New Story Contest: A New Beginning - Mercy B. - 08/06/21

Contest: Winners

New Story Contest: A New Beginning

Submitted by: Mercy B., age 13, Galeton, PA

Aboard and Abroad

Tem tucked a loose strand of hair underneath her cap and shouldered her rucksack. Taking a deep breath, she stepped toward the rickety gangplank.

“Excuse me, lad, but where do you think you’re going?”

Tem’s heart stopped, and she looked up at the sailor towering above her. “I’m joining the crew, Sir, as the new mariner.”

He glanced her up and down, his eyes trailing from her leather boots, to her grandfather’s navy sword at her side. “Well, you look the part; what’s yer name?”

 “Tem, Sir, Tem Bartlett. I applied for the space two days ago and was accepted.”

The man squinted at the sheet he was holding. “Right you are, lad; your name’s written here.” He smiled a grim smile. “Welcome aboard.”

Tem sighed with relief and trotted onto the huge ship. Behind her, the man yelled at a figure hanging from the rigging. “Bern, come down here and take care of this boy!”

At once the slender form scaled quickly down the ropes and hit the smooth, weather-beaten deck with barely a thump. It took him several seconds before he reached her. “Hello, name’s Bern. What’s yours?”

“Tem, Sir.”

He chuckled, “Don’t call me that. I’m ’round the same age as you. So, why are you here?”

Tem paused, swallowed hard. “My father’s gone. Brother’s sick. My mother hasn’t money to care for him. I’ve read all I could about ships; I love the sea, so I applied for a job aboard this one.” I left out the part that I was a girl. If they knew I was female, my new occupation and hope for saving my sibling would be finished.

The boy nodded, and his dark eyes sparkled. “Well, follow me. I’ll show you the robes . . . literally.”

I hurried after him, the salty air rustling through my hair and lifting my spirits. Overhead and below, men sang and laughed as we readied to depart, and as I climbed the rigging alongside Bern, I began to feel at home on this great vessel, too.

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