Lashings at Sea by Sherrie Lee

As I descended the stairs the putrid smell of sick mixed with urine filled my nostrils—I gagged.

Just as I reached timber bottom, the floor sharply tilted throwing my centre of gravity off balance. A sharp pain struck my back as the edge of the steps made contact with my spine. I felt the warm sensation of blood as some of my wounds reopened—quickly I was reminded of the strips of flesh that was removed from me only hours before.

A wave of water came crashing down through the opening. Drenched with a fresh dose of sea water, it had a cooling effect on the wet linen stuck to my flesh. The stinging sensation from the salt felt exhilarating—knowing that it holds medicinal properties which will aide my recovery and reduce the risk of infection.

The storm suddenly hit with the full force only mighty Titan could dish out. Everyone, except the crew, were ushered into the bowels of the ship, after bearing witness to the brutal lashings I had endured for a crime I did not commit. I was left hanging on the yard arm, shackled by the wrists, barely conscious until waves crashed over me. I had hung there for what seemed like hours. Eventually I was released from my bonds and ordered to return with the others.

I wanted to be on deck again. I would rather be at the mercy of the sea than contend with the smell and sight which confronted me. The urine buckets were upended and rolling around the floor. Fellow convicts were bent over heaving up their evening meal, unable to hold down the only sustenance they received for the day. Some were crying. Silent in their terror a small group cuddled up together.

Staggering around like I had consumed a gallon of rum, I eventually found my cot. The straw mattress looked enticing—when only last night it was a cause of great discomfort. I fell onto its lice infested surface. It felt good!

The storm still raged outside, throwing the ship and its human cargo in every direction. With my dead wait from exhaustion, I managed to remain still. The pain eased sufficiently for me to relax and fall into a deep slumber—oblivious to the chaos that surrounded me.

Sherrie Lee

2009 ©

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