The Runaway Castaway

short story


2. Escape

I dashed down the front steps of my house, down the walkway, and became part of the night.  I had no idea where I was going, but after a few minutes, an idea flew into my mind.  The docks.  They were only three miles away.  I would probably make it there by midnight.  I checked my watch.  10:19.  The ticket booth would not open until morning, so I could sleep there for the night and then be the first in line on the first ship tomorrow.  I would just go on the first ship out, though I didn’t want to go to a cold place, for fear I would freeze to death, and I didn’t want  to go to a hot place either, for fear of getting dehydrated.  I would just go to a warm place, a place that usually had no rain, but wasn’t hot enough for me to get dehydrated.  Ugh, traveling is harder than it sounds.

    Right at 11:48, I reached the docks.  After a lot of searching, I found the ticket booth.  I sat down in front of it, and almost immediately I was lulled to sleep by the gentle crashing of waves nearby.

     Hours later, I woke up and found someone prodding me with a stick.

“Hey!  Get out of the way little boy!  I got a line of customers here and you’re blocking the ticket booth.”

I realized the man prodding me was the ticket booth owner.

I jumped up and said, “Wait!  I want to buy a ticket to go to........”  I considered my options.  

“I want to go to Fiji.”

“Well, I got a ticket to Fiji right here, and the ship’s leavin’ in five minutes, so you betta gimme some money and then run along.  It’s the ship at the end of the dock.

I reached into my pocket and pulled out a twenty.  I handed it to the man and he shoved the ticket at me.  I took the ticket from his grubby, weathered hands, and then I grabbed my duffel from the ground.  I started to walk nonchalantly to the ship, savoring every bit of freedom from my mother.

I heard the call, “All aboard!” and knew if I didn’t hurry, the ship would leave without me.  So, I quickened my pace, and got to the ship just in time.

I was afraid though.  I stepped backward, off the gangplank, remembering the first, and only time I had gone on a ship.

Grandpa and I had been coming back from a trip. A horrible storm broke out.  The waves were tearing at the ship, breaking masts and flooding the deck.  Grandpa and I were looking at the whales leaping next to the ship, when the storm sprang on us.  We held on to the side while the ship tried to buck us off.  I looked over at where my Grandpa was clutching the rails, but he wasn’t there.  I stared over the side, and saw as the waves pushed him under.  I yelled to him, but he was gone.

I snapped out of my flashback as a crew member yelled, “Hey kid!  We got a schedule to keep here.  Are you gonna get on or are you gonna keep standin’ there, acting like I’m gonna bite you?”

I had no choice.  If I wanted to leave, it had to be on this boat.  I stumbled onto the ship.

A member of the crew took my suitcase to store it in the hold.  Then, the ship broke away from the dock and we started sailing out to sea.  I stared at the blue-green waters before me and felt sick.  Even though it was warm, I started to shiver.  I wanted to run.  Hide.  But there was nowhere to go.  Except, my cabin.  I went down to the cabin assigned to me and huddled on my bed.  Even though I had just been asleep, I lay on the bed and snored contentedly.

When I finally awoke, I heard nothing. I could feel the ship rolling a bit too harshly.  I lept out of bed, flung open the door, and ran on deck.  I stopped, mid step, and gaped.  A storm.  A big storm.  Waves were flinging themselves against the side of the ship.  The crew were hurriedly tying down the sails.  The Captain was at the wheel, trying to steer us to calmer waters.  I looked over the edge.  Bad idea.  The waves looked twice as big.  Then, the ship dipped, and I was dumped overboard.  I tried to scream before I was thrown into the murky waters.  All I got was a mouthful of salt water.  The freezing waves picked me up and dragged me away from the ship.  I waved my arms in the air.  It was no use.  I was too far away from the ship already.  They wouldn’t be able to see me.  I knew I was going to go like Grandpa.  So, I let my body go limp and the waves toss me around like a ragdoll.

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