Flash Fiction: Spent Days

James sat down in his seat, preparing himself for the long day that lay ahead of him. He thought back to his childhood, and could not remember a time in which he was free from the prison that now bound him. He had spent too many days as a captive; it was now his life.

The walls were wet with fresh pitch, and the entire hull of the boat smelt of tar. It was only 8 in the morning, but already the sun beat down upon the ship enough to warm the interior of the hull to a degree just shy of that of an oven. James was now surrounded by dozens of other slaves, all taken as children and forced to work. The haze of restlessness and angst filled the room to the point where one could almost feel it on their skin like a heavy layer of humidity. Slowly the Captain emerged from his quarters. The Captain was old, weathered by battle and time. He was a monstrous figure, and slowly he began to speak. The words the Captain spoke, however, were foreign to the slaves, and James could not comprehend. James looked to the man to his right and they exchanged a puzzled glance. But, James did not need to understand what the Captain was saying; he knew the task that lay ahead of him. James knew that from now until midday, he would row. The thirty or so slaves all reached out and grabbed the oars in front of them to begin their long day’s work. As the slaves began to row, the Captain walked the length of the ship, stopping only to mutter words James could not understand to his fellow slaves. James kept his head down, and rowed.

Out of the corner of his eye, James could see the Captain slowly making his way down the aisle. James continued to row. He then saw a pair of worn brown boots stop at his feet. He looked up at the Captain, and could see his mouth moving but could not hear any words. James could not divert his attention away from the sound of the girl next to him tapping her foot. He tried to focus…

“James, do you have your homework?” the Teacher asked again.

“Not today,” James replied. He looked around and was back in a classroom

It was at this point in time that James realized he was exceedingly high to be at school.

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