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  • kherezae


       (2 reviews)
      Genre: Pseudo Historical, Low Fantasy
      Word Count: 500 (approx)


    "She's seafaring," the captain promised before he brought the siblings on board. This in response to the skeptical expression Samael wore as his stare swept the ship from bow to stern.

    But beggars couldn't be choosers, and they could afford none of the other ships at anchor. Samael's uncertainty was soft and tremulous, but his fear for Tabitha was bright and sharp and his determination was as unyielding as granite.

    Now she feels his frustration and terror, amplified through the squeeze of his hand around hers, and nausea as the ship swells and rolls beneath them. But Samael's presence is swallowed by the feel of the ship buckling in the grip of the storm that rages. She is the ship, every straining board, the rigging whipping against the deck and the mast, even the crew — most of them hunkered down against the wind, but a few still fighting for control against the indifferent destructive force of the storm.

    Trying to hold it all together is a hundred times harder than trying to remain curled tightly around herself against the prying, pulling hands of the wardens who strapped her down for her treatments before Samael freed her. She could never do it. They were too strong. And the storm is beyond the strength of mere men.

    But she must, she must — alone, the ship would have been torn apart already, all thirty-three souls on board lost to the sea. Together they are stronger. Maybe they can accomplish together what Tabitha was too weak to do alone. She holds on. The wind howls and the water chops and crashes, stealing away the voices of the crew — drowning out Samael's broken murmuring of "Bitty, Bitty… Tabitha… It's okay" as his fingers tense in her hair — but Tabitha hears it all as if it is spoken in her own voice.

    Eventually the storm eases, and Tabitha leaks back into her body to find herself diminished. She fights for breath against a chest that is suddenly heavy. Her muscles are liquid, her skin at once cold and hot, and chills set her to shaking that aches in her bones. She slits her eyes toward Samael and tries his name, but her throat squeezes it into a moan.

    "Bitty," Samael murmurs, his dark eyes flicking over her face. "Where did you go?"

    She doesn't need to answer. She senses his understanding — a soft feeling under the pang of despair. I was the ship, she wants to say. We were strong. But that strength has gone.

    His fingers thread through her hair. "I wanted to keep you safe. I thought I could — I thought this was the way."

    Her eyes slip closed, but she fights for a smile. She manages a bare whisper. "S'okay." She may yet survive this; she's not sure. But if not, better to die free, having felt the strength to withstand a storm, than in captivity.

    Edited by kherezae

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       1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

    It's very well-written, but I was a bit confused over Tabitha's relationship to the ship. More than once, it's stated that she is the ship. Is this supposed to be some kind of metaphor, or does Tabitha have some magical link to the ship?

    Response from the author:

    In my head Tabitha has magic that makes her feel highly connected to things, to the point that when she was little it made it somewhat confusing that she had a body that was her own versus the things around her through which she could also experience life. (And she was actually using her magic to help hold the ship together, and drawing on the strength of the crew to do so.) The challenge I wrote this for had a 500 word cap, which made it tricky to get a feel for Tabitha across clearly... that sort of efficiency is something I can keep working on and trying to improve.

    Thank you for your thoughts! It's always helpful to see where I did well and where I still need work.

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       1 of 1 member found this review helpful 1 / 1 member

    Ugh, this is so gorgeous. I adore every word of it, and I'm SO curious to learn more about this world. Your writing style is lovely, and the IMAGERY. I have SUCH a love for ships and the sea in writing, and you captured this so perfectly. Also, I adore the names, and the nicknames. "Bitty" is such a cute nickname for the name Tabitha! ❤️ My only complaint is that I wish it was longer, haha, but as it is, it's short and sweet and leaves me wanting more. 

    Thank you so much for sharing! 

    Response from the author:

    Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. I wrote it for a flash fiction challenge with a max word limit that I got very close to, which is why it's so short! I ended up liking it the way it is, though. Thanks again!

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