See, you were supposed to be the one who saved me. And you were, I suppose. I was drowning and you were the one to grab my waving hand and yank me aboard, dislocating my shoulder in the process.
I cried with relief. My lungs had been filling with salt water but now here you were, saviour, plucking me out of all that churning madness and giving me warm clothes, a bed to rest in, your arms to comfort me. I looked towards dry land and dreamed of it, sighed with the relief of it, all the safety promised by the port.
As it turns out, we weren’t heading for land. You were on a voyage and that wasn’t to be disrupted for the sake of one lost girl. You had already done me the favour of saving my life. Instead I was put to work, up at the crack of dawn and not in bed until long after dusk.
I don’t mean to make it sound all bad. The life of a sailor is one full of marvels. The way the sun rises and sets over the sea, the soaring birds, that vast, endless expanse of ocean. All the glory of those monstrous waves.
I’m not saying I didn’t love it, all those days on the sea, I’m just saying that when you once almost drowned you gain a dislike for salt water. People talk about the freedom of it, the ocean, but you are not free when you are in its cold grip and you are hardly more free on the safety of a boat with nowhere to go. I’m not saying I’m not grateful. You saved me. But once I woke in the middle of the night to find you pouring salt water into my open mouth.
Rhiannon Willson is a queer poet who spends her spare time playing Scrabble with old ladies and trying to learn how to rollerskate. She can be found on Twitter @rhiannonwillson or through her website, rhiannonwillson.co.uk.