Unexpected Perks

I’m a New York girl…at least I was.

I fluff my curls into the Gulf breeze and flop back on the rickety dock to stare into the inky sky.

Fog wraps the channel buoy but her bells toll clear and strong, unlocking a flood of memories.

Remember when The Inverness set sail for the far side of the world? Eight clueless nurses on their adventure of a lifetime.

So clear in my mind, it feels like yesterday.



“Could this mattress be any thinner?” I slapped the fabric and tried the fluff the lump that passed for a pillow. “I can feel the springs–each and every rusty one.”

I’m a bundle of nerves. I know the emergency drills are necessary but the thought of sinking is terrifying. Thank you Titanic.

“Angela, what did you do with that Panama Canal book?” I rolled over and poked the girl in the next bunk.

“Ow!” Angela sat up and smacked her head on the bunk above her. “I’m fine. I have plenty of cushion for my skull, in case anyone cares.” She smoothed her flame red hair and massaged her scalp. “Here it is.”

“I don’t think I can sleep. Charmaine can’t either.”

“Oh Sorcha, can’t we rest?” Charmaine moaned.

“No. We’re going up on deck and Angela is going to read us a story.” I don’t want to miss anything.”

Gathered at the rail of the Inverness we learned of the hardships, disease and loss of life endured during the building of the waterway.

“Ugh, I hate bugs.” Charmaine rubbed her arms and looked straight down the side of the ship. “So, why do we have to go up and down in these compartments?”

“We’re in the mountains, or something. I don’t get it either.” Elizabeth tossed up her hands. “They could have made these turns a little wider, though.”

Ivori stomped away. “You’re all idiots.”



   So long ago…so much has happened since.

Excuse me, Miss?”

I bolted up, rubbing my eyes. “Can I help you?”

“We’re on vacation–from Chicago.”

“Yes, how lovely.”  Didn’t you see I was busy?

“Why aren’t the bugs biting you? They’re eating us alive.”

“Oh…hmmm,” Mosquito carcasses lay around me in piles, the needles on their noses bent like crazy straws. “I must taste terrible.”

 An unexpected perk…for this New Orleans girl.







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