AN – This story was inspired by Murray Gold's and Yamit Mamo's song "The Stowaway" from Doctor Who's series 3 soundtrack.
Also, this is my first time writing and posting something original, so please be nice but constructive in your criticism.
Anyways, I hope you enjoy. :)
If there was one thing that I hated about sea travel, it was seasickness.
Despite the fact that I've been on numerous boats and ships throughout my life; whether it was helping my father or grandfather at the dock when I was a little girl, or going on some pleasure cruises as I got older, my stomach usually doesn't like it.
I've grown a minor tolerance for larger ships like cruise liners, but smaller boats like yachts and motorboats? My stomach will just start to hate me and I'll quickly grow nauseous.
It's annoying, to say the least.
And it's not that I hate sailing, sea travel or anything like that, it's just that my stomach can't handle it.
I guess I'm just not built for this sort of thing.
Unfortunately, traffic was a killer this year. It usually is, but it seems especially bad this time. And I wasn't about to waste money on an airplane ticket, seeing as how I was only two hours away from my family. Even on Christmas, I try to be practical with my money, especially since I've already bought other things like gifts for my friends and family.
As such, this meant that there was only one other option: use a boat.
I didn't fancy the thought of sea travel because of my seasickness, but I wasn't about to let my family down just because going by plane or a car were out of the question.
However, only a half hour after I'd rented a boat and set sail across the bay, did my stomach start to feel gross.
I've been trying to ignore it, but it isn't easy.
And so here we are, with me groaning as I held onto the railing and attempted to fight off the nausea.
It didn't help that it was a particularly breezy day, so both the wind and the waves were making the boat rock around even more.
I knew that I needed something to settle my stomach if I was going to survive this trip to Amsterdam.
As such, I groggily and unsteadily made my way over towards the cargo hold in the hopes I'd find something, like grovel.
It wasn't easy going down the stairs as the boat continued to sway and move around, but somehow, I did it.
However, just as I had reached the bottom and began making my way over towards the medicinal section, where the pills and the herbs were, I accidentally bumped into a barrel. And oddly enough, I thought that I'd just heard it grunt as I did so.
Startled, I quickly turned around to look at it again, wincing as I did so as it made my stomach feel grosser.
As first, nothing seemed out of place about the barrel, until I looked closer and realized that there were footprints in some dust nearby, leading right towards the barrel.
My eyes widened as I realized this, my heart starting to quicken.
Someone's in there.
Cautiously, as though it were a snake waiting to strike, I approached the barrel and carefully lifted the lid up…
… and then I almost immediately dropped it with a loud clang.
There was someone in there.
He had short, messy brunette hair, a tan complexion that had a pale tint to it, and blue eyes, which were wide as they stared at me.
Needless to say, the silence that seemed to stretch on as we stared at each other was incredibly tense and awkward.
Finally, I shouted, "Who the hell are you?!"
He winced as I did so before answering, "…My name is Asher."
I was trying my best to remain intimidating (which wasn't easy since I was still feeling nauseas and a little bit scared), as I asked him, "And what do you think you're doing on my ship?!"
He bit his lip. "It's… a long story."
I was about to retort "I'm all ears" when the boat suddenly rocked violently as the wind picked up outside. I was nearly knocked to the ground as my stomach lurched painfully.
I could feel the bile crawling up my throat and so, as fast as I dared, I ran back outside and retched into the ocean.
Panting, I sat down, slightly relieved that my stomach wasn't hurting as much but still feeling disgusted by the taste in my mouth.
After a minute had passed, I could hear footsteps approaching me.
I looked and saw that the stowaway; Asher, was carefully walking up the stairs to the deck.
Groaning, I asked him, "What do you want?"
He hesitated before telling me, "Well… there's no point in me staying cooped up in that barrel since I was discovered. I mean, it was really uncomfortable in there!"
I glared at him, "I should throw you overboard and let the whales deal with you!"
He raised an eyebrow. "Whales aren't dangerous to humans."
"The sharks then, I don't care!" I shouted before wincing as I felt my stomach lurch painfully again, as the wind was still ripping away around us.
