by Jourdan Cameron
"Am I really going to see my her today?"
The old Captain sighed- the boy didn't believe him yet. "Boy" he said in his grizzled old sailor's voice "It's as true as the sea is blue." The boy stared at the approaching schooner that made its way towards the harbor. Through the mist, everything seemed cold, gray, making things feel... Unsure.
The old man held the lantern high above his head and the ship turned into the nearest dock- the same dock where, three years ago, the boy cried goodbye.
The schooner approached the jetty, and its bow neared, the boy caught sight of what could've been a flame burning bright at the fore of the boat.
Though it was hard to tell, the old man bore a smile somewhere deep within his wrinkles. Extinguishing the signaling lantern, he made his way over to the slowly unloading ship that carried with it the hopes and dreams of a thousand days. He shed a silent tear as mother embraced son, and for a moment, all was right in the world
The old man spoke. "Anya, I take it you succeeded?" The red haired woman nodded. At her side was a briefcase that she picked up and, striding up to the old man, opened just a crack for his wearied eyes. The old man grinned, bobbing his head in approval. As quickly as the briefcase was opened, it was shut. "We'd best get this inside" she said "lest we draw any... Unwanted attention." The old man agreed, and the trio made their way through the seaside town to a run-down apartment building three stories high. The old brick building had clearly seen better days, and through the fog its bulk seemed all the more ominous.
The young boy spoke up as the old Captain opened the door of the building and beckoned the pair inside.
"Mother, what's in the briefcase?"
The woman gently tousled her son's hair. "Isn't it obvious? It's a surprise." Slowly and assuredly, the three walked up a couple flights of stairs until they were standing just outside the Captain's apartment, where he and the boy spent the last few years.
"So Captain, still no lighthouse?"
"Nay, Anya, it's as if they want an old man like me swinging a lantern to fro."
The boy hurried inside the apartment as soon as the door had been opened and peeled back the curtains on the far side of the room. Gray light came pouring in, and it soon became evident that the Captain wasn't the most competent of housekeepers. A thin layer of fine dust coated various knick-knacks and tschotskies, mementos of a life at sea. The boy's swift movements seemed to bathe him in a cloud of particulate matter. Politely, Anya averted her attention to the Captain.
"Please, just put the briefcase on the table" he told her. Carefully, she placed the angular luggage the square, squat, wooden table that lay in the center of the room atop a round, threadbare rug. She barely resisted the urge to dust off the table.
"It's quite the precious cargo- I need to get it to the city right away."
"Relax, we have time. We should celebrate, eh? Dinner's on me tonight. Anya sighed, but before she could object, the young boy in the room took the chance to interject.
"Wait, what are we celebrating?"
"The greatest achievement the world of zoology will ever know- it's bigger than the platypus." The Captain seemed serious for a moment, though the boy could tell he was simply putting on airs.
"Max, what Captain Tory's trying to tell you is that we found it."
The boy's eyes grew wide in shocked amazement. He nearly yelped, but was only able to produce a weak whimper. Inwardly, he sighed with relief. Those years- those three years- they were worth it.
After a moment of swapping smiles, the trio left the little abode in search of a celebratory meal. Safe within, the brown little briefcase lay silent atop the wood table.
After a few moments of excruciating boredom, the briefcase managed to toss itself from the table and onto the floor, and its contents crawled out from underneath and headed for the door.
I wrote this story some while back for a contest at my local library. I got third place! Sorry I've been taking so long to post the next chapter of Paxcatia- it's coming. I've just been crazy busy, and Lyme disease seems to do a fantastic job at sucking my creative juices dry. The depression that seems to accompany it is really quite an annoyance. Rest assured- I'm still working hard.