Billy Scarlet | Teen Ink

Billy Scarlet

April 11, 2014
By MZeke BRONZE, Stillmore, Georgia
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MZeke BRONZE, Stillmore, Georgia
2 articles 0 photos 7 comments

Author's note: My sister and I started writing this story about six tears ago. We always loved writing stories about the ocean.

The author's comments:
This story has been published with Ink Smith Publishing.


Of all the people that fate could have chosen for this story it chose me, the bastard child of a pirate and a governor's daughter.

You see, my father was a pirate named Billy Scarlet. His rightful surname is unknown, I guess. He took on the name Scarlet for one reason and one reason only. Sometimes I think that the reason he did it was to mess up my life, but no, he took on the name Scarlet long before I was born. He's called Scarlet because that is the color of his eyes, and I was scarred by that in two ways. For starters I got the name, which meant that everyone knew he was my father, but worst of all, I got the eyes. I was told that my mother couldn't keep me after she saw my eyes. If I had've gotten blue eyes like her then she would have kept me, but the color of my eyes was too much of a giveaway to who my father was and heaven forbid she get disgraced for it all.

Before she gave me away to a church on an island in the Barbados that took on orphans, she gave me a name. That name was Sabilla or well, Billy Scarlet, then she left me to deal. The head mistress of the church, Mistress Lora, told me that my mother said that she hoped that we would meet again someday. Personally, I never cared to see someone who birthed me, but didn't care enough about me to raise me.

At the church there were about thirty other kids. The people that worked at the church tried to teach all of us things like manners and how to be ladies and gentlemen. Most of the kids did pretty good, but there were some exceptions. Among them were me, a boy named Davy Mitchems and a girl named Clara Honeycut.

None of us could stay out of trouble. We could never keep our minds on what we were doing. No matter what we did or how hard we tried, we always had our heads in the clouds, as Mistress Lora would say.

It wasn't our fault really. There were enough distractions to feed our imaginations was all. You see, the church was in a harbor and there were men coming off of warships all the time, and they would tell us stories of their adventures and their lives at sea. After hearing the stories all we could do was sit and daydream about living as sailors.

All the three of us could think about was a life at sea. Though it wasn't normal for women to be on board a ship, me and Clara wanted to see what life on a ship was like, and we were always getting in trouble for it. As a matter of fact, the way that the three of us became friends was we met in the room that the church ladies would put us in if we got in trouble. They said that young ladies had no business thinking about living on ship full of men. It was improper. It was not at all how ladies should act and we needed to get it out of our heads. We tried for a while to act like a proper young lady, but that didn't work for me at all, so it was off to the room with me, more often than not.

I spent about half of my childhood in that room and the other half I spent doing things to get put into that room. I couldn't believe that they kept putting me in there, because it never stopped me from getting in trouble. It's not that I meant to get in trouble, it was just that I would sit and stare into the harbor while I was supposed to be in class or doing chores and I was never alone at doing this. Either Clara or Davy would be with me every time, but a lot of the time it was all three of us.

Me, Clara and Davy spent at least two hours a day, four to six days a week in that room, but I didn't mind being in the room with them because they were two of the three people that would look me in the eye for more than a few seconds. My eyes color never bothered them in the slightest way. Even when we first started getting to know each other it didn't startle them at all, like it did with just about everybody else, but we had been very young and it seems that children accept things better when they are younger than they do as they grow up.

The third person that never seemed to be bothered by my eyes, was an old man that worked for the church, named Garth McHale. He was a Scottish man and he was like a father to me. As a matter of fact he was the closest thing to a father that the three of us ever had. He was an older man who was slick bald and he had a crescent shaped scar on his left cheek. I had asked him about the scar once and he told me that it was a long story that even he could not fully explain and all he could tell me was the he had not been hurt when he got it. This confused me, but I pushed no further.

As I said before I didn't mind spending time with any of them, but there was one person that I couldn't spend more than ten seconds with without getting into a fight with. Whether it was a fist fight or a word fight, we would go at each other every time we were around each other. This person was a girl named Lartha Caine. She seemed to have been put onto this earth to make my life miserable, but then again she probably thought the same thing about me. I know that mistress Lora did. She actually told me that once. I have learned to take insults without being bothered. That was just something that I had to do to survive. One thing that I learned was that in such an age, if one was the child of a pirate, they had to grow up tough, otherwise growing up was not an option.

