I had only been working on the cruise ship a few weeks when a group of suits came onboard. We were told to be on our best behavior. They were the bosses, the owners, and the managers from V-Ships. One of them, a shorter man in his early thirties with bone-straight brown hair and tanned skin came over and introduced himself to me as I walked off stage one night.
“Can I buy you a drink?”
I sat with him in the lounge for a few hours. My castmates looking on from a table across the room. My supervisor throwing me a smile and a wink as he walked past our table to get a drink at the bar. I didn’t know anything about this man but I guess he was somebody people wanted to impress.
“Can I show you something?”
He whisked me out of the lounge and took me behind a door I wasn’t allowed and onto one of the decks that were off-limits.
The ship was mostly dark. The passengers were all sleeping. It was 3 o’clock in the morning by now. We were days from land. The only light was the moon. And it was a towering spotlight shining down on us. It lit up the ocean. The water looked like fresh black licorice swirling around before it hardened. I couldn’t tell where the water ended and where the sky began.
The waves crashed slowly around us as the ship moved through the water. I walked over to the railing. Those waves could swallow us up at any moment. I looked back at the man, I could tell he wanted to kiss me. Did he go around collecting young women from around the world? I was only 19. I still had baby fat on my cheeks.
I looked back out over the ocean. Our 1000 passenger cruise ship was only a tiny speck among the enormity of the ocean.
The man said he wanted to buy me an apartment in Monaco, that’s where his head office was. “You will love it!”, he told me. He said I could live there when my contract was finished. He lived in London but travelled to Monaco often. He told me all about the streets and the seaside and the shopping, and how easy it was to travel everywhere from there. He talked a lot. I looked around.
Out there on the water you realize there is no chance between you and the ocean. The ocean will always win. You have to surrender. Surrender yourself to whatever it has in store for you.
The ocean could swallow me up right now and I’d never be found again.
I was mesmerized and humbled. It was the first time in my life I realized how small I was. How we are all such a small part of this vast world.
I drew my eyes up and swept in the stars that splashed across the sky. They reminded me of a Jackson Pollack drip painting. The constellations seemed to overlap each other. Was that even possible? I took a deep breath and sucked in the sweet salty air.
“Goodnight, it was nice meeting you.”
The man grabbed my hand as I walked by and put his arm around my waist. He tried to kiss me but I turned my cheek and swung out of his grip.
“Wait.” He quickly fumbled to pull out his business card.
“Call me. I’m serious.”
I ducked back inside and scurried to my room. I hopped up on my top bunk and pulled out the box of wine gums from beneath my pillow. I fished out a black one and gently tossed the box onto the floor as to not wake my roommate. I looked out the small porthole that we always left it a wee bit open. “Goodnight, it was nice to meet you” I whispered. I closed my eyes and let the ocean rock me to sleep.
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