Companion to Day Forty-Two: Story so Far

1 August. 8am

Sun. Pain. I cracked open my eyes and saw land. ‘Sol!’ I said.

‘CAPTAIN Sol,’ she said – and crumpled.  

‘We’re saved,’ I said. ‘Right? SOL!’

 

9am

Sol awoke. She sat up, unsticking her tarred hair from the deck of our stolen boat. ‘We’re sinking.’

I leapt overboard and swam to save us.

9:00am

I wanted to drink the sea, but I swam. The waves flung me upside down and the sea darkened as I drowned.

Sol grasped my neck.

I passed out.

Land Land 

August 2. 12 midday

The sizzle of frying eggs woke me.

‘Yep,’ said Sol to a bald man beside us, ‘nasty pirates coming. Best hide your treasure. We’ll help.’

August 3. 8am

We ate bread and wine and milk, and a yellow fruit that tasted like chocolate. It was fun, pretending to be good.

I got a stomach ache.

August 4. 3pm

Treasure, I discovered, is heavy. But Sol wore a girlish smile so I didn’t say a word.

The locals thought we were just kids. But we weren’t.

August 5. 9am

The bald elder missed his jewels, so our good times ended fast.

‘Ulandin,’ Sol grinned, ‘don’t waste our loot on food. Let’s steal a ship.’

 

5pm

A beggar took pity on me and gave us his crusts to gnaw. ‘I’m called Oldy,’ he said.

Sol said, ‘Ulandin’s my first mate. Wanna be our crew?’

Oldy gives Ulandin bread Oldy gives Ulandin bread 

 6pm

Oldy sang songs until the harbour guards left. We chose the best ship and crept past its crew into the hold.

‘Great,’ I said, ‘we’re stuck.’

August 6. 4am

The crew was dull with sleepiness. Oldy rose like a grey ghost in the bridge.

Sol used magic to fell three men. The rest ran for help.

 

4:30am

Oldy said, ‘Sol’s a quickener? She moves objects by just touch?’

‘It’s common enough.’

‘Not at sea. It’s bad luck.’

‘Sol’s used to that.’

 5am

‘The guards have swords,’ I said.

Sol said, ‘Want one?’

‘I want to go.’

She quickened the ship. We sailed away with every sail still closed.

August 7. 11pm

Sol slept, so we drifted. The sun weighed heavy on my shoulders.

‘At least I wasn’t a slave,’ said Oldy.

I said, ‘We both escaped.’

‘Maybe.’

 

August 8. 7pm

The ship’s old owners left tasty food in it – salted meat, squishy fruit and lots of crackers. Also rum.

Maybe I drunks a bit too muchness.

 

August 9. 10am

Sol magically bellied out the sails. We were all surprised when we started going backward.

I tried not to laugh.

Sol broke my tooth anyway.

August 10. 6pm

Sol delighted in the burning wind and sun and the constant desperate clapping of our sails.

‘Look,’ said Oldy. ‘Is that a ship – or land?’

 

August 11. 6am

‘It’s a ship,’ I said at first light, ‘so do we meet them – or do we run?’

Sol picked at her tarred hair and said, ‘Let’s take their crew.’

12 midday

The wind tore at my eyes. Sol yelled, ‘Trim the sails!’ I actually thought she meant to cut them.

Oldy suddenly knew how to sail – somehow.

6pm

‘Pink!’ Sol screamed. ‘Stupid pink sky! And why is that ship still running?’

‘We’ll get them,’ I said.

‘Or they’ll get us,’ said Oldy.

 

The other ship The other ship 

August 12 – 7am

‘Sol – Captain Sol?’ I said. ‘Hit me if you like, but there’s forty of them and three of us. And Oldy’s. . . old.’

‘Poor them,’ she smirked.

 12 midday

The wind dropped and we caught them.

They laughed at us. I longed to hide behind Oldy.

Then Sol arose, grabbed a rope, and swung across.

 12:15pm

‘Do you surrender?’ she cried.

They grabbed swords, but she still had her magic.

Their ship shattered.

‘We’re sorry miss!’ they wept.

 

August 13. 7am

‘A captain goes down with his ship,’ said Sol – and tied him to his mast. His ship screamed as it sank.

He screamed as long as he could.

 

August 14. 8am

I said, ‘I’m afraid of her – but I know I’m made to follow her. Are you the same?’