Now I suppose that I'll let the story begin. I would say that I'll begin telling the story, but for a story such as this it will have to begin itself. It's not something that can be told in such a way as other stories, because no one ever told it. The story told itself long before this beginning. You'll see what I mean if you care to continue.


Get up Billy," Came the always perky voice of Clara Honeycut.

"No," I moaned and pulled the covers over my head.

"Come on Billy," Came the slightly changing voice of Davy Mitchems. "Mistress Lora is going to be making the morning sweep soon, and if you're not up you'll get in trouble."

I sat up. "And if you're in here we'll get in trouble anyway. Besides, all that she would do is throw me in the room."

"Yea," Davy walked over to the door. "But today is Wednesday and you haven't got in any trouble yet this week, and I don't think that you should start off the day by getting put into the room."

"Well, I can't very well get dressed with you in here," I told him.

"I'm going," He opened the door and looked out to make sure that the coast was clear, then looked back at us and smiled before disappearing down the hall.

Now I'll take a minute to tell you what Davy and Clara looked like. Davy had big brown eyes, thick, wavy, light brown hair, a dimple in his chin and his lips always reminded me of a baby doll's.

I always thought that Clara was very pretty. She had curly, dark blond hair, honey, gold eyes, fair skin, and a light sprinkle of freckles across her nose. She was the daughter of a lady of the night, who didn't want to keep her. I never was able to see why someone wouldn't want to have Clara around. Though her mother didn't want her and she had no idea who her father was, she was always trying to look on the bright side of things, even when me and Davy were sitting around feeling sorry for ourselves.

"Billy, get up," Clara pulled the covers off of me causing them to flutter to the floor. They just laid there as if by pulling them off of me, she had awakened them for a moment, then they fell back into a deep slumber.

"Fine," I got up out of bed, stepped over the slumbering heap of covers, and went over to the mirror. Mistress Lora said that it was vane to stare at oneself in the mirror, as I did every morning, but for some reason I would look at myself to see if I had changed in the night.

People told me that I was pretty, but I never would believe them. I had blondish red hair, full, but small lips and fair skin. Now that may sound like I was pretty, but then I add the red eyes, and not just regular red, but scarlet red. It scared a lot of people when they looked me in the eye, so a lot of the ladies at the church would avoid my gaze. I knew my eyes made me a misfit, but it did help me to know who I could trust. I always knew I could trust someone if they would look me in the eye for more than a few seconds, but that didn't help the fact that I was different from everyone else and different meant dangerous.

I would wish on things like stars and dandelions, and every wish would be for my eyes to change colors. Sometimes I would even sneak off to the altar in the church and pray that I would someday be pretty, but I never saw any changes in my appearance. I so badly wanted to look like everyone else. I wanted to have green, blue, or brown eyes like all the other girls, but alas it was not to be.

I quickly got dressed, washed my face and pulled my hair back, then I turned to Clara. "Am I presentable?"

"Well enough," She answered.

Just then, Mistress Lora burst through the door.

"Sabilla, why isn't your bed made?" She asked.

I winced and looked down at the floor. Mistress Lora always had a way of making anyone feel small and powerless. She towered above me in an, almost queen like manner, and I knew there was no way that I could reason my way out of getting in trouble. "I have no excuse."

"Very well," She said. "I'll have mercy on you since you haven't gotten into any trouble all week, so far. Make it up, now."

I breathed a sigh of relief, swept my covers up off the floor, and made it up as fast as I could. Once I was done, I turned back to face Mistress Lora, feeling grateful and yet, very surprised. She had never been merciful on me in such a situation, but I wasn't going to mention it.

"Very good," She nodded and proceeded to scan the room as if it might have some offending dust speck hiding somewhere in one of the corners.

