Her mother was sitting at the dining table in the great cabin, scribbling something on a piece of paper. She looked up and smiled. “There you are, dearest.”
Talia settled into the chair across from her. “You’re looking very well.”
Another smile. “I’m feeling much better.” Scritch scritch scratch went her pen. Moonlight poured in through the windows, illuminating her elegant handwriting.
“What are you doing?” Talia asked carefully.
“I’m transcribing the story my father told me when he took me to the seaside as a child. I just remembered it.” She beamed at her paper, and kept writing.
The moon rose a little higher over the sea, and Talia saw sweat glimmering on her mother’s brow. “Are you sure you wouldn’t like to lie down again?”
“When I’ve finished.” Scritch scritch scratch.
Talia wondered if she ought to go for Hanid or Captain Oblaine. “What’s the story about?”
“You’ll see. I’m so pleased I remembered! It explains everything.” She paused to dip her pen in an inkwell.
The ship rolled beneath them, and the lantern swung back and forth from its hook in the ceiling, creaking.
Talia watched in silence as her mother wrote three more sentences across the paper. Then she laid the pen down, and blew on the ink to dry it. Her smile reached her ears as she handed the page over to her daughter.
Talia’s eyes traveled across the words, so carefully and beautifully written.
“Well? Now do you understand?”
Talia bit her lip and met her mother’s gaze, forcing herself to smile. “I do. Thank you for writing it down for me.”
Her mother grinned, laughed, reached across the table to hug her. “I’d like to go on deck and watch for a while now.”
“The captain and I have been watching in turns so you can get some rest, Mama. Don’t worry, you can watch again soon.”
Her mother nodded. “I can’t watch all the time.”
“Of course not. No one could. Now let’s get you back to bed.”
She allowed Talia to help her up from the table, leaning on her with her good arm. Talia led her through the door to the captain’s bunk, and she climbed under the covers, pulling the blankets up to her chin.
“I’m glad you understand now,” she whispered, her eyes drifting shut.
“Me too, Mama.” Talia kissed her forehead and slipped back out of the cabin. The moon was directly overhead now, flooding the whole deck in silver.
She thought she might be sick.
The story her mother had written for her was complete and utter nonsense.
Excerpted from BENEATH THE HAUNTING SEA © Copyright 2018 by Joanna Ruth Meyer. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.
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