When I was seven years old my father took me along with him on a voyage to Portugal. He was hired by a few wealthy couples who wanted to go on holiday. We spent eight days playing on the beaches along Southern Portugal. My father always talks about how long I stayed in the water every day, going further and further out into the sea on my own. I never wanted to leave.
I created my own imaginary mermaid friend. Her name was Sedna. We would swim around the cove and explore the life beneath the waves. She would summon different animals to come and meet me. I saw dolphins and various types of colored fish. Once I even met a whale. I knew it was all in my imagination, whales weren’t known to venture around Portugal.
Sedna never used her lips to communicate with me, we could hear one another’s thoughts. And sometimes I would hear the thoughts of the sea creatures that we met. Sedna told me stories of her childhood. It didn’t sound very pleasant. She was kidnapped by a man who could turn into a bird, when her father came to save her she drowned in a storm that was cast by the angry bird-man. She said the King of the sea took pity on her and turned her into a Fairymaiden. In return for the king saving her life he charged her with being Queen to the mammals of the sea.
I envied Sedna, she got to live in the magical sea. I daydreamed about Sedna many times throughout the years of my childhood, letting my imagination run wild with the underwater kingdoms and the mystical beings who lived there.
Whenever I talked about the mysteries of the ocean with anyone in England, I was always met with eyes filled with disgust. My governess repeatedly told me that I should not speak of such nonsense. She said I was raging on like a hysteric drunken sailor. I quickly learned to keep my passions for the sea away from society and only indulge in them while away on voyage with my father.
Here, on this island in the middle of the Caribbean, surrounded by pirates, I was free to express my love for the vast and beautiful sea. Everyone on this island shared one major thing in common with one another, we all loved the sea and all its wonders.
The next few days passed with ease. The crew had started to accept and respect me. My new hair style also seemed to be happily accepted by everyone, it made me look like a pirate myself. They could see my passion for the ocean and her mysteries. I tried to speak with every man and learn a little about him and his past. They all ended their stories with Captain Tucker and how he took them into his scroungy crew that was really one big family. It seems the Captain had saved many of these men’s lives in some way, many more than once. They were loyal to him, they loved him, and he loved them all in return.
I continued to sleep in the Captains tent at night. I took the bed and he took the lounge. I don’t think any of the men would dare harm me now that they had taken the time to know me, and any who dared to try would have the rest of the crew to go through first. Every man I shared conversation with had vowed to protect me. I truly did feel safe, pale and dainty little Cora felt complete security surrounded by a large crew of pirates. Though the crew was no longer a problem, Captain Tucker insisted that I continue to sleep in his quarters, under his protection.
On the third morning I woke up to see the sun just barely starting to poke through the flaps of the tent. The air was glowing under the gentle glow of the sunrise. I shifted my head to the side to see Captain Tucker bent over the table, studying a map in the dim light. My heart began to beat faster, and I could feel it pounding in my chest.
The Captain was shirtless, his chest was wide and lean. He was broad but slender and had strong lean muscles formed under his golden sun kissed skin. The light from the sunrise made his golden skin glow. His hair was let all the way down, long wavy black locks cascading down his shoulders and framing around his face. His eyes were looking down and his long hair casted a dark shadow over his face.
My heart was pounding in my ears now, I thought for sure he was able to hear it. And maybe he did, for right in that moment his face lifted, and his emerald eyes locked with mine. The golden light from the sunrise seemed to melt into the dark green, like his eyes were actually burning with fire.
I took a deep breath and swallowed. He looked so delicious, standing there gazing at me with his smoldering eyes. My body began to tingle, and I involuntarily licked my lips, suddenly feeling parched. He must have noticed my reaction to his exposed body, because his eyes fixed on my lips then trailed down my throat to the swell of my breasts and back up again ending at my eyes. He looked just as thirsty as I was.
Then he stood up into his full height. I let my eyes trail down his body, I had never seen so much of a man before. I had seen a few paintings of naked men, some sculptures too, but I had never seen the real thing in person. He looked like a golden Greek God from my dreams.
Captain Tucker slowly made his way in front of me, I couldn’t move, I was stuck watching the show in front of me. When he was close enough I felt his finger come below my chin and close my mouth. Wait, how long did I have my mouth open like that for? I was behaving like a lovesick child, like the innocent little virgin that I was.
Captain Tucker seemed to be amused, he laughed lightly and said, “Tell me Cora, how old are you? You couldn’t be older than sixteen.”
I blinked my eyes a few times and cleared my throat. He really did think I was a child, that made me a little hurt and angry. But I was not a child! I would be eighteen in four weeks, I was no longer a child. Something inside me wanted to prove that to him, but how?
