“Swim, Amelia, swim faster,” Star screamed.
My hands and feet moved faster and faster towards the ship but the pressure of water was pulling me deeper into the sea. I looked at the ship as it moved farther.
“Stop the ship, Jack, please,” I heard Star’s voice.
“I can’t, the waves are moving it,” Jack yelled.
“You can do this, Amelia; just a little faster.” I knew that it was my mother’s voice. I felt a hand grabbing on my ankle. I swam faster but the hand holding onto my ankle was very strong. I sank deeper and deeper in the salty water. I opened my eyes with horror. I looked around to see who had pulled me in the water. My eyes felt weak but I managed to see the person whose fingers were still around my ankle. I saw a faded image of my father. I screamed, I asked him why, but only bubbles came out of my mouth.
“Because you shouldn’t be in that ship,” he said. Although only bubbles came out of his mouth I understood what he was saying.
I closed my eyes and screamed once more. I opened my eyes; I was sitting on my bed. I was on the bed in the ship moving across the sea. Star, my sister, was sitting by my bed.
“Are you all right?” she asked. “I think so,” I said.
“You had a bad dream. You were screaming and you woke everyone on the ship,” she said.
“Is Dad still angry?” I asked.
“About what?” Star asked.
“About me coming with you, coming on the sea voyage,” I said.
“I’m not sure. Is that what your dream was about?” Star asked.
“Yes, he pulled me deep in the water and . . .” I sighed.
“And what? It’s not that important, Amelia. It was just a dream, Dad isn’t that angry. You should go back to sleep.” She left the cabin.
I lay on my bed. I tried to forget about the dream. I remembered how Dad had said that I shouldn’t go on the sea voyage; how he had said that it was too dangerous. I had told him that I wasn’t afraid and I wouldn’t change my mind. He had said that he wouldn’t forgive me if I did go on the sea voyage but I had only ignored him. Now I felt the ship’s movement. I wasn’t scared of the sea or the roaring waves. I didn’t feel lonely on the ship. I enjoyed walking on the deck of the ship and staring at the blue water. I only felt miserable when I closed my eyes and heard my father’s voice inside my head.
* * *
I stepped off of my bed, came out of the cabin and went to the deck. My cousin Jack was on watch that night. He saw me and walked towards me.
“What are you doing here?” he asked.
“I couldn’t go to sleep. I can be on watch for you if you’re tired,” I said.
“Nah, I’m OK. I like the sky tonight,” Jack said.
“What’s so special about it tonight?” I asked.
“Look at it,” was all he said.
I stared at the sky It looked so beautiful, the stars were so clear. The moon’s reflection was visible in the water. I had never seen such a beautiful sky in the city which we lived in. I sat on the deck. I didn’t take my eyes off the clear sky Then I started to feel sleepy I rested my head on my lap and closed my eyes. I heard my father’s voice once more inside my head; he was saying that he wouldn’t forgive me. I was afraid and I felt guilty but I didn’t open my eyes. I just sat there with my eyes closed and repeated his words in my head.
“Jack?” I opened my eyes now, fearing that I might have the dream again.
“Yeah?” he said.
“Did you ever have big disagreements with your dad?” I soon bit my lips after saying these words.
Jack’s dad, my uncle, had died five years ago when Jack was ten years old and I was only eight years old. Since his mother had died two years before that, he lived with me and my family Asking the question I had asked made me feel terrible. I wanted to start a new conversation and make him forget about the question but it was too late.
“Yes, I did. A lot of arguments.” He blinked and quickly looked away to hide his tears.
“Oh . . .” I said this and stared at the sky, acting like I hadn’t seen the tears. I was giving him time to wipe his tears away.
“But they were never worth it, the arguments I mean. I wish we had only talked about it. When I was angry at him I would talk to your father and he would tell me that the right way to deal with it was to talk about it with my dad. I never did talk about the arguments with him though, and he never talked about them with me. We would just forget about the arguments after a while and would put it aside, without knowing what the other person had been angry or upset about or why they had been upset.” Jack sighed and looked away from me once more.
I stared at the sea this time; I didn’t want to start talking with him until I was sure he was ready. In the meantime I thought about my argument with my father. I thought about talking to him, telling him why I had come on this voyage. But then I thought that maybe the way Jack and his father had just put the argument aside was the right way Just then I noticed that it had been silent for a long time. I quickly glanced at Jack to see if he was ready. When I saw that he was staring at the sea as well I broke the silence.
“Do you think I should talk to my dad?” I asked.
“About what?” Jack said.
