This story is a collaborative story between myself and Sharmishtha Basu, a good friend of mine. I have written stories like this with my sisters growing up and with other friends, but this one is inspired most recently by the Baker’s Dozen story I took part in. This story, however, will just be the two of us, writing back and forth until it is finished. I will post every Monday and Sharmishtha will post her sections every Friday.
Alone on a Boat – Part 1
The tangy sea-spray smelled like freedom to Angelique as she stepped out onto the deck. Dawn was close and the lightening sky promised a beautiful day to come.
She was only twenty and sailing around the world on her own. Her yachting father who had taught her to sail had tried halfheartedly to talk her out of the idea. Her superstitious mother would not let herself give voice to all the terrible scenarios in her mind, but she finally said, “Won’t you be lonely all by yourself?”
Ha! There was plenty of excitement, fatigue, terror, even boredom, but never loneliness. How could she feel lonely sailing her own craft across an ocean of white-flecked sapphire, with seabirds crying above her and fish flashing silver as they leaped around her bow?
It had been a month after she had set out from Lisbon, and she was now anchored in a deserted cove on the Andaman Islands. After a swim in the cove and breakfast on the bow of the boat, she hoisted anchor and set off again, heading southeast for the Malacca Strait and Singapore.
It was about ten in the morning and Angelique had settled into the routine of the day when she spotted something floating in the water off to the right. Through her binoculars, she saw that it was an oil drum. As she got closer, she saw something clinging to it. A man. He was not moving.
What should she do? Picking up a strange man was out of the question, but she couldn’t just leave him to die either. Unless he was already dead. She thought about calling the authorities to pick him up, but how long would they take?
Her boat was close now and Angelique slowed and steered closer. It was definitely a man—she saw the scruff of black hair on his chin. His skin was dark, either naturally or from the sun, and his eyes were closed.
“Hey, are you okay?” she shouted.
The man opened an eye and said something so faintly, she could not hear it. She brought the boat closer. “What?”
“Water,” the man said.
Angelique brought the boat closer and then after a moment of hesitation, threw him a rope. He grasped it weakly and pulled himself towards the boat. When he finally managed to drag himself over the side, Angelique was ready, a glass of water in one hand and the flare gun in the other.
“I have water for you, but don’t try anything. Okay?”
The man nodded and she set the glass on the deck and pushed it towards him.
“More please,” he said when he had drunk it all. She got some more and he drank that too and then another two glasses.
“Were you shipwrecked?” she asked.
The man shook his head. “No.”
“Then why were you out here?”
“Where are you going?” he asked.
“I’m going to Singapore right now. I can drop you at Port Blair, on South Andaman, if you want. It’s not too far away.” That was less than a day away, if she changed course and used the back-up motor. She did not want to spend a night with him onboard.
The man shrugged. “Okay.”
“Okay.” Angelique edged towards the wheel, keeping as far from the stranger as she could. “So, if you weren’t shipwrecked, what are you doing out here?” she asked.
The man put his head back on the gunwale and looked up at the sky. “Curious little joey, aren’t you?”
(to be continued…)