Sorry it’s been so long since I have posted anything! Hope you all don’t mind, but I’d like some feedback on a new story I’m working on. A few questions:
- Do you like it so far?
- Would you keep reading?
- What do you think/ would you like to happen next?
- Title suggestions?
I had wanted to run away for the longest of times.
I’d planned it in my head. What I wanted to take. What I wanted to leave behind. How I would escape. But every time my mind would remind me of a million reasons to stay. This went on for many years until finally I found myself on a road.
It was an ordinary road. A road I’d been on many times before. A road that led in many directions. But this time the road seemed very different. No longer was this just an ordinary road. This wasn’t just the road that had led me to school and work anymore. It was different because it now held my future.
This was the road that held my destiny in its hands.
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I was scared and excited at the same time. I was juggling feelings like a drunken acrobat. Every step I took forward, I wanted to turn back. It was dark, but my way was lit by a bright, full moon, and the stars twinkled in the sky. There was no turning back now. I felt like an actor on the stage, the stars looking on like an expectant audience. What would I do? What would I see? Where would I go?
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For many nights I’d had the same dream: I was milk in a churn, slowly being turned into cheese. Around the churn I could hear voices – hungry voices – all eagerly discussing how they’d eat me! I didn’t run away because of the dream, but now, as I walked further and further away from my past and who I used to be, the dream was making more sense.
“Hello!” said a voice from within the darkness. “Where are you headed this late at night?”
I couldn’t see where the voice had come from, it could have been in my head for all I knew, so I ignored it and kept walking.
“Suit yourself!” the voice said. “Have a pleasant journey. I hope you find what you’re looking for!”
I still couldn’t see anybody, even though it was a bright night, so I decided it must be my mind playing tricks on me. That happens sometimes when you venture off into unchartered territory: your mind tells you things and speaks to you.
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Eventually I reached the coast. The port was awash with strange and unusual characters. Great, big ships bobbed up and down in the dock. Strange noises and smells filled the air. What adventures lay before me?
Finally it felt like I had truly run away!
“Where you headed, son?” an old voice called out.
Startled, I looked up. There was the face of a man who looked like he’d travelled the world over. His face was like a wrinkled treasure map, every contour telling a story, and there at the centre, two sparkling eyes that were still open to innocence and joy.
“I don’t know,” I stuttered, half in shock. I’d left so soon, and after all the years of thinking and planning, I’d simply left. I hadn’t taken my bag, written a note, nothing, I’d just started walking. And now here I was. Alone, possessionless, penniless, and totally unprepared for what lay ahead.
“You don’t know?” boomed the knowing, happy voice. “That’s a great place to start a journey!”
The skipper’s eyes twinkled like the stars in the sky, and his smile was like the full moon. I didn’t know what to say, so I said nothing.
“You look hungry,” the walnut-faced captain said. “Would you like to join me for supper? It’s good luck to offer food to a stranger. Will you join me?”
I hadn’t thought about food in many hours, but now it had been mentioned I realised I was very, very hungry. I nodded eagerly. Everything was so strange, so different to how I had imagined it to be. I merely went with the flow, as if it was all just some strange dream.
At the inn, the skipper had ordered two tankards of ale and a banquet of food. The pub was noisy and full of boisterous patrons, but their voices sounded like ocean waves as the ship’s captain murmured on about his life and the adventures he’d had.
“Everyone said I was a fool to go to sea!” he said, swilling his ale. “My parents wanted me to be something quite different, they had other plans for me. But I sought adventure, and my heart was set on travel and the sea!”
He smiled like he knew what was on my mind. I thought of my parents back home and what they might be thinking. I didn’t leave a note. Would they understand why I had left? Would they be worried? Would they even notice? Would they care?
“So, I stowed away on a big ship, so I did,” the skipper continued. “It was days before they found me, but I got hungry, see, and they caught me stealing some food from the galley!
“They should have thrown me overboard… left me to the justice of the sea, so they should. But they didn’t. Terrified, I was! No older than you are now, was I. Trembling in my boots.”
As if he noticed me not eating, he shoved the plate of food closer to me, and continued to talk.
“So, there I was, a wee slip of a lad, trembling before all these sea-faring men. And the captain looks down at me and he says, “On shore you would have been put to death for stealing! At sea the laws are different. There are no Kings and Queens of the oceans, only Nature has rule at sea! As captain, I am the judge and I am the jury, and your fate lies in my hands.”
“It took all the strength I had not to pee myself, so it did. There before me was a man more terrifying than my father and the priest in the pulpit. A man who now had sway over my very existence!”
The skipper paused. I could tell this was an important story, a story he’d told many times before, but hadn’t told for many, many years, as he sat there pondering and remembering. He took another swig of ale and continued.
“I see a lot of me back then in you, young lad! Eat up!”
I tucked into the wonderful food, and sipped gingerly on my tankard of ale, but the skipper remained silent.
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When I awoke, the pub was silent and dark. The skipper was gone, and all that remained was a dull aching thud in my head. I wasn’t used to drinking ale. As my surroundings came back into focus, I thought on the folly of my adventure.
‘This is ridiculous! Why on Earth am I running away? What am I trying to achieve?’
I thought back to the skipper and his story. I wasn’t sure if he’d finished it – perhaps I’d fallen asleep! I hoped I’d thanked him for the food and his generosity, but I understood why he’d done it at least. Sometimes it’s good to pay things forward, do something for others with no thought of return.
My head was ringing like a church tower.
“Good morning!” said a strange, new voice behind me. It was the barmaid. She beamed a sunshine smile at me too warm and happy for that time of the morning, and handed me a neatly folded note. “He left this for you.”
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