What lies beneath

An old ladies weathered face glared through the porthole. “Little bastards. Dragged up.” Her puckered lips twisted and twitched at the kids running around the pontoon, jumping into the cool flat velvet sea.

“They don’t know how lucky they have it”, a thin cruel voice crooned in her ear. Dark slashes for eyes above a long crooked razor sharp beak. The gull had a presence that cast more than just a shadow. “If they come any closer…”

“Beak and claw, Cap’n. Beak and claw.” The old lady turned back round to the scattered scraps of drawings, papers and maps. “Tonight we’ll find an answer.”

“Don’t mess this up”, the gull threatened. “Im hungry for more than just scraps.”

The moon peaked in and out of the clouds, afraid to look for too long. The boat reared and bucked like a wild beast. The sea drowned itself spluttering and spitting.

“No! It’s too late now, we’re here”, Captain Scott shrieked at the old lady. “There is no turning back.”

Dutifully she lit the beacon and they waited, braced in the angry arms of the ocean. She looked at the one lone picture on the wall; the man she had loved, by her side; sun shimmering. The steel in her heart was forged by her anger, a heat that folded and shaped it ever stronger. And now she would meet the killers, face to face.

The ships radio clicked and buzzed, before a muted call came through. “It’s them”, Captain Scott laughed gleefully. It’s time. It’s time. They’re here. Finally”

But then the call came again. “Mayday, Mayday mayday, this is the Firefly’’, co-ordinates 3461-2858, hull breached and taking on water fast. Any ships in the area? I repeat May..” then more clicks and static.

“Who are these fools, out in this.” Cap said. “idiots won’t make the same mistake again.” He laughs.

The old lady knew how close they were. They could be there in minutes.

“And lose this chance, what we’ve been waiting for all this time? Don’t be so stupid. Is that how you’d repay him? Is that how you get even?” His eyes seemed to rip through her. “I know you. I’ve been there all this time. Tonight is our only chance. And you’d throw it away for some idiots you don’t even know? That’s not you.”

“Enough” she shouted. Knowing he was right. They sat in silence waiting for the boat to meet them.

She thought about wrapping her arms around the throat of the man who killed her husband. She pictured Captain sinking his hooked beak deep into his cheeks. She tried everything she could to push away the image of someone slowly slipping beneath the surface of waves. She tried not to imagine the life jackets beneath her seat. She refused to think of her husbands face what he would say if he was here.

“Your not cut out for rescues.” Came that whining voice again. You’ve only ever been good at hurting and hindering and now is the time for that.” Cap was right. That is what she did. It’s what everyone said. Bitter old harpy. Evil sea witch. Sad, mad and bad. She’d heard that for 20 years and that’s all she was, nothing more. And yet. She softly recalled a time when maybe, she was something more. Under the surface of 20 years of bitter hurt and hate she had wrapped herself in, there was more. And maybe there was a reason her journey had taken her here, or maybe she was just tired of it being so heavy, but something had to change...