A Cruise to Die For in Potomac

A Cruise to Die For in Potomac

I took a deep breath of the fresh salty air. There’s nothing quite like the feeling of being at sea. I come alive when I feel the beating sun warm my skin, and watch the wake behind the yacht as it breaks through the water. Sea sickness has never been a problem for me, something that unfortunately cannot be said for my fellow passengers. The skin of eight of the 12 people on board has a greenish tinge, telling me they would rather have this excursion on land. Armed with sea sickness bracelets, apples, and the ever-helpful horizon trick, the captain was able to uplift the spirits onboard. A small grin settled on his face when I flashed him a quick smile and a wink as he passed by. Now with only slightly pale faces, most everyone was sitting and relaxed in deck chairs with a few playing shuffleboard in the long shadow cast by a basketball backboard. 

     This is one of the nicest yachts I’ve ever been on, but I should have expected that given the excessive wealth of the people on board. Eying the diamond necklace that the blonde sitting next to me was wearing, I pictured myself fingering those jewels as I wore them proudly. When she turned to smile at me, I quickly morphed my face into a grin, praying that she didn’t see me staring at her. 

     “Mira, you have just got to try this lobster,” Camila called from the opposite side of the deck. 

Thankful to leave the awkward situation I had found myself in, I walked over to Camila who was holding court on the starboard side of the yacht. She truly was the queen bee, and the only reason I was there in the first place. Our friendship was sparked when I bumped into her at a cafe, causing her to drop her food all over the floor. After treating her to lunch to apologize for my blunder, we realized that we had a lot in common. We’ve been inseparable for the past couple of weeks. That’s how I think friendships work with Camila. Super intense in the beginning, and slowly petering out until she moves onto the next thing. I know that my time with her was running short, so I was enjoying the luxury while I could. I perched on the edge of her seat and stole a lobster claw from her plate while flashing her a smile. She looked at me above her sunglasses and smirked, then pulled me into a tight side hug. 

     “Today’s going to be so much fun,” she gushed. “This wouldn’t be possible without you. Thanks for recommending the captain.”

     At the mention of his title the captain looked over at us, locking eye contact with me. I gave him an imperceptible nod and turned back to Camila to laugh at a joke she just told. As we sat there, surrounded by the extravagance of it all while soaking in the beauty of a bright summer day, I felt the boat picking up speed along with a change registering on the passengers faces. The green tinge was back. Most of the people tried to adjust, but not Camila. She rushed onto the bridge to complain to the captain. I couldn’t hear their heated discussion. When she returned, she was pacified, albeit still nauseous from the increased speed. 

     “We have to go faster because there’s a storm coming and we need to get ahead of it,” Camila whispered to me. “Don’t tell anyone else we don’t want to alarm them.”

     “Got it,” I whispered back with a concerned look on my face.

     One by one, everyone went below to try and ease the seasickness they were experiencing.  Beforehand, two people vomited over the rail as the captain kept his relentless pace. In fact, I felt that he might be going faster. At that point there were only three people above deck, the captain, Camila, and me. Camila clutched her stomach and groaned but refused my offer to take her below. Nothing was going to stand in her way. Determined to enjoy the day at sea, she launched into a long-winded story of a gala she attended a couple of years ago. I tuned her out as I stared out into the turbulent waters. In time, even Camila couldn’t stay above deck. She turned away from me and stumbled down the stairs to the lounge. 

     As soon as she was out of sight I rushed to the bridge. “How much longer is this going to take?” I hissed. “We can’t keep them below deck much longer!” 

     “We’re here,” the captain said, pointing at the jagged rocks ahead as water glistened off of their tips – a beautiful but deadly sight. 

     When I looked into the captain’s eyes, I realized the flood of emotions in him as he comprehended the oncoming danger. “What am I doing,” he yelled as he began to turn the wheel away from the rocks, impelling me to grab his arm and turn him towards me. Looking into his eyes, I cautioned him, “Deep breaths,” I said, taking exaggerated inhales until he calmed down. As his eyes clouded over, I braced myself for the impact. The captain increased the speed projecting the yacht towards the rocks, impaling the boat. Its steel hull exterior no match for the craggy reef, it was quickly pierced. 

     Upon impact, I could hear the screams from the people below. I smiled, knowing that there was no escape before I dove over the side of the once magnificent yacht. I willed my true self to come forward once I hit the water. When my legs fused together to create my tail, I propelled through the water calling my sisters out of hiding. They came in a swarm, eyes glinting, teeth flashing, and tails lashing through the water. Whipped into a frenzy, they sought out their victims -- nicely packed below deck for easy pickings. 

     I tried not to think of Camila. Was she screaming in fear? Was she deathly silent and trying to hide? Or was she trying to fight the rising water and my sisters in a futile attempt to survive? I cast her out my mind with a shrug.  I’ve known countless girls like her throughout the centuries who’ve all met the same grisly end. There’s nothing I could do when my sisters got their talons on her. 

     The one thing I grabbed during the attack was the shining diamond necklace, whose owner is no longer whole. I placed it around my neck and smiled.

      This was my most successful endeavor yet, but I’m glad that I stayed hopeful even during the failures. Rebranding takes time, and the Sirens aren’t going anywhere. 

Ela Jalil (18)

12th Grade    Winston Churchill H. S. 

Potomac, MD

Potomac Teen Writers’ Club

Neal P. Gillen, Leader