The knife whizzed past me, missing my head by inches. I screamed when a saber came at me, putting my hands in front as if it would magically stop the enormous blade from chopping my sweet little head off. But it never came. My head was still attached and my hands felt very much alive. I looked at the thin blade that saved my life. It was more of a ceremonial sword than something you'd use to fight pirates.
Wait a minute. Did I just say pirates?
That was when my senses woke up and did their job properly. I sat on the deck of an 18th century ship. Literally. What made things more unusual was probably the fact that I was in the middle of a sword fight.
"Who are you?" A deep velvety asked loudly. It was the owner of the shiny sword that saved my sweet life.
I, for an unfathomable reason, couldn't find words. I just sat there, trying my best not to go insane and admit myself to the nearest asylum. Was this real? The ship was rocking side to side and the fight was still heated. I felt slightly sick to my stomach. So it must be real, right?
"Who are you?" the man in the dark blue uniform asked even louder this time. A big ugly pirate came up behind him with a sword, ready to stab him to death. I did what I would consider heroic. I leaped forward and pushed the man down, masterfully dodging the sword. I landed right on top of him and the pirate growled in frustration of missing his opponent. He raised his sword up in the air, aimed directly at me and the man underneath me. But I was not going to die this way. Before I could do something heroic again, the shiny sword went through the pirate's leg. He cried out in pain and stumbled back, falling backward into the raging sea. Not only were we in the middle of a fight, we were in the middle of a storm. On sea, may I repeat, on sea.
As I took in my surrounding, paying more attention to the details, I started to wonder what year I was in. The man underneath me was wearing one of those ridiculous white wigs. I studied him more carefully. He had green eyes and his skin was slightly tan. I regretted one thing in my life: I should have paid attention in history when I was in school. His eyes widened and pushed me off, apologizing non-stop.
"I must apologize, Miss. . ." he said, stopping right in the middle of his sentence. His eyes moved from my eyes and all the way to my feet. I was completely confused. He quickly turned around and found another pirate to fight.
"You are not properly dressed, Miss!"
I looked at my attire as realization slapped me in the face the way Karma would. He was right—in the sense of an 18th century man—I was not properly dressed. I was wearing my black pencil skirt with my favorite red blouse. My black pumps were nowhere to be found. I was working in my office, contemplating whether or not I should accept Brian's marriage proposal and I opened the book from my grandfather. Then this. . .
I started to panic. I got up and pushed through the pirates and blue-uniformed men, desperately looking for anything that looked like an exit. I felt my blood draining from my face. Grandfather wasn't lying. All those times. He really did live the stories. That was why he was such a great storyteller. All the kids loved him. His words echoed in my mind:
Reading a story is good, but living one is best.
I looked down into the deep blue sea and saw his kind face in my mind. He told me and my brothers that he could travel in storybooks. None of us believed him. My brothers distanced themselves from him and I did too. I felt sadness settling in my chest, weighing it down. I thought he was crazy. He wasn't.
A wet and slightly calloused hand grabbed my arm, gaining my full attention. It was him. He pushed his sword through a pirate's belly and turned to me.
"Who are you?" he asked, his brow furrowing.
I opened my mouth, but sea water washed over. I coughed and nearly slipped, but a certain belly-stabbing gentleman held me in iron grip. I spat out the salty water and replied, "Bluebell. Bluebell Wakefield." My eyes stung and I was in need of some eye-drops.
He nodded. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Wakefield. I am Commodore Theodore Livingston, agent of the Royal British Navy and East India Trading Company."
"Not to be rude, Commodore Livingston, but this is a really bad time for full formal introductions!"
He looked at me strangely.
"You are not an Englishwoman, are you?"
I gave him my brightest smile and said, "Nope! I am a proud American woman." His frown of confusion deepened.
Oops. America was not independent yet. He opened his mouth to say something, but was abruptly cutoff. His gaze was on something behind me.
"Miss Wakefield, behind you!"
I gasped as a bullet flew past my face and right into the nasty-looking pirate behind me. His eyes rolled back and he fell over. I looked around me and noticed that there was no sign of the fight ending soon. So I asked for something very handy.
"A gun?!" Commodore Livingston exclaimed.
I nodded and said, "Yes, one like yours. I do know how to shoot. I won't miss, I promise."
"Can't you see? Everyone is fighting. The sooner we finish, the quicker the story ends."
Then I realized something: I wanted to go home badly. I didn't know how this story was going to end and I was not sure if I wanted to know. All of these people weren't real. They were made of pure fiction. The young and handsome Commodore Livingston wasn't real. The pirates. The storm. Deaths. None of it was real.
"Miss Wakefield, I really must object to this."
I rolled my eyes and grabbed the dead pirate's sword, smiling.
I swung the borrowed sword full strength and scared off a few men, agents of the Royal British Navy or not. I didn't know how to sword fight, but I was the best when it came to kitchen knives and sharp things. My brothers could confirm that in a blink of an eye.
