#5. Life Among the Pirates

I had never expected that I would grow up to be a pirate. I was born the daughter of a captain in the Merchant Navy and spent most of my childhood exploring the coastline around my home. I constantly drove my mother to despair with my scraped knees, muddy face, and a fierce refusal to wear dresses.

I grew up on stories of smugglers and pirates, coastal folklore that the elders of the village liked to repeat regularly to anyone who looked like they were vaguely listening. I used to love the sea caves around my house, and would spend hours and hours playing in them, pretending I was one of the pirates or smugglers that the elders used to talk about.

When I started to look for my first job I began working on the docks, helping out on the boats that were moored there. Loading and unloading cargo, scrubbing decks, cleaning hulls. I occasionally got to go out on some of the smaller ships, ones that weren’t going far, that weren’t away for long. My mum didn’t like me being away for too long. I think she was worried that I would get too attached to the sea, to travelling, to adventure. That if I left I wouldn’t come home again.

That all changed the day a scruffy little ship turned up on the dock. It was an old ship, at least ten years older than any of the other boats and it looked as though it was held together with multiple layers of paint and a whole load of hope. It stayed at the end of the dock, away from the other ships, but the crew were always friendly. They payed me well for the work I did on the ship, and as such I spent a summer carrying out repairs and maintenance on the ship. By the time I finished it no longer looked like it would fall apart on a gentle river cruise.

When they offered me a spot on their crew I jumped at the chance, the pay was good, and the crew was friendly. Plus, they didn’t ask any questions. It was only once I had been on the crew for a few months that I realised what they did wasn’t exactly legal. At that point it was too late to back out. I knew that I would live my days on the seas, always on the run. I’d one day either be caught or killed.

I try to take comfort in the fact that whilst we may be pirates, we do have some morals. We take from big corporations, and only little bits at a time. We distribute our loot amongst poorer communities, and places that don’t ask too many questions. We try to avoid fights, preferring to evade capture. That scruffy little ship that I never gave much thought to? It’s actually pretty fast. It never looks out of place at the smaller ports. In fact, it usually looks like it fits right in. Life among the pirates isn’t easy. But it’s my life now.


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