A girl was found on an island by a passing cargo ship, she does not speak the language of her rescuers and seems to be able to talk to seagulls. Sorry if my use of Japanese is incorrect, I am only just learning the language.

This was written for an image prompt competition. It is my first story and any comments would be welcome.


3. That girl

Jode climbed the ladder, using one of his arms to shield his eyes as he emerged onto the deck. The fresh air was welcome, the wind cool. He could taste the salt in the air.

"Hail, Jode!" the man looked to find Lenard waving him over. " Finally gonna help out with some of the real work heh?" Lenard grinned at his own jest, wide enough to show the two crocked molars at the very back of his mouth. Then, proceeded to haul a sack of rice over his shoulder. Lenard's footsteps made the boards shudder under him as he left in the direction of the kitchens.

The clouds had finally cleared and the day was becoming quite fair now, Jode noted as he headed for the coal stacks. Using the nearby crowbar to pry the top off a crate, he took a sack and collected up the coal. Once it had been filled, Jode followed Lenard's example, heading towards the kitchens. Swaying with the ship as it carried them across the sea.

The sun, now free of clouds, made the work a sweaty business.

Jode soon had many black smudges on his arms, and he suspected because of an irritating itch, neck, face and back too, from wiping the perspiration away with soot covered hands.

Many more sacks had to be moved below deck, where they would burn it. Jode walked over to the hatch, where he had climbed from, shouting,

"Frank! Hope you're ready to catch some sacks down there!" Tall and wiry, Frank's head could almost touch the ceiling of the deck below— that is, if he stood up straight. The man's face appeared under the square of light let in by the hatch.

"You should be enjoying it up there! It's my turn next!"

"And there's no man foolish enough to deny that, I'm sure." Jode said as he dropped down a tied sack of coal.

"I know sarcasm when I hear it, Jode." Hearing a second thump as Frank threw the coal down to the engine room, Jode worked his way back to the stacks of crates.

More cheered than before, he stacked the empty crate on top of the others and went to pry open a crate nearer to the hatch. Swinging the crowbar in time with his merry humming.

Bending to open a crate, he almost jumped to find that he was looking into the face of a small girl, fifteen at most, curled up, with her face, sour— he could smell the fishy stench of the material on which she slept from five paces— and troubled, pressed against the top of the crate.

She looked like the girls from Jode's own home, with her black hair and fair skin, he would have took her to be just that if he hadn't been so close as to see how her chin was square-set, that there was streaks of brown in her hair and, most of all, her aura of subtle alienation. She was out of place onboard the ship. A curiosity.

A bird in the depths of the sea.

Overhead, there sounded a caw. As Jode looked up, he felt talons dig into his scalp.

He screamed.

The thing tore at his hair. For a moment Jode thought that it might fly away with him in its talons, like the stories always speak of.

He ripped it off his head. But before he could get a grip on it, it cawed in his face and slapped him with its wings. Taking off, to land just before him.

The monstrosity he imagined turned out to be a seagull, a small one at that. Unaware of its inability to look threatening, the bird made short 'kakaka' sounds, it's wings half open, presumably to look bigger.

The seagull stood between Jode and the girl and Jode backed away. His scream had woken her, and she searched about tiredly, her eyes clouded. They where a mix of sky blue and leaf green, two rippling puddles in a forest glade on a clear summer mid afternoon.

She didn't see Jode or the seagull, both watching her from the side. The girl lay down her head again and was almost immediately breathing evenly.

Jode spotted the crowbar. He had dropped it when he was attacked. But it was probably wisest not to disturb the seagull again so he went to get another, taking pains to stay far out of the gull's reach while doing so.

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