“About the argument we had. He said that I shouldn’t come on this voyage and that just seems so selfish,” I said.
“But you know that he wasn’t just being selfish, right? You know that he was only worried that it’ll be too dangerous for you,” he said.
“Of course I know that. He even said that himself!”
“Well then you should talk to him. You’ll always feel guilty if you don’t talk to him soon. It might seem like you’ll forget the argument after a week but it’s not like that. It’s just a small argument but you’ll always wonder why you didn’t talk to him,” he said.
“But why do I feel so guilty?” I asked.
“Because he hasn’t forgiven you yet. Forgiveness is everything Amelia, believe me, I know,” Jack said.
“How do you . . .” But I didn’t dare to finish my sentence, I was afraid that it will be about his father. I was afraid that talking about it will make him upset.
“How do I know?” He finished my sentence. “Well I know because when we were at the hospital and he was breathing for the last time, I stood there feeling so guilty because of an argument we had the night before he had a heart attack. I sat beside his bed wordlessly until he said these words: forgive you.’ I gave him a hug as he lay there on the hospital bed and I’m so glad that I did.”
“I guess I do have to talk to him soon,” I said.
“Yeah you do. Maybe you should go and get some sleep before it is morning,” he said.
“OK. Thanks, Jack,” I said.
I walked to the cabin and tried to get to sleep but I had too many thoughts in my head. I looked at the watch on my wrist; it was midnight but I wasn’t tired. I lay on my bed and stared at the cabin’s wooden ceiling. After a while my eyes closed and I started to feel exhausted. I wanted to sleep but I promised myself that I wouldn’t sleep until I had heard my father say that he’s forgiving me.
After what seemed like a year I heard sounds in the ship. I knew that it was morning and someone was awake. I came out of my bed and walked out of the cabin. I went on deck to see if Jack was still awake. The sky was blue and there were no clouds to be seen. The sea was sparkling under the sunlight. Jack was standing in a corner glancing at the sea.
“Hi,” I said.
“Hi, Amelia,” Jack said.
“Are you exhausted?” I asked.
“I’m a little tired. Did you have breakfast yet?” he asked.
“Nah, I think we’re having pancakes today,” I said.
“Yum, I love the pancakes that your mom makes,” he said.
“Want to go to the kitchen and see if she’s awake yet?” I asked.
“Sure,” he smiled.
We went to the kitchen and saw my dad standing beside the table. On the table was a plate full of pancakes. My dad was smiling; I hadn’t seen him smile since the beginning of the voyage.
“Hi, Jack. Hi, Amelia,” he said.
“Hi,” I said.
“Yum, are those Aunt Karen’s pancakes?” Jack asked.
“No, Karen’s still asleep. I made pancakes myself” Dad seemed satisfied with his work as he nibbled one of the pancakes.
“This tastes great,” Jack said after eating a small piece of a pancake.
“Dad, I wanted to talk to you about something,” I said.
“Um . . . I have to go and . . . um . . . check something on the deck.” Jack rushed out of the kitchen, leaving me alone with my dad.
“What did you want to talk about?” He sat down on a chair and gestured me to sit down as well.
“About the argument we had before we came on this voyage,” I said, while sitting on a small wooden chair in front of my dad.
“What about the argument?” he asked.
“I just wanted to say that I’m sorry Maybe you’re right, maybe I should’ve stayed home with Aunt Katie.”
“I just don’t want you to get hurt. I want you to always be with me. I’m sorry if I made a big deal of all this.”
“I guess that it was partly mine and partly your fault, is that what you think?” I said.
“Yes, that’s what I think.” He was smiling once more.
“Although it wasn’t entirely my fault, I still need you to forgive me,” I said.
“I forgive you. And I hope that you forgive me as well.”
“Thanks.” I went towards him and gave him a big hug.
I felt a heavy weight being lifted from my heart. The guilty feeling that had made me feel so terrible had now disappeared. I wanted to sit on my dad’s lap and hold his hands and never let go.
“By the way, do you want any pancakes?” he asked.
“No thanks. I think I just need some sleep,” I said.
I walked towards the cabin and lay on my bed. I closed my eyes and quickly fell asleep. I didn’t dream of being drowned in the sea like I had dreamed the night before. I dreamed of a wonderful place, with birds singing and flying in the sky, the land was filled with lavenders and purple violets. In my dream a silver bird sat on my hands. I asked the bird why this place was so beautiful and the bird said that because this land is the land of forgiveness. I was confused so I asked the bird, what makes forgiveness so special? The bird said, no longer feeling a pain of guilt is what makes it special.