A Captain’s Mistress

He strode onto deck as the last strains of Spanish Ladies hung in the salty, morning air before drifting out to sea. Fleeting, like the brief glimpse of diamonds sparkling on the crest of a wave before it crashes to shore. He looked out at the sea, gently rolling its eternal lullaby. He stared into the horizon, to the point where the sea and the sky seem to become one. And just as you cannot tell where sea ends and sky begins, you cannot tell where he ends and the sea begins. For the ocean is in his heart and soul, it pumps through his blood, thus keeping him alive. He was born for the sea; it was a part of him.

As the crew rushed about the deck, keeping his pride and joy clean and cruising he enjoyed the internal peace. He couldn’t imagine being anywhere else then standing atop his ship surrounded by nothing but crystal blue waters. While many sailors called the ocean their mistress, he acknowledged that the ocean was his life. He did not have a wife and kids waiting for him at home, worrying anything the weather turned sour. He had no ties whatsoever to land, and that was the way he wanted it. He wanted as little to do with land as possible. He always wondered why he wasn’t born with gills. But the answer was always the same, for if he had he would not be able to smell the glorious salty air that embraces you in the sea breezes. It was when he realized that that he thanked the creator of man for making him just that, a man.

As he gazed upon his mistress he thought about how the ocean is the perfect metaphor for life. It can be perfectly calm, and tranquil, soothing your soul and providing endless pleasure, but it can turn to absolute hell with the blink of an eye. And sometimes it can turn back again so quickly that you were only left with a memory of something you would confuse for a dream or a brief bout of madness.

He chuckled to himself as he thought of the man who said, “hell hath no fury like a woman scorned,” thinking that that man must not know much about the ocean. A cruel mistress she can be. As soon as he finished this thought the chuckle caught in his throat. The sky had gone black; it was as if the sun had dropped from the sky like a stone. In fact, the only thing that seemingly dropped faster was his stomach. For a call echoed from the deck, one of the most dreaded cries that can ring from aboard the deck of a ship at sea, “Rogue wave!” He believed all the more that the sun had dropped from the sky and fallen into the ocean as he turned and glimpsed the wave that the falling sun had created.

The crest frothed far up in the sky, looking like the barred teeth of a pack of rabid dogs. He had heard stories about waves such as these but always believed them to be the drunken ramblings of sailors enjoying their port stay a little too much. Now he could see there was no need to embellish these stories, for there was no way to envision anything more terrifying. They were helpless. The wind had dropped from their sails like the air exits a sailor’s lungs when he is hit in the cavity beneath the chest plate during a boxing match. He could not think of what he had done in order to enrage his mistress but she clearly wanted revenge and was going to get it.

He and his crew stared helplessly at their rapidly approaching fate. Every sailor aboard that ship prayed to whatever god or spiritual entity they believed in. The ones that previously held no such beliefs or preconceptions of an afterlife suddenly found both and started murmuring prayers as if they were pious churchgoers. He himself begged forgiveness from his mistress for whatever he had done to wrong her. But even as he did this he knew it was futile, for it was too late.

The wave smashed into the ship, splintering it like it was made of matchsticks. Sailors were flung through the air as if they were rag dolls by the hands of a rambunctious child. Then the shrieks of men and the tearing or rope and the groaning, creaking and shattering of wood suddenly went silent. It was replaced by not a sound, but a feeling, a feeling of complete calm. He was ensconced in the eternal lullaby. Just as he had always known the ocean was a part of him he was now a part of the ocean. Maybe he was not being punished for a wrong he couldn’t remember committing, but rather being retaken into the arms of his mistress after a long absence. Maybe it was time for him to join his love for the rest of time.

But that anger and bloodlust that seems to radiate from within a woman scorned was not born of a murderous rage but of a strong desire to remind those that sail upon her, the ocean is forever in charge. You can never hope to tame her for the sea has no master, but instead is the master of all. And every so often she finds it necessary to remind those that deceive themselves into thinking they have achieved the impossible that it is just that, impossible. For no mere mortal will ever have complete control of the sea. If such a thing were meant to happen it would have been so from the beginning of time.

In fact, not a single life was taken by that demon wave, at least any aboard his ship. They all washed up on the same shore. Confused, and had it not been for the dampness of their clothing or the absence of their ship they would have believed to have all been a nightmare. But they were soaked to the bone and not a sign of the ship was to be seen. Only one portion of the ship had washed ashore with them. It was a plank of wood, the plank that bore the name of the ship. It had snapped on either side of the inked letters, leaving it looking as if it were made to be a sign. Leaving it as the only sign that that ship may have existed somewhere other than just in the sailors’ minds. But it lay upon the sand, glittering in the sun from the water droplets festooning the surface. The black lettering standing stark against the salt battered wood. The letters a dagger to his heart, a memory of his beloved ship, like the letters atop a loved one’s gravestone. It read,
Branwyn.