The crash of wave and snap of sail sung to her. She held to the main mast as she watched him scurrying about, preparing it all carefully for their adventure. It was dawn and the red sun glow seemed a perfect beginning. She was realizing a dream coming true from childhood books of sailing on the high seas; a childish view of sailing, the knowledge involved to attempt such an adventure, and the dangers involved. As she observed him, rechecking every line, every pulley, engine parts and sail cloth, she was naively confident, thinking he was truly an ancient seaman incarnate. The sun was shining, everything was perfect for the first day of their trip.
Being ever vigilant in pursuance of her dream, Paula frequented the habitats of sailors, seamen, and listened to their tales of experience on salty waters. She would sit for hours irresistibly drawn, putting herself in their story, and feeling as if she were there with them. It was one of these times she was especially fascinated by George the Gambler. That was his name in the area, and a telling clue she ignored at the time. She seemed to gravitate towards George and as she grew more familiar, decided to approach him with her idea.
George the Gambler was just that, still an experienced sailor, had been in tough situations and lived to speak of them. To Paula’s delight, she sat mesmerized by his easy flowing stories, and not once giving a thought to their viability. She decided to hire him for a trip to experience what it was like to be out on open water, sailing free in the wind. She longed for the salt water drops on her tanned skin. Their conversation overheard by others caused another old seaman to follow her from the establishment and pose a word of warning. Paula was so enthralled with the aspect of an actual sailing trip, she ignored his advice.
The first day of sailing was everything she imagined. Everything seemed in order and any hesitation she might have had disappeared. That evening she only saw water surrounding them, a chill in the air and fell asleep quickly, listening to the waves against the craft. Her dream was no longer a fantasy, and she felt proud of herself for being brave enough to accomplish it.
Paula suddenly awoke to rain, darkened skies, and thunder. The distant lightning frightened her and she thought of how they would escape its power, if they would survive. She turned to George who appeared less than confident and a creeping feel of foreboding ran up her spine. Surely George knew what to do. She grabbed the Sou’wester and pea coat George had packed for her. Wrapping herself up against the wind and rain she wondered why the storm came so fast. Surely George would have checked weather warnings and outlined a safe route for their voyage.
As she watched him scrambling to reroute their course away from the storm, and raise two distress flags, reality sunk in as she remembered the warning she received and George’s apt name.