I was on a ship.
And it wasn’t mine.
I was on a ship, stuck in a pond, forced to watch the sun dip behind the ocean, all while stuck on this ship that wasn’t mine, in a pond that was unfamiliar to me, in a land that I only knew from a dream long ago.
I was stuck on this ship.
In this pond.
Watching the sun set over the horizon. Promising stars and guidance on the other side of the skyline. Out there, in the wild of the ocean, I could sail. Guided by thousands of burning lights.
I was stuck.
On this ship that wasn’t mine.
In this infinitesimally small pond.
Int his land that was completely foreign to me.
No, this ship, and this pond, and this land… it definitely wasn’t mine.
It was his.
No one was really sure why I’d jumped in the lake that day.
And I wasn’t inclined to tell them either.
They can keep their wondering to themselves. I don’t owe them anything. Not on this ship, not on this pond, not on this land.
I don’t owe them a damned thing, these prison-keepers of mine. These purveyors of constructs that keep me leashed.
Instead of tell them—or, better yet, show them—I tuck the earring into my pocket. Save it for later.
I’ll need it later. I know I will.
What’re the odds that I won’t?
Very, very slim.
You see, when you spot an earring shining at the bottom of a murky lake, you have to make a proper assessment:
Are you imagining things?
Or, are you really seeing the earring?
If the answer is the former, then simply walk away. Lose all faith immediately. Don’t busy yourself with trying to catch the piece of jewelry. Just leave, it’s too dangerous to look further.
If the answer is the latter, then…
Dive right in. No hesitation. Ignore the fish and the gators and the birds sitting atop the water. Ignore all of it.
Because if you are really, truly seeing an earring at the bottom of a murky lake, then, odds are:
There’s something magical about that earring.
Wouldn’t you say?
And, more than likely, that magic earring has magical abilities. And, if you’re the one seeing it, then it quite obviously chose you.
Besides, I knew that earring. I’d seen it before.
It sat on my ear, in a dream that belonged further away than the one with the pond. The land I didn’t care for. With the ship that wasn’t mine. It was a different dream than all that, the dream where I wore the earring.
A much, much better dream.
So, knowing I’d seen that earring before, I dove in. Knowing it was from a dream—a vision, more likely—I didn’t hesitate.
I dove in.
Picked it up off the bottom of the lake.
Was taken to the principal’s office and scolded.
Then, I’d taken the earring to the bathroom and cleaned it off. Wiped it. Found that it was just as I’d thought it was.
A glittering rock, shaped like a jagged tooth. A red rock-like thing, tainted by lines of gold. Pointed at one end, and flat at the other. Like a spike for an ear gage, but, different.
Very, very different.
I knew this small spike. Knew exactly where it came from. What it was for.
What I needed to do with it.
I’d placed it in my pocket, all my veins buzzing as I went back to class. As I sat and listened to every tick of the clock, every sigh given by my classmates. I listened to my teacher drone on, and I listened to the scratching of pens and pencils against the strange surface of the tables.
Because I knew:
This would be the last time for me. The last time I’d sit in this class, listen to these strange sounds.
This was the last time.
Soon, I’d be gone.
After class, he approached me.
“Hey, you okay?” he asked.
I nodded at him. “Fine. Why?”
“Well, you jumped in the lake earlier—which was pretty strange—and you seem pretty distracted…”
“Am I usually focused?”
He laughed once, acknowledging how true my question rings. “No, but, I mean—you just… seem more distracted than normal.”
“I am,” I assured him, which made him laugh once more, but then I added, “it’s alright though. No worries.”
“You sure?” he asked.
I nodded at him, feeling very certain. Certain as the sun rising, or the mountains climbing. Sure as the ocean is wet, I nodded at him.
I’m very sure.
It’s bittersweet, to be asked such a thing. Especially by him, of all people. The proprietor of this pond, this ship. Captor of my horizon. The one who muddies the sky between me and the stars. He’s not a mean person, don’t get me wrong. I don’t think that at all. In fact, I rather like him.
The fact remains:
I am no buoy. I’m not meant to simply float, or lodge against the shore.
I’m meant to sail.
After we’re released, I head straight for it.
I stick the earring in my ear, and I can feel the way it stretches my skin. The way it pulls at something inside me. Pulls at the tear.
When the sun sets, I’m not disappointed. As the sky darkens from purple to black, I can barely catch sight of it. Riding the whispers of the sunset, heading toward the shore.
It’s really here.
It came for me.
Without hesitating, I dive again. Over and over again, I don’t wait. I dive. Swimming out to my ship, unafraid to pursue a path laid out by stars. Set beneath the dark sky, settled above rough waters and stormy seas.
It’s not as safe as the pond. As that other ship. Not as safe as these tideless shores.
This life—a pirate’s life, maybe…
This is the one for me.