She lived on the decrepit boat; the smell of fish were her scented candles. She knew no other life. Sarah endured the stares of townspeople and jeers from classmates. She desperately wanted to escape but, with competitors driving down charter prices, she knew her dad would never be able to afford a replacement.
Salmon blood stained her fingers. Fish scales, stuck to her arms. They shimmered iridescent green and blue. The reflected sun sparkled off the small waves in the harbor - a thousand diamonds. Seagulls circled and screamed at the scent of fresh food. She sliced open the belly of yet another Salmon, her eyes widened. Two boats pulled up to the fish plant - a circle of dazzling black-and- white feathers followed them.
Beyond the returning boats, Sarah saw a storm on the horizon. She dropped her knife. It lodged into the planks of the deck between her feet, vibrated and went still. The boat began to rock as waves grew.
Sarah watched the mountain of clouds approach from the south. The undersides black with rage: the tops white with reflected sun. She held the rails to steady herself and rushed below deck. "Dad! Dad, wake up.!"
"What?" her father mumbled, shaking off the alcohol.
"Dad, there's a big storm coming. We need to get out of here."
She grabbed his shoulders and shook him. His head bounced off the headboard of his bunk. He cursed, "What the hell are you doing?"
"Dad, we have to get off the boat. There's a major storm coming."
Sarah convinced him. Her father staggered to deck, saw the clouds and fired up the engines.
"Dad! Dad, what are you doing?
"Sarah, if we stay here, this old boat will be kindling - crushed against the wharf or shore. We need to go out to sea. We can ride the waves and survive."
Their small boat headed into the storm. A mile from shore, the waves splashed over the bow. Sarah clung to her father, as he screamed, "I'll beat you!"
Above them, black clouds churned. In front of them, dark waves, crested with white foam, toppled over them. Sarah screamed as the waves made her loose her footing on the slick deck. Her father, one hand on the wheel, reached back with the other and steadied his daughter, before she tumbled over the side and into the angry water.
Hours passed. The dark day turned into a darker night.
They held each other for comfort, but the seasoned fisherman needed no help. He'd fought many battles; he took control.
The wind dimmed; the waves subsided; and the sky brightened. Sarah hugged her father, "You did it, dad."
They sailed back into the harbor and saw destruction. The wharf was gone. The boats that were tied to it sat on the land, their hulls damaged by the rocks they were forced over.
Sarah smiled. Her father's boat was the only one to survive the storm. They were the only ones left.
She hugged her father, "You did it, dad! You're a hero!"
"I'm not a hero, Sarah." He held her by her arms, "I'm a drunken bum! If not for you, our boat would be on the shore with the rest of them." He stared at the wreckage on shore. "You saved us."
"Dad!" Her tears washed the salt spray from her cheeks. "We did it together."
They were the only boat remaining. Charters picked up. Sarah and her father were the only business in town. They prospered and soon had a real home and a new boat. Life for them was better.
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