CHAPTER 2 – I
The Father packed as much as he could into the two bags they owned. His movements were frantic, but he managed to grab all of the essentials. The smaller bag was strapped to the larger child. The two youngest would be carried by Father as the fearful four made a break through the woods toward a new life. What they fled was nothing less than the Devil herself. The Mother’s years-long descent into madness had become more frequently punctuated by fits of fights, terror, and hatred. Father had always known that she harbored an inner blackness, but with the birth of each successive child there seemed to be a breakdown of her internal fortress that helped to keep the blackness at bay. She was no longer her. And then, out of nowhere, just hours ago, she left, saying something to herself about “finding the Other,” “a bounty of blood,” “once and for all.” Father knew what that meant (well, he had no idea what that “Other” and “bounty” nonsense was about, probably more of her demented ramblings, but it meant that now was the time). It was time to take the kids and reclaim their lives.
They eventually found themselves tucked away in the bowels of a ship crossing the Atlantic, along with a few dozen other stowaways. The trip to the ship had been harrowing, but now they were making their way to a new and better life. As the Father watched his children sleep, he became overwhelmed with the beauty of life that they represented, while also being reminded of the horrors of life that led them to this current voyage. He wept until he slept.
I can’t escape across this seascape
Your eyes reveal my demise
It seems like this battle will never end
The fate of our children mustn’t be predetermined
There is nowhere for me to flee
But with this sacrifice, I pray those three can be free
To choose, to the extent they can
Their role in their new land
The Father died in his sleep. The rest of the human cargo believed that he drank himself unconscious and then drowned in his own vomit. This would have been a reasonable assumption as many of the stowaways had seen it before. But the vomit was not alcohol-induced. It rose through his esophagus at the command of his subconscious, doing the bidding of a father wanting to give his children a clean slate the best way he knew how. He was too tainted. Whichever path they chose, he hoped it would be theirs to own.
Enter a new player. Another kind soul with an unkind past; one young enough to still have a little more to give. His name was Mr. Bumgile. He would care for the orphans. Hopefully they would care for him. In the meantime, they would travel together in (mostly) silence, disembarking in New York City shortly after docking and traveling the railway across the northern United States to Seattle where the kind man’s sister lived. There they would all make a go of it.
A raft across the waves
Sunbaked, the dead bloat
To sink is out of the question
Today, tomorrow, always – float