Word Count 378
It was only a few nights a month that dreams came to hurt him.
Dreams of captivity, dreams of Justinian, dreams of losses without name that sliced him hard Sometimes he did not scream. Sometimes he did not hurt Horatio's good sleep when his own broke. He knew that for a victory. And he had learned some things that kept the dreams from catching him. The smell, the sound of Horatio was one of those. Another was not to dawdle. The shallows were no place to linger. The trick was to drop off brisk, and sleep with determined intent.
The Kings Navy helped with that. Archie was tired, body and mind, by days end.
But today he had dozed. He had been reading. They both had. The books from the hamper had made way all around the ship. The books passed from hand to hand, with little regard for rank. Everyone had wanted part of the bounty. Just this morning he had seen Oldroyd, sitting on a coil of rope, book clutched hard, reading with slow effort, his tongue in his teeth. Mrs Wool-whatever had meant the books to be improving. The picture of the goat had certainly had an effect on Horatio. Archie was, therefore, a little sore here and there. Worth it.
But now Archie's mouth was dry and sticky. His book had gone over the side of the hammock. He had heard it drop. He could feel the edge of Horatio's book resting on his face. It tickled when Horatio turned the page. It made a noise like surf breaking. Horatio's abdomen moved under his cheek, the wool of Horatio's best trousers pushed against Archie's nose. The wool prickled. It was Sunday. Best trousers. Make and mend. Nothing to do until later. No need to even open his eyes. He was warm where he was, snug beneath Horatio's blanket. Horatio's blanket was thick red wool. It had smelled of land for the longest time, now it smelled of Horatio's sleep. He would feel foolish saying it, even to Horatio, but Archie knew that that smell kept dreams away.
Horatio turned a page with a long tickling scrape.
“Hmm. What time is is it?”
“Four bells. S'raining. Go back to sleep.”