Anne scanned the horizon from the top of the crow’s nest. The wind whipped her shirt around her slight frame. The crow’s nest was the only place Anne felt any sense of real privacy. Growing up in London, privacy wasn’t as common as one might like and on a bark like the Gabriel, privacy didn’t even exist.
The crew of the Gabriel had grown used to Anne, or Andrew. They all treated her like a little brother, and Anne insisted on not being given any slack. A few times members of the crew had offered to help her out, but she was determined to do her share and prove her place. She needed somewhere to belong.
Normally sitting up in the crow’s nest gave Anne a sense of freedom. Today the open space seemed to press in around her. She tugged at the ties on her shirt. The memory of Fanny’s words rose in her mind, when her mother told her that money was tighter than usual. Anne had known what Fanny’s next words would be, though she didn't want to hear them.
“I didn’t want this for you.” Fanny said with tears in her eyes. “I had to go into this business to help my family. I never wanted this for you, I can’t see any other way to keep us going. I’m not as pretty as I was.” Anne had joked with her mother about men for years, but Anne had never expected to join her mother’s trade.
A quiet childhood longing started to form into a plan. “I could go find my father.” Anne said quietly, glancing at her mother. “I could dress as a boy and find him. I know which men to look for.”
Fanny knitted her brows. “Anne, anyone would be able to tell you’re a girl, even if you did wear boys clothes.”
“I’ve grown up watching men come and go.” Anne shrugged. “How hard can it be to act like one?” Anne had vowed years ago to not become like her mother, for all that she was a good woman, but Anne couldn’t bear to tell that to Fanny.
Keeping up with the men had been harder that Anne had originally thought. She didn’t realize until she was already signed on that she had no plans other than going to sea and voyaging with a captain who might be her father. She didn’t know what would happen if she got caught, who might bail her out of jail for cross dressing, where she would go after she was done at sea. It was unlikely that the Captains would provide anything for an illegitimate daughter.
The signal for the change in the watch came. It was time to clamber down from her safe spot. Frobisher was just a speck on deck, but Anne could tell he was looking for something. She wondered what he had misplaced this time. Men…
That night as she lay in bed Anne allowed rare tears to slip out. She wiped her eyes on her sleeve and fingered the material of her shirt. It was the only thing she had brought from home of her old clothing. Some children clung to a poppet while they fell asleep. Anne fell asleep holding tight to a corner of her shirt and humming a song she’d heard some of the men singing earlier that day.
"Cold is the Arctic Sea,
Far are your arms from me.
Long will this winter be
Frozen in Frobisher Bay,
Frozen in Frobisher Bay."
There you have it. The story behind all of Anne's clothing. I actually debated whether to use Sailor's Prayer or Frobisher Bay as the ending lyrics, but the later seemed appropriate considering who Anne works for.
Thank you to all of the character who I borrowed for my stories (and probably shall borrow again). To Everonword, thank you for doing quick edits on my stories so that they flow. Thank you, whoever you are, for reading my rubbish. I hope you've enjoyed these snippets.
Next week, if I am not too busy, I hope to write the event in which the crew finds out that Anne is a girl. Until then, I shall get packing for another wonderful weekend with the best people on earth!