On a calm day in late spring, I sat in my dining room with my feet propped up on the table, relaxing as I usually did as my crew was cleaning up the deck. Slight yelling and a loud crash pulled me out of my relaxed state, and I knew something had definitely gone wrong. I had been expecting it for several weeks, but now that it happened, I needed to know exactly what was going on.
Calmly, I opened the door to the deck from the dining room and saw my crew in a comical freeze frame. My first mate had the newest member by the collar, his fist raised and ready to hit the rookie for what I assumed to be a second time. The others were scattered around, scared, and they knew they wouldn’t be able to stop my first mate doing what he was going to do.
“Well, what happened here?”
My mates hastily lined up before me, hanging their heads in only what I could describe as shame.
Upon seeing me my first mate released our new deckhand, who shot his assailant a glare.
“Well, what happened here?” I asked, my voice taking on a low, growling tone. The deck was a mess. Cargo boxes were everywhere, untied and littering the deck. Dirt and dust shone in the sunlight, making it look like it hadn’t ever been mopped.
My crew had lined up, and now they shuffled awkwardly in their shoes. I’m sure they were trying to think of an excuse.
“Can one of you men tell me why my deck isn’t deck done and mopped?”
“Ya see ma’am, there was a bit of a disagreement...” My first mate said.
I jammed my hands in my pockets, eying him as I walked onto the deck and in front of my crew members. A broken cargo box revealed itself out of the corner if my eye, and I started to get mad.
My foot slammed hard on the deck, causing most of my crew members to jump.
“I want to know what happened, and I want to know now.” I snarled.
They were quiet, clenching their teeth and sweating. They all knew I was mad, and they were all trying to think of something that wouldn’t make it worse. My eye caught my newest member, the rookie, glaring at me.
“Since you were the one who got attacked, why don’t you tell me what happened?” I asked, eyeballing his bruising cheek.
“Tch.” He grumbled, crossing his arms.
“What, did they cut out your tongue? Tell me what’s wrong.” I said, leaning in closer to him.
The kid glared at me, saying, “It ain’t none of your business.”
My crew stiffened as a laugh fell over the deck, and I replied, “Listen here kid, this is my ship. Everything that happens on this ship is my business.”
“I don’t got to listen to you, you’re a woman. I’m a man, so that means you have to listen to me.”
“Oh?” I replied, laughing, “You want to say that to the second big bad woman who saved you?”
The kid backed down, clenching his teeth and scowling.
I glanced over at my first mate and sighed. “I’ve told you this before. Instead of fighting, just come to me about it. We all know that I’m the best-fit person here to deal with sexists.” My eyes flicked back over to the rookie, who wasn’t intimidated in the slightest.
“So, Mr. Sexist, I bet you think women are unfit to be in the sea?” I asked.
“Course I do. Women are weak.” He replied.
I raised my eyebrows and shrugged. “You think so? Well then, why don’t you fight me?”
He looked confused. “What?”
“Fight me. If you win, I’ll get off the ship and you can be captain.” I replied, jamming my hands in my pockets.
“I’ll take ya up on that offer.” He replied, cracking his knuckles and smiling.
My mates all snickered, having seen this before. I was distracted, laughing with them, when without warning the rookie threw a punch at me. I sidestepped with ease, catching the rookie off guard. Again his fist raced towards my face, so I ducked under it and moved behind him. He spun, still aiming for my face, and I took another sidestep.
As things progressed this way the rookie started putting more and more force into his punches, almost falling when he lunged forward. This tired him out, and soon he was dripping with sweat. I had gotten a bit bored, so when I got behind him I kicked him in the butt. He staggered forward a little but be quickly returned with a frustration filled punch. I stepped back, and as his body flew forward I pulled my leg up and drove my heel into his back.
His stomach hit the deck and he lost his breath, letting out a giant wheeze and heavy panting following.
I blew a strand of hair out of my face and turned away from him, hands still jammed in my pockets and said, “I want the deck done before high noon. We have things to do today, so no dilly-dallying!”
“Yes, ma’am!” My crew exclaimed.
They quickly set to work, gathering rope to tie down the boxes and mops to clean the deck. I heard a slight shuffling behind me and looked over my shoulder at the rookie. He was struggling to get up, and he looked both confused and angry. It brought back memories.
I held my hand out to him and said, “C’mon Rookie, there’s work to do.”
He looked at my hand, and then up at me. “Yer not mad?”
“There’s nothing for me to be mad about.” I replied, pulling him to his feet.
“I don’t get it... I challenged ya and said bad things about ya, so why aren’t ya mad at me?”
I placed my hand on his shoulder and said, “Listen here lad, as long as my mates are taken care of, my ship is clean, and there’s treasure to look for, I’m fine. Now get to work!”
He smiled. “Yes, ma’am!”
I shook my head as he enthusiastically started cleaning the deck, and I went back to my study.