‘No,’ said Oldy. ‘I’m not afraid. And I’m following you.’

                                            

August 15. 8am

‘Stop cowering,’ Sol told our new crew, ‘I dislike it. Now, hows about we attack a real target – like an island. Who here wants to be rich?’

 12 midday

I asked Oldy why he was following me.

He said, ‘Sol has you. Now you have me.’

‘But –’

‘Everyone needs someone. I of all people know that.’

 

August 16. 3pm

My back and wrists ached.

 The sword tutor asked, ‘Will this island have women then?’

‘I suppose.’

He cheered and toasted Sol – with my rum.

 

August 17. 8:30am

A man muttered something to his crewmates while Sol was out of sight.

I crept up and grabbed his arm.

He shrieked – EXACTLY like a girl.

 

August 18. 11am

‘But you ARE a girl,’ I said.

‘No I ain’t.’

‘Don’t the men know?’

‘Coz it ain’t true,’ she said, and picked her nose at me.

I gave up.

 2:00pm

‘Li’s a girl,’ I told Oldy.

‘Don’t worry,’ he said, ‘she’ll be fine.’

‘How could anyone know that?’

He smiled, ‘I’m much older than I look.’

 

August 19. 5:00pm

Sol cheated at lessons, using magic to bend the swords – then the teacher.

Luckily Oldy was a healer. ‘Kindly stop breaking arms,’ he said.

 8pm

‘Wanna be free?’ Li asked.

I said, ‘Sol already freed me.’

She hauled on a sail: ‘Do you really think that?’

I tied a knot: ‘Don’t you?’

 

August 20 – midnight

Night wind and stars. I shadowed men to Sol’s cabin, and yelled when they pulled out a knife.

She killed two in an eyeblink.

The rest fled.

 4:30am

I threw the bodies away, knowing Li had led them.

Sol and I kept watch in silence all night. Oldy slept on in his cabin.

I dreaded the dawn.

 6am

Sol judged us at dawn. Li confessed, and Sol threw her overboard.

The men vanished below like dust swept up.

But I saw Oldy steal the boat.

Oldy stole the boat Oldy stole the boat 

August 21:  7:00am

Oldy sauntered in and helped himself to salty breakfast stew.

‘Didn’t you go with Li?’ I asked.

He shrugged, ‘I came back.’

 

4:00pm

‘Who stole my boat?’ Sol screamed.

Oldy raised his hand. ‘You’re a fine captain. We won’t need it.’

Sol said, ‘You’ll live – for now.’

 

August 22. 5:00pm

I showed Sol our hold. She said, ‘We still have food for – what – two days?’

‘About that,’ I said, ‘and we’re out of soap.’

‘I’d noticed.’

 

August 23. 2:00pm

We reached land, searched empty houses, and found a child’s skeleton clutching at dirt.

‘Anyone want to leave?’ Sol said.

No-one spoke.

 

August 24. 2:00pm

The sun glared on something, and we sailed for it: a pirate ship.

‘Hurrah,’ said Sol, ‘they’ll have food AND treasure.’

The ship chased us.

 

5:00pm

I forgot my sword lessons and punched and bit. The real pirates slashed my arms and legs. We lost badly. Sol’s face was black with rage.

 

8:00pm

Sol ran her hand across the bars of our cell – tink, tink, tink. No-one else moved.

‘They’ll feed us soon,’ she said. ‘Then we’ll attack.’

 

August 25. 9:00pm

I woke slumped against Oldy’s fuzzy beard. Sol was gone. Only our bodies held us up. Then Sol appeared with her arms full. ‘Anyone thirsty?’

 

 

Sol appeared with her hands full Sol appeared with her hands full 

 

midnight

Sol brought us food and life all night. Our guard almost saw her, but she passed magically through the outer wall of the ship until he left.

 

August 26: 5:00am

‘Do we fight now?’ I asked.

Sol said, ‘Anyone got a sword? No? Never mind. Oldy – come.’

We waited in silence, and heard nothing at all.

 

 

9:00am

Sol said, ‘They’re all asleep.’

‘A healing sleep,’ Oldy said, ‘which I wish I had time to give you.’

We scoffed pie before we started work.

 

 

midday

We locked the pirates in their filthy cell. Then we stole their cannons, food, and water. And soap. And all their boats. And LOTS of rum.

