“Good morning ladies and gentlemen, this is your captain speaking. I want to welcome you aboard Prinz Hamlet from Tilbury, England to Hamburg, Germany. The voyage is estimated to be two and a half days, weather allowing. We are expecting a slight wave turbulence when reaching high seas but all throughout we will experience a smooth and safe voyage. We’ll get back to you en route just as soon as we have more information; once again, welcome aboard and we hope you have a pleasant trip with us. As usual, if there are any questions please address one of the crew members or the reception.”
Harry and I had left our cabin and were investigating the vessel. We were on our way to the open deck when we stopped to listen. As the captain of the ship spoke on the loudspeakers which travelled all throughout the deck, repeating his words in German after finishing his sentence, the roaring sound of the engine came to life.
I looked at Harry in excitement. I squealed, feeling like the boat was a beast waking up from sleep, showing its full magnificence and power. The roaring sound travelled all the way through the deck and I wasted no time in grabbing Harry’s hand and dragging him to the veranda to look at the water below.
As the boat backed away from the port, waves were created on the sides of the boat as it cut through the water. It was a magnificent sight to see. It felt like I was inside a film, only lacking the background music.
“Look at that Harry!” I pointed down at the water “Look at the waves!”
“You are too excited, calm down.” He said, patting my back.
“I don’t want to calm down. This is so exciting!”
“It’s just a boat, relax.”
“Well, it’s my first time on one so I would really appreciate it if you would be excited with me.”
“I am, I am,” he laughed “Just not as much.”
We stayed in silence and admired the view. The boat was gradually getting further away from the port, and I knew that soon enough we would lose its sight. That thought both thrilled and scared me.
“Hey, I have an idea,” Harry said after some time at just staring at the port “Follow me.”
He took my hand and guided me to the front of the ferry. As I studied that vacant area (I had no idea where the rest of the adults were) I recognised it from somewhere.
“Oh!” I remembered where I had seen it “This looks like a scene from the Titanic!”
“I haven’t seen it, so I couldn’t tell,” Harry admitted.
“What?! Are you telling me you never saw The Titanic?" I was in shock. It actually surprised me he hadn’t watched it. When it premiered in cinemas no one could stop talking about it. I was so desperate to see it that I even managed to get some money on the streets. It was worth every hour spent in the rain.
“No, I never really had the interest. Besides, it was during a time of my life where my mum was getting quite ill, so going to the cinema was the least of my concerns.”
“Oh, I see.” That statement saddened me. He said it casually as if it was no big deal but I knew how much that subject pained him. I decided to change it quickly “But what was it you wanted to show me?”
“Right!” He pointed to the bow of the ship, the furthest part of the vessel. It extended towards the ocean, the only thing ahead of it being the infinite blue line of the horizon.
Harry guided me to the bow with his hand on the small of my back “I know how much you like beautiful views. Go up there.”
I looked up at Harry, then back again at the catwalk of the bow. The wind was picking up speed as the ferry glided with ease over the water and the swing of the boat made me feel less secure.
“I don’t think so. I can admire it from here.”
“Oh, come on! You’re going to thank me after, trust me.” Harry tried to encourage me, but to no avail.
“Nah, it’s okay really.”
Harry furrowed his eyebrows. He moved forward, climbing the steps and reaching the bow, his hair flying all over the place. “Summer, I know you want it.”
I crossed my arms and stayed in the same spot.
“What are you so scared of?” He asked me, coming down to reach me.
“It just freaks me out. What if I fall? You know I can’t swim-”
Harry cut me short, stunned “You don’t know how to swim?!”
I gave him a shy, closed mouth smile and shook my head. I thought I had told Harry about my non-existent ability to swim, but I was proven wrong by his surprised expression. It wasn’t like I was thrilled to tell everyone that I didn’t know how to swim. I was actually rather ashamed of it, knowing that everyone knew how to swim and I didn’t. As everything in my life, my parents couldn’t afford swimming lessons, and since we had never travelled to some place warm I had never had the opportunity or need to swim. In my hometown, it was a luxury to know how to swim. My parents themselves were deprived of that luxury.
Harry’s expression was unreadable. Maybe he was feeling sorry for me, maybe he was trying to figure out why I didn’t know something so basic of human life, or maybe he was trying not to laugh at me. Whatever he was thinking about it soon vanished from his face as he extended his hand to me. I took it, not having another choice really.
“Then you are going to face your fear.”
Harry lead me up the steps, his back to the extremity of the bow. I looked down, seeing the sharp front of the ferry cutting the waves and all I could imagine was my body falling down into that sharp blade. I took a deep breath and braced myself. The wind was so overwhelming that I had to disconnect my hand from Harry’s to push it away from my face.
“This looks like the scene from the Titanic where Jack holds Rose and she has her eyes closed and she feels like she’s flying, but before you suggest anything it’s a no because that’s way too scary, no.”
“As I said, I never saw the film so I have no idea what you are talking about.”
I laughed, almost losing my balance. I gripped the metal railing, Harry losing not time and looping his arm around me.
“See, when you make me laugh I almost trip!”
“Yeah right, blame it on me for your clumsiness. But look, you made it.”
I did make it. I was at the edge of the ship, the ocean bellow and ahead of me. I took a deep breath, the pure air of the sea filling my lungs. I felt like I was in control of the ferry, that I was commanding it like a captain. The magnificent sight ahead was breath-taking, and it being the first time I had ever seen such an image I made sure to remember as much as possible: the glistening sea, the fluffy clouds in the sky, some seagulls flying overhead, the untameable feeling of freedom.
“Told you it was worth it.”
Still gripping the metal railing, I turned my face to the side and crashed my lips on Harry’s cheek, my hair flying all over the place.
“You did,” I said to him.
Harry was beaming at me, his smile radiating happiness. It truly felt like I was put on this earth to enjoy moments like those, moments where I felt like the world belonged to me, moments where I felt whole and complete, like the sun itself was shining from within me. Moments where I felt untouchable, such a strong barrier of happiness that no evil, not even the impending fear of having the entire ocean under my feet, taking that moment away from me. Moments of pure and everlasting bliss.
“It’s weird, I feel the wind but I’m not cold,” I told Harry, feeling the swinging ship under my feet.
Harry placed both his hands on my cheeks and kissed me softly. I knew he could feel it too, that feeling of being invincible, of immortality.
“We better get down or someone might see us,” I said, leaning down at the steps.
“Yeah, we don’t want to traumatise anybody, do we?”
I chuckled, remembering what had happened at the elevator. I wondered, why were the adults so repulsed when seeing two young people in love? Didn’t they know what it felt like? Haven’t they been like us before?
“Did you notice the restaurant on our way here? I read on the ticket that whatever we eat or drink or use is all included.” Harry told me as we made our way down the dangerous bow.
“You mean I can eat whatever I want, whenever I want?” I was stunned. What other fantastic things was I yet to discover?
“Wow, this place is paradise! I never want to leave!”
With that, we made our way to the restaurant which was on the same level. Everything was going exactly was planned, and I took a moment to make a quick check of all that we had done already: we ran away from school, we got on the train, we were on a ferry... All that in just two days. What a wild ride, and I had a feeling it was only the beginning.