Later that night I was standing beside the dining room door, listening in on my mates’ conversation.
“Hey, shouldn’t Cap’n be here? Isn’t she usually in here first?” My navigator Jacob asked.
Jacob was a very friendly young man. He was the youngest until the rookie joined, at the age of twenty-one. He’s been on my ship since he was nineteen, and he’s opened up so much. He has straight orange hair reaching down to his shoulders, and big brown eyes. He loved to sew, and after fights, he was eager to mend our clothes. I thought it was cute. He was a tall man, reaching six feet in height. It annoyed me that I had to look up to him, but at the same time, it was funny because I was able to boss him around.
“She’s probably still in ’er study. I went in there earlier and there was paper everywhere.” Michael, the doctor of the ship said.
Michael, better known as Mike, was also very tall and muscular. He’s an inch taller than Jacob, and five inches taller than I am. At age twenty-four he joined us, and he’s been here for two years. His black hair was short but didn’t qualify as a buzz cut. He was a bit goofy, and his gap-toothed smile would always lighten up the ship. Oftentimes people are intimidated by his appearance, but really he’s just a sweetheart with a soft spot for pretty faces.
“Is she always like that? I don’t see her out on the deck or around the ship very much...” The rookie asked.
Ah, the rookie. His name was Tyler, and he really is a funny little boy. He’s only eighteen, but he’s still taller than I am at five feet ten inches tall. The past week he’s been on the ship was like hell. I’m sure it’s because he didn’t like a woman as his captain, but he was extremely rude and uncooperative. But, I know he’s not really that way. I look forward to finding out more about him.
That must’ve been Ian, my chef. He joined the ship three years ago at age twenty-one, and I’d learned he’s a man of few words. He had white, shaggy hair and blue eyes, and reached five feet eleven inches tall. Sometimes he could seem cold with his lack of emotion, but he’s really very sweet. He’d go out of his way to do things for his mates, and has a pure heart. But, he didn’t like strangers much. He’s a bit cold towards Tyler, but I hoped one day he’d warm up to him.
“I’m gonna go check on er.”
Oh, Benny! He’s my first mate and had been on the ship for four years. At twenty-five, he left another crew and joined me, and we’d been on the Bonnibelle ever since. He’s the tallest on the ship, towering over me at six foot four. His strength is a force to be reckoned with, but in cold weather, he was like a big baby. He had dark skin and dreadlocks that reached down to his shoulders, but he often tied a bandana around the top of his head to keep them out of his face.
Just then I pushed the doors open and sat in my chair, leaning back and resting my feet on the table. I let out a groan and said, “I want something sweet.”
Ian disappeared into the kitchen and came back moments later, carrying some freshly made chocolate covered strawberries.
“Ah, thanks.” I said, plucking the biggest one off the plate. “Good thing we found some strawberries at the last port, huh?”
Ian nodded. He did have a weakness for strawberries.
“Cap’n, there’s going to be a lot of wind tonight. Do you want to put up the sails?” Jacob asked.
“Yeah, but that can wait ’til after dinner. There’s something I need to tell you all.”
“Did something happen?” Ben asked, suddenly alert.
“Calm down, Benny. I found out about a place that’s rumored to have the greatest treasure of all time. I think it’s somewhere past the Mysterious Islands.”
“But Cap’n, were over two months away from the Mysterious Islands.”
“I know. That’s why tomorrow, we’re changing course.” I said, placing my elbows on the table.
“I found out about a current called the Atlantic Expressway that leads straight to the islands. It’ll get us there in a month’s time.”
“Is there really such thing as a current that can take a ship that far in a month?” Mike asked.
“That’s why my study is so messy. I’ve been researching it for over three weeks. It’s real alright.”
“Don’t you think with something like that we’ll run into someone?”
I looked over at Benny, and he had a stern look on his face.
“If there are other people on the pass, we’ll just have to be careful. I’ll stay out of sight, and if it’s a navy ship we just have to act as a cargo ship.” I replied. “You know I don’t fight people for the fun of it.”
He sighed. “I guess there’s nothin I can do then.”
“Alright. Jacob, before ya go to bed set the course for the northeast. We’ll go from there in the morning.”
The next morning we were about a half a mile from the current, and the sun was shining brightly. There wasn’t a cloud in the sky, and the salty sea air smelled strangely new. It was invigorating.
“Something good is gonna happen today, I can feel it!” I exclaimed, setting my foot on the railing.
“Cap’n! There’s a ship comin from the east!” Mike exclaimed.
I climbed up to the crow’s nest and took a look through the telescope, catching sight of the ship about a mile away. Another telescope stared back at me, and by the looks of it, so was another pirate.
“So, there’s another pirate crew heading for the islands… Men! Be prepared for anything! Another pirate crew approaching’ from behind!”