Mistress Lora was a tall, thin lady with fair skin, and silvery hair that she always kept in a bun on top of her head. Not one hair ever seemed to be out of place. She didn't seem to be the kind of lady that would run a place like the church. She seemed more like she would belong in a royal court somewhere, giving people orders and constantly making everyone around her nervous, though she did the last bit anyway. I always wondered what had made her want to take care of children like us, but I never would have been brave enough to ask such a bold question.

"Come along girls," She said. "Go ahead and get your breakfast, then get to your studies and chores."

The two of us walked out of the room and down the narrow, stone hallway.

The whole church was built out of these huge, gray stones. At times I would pretend that it was a castle. Sometimes Clara would join me, but most of the time she would just laugh and shake her head. Davy on the other hand would pretend with me almost all the time. One time he called me princess, but I told him not to. I know that he was just being nice, but I didn't like the idea of being a princess. I didn't like the idea of having all sorts of fancy things and getting everything that I ever wanted. I never wanted to be a princess or to have a perfect life and that's a good thing, because that's not what I would ever get. I had always thought that it would be much more fun to be a knight, or shield maiden, in my case. I never wanted to be the damsel in distress who needed the knight to come save her. I wanted to be the one to fight a battle and save a kingdom from certain death. Clara said that I had read to many books, but I could tell that she liked the idea too. If she hadn't liked the idea she would not have added to the stories that I would come up with, as often as she had.

It seemed odd to me, but sometimes when I would pretend, I could swear that I had done what I was playing like I was doing, at some point before. Davy and Clara would tell me that it sounded a lot like a book that we had read, or something, but neither of them could ever name the book, or say when we read it. I just tried to brush it off, on most occasions, but there was an overwhelming feeling in me at those times that made me sure that I had done that. To make it even more odd, I would have dreams of such battles and there was always a man there with me. Most of the time I would not be able to see his face, other times I would forget it right after I woke up. I had even spoke his name once in the dream, but no matter how long and hard I tried to remember it, I never could. I could only remember that it was similar to James, but that wasn't quite it.

I was brought out of my thoughts by Clara speaking.

"I wonder if Mistress Lora is okay today," Clara said.

"Why?" I asked.

"Well for starters, she didn't punish you for not having your bed made."

"Maybe she knew it was you who pulled the covers off of me and threw them in the floor."

She gave me a cold, yet slightly amused, stare. "Still, you have to admit, it's strange."

"I'm fine with it," I told her. "If it keeps me from getting put into the room, then I'm perfectly happy with it. Besides, don't you think we're a bit older for that now?"

She shook her head. "Maybe that's it."

We continued down the hall, until we came to the dining hall. It was a room full of tables and chairs. Neither were polished very well, so it was an art form to sit down without getting splinters in your behind, but it was an effective way of teaching us to keep our elbows off the table while we ate.

There were three stained glass windows on each wall and at the front of the room there was the door to the kitchen, which is where we went to get our food.

No matter what we had for breakfast there were always eggs to go with it. There were about eighty laying hens that roamed around the church yard. Each of the hens would lay at least one egg a day, sometimes two. I knew because picking up eggs was one of the many chores that me and Davy had to do every day. If we didn't do it, we would be up to our elbows in eggs in a day or two.

Me and Clara walked over to the kitchen and got our plates. It was always really warm in the kitchen and in the winter time we would go in there to warm up, though on a day like that one, it was hard to stand in the kitchen for more than a few minutes. It was a wonder that the ladies who cooked could stand it.

We walked out of the kitchen, having broken a sweat in the few minutes we had been in there, and headed over to the table that we always sat at. It was the smallest table in the there and it was in the far left hand corner of the room.

We picked our way through the jumbled tables. Some of them were pretty close together, so we had to turn at odd angles to be able to get in between them. That was not bad though. The worst part was that to get to our table we had to walk past the table that Lartha Caine sat at. As we passed I noticed that she stuck her foot out to trip me. It always annoyed me when she would do things like that. I so badly just wanted to yell at her to act her age after all we were fifteen, but it would do no good and I knew that better than anyone. It wasn't just because she was trying to get on my nerves or hurt me, but she was always so blatant about it. She could have at least been a bit more sneaky. I just stepped right over her outstretched foot. That made her so mad that she kicked me in the back of the knee. I nearly fell, but Clara caught my arm with her free hand. I stood back up, fighting mad, and was about to swing around and break my plate over her head when I heard mistress Lora say, "I saw that Lartha. That's two hours in the room for you."

