Prologue: A Shipwright’s Job
There was not a cloud in sight when I entered the musty office where the customers were waiting. I did not sit. This was not a business exchange, this was a farewell.
“Are you the captain of the Brigantine that arrived last night?” I asked a man in a coat who was most definitely in charge. Medals of gold and bronze fashioned the heavy curtain he was wearing.
“Yes I am.” he looked at me straight with prying eyes. He was desperate for information regarding his recently damaged vessel. Even though it was very hot out, he made no indication of removing the embellished coat.
I took a deep breath.
“Your ship has endured a lot, Sir,” I told him, choosing my words carefully in such a delicate situation. “She has been repaired over and over again, by the hands of the great craftsmen of the sea. She has been loved by you and your crew for years, perhaps decades, she’s endured it all for you.”
“And?” his voice was steady. Beads of sweat formed a row just above his lips, which he calmly licked away without changing face.
He knew what I was going to tell him. The captain had known for quite a while actually.
“Well, spit it out boy!” his voice rose, cracking.
The captain’s beady eyes met mine in a flurry of emotions. He had always carried himself and his crew’s reputation with great pride, an unwavering sense of honor that lead them through the most formidable of seas. His coat was a testament to that pride and their exploits.
“Even with the hands of the gods restoring her,” I told the hopeful man, “she can never brave the seas again. Irreparable.”
My words decimated that pride, that energy, that life. I shattered their world by simply just stating a known fact.
His last shred of hope was gone along with his coat. The captain’s ship was unable to recover from the beatings of the sea.
I have always loved my job as a shipwright, but moments like these made me falter. This one was especially hard.
I tipped my hat and left the office building. I did not need to look at his face to know the devastation, I was no longer needed.
The wailing of a lost captain and his scattered crew faded as I exited the office, shutting the door behind me.
Through it all, the sun was still shining, we were still breathing.
The treasured ship had just perished for the proud man and his crew to continue on with their epic journey. They will vacate her living quarters with sad smiles and heavy hearts. They will wave goodbye with tear-stained faces as she is reduced to a pile of scraps at the feet of the craftsmen. They will dress in all black for a week or two before setting out yet again in the ship’s name, they will carry on.