Year of Ideas: March, Our Stars

The ship emerged from the storm into calmer waters, and the battered crew released the death grips they had on the ropes, the railings, anything to keep themselves from being swept overboard in the worst of it. The sails should have been in tatters, the way the wind had blown them around before they could secure them, but Junko couldn’t see a tear. They’d have to open them up, once it was safe to do so, to be certain, but they might have made it out of this relatively in one piece.

“Keen! Do a head count, find out if we lost anyone,” the captain said, her voice loud in the sudden silence after the storm. Lilia, take stock of the ship. We should make repairs as we can.”

“Aye, Captain!” both officers said, turning to crew to help them in their tasks.

Junko went with Lilia, checking the ship from stem to stern, looking for any damage. There was some, as there must be, but not as much as they’d expected.

“Strangest damn storm I ever saw,” Lilia said, turning to look behind them where there wasn’t even a cloud on the horizon. She frowned. “Look back here. Tell me what you see.”

Junko searched the ocean, but saw nothing and had to report so.

“Exactly. When the storm came up, we were still close enough to see Sunmorn Bay.”

“It must have blown us farther out.”

“Aye.” Her gaze dropped to the water.

He studied the ocean, and the low sense of unease that had been building since the clouds had departed churned up in his stomach almost enough to make him sick. The colour of the water was wrong. There was a purple tinge to it, no sign of the green that should still have been there given they’d only recently left port. These weren’t waters he had ever seen, and he’d crossed all the world’s oceans more than once, even to the frozen ones which he’d never do again.

“We have to tell the captain.”

“I think she’s seen it already.”

The captain was talking with the pilot, both of them studying the navigation charts, taking measurements, doing all the tasks that should have told them where they were, but didn’t do a thing to relieve the tension in their stances.

“We’ll know for certain tonight,” Lilia said. “When the stars come out.”

The day was long enough, Junko thought night might never appear, but it gave them time to spread their sails and confirm there was no lasting damage. Wherever they were, as long as the winds were behind them, they’d be able to move. It was just a question of what direction to travel in. They remained where they were until night fell at last, watching as the large orange moon rose on the horizon and the starts blinked in one by one by one.

Not a single constellation showed in the sky. These were not their stars.

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by | Mar 24, 2022