While On a Sinking Ship

The deck lurched, with the promise of more lurching, and my sailor’s legs told me I was on a sinking ship. Not today, and maybe not even this year, but she felt low in the water, a little lower each month. And by the time the waves began lapping up over the sides, it would be a perilously late escape.

Some might blame the captain, or the crew, or the changeable nature of the sea and sky, and many did exactly that — debating and pontificating by the lantern light below deck. I stayed away from such talk; blame solved nothing. But the problem remained: I was on a sinking ship.

I was a strong swimmer, and there were other ships, surely, nearby. But the ship I was on was comfortable. The captain didn’t work the crew too hard, there was good rum every Friday, and the wage was decent for the effort. I had even earned a measure of respect from the officers during my time in service. To toss those things aside and to plunge head-first into the cold, deep waters, to swim for my life as if I were a young man, and to haul myself up onto a new deck, learning the ropes all over again… It was daunting compared to the thought of biding my time, waiting until the risk of staying got worse than the risk of jumping overboard.

What to do, I wondered, staring into the foam-capped waves.

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