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David Taylor, 13 Feb '13

The sails of the ship fluttered in the breeze and the boat beneath Tom’s feet rocked gently from side to side as it was lapped by the frothing waves. He smiled as the breeze played across his face and listened to the excited shrieks of gulls contentedly as the birds spied the vessel and gathered in force overhead.

They were no doubt looking for food and would no doubt be disappointed. All of the ship’s stores were still safely stowed below and only a handful of sailors, lithe with muscle and deeply tanned, occupied the deck with Tom.

He laughed again as he raised his face into the warm beam of sunlight that graced them from above. They had survived the tempest, against all odds. Waves taller than any building that Tom had ever seen had threatened to smash the wooden ship asunder, while rains heavy enough to sink a fleet had beat them in fitful squalls; married to fearsome claps of lightning that had shook the very sky.

But throughout it all, their little ship had endured. It had bobbed and birled through the violent crashes of waves like a corkscrew and had weathered the wrath of the ocean better than a dreaded leviathan of old. And here it was, floating on calm, pristine waters after the storm had raged itself away; leaving nothing but a dark, nauseating memory in its wake along with the broken flotsam of less fortunate seafarers.

Today’s a good day, Tom thought to himself as he searched the horizon for the faintest tell of a cloud. There was none, and he saw only the rich turquoise of the ocean blending seamlessly into the brilliant azure of the sky. “Mr. Layton!” he called. “Set our course true west – we’re going home!”

“Aye, Cap'in,” came the man’s keen response.

Tom smiled. We’re going home.

Comments · 3

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  • Mark McClelland said...

    There's a nice overall feel here, but a few inconsistencies got in the way for me.

    You start things off with "the sails of the ship creaked"; it's my experience that sails don't creak. They flutter, snap, luff, etc. In this case, since Tom later calls out the order to raise the sails, I don't think they would be making any sound at all. Maybe the slosh of water, if the sails were hastily lowered at the start of the storm, such that rain collected in the loose folds.

    More significantly, the mood seems out of synch with the stress and worry and fear of such a tempest. This line sets a very light and airy tone: "He smiled as the breeze played across his face." Reading later of a "dark, nauseating memory" took me by surprise, and didn't resonate with me emotionally. It might work better if a sense of exhaustion and relief were evident from the very beginning; I'm guessing Tom's smile would then mean to the reader what it means to the writer.

    Minor spelling error: "lightening" should be "lightning".

    I like the going-home conclusion. This feels much more in line with the relief of coming through a storm intact. I especially like the italicized inner voice at the end: we're going home.

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • Mark McClelland said...

    First time I recall coming across the word "birl". Always fun to learn a new word! From the dictionary definition, it appears to mean, "to spin along its longer axis, as when spinning a log by treading". This suggests a full rotation, which would capsize the ship. Am I getting the wrong meaning from the word?

    • Posted 7 years ago
  • David Taylor said...

    Thanks for the comments @Mark McClelland and I appreciate you pointing those inconsistencies out! I've never actually been on a boat so I described everything from how I imagine it to be from watching movies and reading books etc. And you've got the right meaning for the word 'birl', though I don't intend to say that the boat spun right the way round. I mean rather, that it was knocked heavily onto one side so it almost capsized but then rolled back upwards. (Like something out of 'Perfect Storm'.)

    And as for the atmosphere of the burrst, I mean to say that they survived a storm that happened last night so Tom was enjoying the breeze etc. because he can't believe that they survived to see another day and is exhilarated to see the sun again. Does this make more sense? Or have I just missed the mark here?

    I'm not surprised there's a few errors in this to be honest. I had a job interview today and writing calms me down so I only wrote the story very quickly to de-stress before I left lol.

    • Posted 7 years ago