Lantu and Reesa were polar opposites.  Reesa was cluttered with factories and people.  Lantu was a fishing island.  There were no linoleum floors, no glass mugs, no gas-powered ovens.  The people in this forsaken country all but lived in huts.  There were two ways to survive- fishing, or being rich and retiring on this island for peace and quiet.  Jacob fell into neither of these categories, but he did know someone who was in the latter.  Jacob picked the boat to Lantu when he decided to run away from home and his arranged marriage with the hope that an uncle would take him in.  Granted, it was the uncle he was instructed to pretend he didn’t have, his father’s brother, the drunk, money-squandering uncle.  At the time he had run away, it seemed like the perfect plan.  His father wouldn’t look for him here, if he bothered to look at all.  He could start a new life, forget his parents, siblings… stepmother.  What he was not banking on was that his uncle would decide to kick him out after two years.  After two long years of picking the drunken old man off the floor and running his disorganized household.  Now, captured and helpless in the pathetic, fish-smelling capital, Jacob didn’t know where to go next.

A foghorn cut across the ocean.  Jacob leaned on the rotting wood fence and stared out over the fog.  From this spot on the hill along one of the lesser travelled dirt paths on the island, he felt like he could see the world.  Over the last two years, Jacob grew and matured much more than he could have under his father’s gentle babying and his stepmother’s whining.  The first few weeks he woke up with the salty taste of the ocean on his lips, he thought he was in paradise, but after so many months, he learned to despise the ocean and salt.  There was nothing he despised more than fish, whose slimy texture and obscure flavor had come to make him gag any time someone asked him to try some.  He excused it as an allergy, always.  The Lantun were a strange breed of people.  They ate the same thing three meals a day, wore dismal colors, and slept on hay mats.  The island was so overly simple that Jacob’s mind – trained in a world of complexities – could not understand it.  And yet, in such an uncomplicated place, Jacob felt completely lost.

He sighed and let the fog of his breath mingle with the morning fog over the ocean.  It tumbled down the rocky cliff-side and floated away on the waves.  Maybe the time had come to return home and pray that he was not welcomed with harshness.

“She’s beautiful, isn’t she?”

Jacob alerted immediately and looked in the direction of the voice.  He had not even heard anyone approach.  On his left, he found a tall dark-haired woman molded in the common Lantun fashion.  She tucked a curly strand of hair behind her ear and looked over her shoulder at him, a smile on her lips that played over her tan cheeks and into her brown eyes.  “The ship, I mean.”

“Ah,” Jacob muttered stupidly and stared down at the water.  Sure enough, sailing in was a grand wooden ship that Jacob recognized from the ports at home.  Only the Kyrii vessels had so many colors on their flag.

“She sets sail tomorrow,” the woman continued, confirming his suspicions.  The Kyrii rarely stayed in port longer than one night.  The nation was renowned for being all-business, which explained why their capital and larger cities were so advanced.  When he was young, Jacob had the good fortune to see Central City.  The woman’s eyes gleamed as she returned her gaze to the ship.

Like the silt on the ocean floor, Jacob mused, like all the Lantun.

“She’s called the KNV Odessa,” Jacob told her, looking at the old ship.  He could give the girl a whole history if she wanted.  The Odessa was one of the oldest still active Kyrii ships and had been in to his father’s docks many times.  She was old, rickety.  Honestly, Jacob was surprised she hadn’t been retired yet.  It was not a prestigious ship by any means, but the woman seemed so excited, Jacob didn’t feel right to tell her and break her heart.  It was much more impressive than the fishing craft that was usually the only traffic in and out of the Lantu ports- no wonder she was so impressed.

The young woman looked over the sea.  “You’re a sailor on her- I knew it, just as soon as I saw you,” she announced, and Jacob didn’t bother to correct her.  “Can I tell you a secret?” she asked, turning back to him with wide eyes.  Jacob nodded and shrugged.  He had a feeling he was going to hear the secret one way or another.

“I’ve never sailed on a large ship before.  I was in accounting with the Lantun Maritime Trading Service.  Honest.  But Mister Wrightfurt hired me for trade negotiations… and I just got promoted.  If I get the job with the Kyrii officers, well then, Odessa will be my very first ship.” She kicked at the dirt road with her bare feet.

Jacob dared a half smile.  She was bold, bolder than most the calm and quiet Lantun on the humble island.  And her excitement reminded him of Winnifred.  He missed his half-sister, who he hadn’t seen in two years.  “Nervous?” he asked.

“Terrified,” the young woman admitted.

He let his smile grow.  The young woman smiled back, blushed a little, and turned back to the ocean.  Jacob watched her for a moment, eyes tracing the tanned lines of her body.  Slowly, he turned his gaze back the ocean and the tired ship.

“I have to go pack,” the woman chimed, and Jacob turned immediately to her.  “Will I see you aboard?”

“Sure,” Jacob said, before he could think.  The woman beamed and nodded her head in the traditional gesture of goodbye.  Jacob did the same and watched her disappear down the path before setting his eyes on the horizon.

Maybe his future didn’t lie back in Reesa after all.

.

Word: Foghorn.  ||  Time: 15 minutes.  ||  Character: Jacob leBrenne.

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something to think about

"You know, I don't know if you'll understand this or not, but sometimes, even when I'm feeling very low, I'll see some little thing that will somehow renew my faith. Something like that leaf, for instance - clinging to its tree despite wind and storm. You know, that makes me think that courage and tenacity are about the greatest values a man can have. Suddenly my old confidence is back and I know things aren't half as bad as I make them out to be. Suddenly I know that with the strength of his convictions a man can move mountains, and I can proceed with full confidence in the basic goodness of my fellow man. I know that now. I know it." ~ End of Act I in the musical You're a Good Man, Charlie Brown.

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