14) Back in the Day

Being on duty in the crow's nest has always, always been the worst job. If you think the ship rocks, then think about how it must be in a tiny basket suspended miles in the air on a pole attached to the deck. It doesn't feel safe at all. You rock side to side to side to side, holding on for dear life. Yeah, people think that it's a day of slacking off in the nest, but they're wrong. I looked around, bored; it was the middle of the night, and there was a single boat drifting languidly through the water, it's dim lights clear over the ocean; whereas ours were concealed.

Another night, another victim – when I'd first joined the crew, I'd painstakingly worried about every single man who came on board, and every single man who died. But, five years down the line... I couldn't be bothered to care any more. Things just start washing over you, you know? If it happens every single day for years and years, who can be bothered to care any more?

I'm not saying my spirit dampened. In fact, I remained every bit as insane as when you first set eyes on me (actually, you never did get around to do that, did you?) – perhaps even more. But that's why people love me... uh, sort of. Or hate me. (Maccus, I'm looking at you again.)

While I was up there, there was a lot of time to think. Which some would say was never a good thing, as it would strain the little brain cells that I have – but I ignore those people, and you should too. I'm not thick. Not that thick, anyway. So I was never good at maths and I was never in top sets for stuff, not a straight-A student – not even a straight-B student. But I didn't like being made to feel stupid... so I bluffed that I knew more then I did... rather a lot.

Sometimes, it ended in disaster.

I didn't even... like my friends that much (going off on a tangent here, but still). I mean, we were friends, we hung out, but we weren't... friends. I couldn't be myself with them; if I said the weird thoughts that popped into my head, they'd probably look at me as if I were mad, and then smoothly move the conversation onwards. You know those people, right? With no sense of humour. But I hung out with them the reason they all hung out with each other – I, generally, am good with people and can get where I want with them, and I thought the best thing for me was to get in with the 'it' crowd.

But it so was not. Which is why I feel so close to the Flying Dutchman crew... years of repressed insanity comes out, and I still manage to make a few friends. It's good. If you have a good bunch of friends, make sure to keep them. They're good things to have.

I'll be keeping mine.

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So it was... year ten? I don't know what you people in America would call it, I'm sorry. You people have grades and whatnot. Aaanyway. About year ten, which is the fourteen to fifteen-year-olds year. And me and my friends were swanning around the field, as usual. Jade was texting her college boyfriend, Milly was flicking through a magazine, and me and Daniella were chatting about... well, most probably our college boyfriends.

College boyfriends were in.

Mind you, they weren't always faithful. We dumped our bags in a pile, and fell back on the grass around it, adjusting our small skirts and talking. Now, I know I'm not exactly intelligent... but my friends make me look like a brain surgeon. Honestly.

"Ugh! And I so hate Jemma now! How fat is she, anyway?" Milly tossed her hair.

"I don't know... like, a hundred grams at least," Daniella pulled out a compact mirror and smoothed some foundation over her cheeks, pouting at herself. And no, you did not read that wrong. That is what she said.

"How much is that in like centimetres?" Asked Jade... the dimmest of them all. So, of course, the leader. Her most famous quotes to date include; 'stop being gay, you gay!' and 'if someone chopped your head off, would you die?' Yup. Brain surgeon and rocket scientist rolled into one.

"I don't know..." Daniella said uncertainly, seeing as Jade's question made no sense whatsoever, "I bet it's loads though! Ugh."

"She's fat though, isn't she? Don't you think, Bibs?" Milly nudged me in the side. I also had a compact mirror out, and was tweaking my eyelashes into position with my mascara wand. I looked to her – now, bitching wasn't something I enjoyed in particular, but you had to do it.

"Oh, yeah. I'd be scared if I were her boyfriend. What does Eric see in her anyway? She'll smother him." I went back to mascara-ing, relieved to escape from the bitchy conversation before I got tagged as the 'main bitcher' and it got around that I was the one saying all of these things. When asked who had started a rumour, every single one of these girls would blame one of their friends.

"Did you see the Nicole Richie show?!"

"Oh my god, yeah, I mean who knew the celebrity weddings never lasted?"

"Ooh, who's going clubbing tomorrow?"

"My dad is suuuch a loser... he's always on at me to eat breakfast!"

Every. Single. Lunchtime.

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Why, oh why, did Palafico know the answer to every single question ever known to mankind? It was a good thing when I actually wanted to know these things, but otherwise it got on my nerves, ever so slightly. I guess it wasn't his fault that his head is like a mine of useless, random and inane information, but you could ask him next to everything and he'd pause for a second and then 'have a shot' at answering, and of course, get it exactly correct.

So I started the official 'What-Palafico-Doesn't-Know' collection.

"Why's the sky blue?" "Can lobsters swim?" "When you die, do you meet your parents again?" "What if you die before your parents do?" "Who is George Bush?" "Do you know why I'm asking you so many annoying questions?" "What's your middle name?" (okay, that's more like one he wouldn't tell me) "What is Santa Claus' secret identity?" "What do they say about men with big feet?" "How about short men?" (Hmm, another two that he preferred to not answer)

"Who lives in a pineapple under the sea?" I demanded to him, one day. These questions came without warning... he said to me once it was like I stalked him, and jumped on him when he was least expecting it.

"I couldn't rightly say," He said to me with a shrug.

"Say it!" I said to him with a grin, "Say you don't know!"

"Do you know?" He asked me.

"Of course," I smiled, "So say it. You don't know, do you?"

"No, I don't know," He said, frowning at me. He was completely oblivious to my secret joy whenever he said that he didn't know something... which ruined the game a bit, but still. Palafico is nice, and very smart, but can be a teeny bit dim when concerning people.

Point!

"And how many stars are there in the sky?" I asked him, looking upwards.

"Do you know the answer to that?" He asked back.

"Nope." I replied.

"In that case... seventeen million."

"That's not true!"

"Prove it." Aargh! Even my best friend owned me!

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"Get on with scrubbin'," Jimmy said to me harshly, barging past me on his way to... wherever he went.

"Hi Jimmy! I'm good thanks, Jimmy! Love you too, Jimmy!" I said sweetly, blowing a kiss at his retreating back. He snapped his whip loudly in the air, causing a hush in conversation, which cautiously started again. I think it was a message for me.

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"Friendship is weird," Clanker muttered to me. I followed his gaze, and saw Maccus, Koleniko, Jimmy and a couple of others sitting around, talking idly, not a smile to be seen. 'Friends'. And then I looked over across the decking, to where Davy Jones stood, puffing sagely on a pipe in the half-darkness, back straight, with Palafico standing at his shoulder, looking dangerous and ever so slightly disinterested, as was his job. 'Friends'?

"Friendship is like peeing on yourself," I said in my wisest voice, "Everyone can see it, but only you feel the warmth that it brings."

"...thanks for that," Clanker replied.


NB: Pfft... first update since never, and it's a fairly uninspired one at that. I'm sorry guys. D: Hopefully, the next chapter will be better. If you have any ideas to get the ball rolling, be my guest to suggest. It rhymes. w00t. I'm not exactly a born poet, am I?