Treading Air

A reminder what the Maker’s Marcail looks like:

At the step-ledge she hoped to see Captain Munro again, but the swinging rope ladder must have wound down, and, if she was still there, she hung out of view. Partly turned to face out from the gunwale clutching the stanchion behind her and inspecting the leap she’d have to make over to the galley window. When she was first moving around the Marcail, the walkway back to the pilothouse ladder had felt dangerously narrow; she expected to slip at any step and slide through the haphazard gunwale into the air and to the ground far below. Looking at it sideways like this—having to get from the outside to the inside—it now looked impossibly wide.

Partly tried to keep her focus on the step and the window, but she ended up looking past her feet anyway. Below her the gunwale railing curved to meet the starboard railing in a muted point at the bow of the Marcail ten feet below. There, the secondary wheel sat disengaged and locked at the apex. She imagined herself tangled in the bars and spokes of that crevice with a broken leg or two if she fell. Then she imagined herself bouncing off the wheel, past the Captain, and into the sky below. The veneer of calm Mr. Cameron’s words had placed on her transformed to a flop sweat.

“Good. Good.” Above, Mr. Cameron’s face showed in the pilothouse door like she’d summoned him. He hadn’t asked if she was doing ok or if she was scared, he had just assumed she was and praised her efforts thus far like she was doing math at the kitchen table. He was gone again before she could speak.

“Dude!” Partly huffed. She wanted help. She wanted someone to tell her to place her right foot on the step and leap across with her left. She wanted someone to count her down and say ‘go’. She realized with a half-grin that she just given herself all the instructions or encouragement she was going to get. She edged her right foot over as far as she could on the step. Captain Munro couldn’t wait for help much longer.

“Onetwothree!” Partly pushed off with the left. From the instant her foot left the gunwale railing she knew it would not reach the window ledge. It was going to toe the edge and bend back painfully or hit just below on the flat wall with no grip or it was going to wiff into nothingness and she’d crack her chin before tumbling to her two broken legs in the wheel below. Partly gave a little hop on her right foot at the peak of her too-short leap and threw her upper body at the window. It ended up both worse and better than she first thought. Better because she didn’t cartwheel to her death, worse because all the weight that didn’t fall on her armpit threatening to sever her right arm from her body as she hit the edge was divided evenly between her chin clonking that edge and the fingers on her left hand slapping and scraping and missing their grip. The rounding curve of the galley bulkhead meant her toes tread air.

533 words on day 812