I find myself on a sandy beach making my way back to the boat, arms laden with fresh fruit and other finds from shore. I’m rushing to join my companions as we’ve been called back to the ship, pending departure just ahead of a storm that can be seen on the near horizon. The boat we’ve trusted our lives to for these past months is a large wooden construction, deep in the belly, with planks set from bow to stern for crew and passengers.
My short pants don’t do much for keeping the sand bugs off of my legs, nor does the tattered shirt do much to shed water or the heat of the sun as we course over the vast oceans. Everything I own I wear on my back, and I’m grateful for the slight protection these meager garments provide. I don’t know how long I’ve been a crew member to this ship, but from the level of comfort I feel for the job, I suspect it has been an occupation of some time. If I turn my memory towards family, I can vaguely recall a mother figure, perhaps younger siblings – mostly girls. Likely it was some time ago that I was pressed to get employment aboard this ship as a way to keep my family fed back home. But honestly, I don’t remember those details.
I do know that the year is prior to 1163. I do know that there’s a terrible storm pending and that I, along with other crew members, have been loading all the supplies and food stuff we can find onto the boat to sustain us on our way back home – a journey of weeks. Today my concern is to not be left behind, and to gather as much as I possibly can before departure.
There is an important friend I’ve made on this trip, although I don’t recall his name these centuries past. We differ in age by only a few years – he the elder. We look after each other and have a jolly relationship rather like brothers, and we work well together. I am the first back on board and I give my cache to the crew to secure below, and then find myself a seat on one of the planks as the ship is readied to embark. Just as the boat loosens her hold on the sand, my friend splashes up to the boat – all hands reach to pull him aboard, scolding him good heartedly. He sits beside me and we ready for the next leg of the journey.
Before long the sky turns dark and the wind picks up, whipping the ship and her crew with generous splashes of seawater. Apparently I have been a shipmate for long enough to realize the danger of being washed overboard, and my companion is less experienced. After finding a length of scratchy rope I secure it to the beam under the plank we occupy, and then tie it to my friend and myself. As the storm increases there is fear in my heart and on the face of my companion, we’ve all heard the stories of ships that don’t make it back home and we are in for a wild ride.
Somewhere along the way the boat is nearly capsized as the ocean tosses us like a leaf, battered by the wind and rain. I don’t recall any other detail although I do know that my friend survived, I did not. Knocked unconscious by the roiling of the ship, he comes to realizing that some crew members have gone overboard, never to be recovered and some sustain bleeding injury from which they may not heal. When he realizes that I have drowned but my body remains attached to his by the cord of rope, he is overcome with grief. Grief that turns into gratitude once it dawns on him that he wouldn’t have had the sense to secure himself to the solid structures of the boat were it not for me, and would have been swept overboard with the others.
There is little else for me to know about this lifetime other than I believe that my wages went to my friend upon return to the mainland. I don’t think we were from the same port, so there was no finding my relatives. That money helped my friend start a new, prosperous life, a life he gave thanks for every day thereafter – as he felt profoundly grateful for the fact that I had saved his life, and that life, once given up had helped to launch a long and happy lifetime, one he shared with a woman most beloved.
Perhaps not surprisingly today our ongoing relationship is more like sibling brothers; teenagers – although we are opposite sex now and far beyond the teen years.