The Scarred Goddess, Chapter 7

Fiction By Bridget // 7/19/2009

His feet clapped the wooden plank down towards me.  “What be your name, boy?”  Frantically I thought.  “I don’t know.”  I don’t know!  Why had I said that, of all things?

“What on Sila’s earth means that?” he asked.

One thing I haven’t mentioned yet is that there are two types of immortals.  One type is the gods and goddesses that take care of things.  Opul is god of food and drink, Jetta is the god of war, and Sila is the goddess of the plants and the earth, etc.  That was what he was referring to.  The second class of immortals does not belong to anything.  I am one of these.  We live in the hills, but the only difference between us and the mortals is that we live forever.

When I didn’t answer, he asked, “Where come you from?”  That one was easy enough.  “From here, of course.” I answered.

“What be your business at the docks at this time of dark?”

“I want to join the crew.  Do you need anymore?”

He paused and scratched his chin.  “The captain wants a sweeping boy (that means cabin boy),but manage he can without.”

Did that mean no, I couldn’t come, or was he just stating facts?

“I’m strong.  I can lift heavy crates and eat little.” I said, hoping to get him to let me.  It was actually true; having worked at the docks before, I developed muscle, and was as strong as most boys my age.

“The captain may be wanting to see you.  Sleep you here in the storage room until morning.  He will look at you then.”

Oh, no!  I needed dark to be let on.  Wouldn’t they be able to see I was a girl in daylight?  After a pause, the man continued.  “And since you don’t know your name, we’ll call you Kantula.”  Kantula was a girl’s name.  He must have been making fun of me.  He thought I just wasn’t saying my name.

 

I didn’t sleep much that night.  Instead, I hunted through the storage room without light, hoping to find cloth, or something else I could use to bind my chest flat.  I found nothing, however, and went to sleep reluctantly, with the meager hope that I could awaken before everyone else and search with a little light.

 

I woke to a loud, incessant banging on my door.  “Awake, Kantula!  The illustrious captain must insist to see you!”  (Captains are always called ‘illustrious’ when they are present, and sometimes even when they are not, if they are famous enough.)  I thought I heard some mumbling, about why was there a girl on the ship, but if there was, the person must have been informed that “Kantula” was a boy with a kitchen rag full of personal garbage and no name to speak of.

Groggily I pulled on my robe and kept the tie loose.  A wave of panic hit me as I realized that I had nothing with which to flatten myself, but it was drowned out when the man knocked again and shouted at me that if I didn’t wake up I would be dismissed before I was even hired!

I pulled my hood up so that it covered my forehead and shaded my unusually blue eyes.  Then I opened the door.  The man from last night stood before me, and behind him was a slightly shorter man.  His face was lined and weathered, tanned from the sun and wrinkled from the tan.  His hair was dead black.  His eyes were unreadable and greeny-gray.  I stood straight, hoping against everything that I wouldn’t be discovered as a girl.  “So, Gevin, this is Kantula?  He has a girl’s face as well as a girl’s name.”  My heart skipped a beat.  I stood straight as a measure.

The captain walked around me, examining me from all angles, and my heart beat in my throat.  Suddenly he ripped my hood back, so that my entire face was exposed.  He showed no shock, only amusement when he saw my hair.  “I pity your barber.  He will be turned out in the streets by his unhappy customers.”  By which he meant that my haircut was terrible.  “I pity you too.  We’ll have to get Yuru to cut your hair later.  Even a sweeping boy must look presentable.”  So I would be staying on!  I had passed!

He paused.  “Well, you heard me!  Go down to Yuru – you’ll find him in the galley arguing with the cook, most likely – and tell him his illustrious captain has taken on an unkempt sweeping boy.  Hurry now!  There’ll be no slackers on this ship!”  I mumbled a ‘thank you, sir’ and ran off pell-mell to the galley.

There, I found two men arguing about dinner choices, and one was wondering loudly why must they have fish now when they would most likely be having fish all the rest of the journey.  One man was fat, with very little hair and no beard, and the other was fatter with no hair at all.  The mostly bald one was yelling loudly at the other while chopping fish with vigorous strokes.  The completely bald one was yelling just as loud.  I guessed he was Yuru.  Neither of them even noticed me.

“Excuse me?” I said.  They continued yelling as if I weren’t there.  “Excuse me?” I said a little louder.  This time the cook turned around.  “Why, Yuru, it seems you have a customer!” he said loudly, as if it were a joke.  Yuru scowled.  “Come along, lad.  This way is my cabin.”  He led me up the stairs and into a small room.  It had two berths in it, one on either side of the room.  There was a porthole at the end.  I could see pale blue sky and hints of pink and peach, and I knew it was just after dawn.

