He'd escaped.

And not in the usual way.

Home from school at 7:30pm, another long day of detention for crimes uncommitted (who ever did anything really deserving detention – and when has detention been worse than the alternative. Questions he wrestled with with his head on his desk) – home long after sunset, he pressed his head against his pillow and cried.

The tears awoke the empathy of the waters in the room. His fishbowl grew stormy. A glass of water shuddered with tsunami. The poster of the ship on the wall erupted in gale and he could feel the lash of the surf on his neck.

The cry of the gulls who follow errant ships insisted he take a closer look, at which point he touched and felt the linen sails and the tarred masts.

He grabbed a rope and swung.

So this – this was freedom then. The captain shouting orders, the cook swilling stew, the first mate bashing heads together and the song of the crew hauling rope, tossing sail and heaving-to.

Another child might have quaked or frozen under the demands of a sailor, but not he, matured under the elixir of liberty.

That lasted about a week.

Work is work, and society is society and debts are debts, whether monetary or owed to the turn of the earth.

He owed more suffering than he'd yet paid and the ship was the taxman who took it out of him.

The lash of the sea tied him to the mast, and he returned to detention unwillingly.


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NYgirlLovesCA over 11 years ago

"So this – this was freedom then." I love this story, Galen.

Galen over 11 years ago

Thank you!

Fablanta over 11 years ago

I found this story quite confusing. Main point is he was crying in to his pillow at home but woke up in detention.

I do like the way it evokes the imagery of a ship in stormy seas.

Galen (joined almost 14 years ago)
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Glad to have this back online for the decade anniversary.

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adventure kid lit


sailing debt liberty


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