Not again… I moaned in my head as I unsteadily got to my feet and threw up again.
Feeling embarrassed that this intruder saw me this time, even though I was still angry at him, I stood there panting until he asked me, "Seasick?"
"Oh, what's it to you?" I growled, still panting.
He sighed. "I know that this seems bad, but I'm not a pirate, a looter, an illegal immigrant or anything like that. I can tell you why I stowed away on this ship if you want me to."
"Please do." I sighed.
He nodded before leaning against the railing we were near.
"Well, the simple side of it is that I promised someone I would always spend Christmas with them. And since today's Christmas Eve and any kind of public transportation was too expensive, too crowded, or unavailable, I decided to stow away on a boat."
He paused for a moment before continuing with, "That way, I wouldn't have to break my promise and stay stuck in London. I mean, it's a lovely city, but it's also really crowded, noisy and this person wasn't there, most importantly."
I went quiet, staring at him. "This person must mean a lot to you if you went to so much trouble." I finally told him.
He nodded. "They do."
I furrowed my brow as I noticed the way he was holding himself. He seemed distant, almost… sad.
It gave me the impression that there was more to the story than that.
As such, I was tempted to ask him more questions about this person, but something told me that that wouldn't be a good idea.
So, I changed the subject and instead asked him, "So, what do we do now?"
"Well, I mean…" I sighed. "You're a stowaway. By all accounts, I should be reporting you to the authorities!"
He sighed and nodded. "I know."
"And for all I know, you could be lying to me and actually be some kind of criminal!"
He stayed silent.
"But…" I fell silent before sighing and telling him, "But I won't."
He raised an eyebrow in obvious surprise.
"I know, I know. It's probably very dumb of me to be allowing this. And don't get the impression that this means I trust you!"
He nodded. "I understand."
"However, I'll still bring the both of us to Amsterdam. I mean, it's not like I have much choice right now. And I fully expect you to be on your best behaviour! Understand?"
He nodded. "Perfectly."
"So, this means that if I catch you doing something illegal; whether it be hoarding drugs, stealing something, smuggling alcohol, or anything else, then I will be contacting the authorities so that they can arrest you!"
He nodded before smiling.
Noticing this, I asked, "What are you smiling for?"
He chuckled softly before sighing. "I'm sorry. I'm not trying to appear patronizing, but it's just kind of funny that the same woman who got seasick and threw up in front of me is now acting like a proper authority figure."
I blushed at the unfortunate memory as he chuckled again. "Speaking of which, how is your stomach doing?"
I bit my lip before telling him, "It's… better but still kind of hurts."
He nodded before gesturing towards the cargo hold.
"Do you want to go get something that'll settle it?"
I raised an eyebrow, causing him to shrug. "I know you're still suspicious of me, but we still have about an hour until we arrive at Amsterdam. And I know that you wouldn't want to be uncomfortable the entire trip, even if you didn't throw up anymore."
I sighed, knowing he was right.
"And if I'm not mistaken, you have medical supplies down there, anyways. Am I right?"
I stared at him suspiciously. "How do you know that?"
He shook his head, smiling, before telling me, "I was down there, remember? And besides, every registered ship that sails these waters is required to have medical supplies and a working satellite phone for emergencies. And seeing as how you threatened to phone the authorities on me, I know that you yourself aren't doing anything illegal, like stealing this ship or sailing it around unregistered."
I blushed. "You're too smart for your own good…"
He chuckled. "You sometimes have to be, in order to survive this world and society. Now, we should probably go get something for your stomach."
I nodded and tried to stand up, wobbling a little as I still felt gross, causing Asher to reach out steady me.
I grimaced before saying, "…thanks."
He nodded, smiling before we went into the cargo hold.
After we'd gotten some grovel for my stomach, finally settling it, we both went back up to the deck.
It was quiet for a few minutes before Asher came up to me and asked, "So, what's your name?"
Surprised, I looked at him. "You want to know my name?"
He shrugged. "Well, you know mine and we still have forty-five minutes left until we arrive at Amsterdam. So, what are we supposed to do during that time?"
