sky - a ironic countdown to what she could only assume would be a painful death. One might almost think that she was going utterly insane, staring into the wooden boards, tracing its pattern, for days end. She refused to eat, refused to drink. Refused anything except waiting for her fate.
Jack tried to cheer her up once or twice. Tried to get her to eat, to talk, to move. But Nora remained still and silent. It was not until Jacks, big, doe eyes met hers and his soft voice begged her.
"I don't want you to die. Please Ginny", he pleaded, immediately frowning as he realised he'd spoken the wrong name. "Nora", he corrected himself, meeting her gaze once more. "Please just eat something."
Nora cocked an eyebrow as she looked at the small boy in front of her. He was turning into a man now, slowly getting taller and more muscular, his voice getting darker by the minute. For every time Jack came down, Nora felt that he had become a little bit more like James. The boy adored his captain and mimicked everything he did. It was almost painful, watching the sweet boy turn into a man that Nora hated more than anything. She told herself that it didn't matter, that she'd be gone soon enough, and that she shouldn't be bothered by the future of anyone but herself.
"What's the point?" She asked him as he tried to feed her some soup. It smelled strongly of onion, it's full, brown color far from appealing. But since her stomach was empty, even the pungent onion smell made her mouth water.
"You'll feel better", Jack said, inching the spoon closer to her mouth.
"Nothing will make me feel better", Nora muttered and looked away, once more tracing the wooden patterns.
"Please", Jack pleaded once more. "For me?" He cocked his head and stared at her. His big puppy dog eyes melted her freezing heart and she smiled softly.
"Fine", she sighed, and before she'd even finished her sentence, Jack had already shoved the spoon in her mouth, relief written all over his face. As they sat there, Nora came back to life for a moment. She forgot James and the pirate crew, she forgot her worries about Jonathan and she forgot what the future had in hold for her. She'd been strong for a while, fantasizing about how she would somehow get off the Gisela again and come home, how she would find a way to avoid the god of death once more. But those fantasies had been subdued as she'd been bound to the chair, James's taunting a constant reminder what was to come. But sitting there with Jack, hearing his joyful stories about blue skies and enormous sea creatures that she would never get to see, she managed to find some joy, a dash of color in her otherwise bleak world. But soon the colors faded, and Jack was chased out of the cabin by a grumpy James and Nora went back to staring at the wall.
As the sun set once more, illuminating the cabin in orange and pink, the silence was heavy. The ruffle of maps and the scraping of James's feather pen echoed between the cabin walls, the light from one candle casted huge shadows over the old and battered floorboards. They hadn't paid any attention to one another. As Jack had left, James had only nodded in the boy's direction, but done nothing to even indicate that he was aware of Nora's presence. It had been like that for a while now. Sometimes he taunted her, threatened her, but then he switched to blindly ignoring her, as Nora gave no responses to his harsh words. But this night, as she for the hundredth time studied one particular floorboard, Nora grew tired of the silence.
"Can I ask you something?" she said, voice low, not moving anything but her lips. The scraping of the feather pen stopped, indicating that James had in fact heard her. But he did not answer, and as she wasn't looking at him, she couldn't see if he was paying attention. She continued anyway. "I would just like to see it once more before I die, and I would be very thankful if you would let me." She now turned her head towards him, meeting his cold, blue eyes.
"See what?" James answered rather uninterested. His gaze was at her, calculating, looking for a trap in every word she said.
"The world", Nora said, cocking her head towards the window. "Just one more time, I would like to feel the wind against my face. Smell the salt and hear the ocean. See one more sunset. And not from these rusty old windows. I would like to be there, to see it and to feel it. Even if only for a minute." Suspicion was written all over James's face as she spoke. Nora could see his muscles tense as he thought it through, and she feared that it would be an instant no. Or perhaps just an instant death. With slummed shoulders, she let her eyes wander again, the small hope she had found for a few seconds now long gone. Silence laid thick in the air and she waited for the scraping of the feather pen to start. But it didn't. Instead she could hear a chair being dragged over the floor, and then heavy footsteps as James came into view. He leaned down to her eye level, his presence both frightening and hopeful.
"No funny business, alright love?" he grunted. Nora only nodded, truly meaning it. This wasn't an elaborate scheme to flee, she did not believe that she would have such luck. She knew that she would die on the ship and had somewhat come to terms with it. But if she was going to die on the Gisela, she at least wanted to feel alive the moments before her death. And when James untied the ropes, her heart started to beat again after what seemed like an eternity of it slowing down.
The stair creaked under their weight, a familiar and reassuring sound. Nora walked first, James following closely with a tight grip on her arm, so close that she could feel the warmth radiating from his body. But as the first gust of wind hit her face, Nora didn't care about James's presence. All that mattered was the fresh air that played with her hair and filled her lungs. They walked to the upper deck, which was empty. Most of the crew was below deck, eating and drinking. Only a few managed the sails and the rudder. Belmore was the only one on upper deck, his large hands steadily on the rudder. But as James walked up, Belmore walked down, leaving the two alone in the soft light from the sunset. Positioned by the rail, Nora could see the horizon and the sun as it met the dark waves of the ocean. The wind was picking up and tangled strands of her hair. It was wonderful. The smell of salt and sea filled her, eased her heavy heart and slummed shoulders, and it felt like James's hard grip was the only thing stopping her from lifting of the ground and flying away.
"It's so beautiful", she sighed, mostly to herself.
"You can never grow tired of the sea", James answered, surprising Nora. Unwillingly she looked away from the horizon to study his profile. Somehow, he looked less tense, more at ease and calm. As if the wind lifted him as well. And for a fleeting second, Nora saw another man, another that James. A James that had appeared to her before, but whom she'd thought been long gone, deeply buried within him.
"I suppose it is a good place to stay in forever, in whatever way." Her own words saddened her, the sunset suddenly not helping as much anymore. Looking away from both it and James, she traced the railing with her fingertips, feeling the hard wood scrape against her nails, seeing the dark water beneath it. Suddenly she was filled with an urge to jump. To end it all and be taken by the waves once and for all. For everything to be over. Perhaps it wouldn't be so bad to be lulled to sleep by the big waves, to finally feel some peace. In the failing light, the water looked almost black, like death itself. And without even thinking about it, Nora grabbed the rail and threw herself over.
YOU ARE READING
The Governors daughterRomance
Nora Beckham is a young servant of the Governor. One night as she is admiring the sea, a ship appears. But not just any ship, a pirate ship. As the pirates plunder the small town that Nora calls home, she gets mistaken for the Governors daughter, Gu...