Trading Ship

Arashi Beach Aruba Alexandre Breveglieri flickr - REV

Photo credit: Alexandre Breveglieri (revised)

Everything about the ship was foreign – the cut, the sails, the banners.  It brought heady spices, expensive silks, smelly pickles, and most exotic: ideas.

The red-skinned men and women wore the same clothing and close-cropped hair, laughed loudly together.

Thus, they took my sister.

Our father forbade it, forfeiting his goodbye when she escaped.  I begged her to stay, but she’d already cut her hair.

She was jubilant, even as I cried.  “Can’t you understand? Their women are equal partners. I can work.”

“Scrubbing the decks, no doubt.”

“At first.  But I’ll learn.”

I imagined her climbing the ropes like a squirrel.  “Who will father you?  Who will husband you?”

She beamed.  “Nobody.”

We kissed one last time, before she bounded off.  I wondered, if I hadn’t donned a wife-apron, two child-rings in my ear and another on the way (Sambar-be-willing), would I have joined her?

No.  I am my nest and my nest is me.  This port is world enough, and more.  Still, I dream of her, swimming the winds, free as a butterfly.

Word count: 175.  Written for this week’s Flash Fiction for Aspiring Writers challenge.  Click the link to read the other stories, and even write one yourself.  Thanks to Priceless Joy for hosting, and to Lou for providing the original photo prompt, below!

Photo © Louise at The Storyteller’s Abode


34 thoughts on “Trading Ship

  1. Beautifully written, Joy. Loved the way the protagonist ends her narration by not accepting her fate but knowing her own limits and likes and making an informed decision. Well done!

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thanks for reading, Varad! Yes, I think she accepts that what is a good life for her is not the same as what is right for her sister, and wants the best for her sister. I hope the last line shows she is happy to imagine her sister enjoying that other life.

      Liked by 1 person

    • I’m glad you enjoyed it! I wonder if I wasn’t clear enough about the ending though. I meant for the narrator to wonder whether she would have made the same choice as her sister, and even if she hadn’t had a husband and children, she thinks no, she would still want to stay here. She is happy for her sister, to have the freedom she (her sister) wants, but she is content herself, to have the more home-centered life that she prefers.


  2. Wonderful story. People may be raised by the same parent and live by the same rules, but when they are old enough to make their own decisions, those decisions can be totally opposite from their siblings, yet all can live an enjoyable and happy life. Hopefully, they come to understand that and accept each others life style.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you for the insightful comment, Jessie! I’m glad that came across for you in the story; that’s exactly what I was trying to convey. When someone bucks longstanding tradition, as the sister in this story does, it can be hard for either side to truly understand the other, but hopefully they can find acceptance through their love for each other.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Lovely stuff Joy. Love the way the siblings see their futures differently, relish the thought of their own worlds, holding their opportunities close. A very female dilemma through the generations and still relevant now.

    Liked by 2 people

    • Great comment, Lynn, thanks! Yes, the dilemma of navigating between two different cultures is a pretty timeless one, and weighs especially heavy on women, I’d say. Personally, I’d be the sister chopping off her hair and running away to be a sailor, but I wanted to give equal weight to the validity of the other sister’s choice, too.

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s the dilemma of choice, it makes you think you can choose a life with “everything”, when nobody can do that (men or women). A life with more of “A” will necessarily have less of something else, if only because there are limited hours in the day, or because some choices directly conflict with others. But for some reason we’re not supposed to acknowledge that each choice is a trade-off, one priority over something else.


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