I went silent, seeing that he had a point. However, I hesitated about sharing it. I still didn't completely trust him but at the same time, it was only fair. Not to mention he hadn't actually done any harm…
"Victoria." I finally answered him.
He nodded, smiling. "Lovely name."
I blushed at the compliment, causing him to chuckle.
After that, we started conversing with each other because, as he said, there wasn't anything better to do.
I ended up finding out a lot about him. His father's name is Rufus and he's a lawyer, his mother's name is Tina and she's a florist, Asher himself is in college and is training to become professional photographer.
He even showed me some of the pictures he took.
"…and this one here is the college I go to."
I nodded as he showed me a large building that had a good mixture of both old and modern architecture. It had a ton of people in front of it, some sitting and some standing, while a few assorted trees and flowers were scattered around in the foreground.
"It looks very nice." I told him. "You did a good job with the lighting and the focus."
He smiled. "Thanks. That's what I'm trying to get better at right now."
I smiled back at him as he showed me more pictures of things like natural and manmade scenery, some selfies, some perspective shots of a few people, and even some nighttime shots.
Eventually, I noticed that there was one particular person in a few of his photos. Whilst other people were obviously just one-time subjects, this person was featured more than once.
As such, I felt compelled to ask him, "Who's the young woman in some of these pictures?"
He paused before sighing. "I thought you might notice her."
I surveyed him. "Is something wrong?"
He shook his head. "No, nothing's wrong. It's just that you have a good eye since you noticed that she was in a few of these photo's."
I chuckled. "Thanks, I guess."
He smiled before explaining, "Well, she's the person that's waiting for me in Amsterdam. She's my wife, Ciara."
I paused, staring at him. "You're married?"
He nodded. "Yeah."
Feeling almost strangely disappointed at that, I nodded, still a little surprised. "Hm. I never really noticed that about you."
He chuckled. "Most people don't. They often think that I'm 'too young' or 'too inexperienced' to be committed to someone. I understand what they're saying, but sometimes it's annoying."
I nodded. "You wish that they would just mind their own business?"
He sighed. "Exactly."
I nodded. "I feel the same way sometimes."
He looked at me as I continued with, "I wanted to be a sailor when I was a little girl, but as you clearly saw earlier, my body wasn't cut out for it. No matter what I did or for how long I sailed with my father and grandfather, my stomach never got used to the motions of the boat. Some days were better than others, but I obviously wasn't mean to be a sailor. Big ships like cruise liners I can handle, but something small like a yacht, a motorboat or something similar, I can get really seasick on."
He nodded as I continued with, "As such, I had to figure out what I wanted to do with my life outside of sea travel. And so, I decided to become an architect."
He smiled. "That's really cool."
I smiled as well. "Yes, it is and I've never regretted my decision. But at the same time…" I sighed. "Some people are surprised when they find out that I'm an architect, especially when they hear my life story. And as a result, someone might get nosy and sometimes, even sexist."
He nodded sympathetically. "You've got to hate it when that happens."
I sighed and nodded. "Yes. So, I do understand what you mean when I wish that people would just mind their own business."
After that, we continued to converse and discuss different topics.
Eventually, however, we could see Amsterdam off in the distance and so we had to prepare to dock.
After the necessary preparations were in place, we gradually slowed down and then pulled up to the dock.
Asher snuck past me, since he was a stowaway, and then met up with me at the entrance to the dock.
"So, I suppose this is where we part ways."
He sighed. "Yeah."
I felt a little disappointed that we were separating and it must've shown on my face, for Asher smiled and told me, "Hey, thanks for giving me a lift and for not telling the authorities about me. I appreciate it."
I smiled as well and told him, "Well, so long as you don't make me regret it, it's all good with me."
He chuckled before we made the walk to Main Street, said goodbye one last time and then we went our separate ways.
As I left, I took one last look at him, feeling another disappointed twang in my chest as I wasn't sure if I'd see him again.
Sure, we met in unusual circumstances but so far as I could tell, he wasn't lying about anything he said.
I hoped that wife of his was doing well, at least.
And as I continued to walk towards my family's house, I smiled; imagining how happy they'd be to see each other.
A melancholy feeling had entered my mind now that I was alone.