“Sit here.  By Yalosh, who cut your hair?”  Yalosh is the god of the sea.  “My blind grandfather.” I answered.  I was beginning to see a little humor in the scene in the galley. “Why were you two yelling at each other?” I asked.  I wished I hadn’t, as Yuru began a whole list of complaints, peppered liberally with words you wouldn’t want your horse to hear.  By the time he finished, my hair was done, and he seemed happier, almost jolly, in fact.  “Listen here, boy, if I grouch at you, it’s because of that blasted cook, alright?  You’re about to embark on a trip of madness, and you’ll soon find that the captain and I are your truest and only real friends here.  Don’t forget that.  Now go upstairs and find the captain.”

I stumbled out of the room and up the stairs, most disconcerted. I found the captain as ordered and was given a piece of parchment on which were listed my new duties.  They were to be done at a certain time of day, not a minute off the schedule, and they were all written in ocean time, which is similar to the way you would assign watch on your ship, with a few more complications and intricacies.

Early in the morning I was to sweep the captain’s quarters and generally tidy up in there.  Later on, I would bring him his breakfast.  Other than keeping his cabin clean and bringing him his meals, I would have been free to do what I pleased, except that the rest of the crew seemed to look upon me as a sort of errand boy, and I was constantly being called upon to fetch this or that for someone or another.  I was exhausted by the end of the first day.  One thing I especially remember was when we finally put out to sea.  Everybody rushed out to the deck, and watched as we pulled away.  I thought that the docks would be full of people saying goodbye, but this was a cargo ship, not a passenger ship, and there were very few besides the dock workers.

The anchor was lifted, the ship was untied, and we were off.  I watched the dock drift away with the strangest feeling in my stomach.  Even after I had left my home on the hill, I had stayed on the land, the same land as before, where I could go back to see my old home if I chose to.  Now I was leaving everything behind.  It was exciting and mournful at the same time.

I stayed next to the rail until everyone had left, forgetting my duties.  The captain came up and called me back in to finish sweeping.  “You’d best not do this often, boy.” he said.  I nodded and went to his quarters to finish sweeping.

 

We had been at sea for maybe a month, with not much changing.  I had become friends with Iope, one of the crew members.  He was young, not much older than me, and he reminded me somewhat of Finde, before he changed.  He was quiet for the most part, but occasionally he would erupt with something, an idea, a feeling, a goal, that would shock the crew and make them reevaluate everything they had thought before.

Once Kat, a big burly fellow with much sailing experience, started insulting Diota, one of his friends, and before he get another insult out he was assailed by Iope.  He was out of Kat’s reach before Kat even knew what had happened.  He shook his head and charged Iope.  Iope darted out of the way, then slipped in and hit him again.  The whole fight went this way, with Kat charging or swinging at Iope, and Iope ducking or twisting out of the way before Kat could get near him.  The captain heard the fight and came up, but by that time the fight was over and Iope had won.  After that, the crew had a newfound respect for him, and Diota was left alone.

Iope and I were next to each other in rank, me being the sweeping boy, him being the youngest crew member, and we got on well.  I was sometimes worried that he would discover my secret, but he did not, and everything was as it should be.

 

Comments

Oh it's wonderful, Darling! I

Oh it's wonderful, Darling! I feel like such a copy-cat now...I had this story idea, but I dpn't think I'll pursue it anymore. It's too much like this :) Oh well, this it ten times better than that one :D

Ariel | Thu, 07/23/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Hey, you're the first person

Hey, you're the first person to comment on this story for a couple months!  You really think it's good?  This is actually my favorite chapter so far, and the one before it a close second.  It just seems more alive.  Thanks!!!  And you know, I won't count it as plagiarism if you post your idea.

Bridget | Thu, 07/23/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

Really? I'm the only

Really? I'm the only person?!?!?!  THAT'S TERRIBLE!!! Those silly poeple don't know what they're missing :)

I might work on that story a little bit, but I'm not sure...we'll see what happens ;)

Ariel | Fri, 07/24/2009

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"To produce a mighty book, you must choose a mighty theme. No great and enduring volume can ever be written on the flea, though many there be that have tried it." -- Herman Melville

Good job, Bridget, I really

Good job, Bridget, I really like this.

Yeah, I'd agree that the last couple chapters have been the best. The first ones were well-written too, of course, but these seem more...alive, like you said. Or maybe relateable would be a better word, or more...warm-blooded? Animate? Breathing? Oh I don't know....anyway, it's good.

Annabel | Fri, 07/24/2009

*giggles*  Thanks! 

*giggles*  Thanks!  Warmblooded?  I like that one.

Bridget | Wed, 08/05/2009

"I always wonder why birds stay in the same place when they can fly anywhere on the earth. Then I ask myself the same question." - Harun Yahya

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