My dearest Anna,
I pray this finds you well. How is our mother? I miss you both beyond the ability of words scrawled on paper to convey.
I have found myself asking foolish questions lately. How did I get here? I can’t even remember right now. I have tried keeping records of my adventures at sea like I promised, but now it has been some weeks since land and I am running out of ink. I will definitely run out before we make it to port. If we make it, that is.
Two nights ago the ship almost turned right over. She tipped so far I could have reached out and touched the waves with my fingers except I didn’t dare. Life is too short out here to let go. We lost four men overboard the same night. The first hours of the storm I was incredibly ill, but there is nothing left in my stomach to come up, and the storm has gone on for days now. It has been too long since I saw the sun, in all his glory even he has given up on us. It is so cold and wet. My feet I cannot feel them anymore.
We lost more supplies over board last night. It is three days since I ate a proper meal and most of the men have resorted to living off the rum. I know it is the last thing the captain would send overboard. I drink enough to keep me warm, but not enough to kill my senses. The bottle which lies beside me now is long empty. I have another task in mind for it.
The sea, she is calling to us all. She is an impatient lover. Her voice a tempest screaming even now, right outside. She picks us off, one by one, her hunger never satisfied. Sister, my shift on deck begins soon. I should be sleeping but I cannot. I have not slept in two days. The rain on the deck is like gunfire overhead, and the ship moans and groans incessantly like a wounded soldier in battle, still trying to drag his useless body to the safety of the trenches. Alas, it looks like there will be no trench of safety for us. I am sure the captain lost our heading the night the stars disappeared, though he would never say.
I cannot be sure, the light is so dim down here, but I feel the water has begun to come through starboard side. Above the waves in some moments I hear a trickle much nearer and much more terrifying. Outside, the way she thrashes against our hull is violence beyond what I have ever witnessed. These sea monsters of legend need not be real – though the shipmates talk of them as though they were – for the ocean herself is the most violent beast of all. On a good day, I have heard many a man confess love for her like they would of a woman born from real flesh and blood. But she is a formless, soulless monster, always consuming and never filled.
I must stop thinking.
I need to stop, to stop writing. The ink is so thin. I added some rum to make it go further only moments ago. I cannot bear to think your eyes may never see this. The bottle neck is small, but I am sure I can make this scrap of parchment fit. I love you, you know that right? I know I pulled your hair too many times, and I know I didn’t approve of your gentle husband, but he is a good man, and he will look after you and mother. I addressed a letter to our mother, but given my current state it was all tears and nonsense, so I am content to know you will comfort her.
They are calling me now, my dear sister. I will finish this when I am off deck again…
Written by JR Manawa