I am spiraling down and down, sinking further and further in the abyss of the sea. I fought to reach the surface so many times, but now I have no more strength; my energy is all gone and my lungs are burning in my chest. Soon I will die. Will I be doomed to these unknown waters for eternity? Why did this happen? How can it be that our ship was attacked? My father’s vessels are known around the world. In truth they are feared. I have heard all the stories. Of course, momma did not approve of me lingering around to listen to such filthy lies, but I found my ways. Listening behind closed doors, hiding in the closets, in the pantry, or the secret passage way I found last fall. If only mother knew. It’s said that all her riches, are tainted with blood. Cursed! They all whisper. It’s true enough, that my father is a spice merchant. However, spices are not his most valuable cargo. The young women are! He brings them back from these foreign lands. They are sex slaves to be traded or sold. My father cares not what happens to them, as long as they remain alive long enough for him to enjoy them and make a profit. It was inconceivable to me that my father could do such a thing! I had to be sure; see it with my own eyes. When I found my brother’s old sailor uniform a plan formed in my head. After all I did spend all my time with my brother aboard ship, he taught me how to climb the ropes, read the stars, use a sextant, and everyone said I had a keen eye for the weather. It was natural of me to decide to masquerade on board my father’s vessel as a sailor. Discreetly I made alterations to the uniform. I removed his initials from the sleeve, and replaced the ship’s flag on the left breast pocket. A few days before cast off, I went to the docks and scrawled the name of my clandestine identity on the list of available sailors. At dawn, on the day of departure I pinned up my hair, secured my hat with more pins, bound my breasts and made my way down to the waterfront. When the name Andrew Moore was called out I stepped forward and boarded my father’s ship. Once aboard I slung my hammock in a far off corner of the bunk room. Most men laughed at my small frame and jested that the wind would blow me down. The bosun assigned me to keep the sails, cables and rigging in good order. Thankfully, the tasks kept me far away from the captain. I was most happy to keep my distance for I feared of being exposed a fraud! At the first two ports all activities were normal. When setting up course for the third port, the atmosphere of the ship changed. The sailors became nervous, carefully marking our passage along the canals. I am not sure how or when it happened, but at some point it would seem that we past an invisible barrier. All of the sudden our vessels flags were lowered, and orders were giving to have the pens set up in the whole. That is when I realized that all the stories were in fact true. My father was indeed the dreaded slaver! Not wanting to give myself away, I followed orders. Our ship arrived at the harbor in the dark of the night; the men left the vessel with all sorts of weapons. They raided the village, burned houses, killed anyone who stood in their way, and captured all the girls they could. I am ashamed to admit that I took part in this ugliness. How could I not – dressed-up like a man I had to follow orders! By daylight, our ship was out in the open sea with a new cargo. The pattern continued for days! I can still feel the fear, hear the screaming, and see the blood. Never will these images leave me. The captain – a man I no longer considered my father, made it known that no member of the crew would lay a hand on the young maidens before he “tested the merchandise”. So, one at a time, the young women were sent to him. Behind the closed doors, we could all hear the cries of terror and pain as he robbed them of their innocence. There was one amongst the slaves who the captain made sure would remain innocent. He made it clear that a very important client requested an untouched bride. She would fetch a hefty coin for sure. The maiden was held captive in a private pen. Only the 1st mate was allowed to bring her stale bread and water. Finally the temptation got the better of him. One night when the 1st mate thought he was alone in the pens he opened her cage and pulled her out. From the shadows I saw her for the first time: creamy complexion, chestnut hair, high cheek bones, piercing green eyes. It was like looking at my reflection in the glass. I was reminded of the many times people said that I was the spitting image of my father. Apparently I was not the only one! She was fighting tooth and nails cursing at the top of her lungs. I could not let this go on. I unsheathed my dagger, slowly made my way behind the 1st mate, yanked his head back violently and quickly slit his throat. She turned on me in a flash, thinking I wanted her for myself. I was not quick enough to step aside; we were soon tangled up on floor. She did not slow down. Kicking, pulling, tugging, and biting. Clothes thorn, blood spilling from various wounds, we were grappling with each other. I wanted to tell her that I was not a threat to her, but only wanted to help. Something caught her eye and she stopped. I looked down, and I noticed my exposed breasts. She stood up, offered me her hand and pulled me up. We never spoke a word. Looking at each other we knew. Working quickly, she removed her night shift and I started wrapping her chest as tightly has I could. I tossed her my tunic and breeches, and then put on her torn shift. With one swift motion of my blade she cut off her hair. Rapidly we unpinned mine let it cascade down my back and she slid the dagger back into my booth. As a sweaty and bleeding prisoner I was brought to the captain’s cabin to await my fate. Head cast down, eyes to the side, I saw him thank the young man who brought the matter to his attention. The captain no longer cared about the price he could get for the girl. He simply wanted to teach the wench a lesson. The little bitch killed his best man – she must pay for her crime. He would make sure she paid! It’s with an evil sneer that he looked me over from head to toe. Once the door closed behind him, I could see it in his eyes, the excitement, the obscene pleasure he was experiencing at the thought of the pain he was about to inflict. It never crossed his mind that the dirty, bloody wench with quivering limbs and heaving bosoms was his little princess. All he saw was an easy prey and juicy one at that! This monster, who made his way towards me rubbing his crotch and licking his lips, was not the man I used to call father. Consumed with unholy lust his eyes were glazed over with envy, and greed. My haggard and beaten appearance only seemed to excite him more. I was just as much a stranger to him as he was to me. He grabbed me by the hair, pulled me close, and ran his hand up my thigh. He was biting my neck, bruising me everywhere with his hands and teeth. I could feel him getting more and more excited - his breathing was heavier and heavier. Growing more aroused he threw me down on the dirty floor. He enjoyed wrapping is fingers in my hair and pulling hard. When my head fell backwards his wet lips left a trail of sloppy kisses along my slender throat. His callous hands closed over my breasts. Kneading and possessing every inch of my skin all the while grinding faster and faster on top of me. He pushed me hard against the greasy planks and turned to undo his breeches. I slowly pulled the dagger out my booth. It did not take him long to shed his clothes and come back to me. When he started mounting me, I grabbed his face in my hands and looked him straight in the eyes, forcing him to see past the haze of lust and greed. He called out my name as I pierced his heart. I pulled out the blade, blood oozed out flowing freely from his chest. I left him there to die in a pool of his own blood. I can still see it, the haunted look of recognition in his eyes before I killed him. On shaky legs I stood up, straightened the shift over my body and prayed that god would have mercy on his black soul. Unsure what to do next I paced, trying to formulate a plan to get out of this mess. That’s when it happened - the first cannon ball hit. The entire ship shook from the impact and all hell broke loose! Quickly I made my way out of the cabin, hoping to find her and escape. The fired cannon left an acrid smell in air. It was hard to breathe and to see in the thick haze of smoke. From the corner of my eye I saw her getting away with some of the other sailors in the small life boat. All the boats were at sea desperately trying to avoid the blast from the cannons. It made it somewhat easier considering they were not the main target. I heard the hissing before I saw the cannon ball zoom in to smash into the tall mast of the ship. It came crashing down on the deck piercing the planks sending splinters of wood flying in every direction. In the mist of chaos members of the crew were jumping overboard. The hits kept coming faster and harder. The ship could no longer hold. We started sinking and like a hungry monster the sea was devouring the vessel. I am spiraling down and down, sinking further and further in the abyss of the sea. In these last moments before death claims me. I wish she were here with me my unknown sister.