I put my chin up slightly and replied with slight rage in my tone, “No, Captain. I am seventeen, I will be eighteen next month.”, not able to control my anger I added, “I am not a child, Phineas.”
He had said that I could call him by his first name when we were alone, and we were alone, weren’t we? I hadn’t meant to say it, but it came out so naturally. I hoped I didn’t make him angry. He was still the only option I had of getting off this island. Sometimes I had a problem with my temper and spoke without thinking. My governess has always said my thoughts were too strong willed for a young woman and should be kept in my head.
But the Captain didn’t look angry, if anything his eyes seemed to soften when I spoke his name. He traced his middle finger along my jaw line then down my neck and let it rest just above my breast. He was staring down at me and bit his lower lip slightly. When his fingers traced my skin, I felt a pulse rise up my spine. I took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, the Captains eyes were fixed on my breasts as they rose up from my breath.
He looked back into my eyes and pulled his hand away, “Yes, I can see that you are not a child.”
He turned away as quickly as he could and dressed in his shirt and jacket in record time. I stood and made my way to the opening of the tent, wanting to escape the tension that was built up in the small space. I opened the flap to see Lekan standing directly on the other side, his hand over the hilt of his sword, ready to pounce if he was needed.
He looked me up and down quickly as if looking for marks or signs of a struggle, “Miss Jatau Cora, are you well?”
I was surprised by his sudden worry over me, what was he protecting me from? I was with the Captain, who would I need protecting from? Then it hit me, he was ready to protect me from Captain Tucker. Was he was worried he would take advantage of me? My heart was filled with adoration for the man before me. He was a true friend. But he needed to know that he shouldn’t worry so much for me. I had a feeling that if Captain Tucker tired anything with me, it would be of my own willing and sound mind.
I placed my hand over Lekan’s hand over his sword and looked into his eyes, “Yes, my friend, I am perfectly fine.”, I motioned towards the inside of the tent with my head and teased, “No need to be so worried for your Captain, he hardly needs protection from me. You are a very loyal friend to guard him so well from his enemies.”
Lekan started to laugh loud and hard, his deep voice bellowing out of him. I had never seen him laugh so hard. Captain Tucker came through the flap of the tent, I wondered if her had heard our interaction.
He answered my thoughts by saying, “Cora, I don’t think even Lekan would be able to protect me against you.”
What did he mean by that? Why would he ever need protecting from little me? He was very good at teasing me. The three of us went to a small fire a few meters away and were served some breakfast from the cook. After I filled my stomach I decided to ask Lekan a question that had been burning my mind the last few days.
“Lekan,”, he looked up at me when I said his name, “I keep hearing you use the word Jatau with my name. I am curious as to its meaning.”
Lekan swallowed his food then gave me a big smile, “Jatau in Africa mean light skin. Some African men have light skin, but it uncommon for a woman. More uncommon for white hair, this is something I never see before you.”
I understood why he was saying I had light skin, but I did not understand why he was comparing me so much to his people.
I wondered, “You had never seen a blonde woman before?”
Lekan shook his head, “I saw light hair woman, but never light haired African woman.”
I was getting really confused now. Was he really saying I was a white haired African woman? My skin was white, didn’t he see that? Not just light skinned, but white.
“Lekan, I was not born in Africa, I am a lady of the British Empire.”, I suddenly felt the need to correct his wrong statement.
He just shook his head, “Not born in Africa, but not born in England either.”
He was right, I wasn’t born in England, but what did that have to do with anything. I turned my head to Captain Tucker; my eyes were searching him for help. Why wasn’t he correcting his closest friend about his mistake? Instead he said the exact opposite from what I expected him to say.
“Cora. You may not see it, but even I can not deny the physical similarities. I have been around more than enough Africans to recognize the subtle traits. Your skin is white, and your eyes are ice, just like your father. But, your skin is clear and smooth, your nose is wide and flat, your lips are large and dark, and despite your hair color being white your have the same texture that you only find on Africans. All of those traits, I have only ever seen in men and women from Africa. You must have African blood in you…did you not say that your father never told you about your mother?”, he said it clearly and slow, knowing that I would take his statements as a surprise.
I felt like my heart had stopped. Suddenly everything made sense. All of my unique features weren’t from nothing. My mother must have been an African woman. Brought to Jamaica as a slave under the Spanish. Since my skin was so light my father would have been able to freely declare that I was his daughter, just as long as no one knew who my mother really was. As psychotic as it sounded, deep inside my soul I knew that it was the truth. I felt like a secret piece of me was emerging and breaking free into my soul.