Characters in Part Seven:
Sue Sylvester = Susan Simpson
Will Schuester = Walter Simpson
Matt Rutherford = Mathias Rewen
Noah Puckerman = Nathaniel Packard
Carl Howell = Charles Hatten
The moment Susan was free of the quarter gallery, she made a beeline for the bow of the ship, climbing the staircase to the upper deck and leaning against the railing, looking out towards the sea as the wind tugged at her clothes. She'd always felt better when breathing the salt air of the ocean, despite the fact that she'd never left New York before, not even for so much as a fishing trip. Her father had always thought it more important for her to focus on her schooling rather than travel, and 'schooling' consisted mainly of an education in the arts. And while she could appreciate a piece of piano music (provided she could sit still long enough to listen to it), Susan failed to see what use piano-playing would be beyond entertaining guests, which she was planning on doing as rarely as possible in the future.
"You're looking in the wrong direction."
She turned around. "What?"
Mathias grinned, leaning on the railing next to her. "You're looking east – we're going south."
She rolled her eyes. "I know that, imbecile. But south of us, the only thing I see is a church."
"What are you grinning at?"
"I like your hat."
"I don't. It stinks." Susan looked back out towards the sea. "Have you ever been outside New York?"
Susan frowned. "And you're going back?"
Susan was about to press him for details when a shout rung out from the lower deck, "All hands on deck! Set to cast off! All hands on deck!" and Mathias straightened up. "I guess that'd be me," he said, saluting her with two fingers before hopping back down the stairs.
Susan watched from the upper deck as the sailors scurried about the boat. Mathias nimbly scaled the riggings to let down the sails with some of the other men.
"All hands on deck!" Captain Packard shouted again, taking a stand behind the wheelsman.
The ramps were taken back and ropes were unfastened, allowing the Constance to drift a few feet away from the dock. High above, there was a ruffling sound as the sails on all three masts began to unfurl, their white expanses drifting downwards and then snapping taut as they caught the wind.
"Cast off that line!" she heard the captain yell. "Hoist the anchor!"
Susan leaned against the rail, craning her neck to look down towards the stern of the ship, where she could see the anchor slowly rising out of the water, clanking against the hull. If she shielded her eyes against the sun, she could make out Mathias' shape on the uppermost boom, climbing back towards the deck.
"Ready to set sail, Miss Simpson?"
She looked over her shoulder, barely managing to conceal a grimace. "Can I help you?"
Mr. Hatten tipped his hat. "Just saying hello. Lovely weather, isn't it?"
"Yes, it is lovely," she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. "But a gentleman like you surely has matters he needs to attend to."
"Not at the moment," he said with a smile. "No, currently, my most important task is enjoying the fresh air."
"Do you mind if I join you?"
If Susan had been born with her father's instinctive manners, she would've said no. Instead, she had no hesitation in saying, "Yes, I do mind."
His smile faded in surprise. "Oh. I see. Well, you don't beat around the bush. Very well, I'll leave you to it."
Susan rolled her eyes and leaned back against the railing as he left, watching as the gap between the ship and the dock grew steadily wider and wider until, finally, the dock was behind them and the boat was cutting through the water, heading out of the harbor under full sail. The wind whipped at her clothes and pulled strands of her hair loose, and the salt spray from the sea stung the inside of her nose.
"What did you say to Mr. Hatten?" demanded her father as he climbed the steps onto the upper deck.
"Why do people keep coming up from behind me?" Susan asked, exasperated. "Honestly, I think this might be becoming a trend!"
Walter's brows shot up. "People are sneaking up on you?"
"I never said 'sneaking'."
"Fair enough. What did you say to Mr. Hatten?" he repeated.
"Susan…" Walter warned.
"What? He asked if he could impinge upon my personal space, I said no. Simple as that."
Walter quirked an eyebrow. "'Impinge upon your personal space'?" he echoed. "Susan, your exaggerations are beginning to get out of hand."
"I wasn't exaggerating!"
"Your vocabulary always stretches when you do," was Walter's simple observation. "What exactly did you say?"
Susan groaned. "Why does it matter?"
"It matters," Walter said patiently, resting his hands in his coat pockets, "because how you behave is a reflection on me."
"Oh. Well, it's nice to know you care."
Her father pinched the bridge of his nose. "Susan, you know very well that's not what I meant."
"I don't see how you could have meant anything else."
"Come on, now. Why can't you at least try to behave properly?"
"Because it's boring, Pa," Susan drawled. "It's just very, very boring."
Walter sighed, frustrated. "Look, Susan… is it so wrong for me to wish that my daughter could make a good impression on people?"
Susan pursed her lips. "I just don't like him, Pa."
"Mr. Hatten," she clarified. "I don't like him."
"And that's your reason for speaking impertinently to him?" Walter asked.
Susan shrugged. "He just rubs me the wrong way, is all."
Walter shook his head. "Susan, you rub people the wrong way. And I'm starting to wonder if you do it for the sole purpose of antagonizing me."
"No, but that part is fun."
Walter sighed and pinched his nose again. "Fine," he snapped. "I'm going to go get set up in our quarters. Feel free to climb to the crow's nest and wrestle with the men." Securing his hat onto his head, he turned and went back down to the lower deck.
Susan huffed and refrained from retorting that she didn't wrestle. After all, so what if she was a little brazen? She couldn't see herself being prim and proper like the other girls of her age and wealth. Frustrated, she pulled out the ribbon holding her hat to her head and yanked it off as the wind grabbed at her knotted hair. "To hell with prim and proper," she said.
And then, without hesitation, she flung the hat out into the air. It caught a downdraft and spiraled into the waves, disappearing into the wake of the ship as they left the New York harbor behind.