I took a day off yesterday. Like, a total, complete day off. The "kids and I had popcorn, potato chips and birthday cake for dinner" level of day off. It was an awesome day off :D
Friday was still a school day, so the kids didn't get a full day off, but they did get an evening off from having to think / do homework / do chores as we all watched movies and indulged in junk food. (As an aside, my youngest is now six and I don't have any little kids in my house anymore; two big kids snuggle on the couch with mom just as wonderfully as two little ones used to.)
And what do my regular daily activities look like? All the usual and expected cleaning and kid care, some random extra deep cleans on rooms that need it, doing some baking, and sitting down for writing time. Busy hands at manual labor tasks these past couple of weeks meant a lot of free time for my imagination. Not fighting constant anxiety meant the free time was coupled with lots of space for my imagination to run around in. Free time and empty space is a combination my imagination loves.
Now to go and attempt starting on that quiet weekend so I'm ready to have a good day as planned on Monday.... Or should I just start taking bets now that writing time infringes into Sunday and my Monday plans are already officially shot because all these new scenes and ideas need to be written out as soon as possible to make room for more...? *sigh* You're probably right. I'll open for bets lol. Hope you're staying safe and well this weekend!
13. The Gem
Tam set the pot aside and hugged her brother. Justin dried his bowl and the pot, stacking them together to ready them for packing. It gave him something else to do rather than staring at the siblings and wondering about what his own brother was doing today. Probably winter exams… the thought Justin was trying to avoid crossed his mind anyway.
James was in his final year of university, so he was probably in the midst of his winter exams prior to the break for Second Moon Nadir. Justin was meant to be on his return home right now to spend a few months overseeing the family business, but from the office rather than from the ship he’d been on. Once James finished his schooling and took over everything local to their home country, Justin would only have to manage the parts requiring travel or government. That was the plan, anyway.
Tor was studying him when Justin shook his brain free of its pondering and took the bowls that Tor and Tam passed him to pack away. Justin could almost hear the silent questions written on the scout’s face, and he wasn’t interested in answering any of them.
“Tell me about ships,” Tor requested instead of any of the other things he wanted to ask.
“I’ve told you plenty of times,” Tam answered before Justin could say anything.
“Yes, but when you tell me all I can picture is a washing tub with a flag on a broom handle in the middle of it,” he said, shaking out his blanket. “I want to hear from someone who knows what they’re talking about.”
Justin laughed as Tam glared at her brother and Tor completely ignored her. They were back to their usual habits and behaviors, the moment of sincerity passed.
“What do you want to know?” Justin replied with a question while Tor wrapped up as if he was going to sleep.
“What they really look like, for a start,” Tor replied quickly. Justin shrugged and answered with a description as he knew ships to be, from his perspective of designing, building, and maintaining them, and feeling that he’d completely failed at it when Tor only looked more confused.
“The ship I normally work on is three draughtsides long at the water line,” Justin started again, reaching for the pile of leftover materials from making the snowshoes. “It has three masts, each a single pole assembled from three trees, and each tree twice the height of this one,” he nodded to the branches overhead. He described the shape of the hull, working quickly with the sticks, cord, and leaves to make a tiny, simplified version of the Gem. He trimmed thin branches to a length that matched the scale of the little hull and built masts, adding spars and sails made from twigs and leaves as he described the colors of the sailcloth. “Eighty-six crew members live on board when we’re out of dock. And four small dogs to kill the rats,” he finished, holding up the toy.
Tor took the little model and stared at it with wonder. “It must be one of the biggest ships in the ocean,” Tor replied.
Justin laughed as he shook his head to the negative. “There are plenty of four- and five-mast ships that have double its displacement,” Justin answered, nodding at the little boat he’d just built. “Their masts tower over this one, and you’d need a ladder to climb from my ship’s highest deck to the other’s lowest. This one, though, is one of the fastest.”
“Does every ship have the same color sails? Are they all blue and white?” Tor lay back with his free hand behind his head, holding up the small ship and turning it side to side.
“No,” Tam answered, a small smile lifting one corner of her lips.
“They’re every color you can think of,” Justin elaborated. “Usually the color or colors mark what the ship is for. Most are just white, marking them as independent merchants. Companies with more than one ship often either have their own colors or a company crest. Each country’s navy has its own color, which is usually illegal to be used by anyone else in their part of the wet.”
“How big is the ocean?” Tor asked quietly.
“There are nine in the known world, each distinct because of the currents,” Justin said. “But for planning direct routes between main ports, expecting good weather, it’s generally four weeks from Opat to Tenet Mik, three weeks from Tenet Mik to Korball, two weeks from Korball to Leshnat, and two and a half weeks from Leshnat to Opat. The Islands are almost perfectly in the center of all of them.”
“Is it true that there are places where you can’t see land at all?” Tam asked.
“From the middles of most of the oceans, yes. And if you sail straight north from the Islands, you can voyage for five weeks and see nothing but water and sky before the ship will scuttle on the reefs.”
“Is there anything after the reefs?” Tor asked.
Justin buried his own experiences on the secreted tenth ocean deeply in his memories, hiding any unconscious body language behind a shrug. “Nobody knows,” he answered instead. “The reefs stretch as far as can be seen from the crow’s nest and are unbroken from Opat’s shore to Tenet Mik’s.”
“A mystery.” Tor smiled at the toy ship. He set it aside carefully before taking out and setting up his little chime clock, then pulled Tam into the blanket they now had to share. “We’ll get up before dawn. That’ll give us early light to get to the mine, and a full day to make sure we’re well past it before we need to camp again.”
A weekly blog updating on Fridays with quick personal blurbs about me, as in what's going on during my life as an Author and mom, and that doles out my short stories and novellas in bite-sized parts for everyone to read for free!