The sea was quiet and calm with the soft lapping of waves against the various pieces of floating wreckage of a proud sailing vessel whose canvas once filled the sky and filled with the breath of the earth.
A young boy gripping a spar with tattered sail opened his eyes to the blue sky and the silent birds flying in circles above. He breathed, grateful for the air that filled his lungs and gripped the heavy spar tighter. He was very much afraid. How long had he been floating in the water, one hour, two? Longer than two, he was sure of that.
He struggled to remember through a number of blurred images, his name…his name was Robert Wyatt, he was thirteen years old. The boy closed his eyes and sighed. He was thirsty, so thirsty…he tried to remember. Slowly, through a haze, images began to appear in his mind.
“I’m a cabin boy. I’m a cabin boy on the clipper GREEN LEAF,” he thought with eyes closed, “and when I open my eyes, I’ll be in my bunk. The captain will scold me because I’ve overslept. The cook will cuff my ear and tell me I’m worthless. This…this is just a bad dream.” But when he opened his eyes, he wasn’t in the confined darkness of his bunk. It was the glaring brightness of the open sky that assaulted his senses. Was the sky always this bright?
He thought about his home in San Francisco. Tall buildings of stone, how did they make such tall buildings? He wondered. The big hotels and office buildings, his father a grocer often delivered to those places. The sky above was bright too, he just never really thought about it. San Francisco, cold water, shaved ice. Sarsaparilla in a tall soda glass and ice cream…he liked ice cream. His father used to give him ice cream on Saturdays.
He looked about the spar he was clinging to. He saw boxes of tea, broken planks and sometimes a piece of brightly colored silk float by. It was from the ship he was on..before. The ship he was on…before. The ship… didn’t normally carry such things, they were a…gift from another captain… How much do people pay for tea and silk? He had never really thought about it before. He knew ladies liked silk, pretty ladies liked silk and did they like tea also? Yes…yes, his mother used to tell him ladies drank tea, well to do ladies…afternoon tea, white gloves and parasols…