This is always how it is around this time of year. Despite the cheerful lights, lovely decorations and the presents in the stockings and trees around the world, the holiday season held too many bad memories for me…
"I'm sorry, Ciara, but I'm held up in Glasgow." I told her over the phone.
"You mean, you won't be able to get here in time for Christmas?"
I sighed. "Yes… Everywhere is too busy and no one is willing or able to help me. I hope you can understand."
There was a brief silence, before she sighed. "I suppose…"
I could tell I had disappointed her, so I tried to assure her by saying, "Don't worry. I'll make it up to you when I'm able to get back."
Another brief silence ensued before she told me, "Alright, but you'd better keep that promise!"
I smiled. "I will, babe. I love you."
She sighed. "I love you, too."
I frowned as the painful memories were starting to come back full force. I was almost at my destination, as more memories came forth…
It was December 28th, and I was finally able to hitch a ride back to Amsterdam where my parents and wife were waiting for me.
I was glad that I was finally going to be able to see them again. It's been four months and it was especially bad since I missed Christmas with them.
I was intent on making things up with them, however.
But as I approached the house, I couldn't help but notice that it seemed quiet inside.
Too quiet, in fact.
But there was a light on in the living room, so I knew that someone was inside.
As I ascended the steps towards the front door, I felt uneasy. No one was coming out to greet me. Surely, they would know that I was coming by now.
And so, with a slightly trembling hand and after briefly hesitating, I reached for the door handle…
And once I'd opened the door and stepped inside, I immediately noticed that my parents were the only ones in the living room.
They looked up as I entered, as I forced a smile and told them, "Hey. Happy belated Christmas."
They nodded but remained silent, almost hesitant. My uneasiness grew tenfold, especially when I noticed that Ciara was nowhere to be found.
"…What's wrong? Where's Ciara?"
My father hesitated while my mother suddenly broke down into tears. Startled, I looked at her and then back to my father, who also had tears in his eyes.
"…what's happened to my wife?"
"She… uh…" My father sighed, sniffing as he struggled to regain his composure. Once he'd done so, he looked me straight in the eye and told me:
"I'm afraid that Ciara's had a heart attack."
I felt tears burn in my eyes as I recalled those awful words and my ensuing panic and anger. I'd refused to believe them at first, especially since Ciara was only in her twenties. But then I'd remembered that Ciara had been complaining about chest pains and that her mother also had some heart problems.
Well, it turns out that said problems were genetic and as such, Ciara had received them and died from a heart attack the day before I arrived.
Thankfully, no one was around as I began to softly cry when I reached my destination:
The Amsterdam graveyard.
The funeral had been short and simple, so I couldn't really complain about that. The eulogies had been heartfelt and emotional, including my own.
I'd struggled to say it through my own tears, but somehow, I'd managed it.
And after the service was over and everything was said and done, I'd returned to my house, gone through all of her things, and finally allowed myself to cry.
As I did so, I promised myself that I would always allow myself to somehow visit her grave each Christmas. To make up for the time I wasn't there when she needed me the most.
Sighing, I found her grave easily, having already been here several times before.
Managing a weak smile, I knelt down onto the ground and said, "Hey. It's me again. I…" I stopped to sniff. "I hope you're doing well… wherever you are."
I had to calm myself down before continuing with, "And I have several new stories to tell you about my time in London."
As I sat there, talking as casually as I could considering my emotional state, I told her about school, how my parents were, how work was going and then I proceeded to tell her about Victoria.
"…and she was really upset when she found me." I chuckled. "But after she saw that I wasn't a threat, she opened up to me a little more. It turns out that she's an architect and is visiting family here from London."
I paused. "I don't know if I'll ever see her again, but don't worry. Even if I did, she won't ever replace you. No matter what happens."
I checked the time and saw that it was nearing dinnertime. As such, I got up and blew her a kiss.
"I love you, Ciara."
Afterwards, I stood up, gave her one last look, and then walked over to the main entrance.
As I left, I gave the graveyard one last glance and then whispered:
"I love you."
AN – Sorry to end that on such a sad note, but still, I hope you enjoyed it. :)
Feel free to review, if you want.