The other crew caught up with us quickly. I had expected them to pass, but instead, they lined their ship up with ours. I stayed hidden in the crow’s nest, looking down at the crew and watching the scene unfold.
“Permission to come aboard?” Called the other ship’s navigator.
Ben looked up at me and I nodded.
“Granted!” He called back.
A few men swung onto my ship, and I started sizing them up. I’m sure I could take them. One man in particular irked me, and I felt like I had seen him somewhere before.
“This is a fine ship.” I heard him say.
What are these guys planning…?
“Huh? I thought I counted six. There was a blonde person on the ship.”
I was about to stand up, but Ben had already taken action. “Ya probably counted Jacob twice. He moves around a lot.”
“Aye. He could be mistaken fer a blonde at a distance.”
That was close.
“Who’s the captain of the ship?” he asked.
“I am.” Benny replied.
“Nice to meet ya. My name is Captain Morgan.”
Morgan… Morgan… Pirate King Morgan!?
Instantly I began recognizing his crew. The one who used the telescope was Russell, and he was a dual swordsman. The other one beside Morgan was Eduardo, with a bad attitude and a deadly shot.
I stood up on the railing of the crow’s nest, causing my shadow to stretch across the deck. They all looked up at me, squinting at the sun behind me, and with one swift movement, I was flying through the air.
“Cap’n!” My crew exclaimed.
My hands grabbed a rope and I swung past them, flying past the main mast and wrapping around it. I released the rope the second time around, landing between the Sirius Pirates and my own crew.
“Cap’n, what are you-!?”
I stuck out my hand to Morgan and said, “My name is Captain Jones. Nice to meet you, Pirate King.”
He laughed hardily and took my hand, exchanging a firm handshake. “This is interesting! You say yer the captain?”
“Yes, sir. This has been my ship for the last eight years.”
“I thought I recognized this ship. I guess not, since it had an all-female crew.”
I paused, my breath getting stuck in my throat as I realized I’d just made a deadly mistake.
“Cap’n?” Benny asked, putting his hand on my shoulder. “What’s he talkin’ about?”
“Captain! There’s a ship coming our way!” My mate yelled.
“Quick, prepare for anything!” I yelled, pulling my hair up.
The ship lined up to ours, and my girls all stood behind me with weapons ready.
“Permission to come aboard?”
Several pirates swung over on my ship, and one older man seemed a bit surprised.
“Well, I’ve never seen a female pirate group before.”
“Why are you here?” I snarled.
He didn’t seem intimidated in the slightest. “Ya see, my crew and I got mixed up in a storm. We lost a couple of crew mates, and we were wondering if they might have ended up around here.”
My shoulders relaxed, and I called for one of my mates to fetch a couple lost sailors we’d stumbled upon. “Oh! Maya, go fetch those men we found the other day! They may belong to this crew!”
“So you have seen them?”
“Yeah, we found them floating in the ocean a couple days ago. I’m glad we found them when we did because they were heading for Shark’s Cove.”
I turned my head and saw a young, orange haired boy running from the direction of the rooms towards the group. A man with a bandana followed quietly and calmly after him.
“Thomas! Nathan! Good to see you’re alright.” He said.
“You sure took your time getting here.” Nathan said grumpily.
“Come on Nathan, don’t be angry! We had to search all the islands around here!”
I giggled a bit. “I’m happy you found them. Just please, be more careful in the future. Someone may not always be around like this time.”
The captain snapped his fingers. “Aye! And to thank you fer taking care of them, you can have this!”
He pulled a big, sapphire ring from his pocket and slid it on my finger.
“Oh, you don’t have to do this. I just did what anyone would do.”
He stopped me from taking it off my finger and said, “Count it as a token of my appreciation. And, you can keep it to remember me by!”
Just after that, he had gotten back on his ship, and before I could speak up again he was already sailing away.
“Don’t forget about me now!” He yelled.
Then, he was gone.
I rubbed the sapphire ring, which now only fit on my pinky and said, “It’s nothing, Benny. He’s spewing nonsense.”
“Cap’n?” Benny said, holding my shoulder a little bit tighter.
“It’s nothing.” I said, slapping his hand away. “I’m telling you, drop it.”
He looked hurt.
Just then, three more men swung over onto my ship.
“Captain, you were taking a while so we came to see if everything was alright.” A familiar orange haired boy said.
“Thomas?” I said, intending for it to be under my breath but coming out in a hushed whisper.
The orange haired turned to me, and his eyes grew wide. “Anna! What are you doing here? Nathan, look! It’s Anna!”
“Anna? Who’s Anna?” Tyler asked.
I looked to my crew, the wheels turning in my head as I tried to think. When an idea popped into my head, I went with it just to see where it could lead. “Men, would you like to join us for dinner?” I asked, looking at the Sirius captain.
My men and the Sirius exchanged glances, and I wondered just how insane I was for inviting my past into my dining room.