                                             

August 27. 1:00pm

Sol sat on the bowsprit in the dashing spray, frowning. ‘Why, when we won, did half our crew desert?’

‘They’re afraid of you.’

She smiled.

August 28.

8:00am

I saw girls playing on a beach as we drew close.

‘Let’s attack some other island,’ I said hastily. ‘People with kids never have much loot.’

 10:00am

Sol politely traded a silver necklace for anchorage. She ordered our remaining crew to be good – no stealing, no killing – not yet.

 5:00pm

I bought new clothes! Ones with no holes! And I bought myself a bright yellow hat, so I look nautical.

If only the ground would stop moving.

 

August 29

7:00am

No crew returned. Sol said, ‘We’re it? A princess, a beggar and a slave?’

I said, ‘Princess? Who’s a –you?!’

‘NO!’ she said. ‘I- shut up.’

 Midday

One man turned up.

‘Hello Mal,’ said Sol. ‘Where’s everyone?’

He shrugged.

‘Fine,’ she said, ‘let’s burn this place and find a better one.’

7:00pm

Sol saw kids in a corner and had me take them outside. Once they were safe, we burned their home too.

The night sky turned grey with smoke.

 

August 30.

7:00pm

I could still see the smoke as we sailed away. At least we hadn’t killed any kids.

Sol was content, even when Mal burnt our dinner to ashes.

 11:00pm

‘If you’re following me, does that mean you’ll help me – if things get bad?’

‘Yes,’ said Oldy.

After that talk, I was able to get to sleep.

 

August 31.

3:00pm

‘Why are all the islands here so black?’ Sol grumbled.

Oldy said, ‘When we take over an island, what will we do with it?’

‘Anything I want.’

 

September 1.

3:00pm

Sol and I practised swordfighting, and I noticed her hands were soft.

‘A princess ain’t much,’ she growled at me, ‘just a slave in a dress.’

 

September 2.

5:00pm

Rain poured until my clothes were rough as rocks. We sailed, but we couldn’t see. Sol made us stay on watch – staring into the stormy dark.

 

September 3

3:00pm

Water spilled into our cabins and slicked the wooden floors.

Oldy paced the hold as the ship staggered. ‘It’s not time. Not yet,’ he said.

 

September 4

3:00pm

At last I found my guts.

‘What do you know about this?’ I shouted at Oldy above the howling wind.

He said, ‘I know we all survive tonight.’

September 5. 9:30am

The wind threw me into a mess of ropes and I was trapped. It tossed me around and dunked me under waves. A rope slipped around my neck.

 Midday

Sol slashed through the ropes, saving my life again. ‘Lazy sod,’ she yelled over the thunder, ‘come help throw the cannons overboard.’

3:00pm

We threw away our weapons and our food, but Sol kept her treasure. The lightened ship flew over the ocean. We hurtled deeper into the dark.

 

We threw away our weapons and our food. . .

We threw away our weapons and our food. . .

September 6. 6:00pm

Rain. Hail. Rope burns on my arms and chest. Can’t see. Can’t eat. Can’t think. All I can do is hold on until the end. If this ever ends.

 Midnight

The sky was lit by stars instead of lightning. I hung out all my clothes, and asked Oldy how he knew we’d live.

He said, ‘I always know.’

September 7. 7:00am

We lay in the sun and slept. Sol was naked, so I was careful not to look. Oldy snored.

When I stood, my shape was outlined in dark wet wood.

 

I was careful not to look

I was careful not to look

September 8.

‘We were blown into unfamiliar seas,’ said Sol, ‘so I bet there’s a REALLY rich island nearby.’

‘Sol,’ I said, ‘look – land!’

 

September 9.

The locals wore purple and carried gold on their wrists and necks.

‘This is the place,’ said Sol.

Mal leered.

Oldy and I exchanged glances.

 

September 10.

We practised sword work below decks, out of sight of the people we spied on. Their guards were fat and sleepy, and the houses left unlocked.

 

Oldy didn’t speak to me, but I knew he was ready. And I knew he was more than he seemed. He frightened me more than Sol – who scared me too.

 

September 11.

A boy asked Sol for food.

She looked at him. ‘You want gold?’

‘No,’ said the boy, ‘just bread.’

‘Be one of us,’ said Sol.

‘Okay – captain.’

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