Lartha scoffed, crossed her arms across her chest and scowled.

I just gave her a mocking smile and walked over to our table. Davy was waiting for us. He just laughed when we sat down.

"What are you laughing about?" I asked.

"Nothing," He shook his head. "I was just wondering what it would've looked like if you had've actually broke your plate over her head."

Davy knew me well enough to know that was what I wanted to do especially since I had said day after day that if she messed with me in the dining hall again I was going to break my plate over her head. I wanted to do it and had many chances, but every time, either Mistress Lora, Clara, or Davy would stop me and most of the time it was because they knew what I was doing.

We ate our food then got to our chores. Me and Davy had to go pick up eggs, and Clara had to help out with the laundry, so we wouldn't see her again until we were in class together.

Me and Davy each got us a bushel basket and started picking up eggs, alongside of a beaten path. The hens always laid their eggs beside the path as if they wanted to make our job easier.

The closer we got to the back of the church, the stronger the smell of the ocean got. We rounded the corner of the church and there it was. The harbor was spread out before us like a painting that had come to life. There were navy ships, merchant ships, fishing boats, and all other kinds of ships that we weren't sure what they were used for. Salt air blew across us, and every story that I had been told, about the ocean, flew through my mind. The good, the bad, and the enchanting alike, came to my mind. It was completely dazzling.

"Imagine the adventures that we could have on a ship like that," Davy pointed to one of the navy ships that had H.M.S. Victory written on the back of it.

"Ships are fun, but all the same, very dangerous," Mr. McHale had walked up behind us without us knowing.

"Were you ever a sailor?" I asked him.

"Yes my dear, I was," He answered.

"You never told us that," Davy said.

"Well lad, you never asked." He laughed a little.

"Did you have a lot of adventures?" I asked.

He looked off into the distance, as if he could see all the things that he had done at sea, playing out on the horizon. "Yes I had many adventures. They were the kind that most people would never believe, even if I told them about it."

"You know that we would believe you," I told him.

"Yes my dear, I know," He nodded, then said in a voice that was so quiet that I could hardly hear him, "You would, because you were there."

I looked over at Davy, but it was obvious that he had not heard what Mr. McHale had said.

"I have a feeling that you, Clara and Davy here are going to have adventures of your own, pretty soon and if you do you'll need help on that adventure." He looked down at me and smiled as if he knew I had heard him.

"What do you mean?" Davy asked.

"I wrote a book about my time at sea," Mr. McHale answered. "It has answers to the questions that you might ask when on such an adventure. I'll probably give you that book someday."

I suddenly remembered what we were supposed to be doing.

"Oh my goodness," I gasped. "We have to finish picking up these eggs and get to class."

"Well in that case you best hurry along," Mr. McHale laughed. "Them chickens are going to get ahead of you."

Davy moved on along, but I lingered there for a moment.

Mr. McHale looked at me. I could tell that he wanted to say something, but he stopped himself.

"What is it?" I asked.

"You better hurry along. You don't want to get in trouble with the mistress, do you?"

"No sir," I walked on, all the while wondering what he had been about to say.

We hurried up with picking up the eggs headed back inside. As we got to the back door of the kitchen I noticed a dandelion growing next to the path and I picked it. The light, fluffy seed quivered slightly in the breeze. I watched them for a moment, then I made a wish.

Any other time that I wished on a dandelion, I would've wished that my eyes would change colors, but for some reason, that time was different. I whispered my wish, blew all the seeds away, and went inside.

My fate had already been chosen long before, and the path of my life was already set, but I will, for the rest of my life, wonder if it was the wish that caused all that happened next. No matter how long, or how much I wonder, I'll never know if it was the wish or if it was just part of God's plan.

Somewhere in the breeze floated a bunch of dandelion seeds and my words. "I wish that I could have an adventure like Mr. McHale’s."

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