Children Fiction posted April 8, 2013

Not yet exceptional. When the exceptional rating is reached this is highlighted
Part One Shipwrecked


by Cindy Warren

"Here? We have to stay here?" Nine year old Melody glanced around at her surroundings, then stared at the captain in horror. Driftwood and debris littered the beach. Coconut palms grew amid tangled and unrecognizable vegetation on a steep slope just beyond the sand. "This isn't even a real place!"

"Don't worry, folks, we'll get her fixed up and get you home. It's just going to take some time," said the captain as he surveyed his battered ship.

"All you have to do is put the sails back on," Melody protested. The ship on which she had sailed from her home in Boston lay in tatters. The sails had been shredded, the rigging was a tangled mess and several masts were broken.

"There's a little more to it than that, miss," said the captain. "There's water below decks too. It will be a while before it's safe enough for you."

"Where do you think we are?" Melody's father asked, leaning heavily against the rail, favoring an injured leg.

"I'm not too sure at the moment, but don't you worry about that," the captain tried to sound reassuring. " As soon as the sky clears and I can see the stars again, I'll have that sorted out in no time."

"Stars? We can't stay here at night!" Melody was horrified. Her disquiet grew when she saw a strange looking man emerge from the tangled underbrush. A fringe of red hair grew along the sides of an otherwise bald head. His clothes were dated and worn. He approached the captain.

"Looks like you got yourselves in a spot of trouble here," he said. "Will ya be needin' some help?"

"Perhaps you could see to these good folks while the crew and I see to the ship." The captain nodded toward Melody and her father. "The gentleman has injured his leg, and the little girl doesn't seem too happy here."

"Happy to oblige," the stranger replied.

"Father, no!" Melody objected loudly. Her protests went unheeded.

"I might be needin' some help to hoist him up that there hill," said the stranger. "Mind if I borrow one of your crew for a bit?"

The captain agreed and the stranger approached Melody's father.

"Pleased to meetcha," he said. "The name's Fenmore O'Donnell, but the folks 'round here just call me Fen."

"Thomas York," her father replied. "This is my daughter, Melody."

"Well, ain't it an honor to meet such a lovely miss," said Fen.

"Father, I don't want to go with him," said Melody.

"Don't wanna go?" said Fen. "Well, The captain here ain't gonna let ya stay on the ship, but I suppose ya could always stay on the beach. Ain't nothin gonna get ya there. But we gotta see to yer daddy's leg. Best ya come along and let me show ya the way up, just in case ya change yer mind."

Melody reluctantly followed along a few paces behind. Fen led the way to a stone staircase that had been cut into the hillside generations before. It was overgrown and, to Melody, almost invisible. Leaves, still wet in the aftermath of the storm, seemed to crawl along her neck as she moved up the track. Fear of being left alone here overcame her reluctance. Her expensive city clothes were no match for the thorns and brambles, and her dress was soon shredded beyond repair. Her shoes were soaked. She seated herself on a log.

"I can't do this!" she screamed. "I need someone to carry me!"

The two men struggling to help her father up the path looked at her as if she had two heads.

"Can't you see we got our hands full?" asked Fen.

"Father, tell them!" Melody demanded.

"Melody, there's nobody to carry you."

Melody sat on the log, stomping her feet in the mud and screaming. The men disappeared around a bend. Melody's dramatic screams and tears turned to real ones when, for the first time in her life, they did her no good. Alone on the path, she cried in anger and stunned disbelief. She picked up a rock and flung it aimlessly, screaming at the top of her lungs. More rocks and more screams followed. After what felt like an eternity, she wiped her tears on her ruined dress. She stood and picked her way along the path. Fresh tears followed the ones she had dried and she sobbed in earnest as she crawled and climbed her way along the path.

She felt as though she'd been climbing through thorns and mud for hours when she came to a small clearing. Her eyes widened in horror at the sight of cottages of mud and straw dotting the landscape. Momentarily stunned into silence, Melody staggered into the center of the clearing.

"Where's my father?" she screamed when her voice returned.

A child about her age pointed toward a hut. Melody ran to it and found her father propped on a cot with his leg wrapped in some kind of weeds. Fen was with him, along with an elderly black woman.

"Father, we must go back to the ship! These aren't real houses. These shacks aren't even good enough for servants!"

"Melody, sit down," her father ordered.

"No! There's bugs in here!" she shrieked.

Thomas York had to admit it was true. Black beetles crawled across a dirt floor thinly covered with straw.

"Those won't bite ya," said Fen.

Melody ignored him. "Father, it's horrible here!"

"Melody, listen," Thomas said firmly. "The ship took on a lot of water. Everything below decks is soaked. The captain won't allow you down there, and he's right. I won't have you getting sick."

"But your leg," Melody was getting desperate. "You need a doctor!"

"That won't be possible," said Thomas.

"You don't go worryin' about that," said Fen. "We got old Gemma here. She'll get that leg fixed up good and proper."

Melody looked doubtfully at the old woman. "She's not a doctor."

"Oh, she's better than that," said Fen. "She's magic."

"That's silly. I need a drink of water," she demanded when her first comment was ignored.

Fen handed her a tin cup. "The stream's at the bottom of that there hill," he said, pointing. "It might be a good idea fer ya to fetch some fer yer daddy too."

Melody plopped herself down on the cot beside her father, jolting his injured leg. "I am Melody Jane York," she informed them haughtily. "I do not fetch water!"

"Your father needs your help," said Fen.

"I am not the help," said Melody. "Let her do it." Melody pointed a finger at Gemma.

"Well, right now it's a good thing she don't speak English," said Fen. "She'd likely skin the hide offa ya."

Melody threw the cup into the corner, causing the black beetles to scuttle about the floor. "Where are we, anyway? What do you call this stupid place?"

"We call it Somewhere," said Fen.

For the first time since she'd arrived, Melody smiled.


This may become a book, depending on reaction. Is Melody too unlikable? Will the reader stay with her long enough for her to learn to be a bit nicer?
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© Copyright 2018. Cindy Warren All rights reserved.
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