Margaret (Emmie) Blake (Children's World)

Margaret (Emmie) Blake

Sail Away

Julie sat happily at the top of the tree, her hair streaming in the wind. She knew that she would be in trouble if her mother should find her up here. She could almost hear her voice, scolding her, “Come down this minute! That’s no place for a seven-year-old girl to be!” She smiled to herself. This was her favourite place, well hidden, far from the house. Nobody else came to this part of the garden and she was free to sit, watch and daydream as much as she wanted. From her perch on the old, gnarled branch, she enjoyed looking over their garden fence at the prairie which stretched far off into the distance.  Today, with a strong wind blowing, the tall grass dipped and rippled, looking like waves at sea. “It would be fun if I could sail away on you,” she thought wistfully, “Just think of what I could see: palm trees, exotic birds, and wild animals.”

A large flock of birds flew by, their wings beating steadily. Julie watched them, admiring the way they dipped and rose together in a ballet of the skies. “How do you do that?” she wondered, “How come you don’t crash into each other?”  There was a sudden rush of air as they swung close by her before flying off into the distance.  Julie sighed. “Oh, if only I could fly away with you! I could visit such wonderful places.”  Was it her imagination, or did one of the birds pause and give her a knowing glance?

She scrambled to her feet and started the branch swinging beneath her. “Whee! I’m flying too.” The next moment there was a loud crack as the bough snapped. She was indeed flying, but not up. She crashed down through the tree until she landed in a bush beneath her. “Ouch!” She lay there, winded for a moment before struggling out from the clutching branches. At last, she was free. She stood unsteadily on her feet and looked around. She had never seen this part of the garden before.  Her eyes widened.

Right in front of her was an old, rough, wooden gate. “Strange.” she thought. A rusty iron handle, half-hidden by a branch, sat just above her head.  She stood on tiptoe, grasped the cold metal and twisted. Nothing happened at first. Then, slowly the gate swung open. Julie took a deep breath and stepped through.

She gasped. It was so unexpected. She was standing on a sandy beach in front of a deep blue sea stretching far into the distance. Seagulls wheeled overhead, and far out at sea a smart sailing boat was bobbing on the waves. “Weird!” she thought, “Weird, but wonderful.”  She looked down fascinated by the many shells of different shapes, sizes and colours lying on the golden sand. She bent over and tucked one of the prettiest in her pocket, ready to stow away in her box of ‘treasures’ she kept under her bed.

A loud shout startled her. “Ahoy there!”  She whirled around to see a woman in a small boat rowing towards hers.  She wore a blue and white striped jersey with a faded sunhat on her head. The boat reached the shore and the woman spoke to her.

“Hi. I’m Sally. A little bird told me that you wanted to travel the world.  Come on.  Jump aboard!”

Julie looked at her, unsure what to do. Would it be okay to go with her?  The offer was very inviting. She hesitated only a split second before jumping into the rowboat with her new-found friend. She held on tightly as the waves rocked it up and down as they drew closer to the yacht. A few moments later, she was scrambling up a rope ladder and onto the wooden deck of the sailing ship. “Come on,” said Sally, “I need help to pull the anchor up and set the sails. Julie darted around, following the orders, “Push that button, pull that rope.” There was a clatter of the anchor chain, a crackle of sails, and the boat danced off across the waves.

Julie stood next to the steering wheel, watching as Sally turned it, expertly steering the boat. She breathed deeply of the salt-laden air, enjoying the breeze on her face and the ship’s movements beneath her feet.

“This is amazing!”

“You just wait. There’s more to see yet.”

“Really?”  the girl beamed widely.

The next moment there was a sudden ‘whoosh’ and a strong fishy smell.

“Over there! A whale!”

Julie couldn’t believe her eyes. A huge black and white whale had surfaced alongside them and was ‘venting’. Droplets of water cascaded over the pair of them.

 “An orca!”

It turned and looked at them. The next moment it dived below the waves, smacking the water hard with his tail as he did so.

The ship rocked violently.  A large wave washed over the deck.  Julie was thrown off balance by the impact. She fell and slid across the deck before falling overboard. The cold waves swamped her, pushing her down. Through a misty haze, she saw the boat skimming away from her. Panic set in.

“Help! Help me!” she spluttered as the waters covered her face.

“It’s all right, It’s all right my dear. I’m here. You’re safe now.”  It was a comfortable, familiar voice.

Julie opened her eyes. “Mum! I’m so pleased to see you again. I thought I was drowning.”  Her mother laughed. “Just a wet sponge to bring you round. You were unconscious you know. You must have had a fall and bumped your head.”

Julie struggled to sit up. Had it all been a dream? She frowned as she felt something lumpy in her pocket. She pulled it out and stared in amazement. It was a pink, curly seashell. “Goodness gracious!” her mother exclaimed, “Wherever did you get that?”

Julie snuggled closer to her and smiled.

“It’s an amazing story. … You’ll never believe it!”


 

Bio Note : Margaret (Emmie) Blake

Emmie Blake has been writing for many years, but it was only on retirement that she began regularly writing short stories and poems. She has had a selection of her work published in various anthologies and in the on-line journal, “Different Truths.” Currently, she is co-administrator of the “Aspiring Writers’ Society” and a member of its editorial team. She is active in her local community and a keen member of a local refugee support group. She and her husband enjoy their life together in Wales, gardening and walking in the nearby hills.


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