The Cotyledon Hanger

∴ A Burgeoning Will∴

It had always just been there – the sword; simple; the black leaf of its guard furling about a grip of green leather. As long as you can recall it’s hung over the fireplace, above the grey ashes and below the grey photographs. You never paused to wonder which ghostly daguerrotype face it belonged to – not until today. It had simply always been there – and so had you.

Had you ever had an inkling of an adventurer’s spirit, you’re sure you would have asked your grandmother to tell you the its story as she peeled potatoes over the sink. But she did not care for tales of high seas or great hunts. It’s that sort of story that gets people killed, she’d harrumph, before crossing herself and returning to the task at hand. No, she never did care to bring up the past – and so neither did you.

But now she is gone – save for the small round-framed photograph that now graces the mantle, beside those of the sons she both birthed and buried. She is gone from this house with her stews and her sewing and her stern sort of kindness, and you are alone. It is a terrible kind of wonder, you muse, to realise that nothing holds you to a place any more. Not the bricks and mortar of it, nor the tasks undone in the garden, nor the solemn pictures above the hearth.

Slowly, you reach for the sword, which has always been there, but which you have never held. You lift it from its hook and wrap your hand around that smooth green grip, the dark steel wrapping your knuckles in turn. Does it feel right? You’re not sure. But it’s something.

You turn from the mantle – from that rogue’s gallery of relatives whose adventures you’ll never know. It’s time to write your own adventure. You don’t know what that will be – but you know it won’t happen within these four walls.

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The Antilla Cuttoe

∴ A Wicked Tide ∴

It is the owl that first alerts you. Not the rounded, woodwind hoot of the copper-feathered birds who nest in the foothills, but the brighter screech of something that does not belong on the island. Not an owl then, but a human call. A secret signal in the dark.

Nervous now, you edge to the bow of your beached fishing boat and grope for your machete. You remember your brother’s tales of smugglers in this cove, their craft lightless and silent, carried by a phantom tide. Knife in hand you pull yourself to your knees and stare out to sea for a sign of the ghost ship, but the moonless night gives nothing away.

A sudden rush of foliage snaps your attention to the swampland at your back. A raw yet rhythmic slashing as green wood meets metal, and the crackle of crushed mangrove roots. Heart pounding, you dart toward the pile of nets beside the boat, hoping to conceal yourself. Your passage is blocked by the shock of cold steel skimming the skin of your throat. A scream lingers beneath the blade – you open your mouth, but no sound escapes.

“Quiet now lad,” sounds a wicked hiss in the darkness. The shutters of a lantern slide open, bathing the blade in sudden candlelight. Wide and pleading, your eyes follow the curve of single-edged steel, past the flash of copper at the guard and the spiralled leather of the grip, to the grinning face behind it.

Your fear finds its release, not in a scream but two whispered syllables:

“Pirate!”

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