It didn't take long for my poor arms to feel as if they've gone through a week of weightlifting. The sword was not that light. It didn't look skinny and slender like Commodore Livingston's sword. I leaned against a mast, panting like a dog after a chase. Then I saw another ship advancing through the storm.
Commodore Livingston saw the ship and yelled, "Retreat!" The ship came so close that I thought it was going to clash. On the ship was its name painting boldly in white.
Many agents of the Royal British Navy walked across the little walkway between the two ships. I stood there, not knowing what to do. Whose side was I supposed to be on? But I've injured enough pirates to last a lifetime. Before I could make up my mind, I was given a dark blue coat that belonged to Commodore Livingston.
"Put it on, Miss Wakefield."
I slipped my arms into the sleeves of his coat and let him take me across the walkway. My legs shook violently as I tried to force them to move forward.
"I can't!" I said, looking down below me. The sea looked more than ready to swallow us whole. My fear of heights was a weakness that I could not over come. I kept seeing myself drown in the stormy sea and die in this story. My knees became weak and I collapsed on the walkway. The storm got louder and more violent. Thunder rumbled so loud that everything vibrated. The lightning was no less. The sky became darker and the winder blew harder, even Commodore Livingston's coat could not keep me warm. My clothes stuck to me like a second layer of skin.
"Miss Wakefield, we must cross now!"
I shook my head and tried to stand again. The sea moved and caused Commodore Livingston to stumble back and I was back in the same position. I was scared. That was the honest truth. Fear took control of my body that I couldn't move a single muscle.
Come on, Bluebell. You were in a sword fight. Swords are scarier than heights. Get up! Walk like a proud American woman you are.
I looked ahead and saw all eyes were on me. I needed support. Not physically. My eyes landed on the man in front of me.
"Will you please hold my hand?" I asked loudly.
He looked shocked at first. I knew it was against old traditions, but now was the time to obey traditions. It was survival time. He nodded and held my hand firmly in his, without breaking eye contact.
I closed my eyes and shakily stood up. Come on. Come on. I took a step forward and opened my eyes. He pulled me until I cross safely onto HMS Imperial. The relief I felt was tremendous. This time I was shaking from fear, but from the cold wet clothes I was wearing. I was immediately taken away to a nice room where they had a proper dress for me. I didn't like the corset at all. I wondered what would happen if I told everyone that corsets were dangerous. No one would believe me, I presumed.
Once I was dressed and pampered, I made my way out of my room and looked for the only person I knew. The storm outside was still raging and I was starting to get seasick. I opened another door and water sprayed in. There were officers doing everything they could to make sure that the ship wouldn't sink. My eyes widened when a huge wave came over the ship, washing men away. I was sure Commodore Livingston was outside with his men. But where?
I stepped out, probably ruining the dress, but I needed to speak to him urgently. I needed to know where we were heading and figure out how to get out of this story. I looked around and almost regretted doing so. I felt so sick to my stomach. If I spent another a minute on this ship, I was going to vomit. I turned around and saw him, standing straight as an iron rod on a higher deck and ordering his men around.
I carefully went up the steps and his eyes widened at my sight.
"Miss Wakefield, you must return to your room immediately! This is no place for a fine lady such as yourse—"
I cut him off by running to the side of the ship and vomiting. Ugh. Disgusting. I coughed and the rain washed away all the remnant of my breakfast. I turned around, my head spinning. Commodore Livingston came over to me and tried to help. My throat was burning and I clutched my stomach.
Goodness, I think I'm gonna be sick again!
"I must speak to you privately!" I shouted, so he could hear me over the loud thunder.
He held my arms and looked into my blue eyes.
"You look quite ill, Miss Wakefield. Please return to your room. I'll have someone bring you a new dress and medicine!"
I shook my head.
"You don't understand. I am not from here!"
"I know you are not from England, but I don't believe that you are from the colonies. You are too fine to be from that place!"
I scowled. "I would really like it if we could go inside and not shout at each other! What do you think, Commodore Livingston?!"
He hesitated and told another officer to be in charge while he was gone. My head gave itself the biggest spin and I hurled over, vomiting. I was making good records here of vomiting over HMS Imperial twice. Commodore Livingston helped me get inside and we were both soaked. I hated the way the fabric clung to me so tightly. He, on the other hand, seemed chilled about the storm and getting really soaked. I leaned against the wall and he gave me the uncertain look.
The kind of look that told me I was a strange female creature that spoke English in a different accent, wore inappropriate clothes and had no shame in expressing her thoughts openly. I decided to help these people accustomed to my ways of doing things.
"Yes, Miss Wakefield?"
"Please stop calling me Miss Wakefield," I said, looking his green eyes.
He looked taken back. "But it would be—"
"Less time-consuming and not so mouthful. Yes, I know."
He smiled a little and said, "You are so. . ."
"Strange?" I asked, raising my eyebrow at him.
"Different," he finished, his green eyes sparking.
He looked younger when he smiled. Now if he could just lose that stupid white wig. . .
"Commodore Livingston! We have found the Whirlpool of Despair!"