A Motley Sisterhood of Pirates! (Part One Blog five)
By Dan Watt and Taylor Norris
Oli flips open the covering to the stairs to the hold. She doesn’t need to switch the eyepatch yet, there’s enough sun seeping through the canon windows left open by the girls. “All hand hoy!” she shouts out at the rows of hammocks hanging from the hold’s beams. Some are two abreast a side. She slaps the thick wooden pillars and shouts out again “All hand hoy!” Some of the younger girls wake up with a start and fall out of their hammocks onto the chest below that contains all their belongings.
She goes farther into the hold, occasionally with her hands above her head running her fingers along the thick ropes that connect the helm wheel to the anchor. Her eyes methodically check the condition of the overhead rope that attaches the capstan to the chain of the anchor. Once she reaches the section of the hold where the teenage girls sleep, she shouts, “Zala!” to a tall girl originally from Ethiopia. “Go immediately to the Captain. Aarini, you’re with me,” she says shoving the hammock of a girl born to a fishing family in India.
Aarini follows her as she walks farther along. She finds the surgeons Canneta and Areso already out of their single extra wide hammock. Canneta is so tall her head nearly touches the ceiling of the hold. Oli has always been fascinated by Canneta’s appearance. The surgeon has short orange hair and blue eyes with dark skin that Oli could only wish she could get tanning in the sun. Canneta was ten in Nigeria when her father took her and her mother on his fishing boat to escape a battle between local tribes. Areso on the other hand is much shorter than Canneta. Oli thinks of the attractiveness of Tristan’s crew when she sees Areso. Long dark hair flows over Areso’s shoulders and her face is mesmerizing. She too was on her father’s fishing boat to escape fighting in North Korea when a whirlpool in the Japanese Sea sucked them into this world. Both girls are attractive and smart and yet they cannot continue their hereditary by being together. Oh well, Oli thinks. Life is full of mysteries.
Past another set of wooden pillars is ‘Unibrow the Cook’ Nippie and her helper Janice. Janice tosses and turns in her cot. Maybe the string necklace the Captain asked ‘Harlot’ Thelma to make with the boy Dirst’s molar will set her at ease. Nippie was on a ship full of orphans heading from Britain to Australia when it was sucked into a whirlpool. Nippie doesn’t know her age or just refuses to tell anyone. Where exactly she’s from is another mystery. She’s tall and stalky and strong. Her voice is harsh and boisterous. Most of the time she keeps to herself so the galley is a perfect spot for her. However, every girl has to work with her at some time. Learning to cook and salt fish and other meats, knowing the right amount of beer or wine to add to fresh water to keep it safe, and how much vodka to add to fruits is imperative to survival on a ship. ‘Unibrow Nippie’ is still snoring so Oli shakes her awake.
Next Oli wakes up ‘Ship Protector’ Umi. Umi, a Japanese Ama pearl diver was on the ocean floor collecting oysters when she was pulled into a whirlpool. Tiny and very fit, Umi is the only one who can search the ship for damage or ocean passengers. She is also the one who communicates with the dolphin-tails and occasionally the fish-tails.
Lastly Oli gets to the stern of the hold where a door leads to the room where the Ship Builder sleeps and works. She bangs on the door and shouts, “All hands hoy! The bow of the ship has a funny smell. Could be one of the sitsees in the Head is clogged!” Inside the room she hears a thud she is sure is his head hitting one of the overhead beams. Grinning she returns to the deck with Aarini.