Title: Brave, in that New World
Word Count 390
Brave in that New World
Higher and higher, the dazzle on his nearly closed eyes. His hands did not hesitate. He could feel his lungs deep and clear, drawing the clean day all the way down. Now, leaning back, taking his weight on his arms, pushing down with his feet. The world around him, and above, an overturned bowl, blue and blue, and white . His arms pushed, and he was up and over. Here was the scrape on his soft belly skin as he passed the futtock shrouds.
There was a midshipman, sitting half in shadow. He looked up at William, open mouthed, snuffling with adenoidal curiosity.
“Shove off,” William said.
The boy did not question. He gave a brief reflexive smile, and a salute that he was certainly unaware of. Then he he descended away down, easy himself, rapid as an ape.
Alone, William pulled his knees up under his chin. He rested his chin on the declivity formed by the edge of his right kneecap.
On Renown he had tried to take up as much room as he could. Space, once ceded was never regained. He had learned to swagger, to extend his legs. He had only curled up at night, curled around unease, then sorrow, then horror. He knew others did the same. He wept, when he had to do so, in silence. It was a contemptible need of the body. He dealt with it briskly, as he did other needs. Doing so in silence was a Naval skill, like knowing signals or standing rigging.
But here, now, there was nobody near. The Indy was running with the wind. On his face, therefore, he only felt the frisking breeze she created herself. There were no human sounds at all, so high. Just the slap and creak of a healthy ship working. Not the sound of what could not be said. Not the sound of cannon-balls rolling in the night. Slap and creak, and quiet order below. And that was like the sounds of heart, of breath and gut. When all was well they did not signify.
He wiped his face on his sleeve. All was well on Indefatigable. A man would have to be far stupider than Will Bush to miss that.