Charlotte stared numbly over the open waters.
She was smaller for her age, shorter than her twin Elizabeth with a tendency to 'catch cold' anytime something required her to meet new people. Lately, her father had been catching on to this trick and she'd been looking for something new.
Traveling to the new world was hitting her quite hard.
It didn't help that Elizabeth talked so much about what they would find there. When Charlotte read them both to sleep, Elizabeth asked for the stories about monsters and thieves and called it adventure. Charlotte could barely stand the introductions to the few officers her father had thought worthy of meeting them: if she met a pirate, she was prepared to faint.
She'd been practicing the fainting ever since her father had announced the voyage. Her father had yet to discover it but Lieutenant Norrington had caught her once when she'd thought she was hidden in the shadows below deck. He had been very kind about it.
She now hurried away whenever she saw him coming.
Monsters and pirates aside, Charlotte felt she wouldn't mind life on a ship. She enjoyed watching the waves crashing against each other and the ship. Everyone had a job to do and left her alone. She didn't even mind Mr. Gibbs muttering about bad omens: so far, she had yet to experience anything interesting much less...
Charlotte's little face began to frown.
Somewhere her sister was singing, she realized. And that was it. That was all Charlotte could pick out.
Slowly a fog was coming in, slowly her sister and the ship were all she could see.
Charlotte picked her way across the ship like she was dancing, following the pattern of the rolling sea and stepping around the sailors she refused to look up at. Elizabeth had stopped singing but hearing the quiet tones between her, father, and the lieutenant made Charlotte feel far, far away. It was likely about pirates, Charlotte thought, suddenly more exasperated then wary.
"Look!" Charlotte jumped as her sister yelled. "A boy! In the water!"
Charlotte stayed right where she was, watching the rush to fetch the boy out of the water. Her eyes slowly went to the fog that surrounded them. It seemed to cling close to the ship, separating it from warmth and home and anything that had made her happy out here. It didn't make sense that any normal boy could have broken through that barrier somehow.
She began to rethink everything Mr. Gibbs had told her about luck.
There were yells and suddenly they were dragging the boy toward her.
Charlotte ducked back, skirt brushing the deck as her body instinctively made itself smaller. The ocean was safe. The waves were safe.
She walked to the rail and looked out.
Elizabeth and the books were right.
There were monsters out here.
Charlotte held her breath as she leaned over the rail, any hint of numbness dead and gone. She gripped tighter, not sure what the empty ringing in her ears was as she saw the fire and the ragged flag.
And the bodies.
The boy had not been the only person hidden in the fog.
Charlotte leaned further and further, trying to find a sign of something, anything, she wasn't sure what she'd even been looking for. The rail was too tall, it was blocking her view.
'What if someone is under the ship? What if we miss them?'
She leaned further forward. She realized she was feeling very, very dizzy.
The little girl wanted to turn and assure her father she was alright but it seemed more important to wonder why the water was growing closer. And what was this blackness around her vision? Annoyingly, she didn't have much time to figure this out: a second later, she was already being dragged back by an arm around her waist. She was yanked backward roughly and then she found herself lying on the deck, her head cushioned against the impact by the lieutenant 's shoulder.
A moment later, she was in her father's arms instead and the lieutenant was wincing and rubbing a shoulder.
So that was what fainting really felt like.
At least she had a good reference now.